Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Always Something To Learn

Thanks for your encouragement in taking the Japanese class. I do have my reasons for wanting to learn Japanese. I guess I assumed that everyone knows that my husband is Japanese. I do already know some Japanese. But I'm not sure that the Japanese I know will help me in this class. I know things like Japanese cartoon characters, and phrases like, "I need to go potty" and "Where are the diapers?" These aren't in the textbook. I checked.

I don't really need to know that much Japanese. Yes, I do travel to Japan. But when I go to Japan, I bring my own personal translator with me, my husband. Granted being able to survive in Japan and being to communicate are different. I would also like my children to continue speaking Japanese because we spent a lot of money sending them to Japanese preschool and the older one already forgets most of it it's an important part of their heritage and I don't like wasting money .

I do know how to say a few other things in Japanese. And I can understand more than I can say. But it doesn't always work as planned. This past spring my family and I went to Okinawa. We stayed at a beautiful hotel with a private beach. We decided to try the jet skis. We had to go two at a time. My 5 year old and I went first with the jet ski instructor. Then my husband and my 7 year old with the same jet ski instructor. My 5 year old and I waited on the beach while they took their 20 minute ride. Not more than 2 minutes had passed when my 5 year old turned to me and said, "I need to go potty." We were on the beach. There was no bathroom. The nearest building was where we paid for the jet skis and there was no bathroom there, but we could ask where the bathroom is. At this point I considered sending him into the ocean to go potty. But I quickly changed my mind. My 5 year has been going to Japanese school for 2 years. This is a resort where most employees speak English. Surely we could find a bathroom without the help of my usual translator.

My 5 year old and I walked up to the jet ski rental counter and I told my son to ask where the bathroom was. He wouldn't do it! He made me do it. So I asked. And the guy understood me! It would have been perfect if only I could have understood his answer. He pointed up a hill and toward a building. I went to the building. And then found a map with the bathroom located on the second floor. I later found out that the man at the jet ski counter said, "follow that path up the hill to the building and take the elevator to the second floor."

That reminds of another woman I met once who considered herself fluent in Japanese and was proven wrong by a little girl. This woman was a businesswoman. She worked in Japan and handled many contracts and meetings without any trouble. One day she was with some friends at the store. She was asked to watch one of her friend's little girl who was only about 3 years old. The little girl said something to the businesswoman. But the businesswoman did not understand the little girl. The businesswoman tried a few times to get the girl to speak more slowly and tried asking questions to figure out what the girl needed but in the end she ran out of time. The little girl had wet her pants. The little girl was saying that she needed to go "potty." She was using the child's word for "potty" as opposed to a more adult word like bathroom. So the woman did not understand. "Potty" is not in most textbooks and not used in most business meetings or contracts.

Just when you think you know it all a little girl can teach you something.

11 comments:

girlytwins said...

I think it is just awesome that you are learning Japanese. My husband is Portuguese and I so wish he spoke the language and could teach my girls. You rock Momma!

Gin said...

Oh yes. I have one of those little girls living in my home. I have been speaking English my entire life however, she seems to know things that I never learned and has no problem teaching me.

Talon said...

Great story, Cookie. You're so right - kids are great teachers - lol!

When you get really adept at Japanese, you can make a guide book with the REALLY important phrases in them~!

Mama Zen said...

You understand more than you are able to say? I'm the exact opposite with foreign languages.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Good Luck, Cookie... Glad you are learning. Other cultures are so different. When two people marry from two different cultures, it's good that the children learn both --- so it sounds like you are doing the right thing. Keep on plugging... You'll do great.
Hugs,
Betsy

a corgi said...

I didn't realize your hubby was Japanese, but now that makes sense about that book he brought home (or you obtained somehow) with trying to find out what was wrong with the pictures and how it was written in Japanese. I think it is great you want to learn how to speak your hubby's native tongue; awesome if the kids could get it too; being bilingual I think is a good skill to have this day and age.

have fun with the class :)

betty

Lynn said...

Hey - maybe you could write your own guidebook using American "slang" like potty. :) My hat is off to you for learning Japanese!

Snaggle Tooth said...

So can you tell us the word for "potty" without using pin-yin symbols? I wanna know my second word...
They actually teach Japanese at our high school.

I can write a few Chinese Pin Yins I use for Feng Shue art work-

Cathy said...

that's so awesome you're learning japanese. my dad is italian, and didn't teach us when we were little, and i so wish i had learned.

p-huong said...

You make me miss learning a foreign language. To make sure I keep up with my French, I set my cellphone's settings to French. My friends hate using my phone because they can't read it.

I didn't know your husband is Japanese. Now that other post about that picture book makes a whole lotta sense.

Michelle said...

It is interesting what you learn officially and unofficially. I love the idea of regaining French fluency by immersion. Painful but ohhh so effective in that learning. Here's hoping you enjoy your class. It's about 20 steps better than me at this point :)