In Depth 2k19: Blog Post #3

Once again, about two weeks have gone since my last post. I had another mentoring session. This time, we went over the following:

  • Hiragana practice. My mentor tested my knowledge of the hiragana by having me write down the romanized version of the Japanese word in hiragana. It was an opportunity for my mentor to see my grasp of hiragana and also an opportunity for me to see how much I really knew.
  • Common phrases and pronunciation: In the time we had, we ran through two different scenarios, and practiced Japanese that was relevant to that particular scenario. This gave me practical knowledge, rather than pedantic knowledge, on saying useful phrases like asking where a bus was heading.
  • Vocabulary. Once more, we went over some new vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary this time was entirely new, and I walked away from the mentoring session with the knowledge of several new words.
  • Basic grammar. One major takeaway was that in sentences using わ (wa) as a topic marker, or grammatical particle, わ is written as は (ha). Therefore, the sentence for kore wa nan desu ka? (what is this?) is written これはなんですか。

Progress Report:

Through reviewing and practice, I have fortified my knowledge of the kana, and I can pretty much write any word in hiragana or katakana.

My learning of the kanji stroke order and their rough English definitions is going pretty well. I’m approximately halfway towards my goal. On the side, I’ve been doing immersion with different forms of media. While I still don’t understand the majority of what I’m hearing, I can usually grasp the gist of the conversation through the few phrases I know and by following along with the context.

How to have a Beautiful Mind:

How to be Interesting:

Me: From looking at the words from before, I can see that jin means person. In this scenario, however, why is the word hito used to mean person?

Mentor: It’s complicated.


Me: This is mostly a guess, but is it because of the kunyomi and onyomi pronunciations? The Chinese and the native pronunciations.


Mentor: Yes. Usually, I try not to teach that too early since that confuses a lot of my students.

De Bono states that “finding and making connections links matters together and generates interest” (p. 52). By creating connections between different representations of the word for person, I linked these two matters together. This got rid of the confusion I had by creating a logical answer to the questions I had regarding the different words. Furthermore, this generated interest by telescoping into the concept of kunyomi and onyomi, something that usually wouldn’t be covered in our conversation.

How to Respond:

Me: I’m a bit confused on when you use おお or おう to create the long vowel sound for “oo”. I might have missed something you said, but is there some kind of grammar rule or any kind of rule that makes it so that you use おう or おお?

Mentor: I don’t know! (laughingly) You’ll have to ask the person who invented Japanese. It’s random, and unfortunately, it’s more memorization. You’ll get it eventually.

One of the tactics described in the “how to respond” chapter is clarification. “Any speaker wants to communicate and to be understood” (p. 55). Likewise, my mentor and I both want to communicate and understand each other. In this case, it turned out that I had not missed something my mentor said. However, if it did turn out that my mentor said something regarding rules with the long vowel sounds, I would have left the mentoring session with an incomplete understanding, something that could be detrimental to my learning.

Alas, reader, you have reached the end of this blog post. さよなら。


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