In Depth 2K19: Blog Post #5, Jōyō Kanji, Fugu, and Omurice

Time has gone by really fast. It feels like it was just recently that I met my mentor for the first time and now, I’m thinking about how I’m going to present my learning on In-Depth night, Since my last blog post, I have had two sessions with my mentor. In a nutshell, this is what we discussed:

  • Vocabulary. As said in my previous blog post, my mentor and I introduce a lot of new vocabulary through running through different scenarios, but we also went over specific vocabulary, such as Japanese numbers to ten million.
  • Oral. The bulk of our sessions are oral. My mentor and I ask questions and give answers in different scenarios to practice pronunciation and correct grammar.
  • Prepositions. We covered the basic prepositions, such as 上 (up), 下 (below), 前 (in front), and 横 (next to).
  • Japanese culture. Occasionally, the questions lead to tangents where my mentor and I end up discussing Japanese culture, such as onsens (hot springs), fugu (a risky pufferfish dish), and omurice (omelet over rice). While not directly related to the language learning aspect, these discussions help me know my mentor more as a person.

Progress Report:

When I initially set my goals, I underestimated the amount of information needed to learn kanji. Even though I’m only learning the kanji and their definitions, I’m still planned on learning three thousand two hundred kanji, the approximate number of kanji a university graduate would know. For now, I’ve learned the two thousand two hundred general use, jōyō kanji, or the kanji a Japanese high school graduate would know. I think that my initial goals might have been possible in an environment without other commitments but might have been too ambitious to do during a school year.

I’m still indirectly finding out the pronunciations for certain kanji. For example, my mentor taught me the prepositions, and one of them was うえ, which means up. Knowing that the kanji for up was 上, I could then logically synthesize that 上 was pronounced うえ.

Immersion has been going well. I’m picking out a lot of words and phrases and the context is getting a lot easier to understand. While the amount of immersion has gone down due to there being certain times in my schedule where immersion is not possible, I plan to increase the quality of my immersion by doing more active immersion where I’m actively listening and trying to understand what I’m hearing rather than passive immersion where I simply play Japanese media while I work on other things.

How to have a Beautiful Mind:

Personally, I think this blog needs more color, so I will color code my transcript.

Black Hat

White Hat

Red Hat

Yellow Hat

Green Hat

Blue Hat

Mentor: This should be written が not か.

“The black hat stops us from doing things that are wrong,” and that’s what my mentor, who uses the black hat the most, uses it for (p. 94). By critiquing my writing, my mentor prevents me from developing bad habits that might hinder my application of the language.

Me: Yeah, I keep forgetting to put the dakuten marks.

Mentor: Also, is this あいません? You want ありません.

Me: Oh, that actually is ありません. I was writing a bit fast so I guess it came out a bit funny-looking.

“The white hat means ‘information’,” so in this case, my mentor and I exchange “information” on what I wrote, using only solid facts and avoiding the usage of emotions (p.92).

Mentor: Yes. I feel like you could lengthen this stroke more so that it looks for like り instead of い.

Mentor: I notice you used kanji. Very good, but why did you write いぬ in katakana?

My mentor uses the red hat to “legitimize [her] emotions” and give me statements that allow me to understand that what she’s saying is not entirely fact-based logic but rather her “emotions, feelings, and intuition” (p.93/94). Using this hat, she expresses her thoughts on the neatness and legibility of my writing and expresses her thoughts on the usage of kanji. Additionally, she uses the blue hat. By “defining the focus and purpose” of our conversation by asking a question, my mentor also sets “the sequence of hats for the session” (p.101). The question makes me explain why I wrote いぬ in katakana and limits the number of hats that could be used next by making me choose a hat most suitable for answering the question.

Me: Oh, I thought that since ネコ was written in katakana, いぬ would also be written in katakana. Also, i did some research, and I found いぬ written in katakana.

“The green hat asks for (…) alternatives,” such as the asking of the alternative writing of いぬ. In this case, the alternative I proposed turned out to be wrong, but if it did turn out that いぬ could have been written イヌ, taking the risk to explore an alternative would have given me valuable information I wouldn’t have gotten without using the green hat. I also use the yellow hat by trying to explain “why something should work” (p.97). I explain to mentor why I think いぬ is written in katakana by telling her how I did research and showing my logical train of thought. This allows me to find value in the possibility I proposed by clarifying why my alternative does not work.

Mentor: I see. Well in this scenario, it’s usually not written in katakana, but you can write it in kanji.

Me: Is 犬 the kanji by any chance?

Mentor: Yes! Very good.

Mentor: Overall, your writing is very easy to read, but you just need to fix the way you write a few of the hiragana.

Once again, my mentor uses the blue hat, but this time, its solely for the purpose of “defining the focus and purpose” of the conversation a final time (p.97). By summing up her comments regarding my writing and the suggestions she had for me, she repeats the context of our conversation and reaffirms its purpose. Furthermore, the yellow hat and the green hat are used again. The yellow hat finds value in my writing by describing it as “very easy to read,” while the green hat explores the alternative of writing certain hiragana a bit neater.

With one more blog post left the moment I press “Publish”, In-Depth is just around the corner. Let’s make the days count, all the way until the end. さよなら!

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