My experience of learning Japanese has been rocky one. From when I started studying Japanese in Year 8 till I took the GCSE exam, I had always been top of the class without putting in very much effort. What a change I faced when I joined the Bokokugo Kyoshitsu. Suddenly, no longer was I ahead of the game – far from it. I was the only one in the class who was neither part Japanese nor had spent any time in Japan. Keeping up with the syllabus and my classmates, especially with the reduction of teaching time I received from four hours spread over the week to one hour on Tuesdays and two on Saturdays, now required real work, and I was often frustrated that, despite my efforts, my Japanese was extremely broken and I could still only express myself in the simplest terms.
Slowly, though, I adjusted to the pace, and my Japanese, while still broken and full of gaps, is now much better than before. After six years of Japanese study I truly appreciate how different it is from the other languages I know, but I have also come to realize that I enjoy being presented with this challenge, and that these linguistic differences which force you to think in ways very alien to a native speaker of English make Japanese a real pleasure to learn. Though I still have many years of study ahead of me before I get even halfway to fluency in Japanese, I relish the prospect like a mountain climber, who, though they know that the summit is distant and they are small, and that the path upwards is fraught with snowdrift and ravines, smiles and climbs anyway, for the pure joy of it.