Things are starting to become much more difficult in classes. It's been kind of interesting watching people's relative levels sort of begin to match. It's like watching one of those needle thingers at a toy store cover a person's hand or face or whatever. As the class increases in intensity and difficulty, it is hitting every individual's knowledge level. First, it started hitting grammar and words that most of had used infrequently and I think it's soon going to start hitting things that we haven't seen at all. The class has already started introducing verbs and nouns that I've never heard. I can now say things pertaining to saving and deleting files on a computer. I can ask someone to rescue me from a fire. I can instruct someone on ad hoc contraception. I'm really looking forward to hitting new grammar points though. I'm sure that there are things that I can say that I haven't figured out how to say with what I know now, but it would still be nice to be able to make some slightly more interesting sentences. I suppose we're probably moving about as fast as we can, though.
With the speed of the class, I'm having to invent new ways to remember words. No longer am I able to just look at flash cards a zillion times. Oh sure, that works but I am usually left with just a two dimensional memory of a word and not any actual idea of the application of said word. I still use the flashcards, but I also try to make sentences with every verb and use every grammar point that I know as often as I can in conversations with the natives. I find myself making a lot of comparison sentences lately because of the whole "no hou ga" pattern being clunky in my head. If I didn't hear Japanese people using it all the time, I would just abandon the task but think about it: how many times per day do you describe something by comparing it to something else? I know I do it all the time and, as it turns out, our not so distant neighbors do it as well.
I've come to the conclusion that I need to start studying a bunch of kanji. For whatever reason, I placed in the low level of kanji class and it is insanely easy. I don't mind as much because I'm mostly interested in my speaking and grammar and less interested in kanji, but we are going at a ludicrously slow pace. At this rate, it won't be until the end of the semester that we get to the part of the book where I feel less comfortable, never mind getting to part of the book that I haven't done. I'm still feeling pretty self conscious about getting myself moved to J2 language, so I probably won't make any big deal about the kanji situation. I just think it's funny that the kanji level 2 class is doing easy beginner kanji, as well. I'll probably just enjoy the lack of stress from being in J1 kanji and go at my own pace. I mean, Iino sensei is amazing and I don't get him ever in J2, so it's cool that I have a chance to have him teach me.
Iino sensei. That guy is so awesome. He has the most incredible way of making things just seem easy. My other teachers don't exactly make me feel uncomfortable, but when I speak with Iino sensei, even when I'm bumbling my words a bit, he just laughs and I don't feel uncomfortable at all. I still mess up, but I don't feel embarrassed about it. Best of all, is the way he carries himself. He's almost like "the mysterious and powerful silly old man" character that you find in anime sometimes. He kind of acts silly and laughs a lot, but you know that inside of him, possibly just beneath the surface lies a ninja waiting to strike. By day, he is an unassuming Japanese instructor and by night he is a crime fighting ninja-robot making the streets of Tokyo safe for all of us.
I hope to one day become a human robot hybrid ninja crime fighter.