Sunday, August 31, 2008


A lot of people seem to overestimate my Japanese ability. I'm not sure how that came to be since when asked I'm always honest and say that my Japanese is still very broken. Seriously. My kanji reading ability is probably at the early elementary school level (i.e. not even fifth or sixth grade) and my vocabulary is pathetically limited (although I do know a lot of grammar terms). Not to mention, even when I know the words, I usually can't remember which tense to use or how to conjugate the words properly.

In short, my reading and speaking ability are still at the basic level.

My listening, though, has improved significantly from when I first arrived. But even then, I still only understand about 50% (at most) of what I hear--remember the vocabulary problem.

The reason I think people overestimate me is that I'm fairly good at guessing what's being said from the context, and I'm also decent at reading the subtext of a conversation. I was thinking about it on the way home from the PTA trip to the Morioka Handicraft Village yesterday (a lot of fun, by the way--expect pictures soonish) and I realized that I could follow other people's conversations but had difficulty answering some of the questions put to me. See, a lot of the time people just ask you questions out of the blue, or, if you're already in a conversation, they might ask digressive questions, so it's a lot harder to guess from the context than if simply listening to a conversation.

So yeah, basically my actual Japanese comprehension is average or below-average, but my guessing skills give the impression that I understand more Japanese than I actually do.

It's bad because now I need to study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) that I signed up to take in December and I've got a heckload of lot of stuff to learn/re-learn. Maybe if I hadn't been able to get through so much just by using context, I would've had more motivation to start studying earlier (like, last year)?

Besides, it's embarrassing to be asked all sorts of vocabulary/kanji questions that I really don't know the answer to but people seem to think I will... ^^;;