Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Bribing Super Sensei with Belgian cookies

Back in January, I started following Japanese lessons. I think, if I am destined to lazy about for a couple of years in Japan, at least I should have something to show for it. In addition, it would be so nice to actually be able to understand the labels of products in the supermarket, or at least manage to order a tall latte at Starbucks without the barista looking at you with pitying eyes while he/she shows you the menu with pictures.

So I started at a language centre not far from our place, just a few minutes' walk in fact. I signed for five hours a week, two hours and a half per lesson, mondays and wednesdays. I even had two classmates: Frenchy Girl and seasoned American Mater Familias, which was quite nice. Our teacher, or 'sensei' was a 50-something Japanese lady, stick thin, well travelled and who spoke French with a lot of conviction. Let's call her Super Sensei.

Some time in February, they informed us that the centre was closing but that they were going to continue on one-to-one lessons at our homes, if we so wished. As I still had a good 90 hours of courses paid by Mr M's company, I signed in and requested to continue with Super Sensei.

I am now doing two hours a week, in theory to have time to study properly in between lesson. The reality is that I end up doing all my week's worth or homework half an hour before Super Sensei arrives, which leaves the practicing bit totally out of the picture. I still hesitate with a few of the hiragana characters (is this a 'ra' or a 'sa'?) which I am supposed to know by heart by now and have still not managed to impress the girls at the Starbucks inside the Tsutaya bookshop. Super Sensei every now and then says 'you need to study this', which in my mind translates as "you lazy ass gaijin wife, learn this hiragana stuff once and for all!"

Truth is, I know I am not putting the hours, the study, in. I have never really studied much in my life. I mean studing for hours on end, preparing for an exam. Wait, that's not true. I did study a lot for History of Art in university, but only because I really loved the subject and the professor was a bit scary but fair. I had lots of admiration for this woman and couldn't contemplate not knowing anything she asked. Other than that, I guess I have a sort of Attention Deficit Disorder in the sense that I cannot concentrate on the same thing for a long time. My mind starts to wander, I need to take a walk or watch some TV....etc. I did quite well at school and at university, so this is just how I am: l-a-z-y....

Anyway, I am resolved to devote at least an hour every week actually studying Japanese at home (and not the hour before Super Sensei arrives home for the lesson). In the meantime, in order to keep Super Sensei happy, I have institutionalised coffee breaks with Belgian cookies mid-lesson. Last week I bought LU 'Petit Ecoliers" with dark chocolate top. She said it was a nice flavour combination. I say it has earned me some points but I need to impress her with my Hiragana skills next Monday or there will be no butter gallette that will save my ass.

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