It’s been years since I first announced to everyone I knew that I was going to tackle the Japanese language. I guess it’s expected that friends and family are surprised whenever I still label myself a beginner. Of course, I don’t think I’ve put in half the effort in the past 5 years that I did in the past 6 months, and that’s partly to blame, but I think my time as an absolute beginner made me overconfident. I was absorbing so much new information and I felt as if every lesson was making an impact, and they were. I learned greetings, tons of vocabulary and TWO whole new writing systems (Kana). “2 years til fluency”, was my motto. I was on top of the world back then.
But of course, with experience came the realization that I was only barely scratching the surface of this complex language. The times I’ve remembered almost quitting were almost always preceded by feeling overwhelmed by everything there is to learn. To continue learning the language, I had to learn how to handle the blows to the ego and study hard to achieve any kind of result. In the past 6 months, I really have worked harder than ever before, and I am proud to say I’d label myself an Upper Beginner at this point.
It really is tough to gauge your own level, and there is much debate on this topic, but since I’m still at a level where textbooks are very beneficial, I use them as my guide. I’m currently studying from Genki II & Japanese for Busy People II. The first few lessons of JPFBP II I would still consider beginner level, but Genki II is a bit more challenging, grammar-wise. Therefore, I am comfortable stating that I am just entering upper beginner territory. (Yes!) And to solidify my status, my tutor recently introduced a grammar point that she herself labelled as “Upper Beginner”.
I’m satisfied with my current status even though “Intermediate” feels so far away. I’m sure it’s a lot more frustrating for Advanced learners who really don’t know how to place themselves in terms of fluency, as the label “Advanced” can mean so many things. I’m just in the preliminary stages of planning a trip to Japan in a year’s time, so entering the intermediate level by then is a solid and achievable goal.
What do you think your level is and how what did you use to determine that?
I will be posting soon about my trip planning process as the time nears and providing an update on my new tutor! Until next time!