Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/customer/www/packlings.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/Divi/functions.php on line 5806
Select Page

Leading up to our trip to Japan I was pretty certain that the three years of Japanese I did in high school would put me in good stead once we hit Tokyo. I have since come to realise this was not entirely true.

I can put this down to three things:

  1. High school was a while ago and I have forgotten some things.
  2. I wasn’t an exemplary student so I might have missed bits and pieces.
  3. The curriculum was a bit odd and not entirely useful.

Now I will admit the first two are highly likely… but I think the third is true too.

Speaking: A lot of things did come back to me as I thought through my vocabulary in the lead up to our departure.  I remembered a lot of basics like “hello”, “thank-you”, and “excuse me”.  All very useful.  But then it occurred to me (even more so once we arrived) that I couldn’t really say anything useful.

While I could say “I am going for a shower” or “I like chocolate”, or tell you my name and where I’m from, none of that is particularly helpful when trying to get a table for two and order dinner and a couple of beers.

Now, we do have the trusty phrasebook, so we try our best and have done ok. But I wonder (again, I acknowledge the likelihood of the first two scenarios) if the curriculum for high school Japanese has been changed so that students learn things useful for day to day scenarios.

Reading: Now this one is on me.  I chose not to keep going with Japanese past the 10th grade. I know I had more to learn (I guess that applies to speaking too).  I could read Hiragana and a little Katakana and would have learnt more Kanji in following years.  It would have been helpful.  While there is Hiragana and Katakana around, Kanji is everywhere.  I would say I am good for about 20% of what is written. If only I had stuck with it.

Ahh! How do we choose our beers??!

Between deficiencies in speaking and reading there have been a few pointing and nodding moments. I also definitely know how to ask for an English menu. My confidence as a world traveller has been diminished and frankly I just feel rude. But, we’ll always have the phrasebook of whatever country we are in on hand (and the trusty smart phone as a last resort), so I guess just having a go is the first step.

I can’t wait for Germany to see how Melissa’s high school language choice pays off.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to be the first to know about what we've been up to? Subscribe and we'll keep you in the loop on new blog posts and any exciting news.

Nice one! Thanks for signing up.