As my time in Japan draws to a close, it is with increasing desperation
that I try to jam in as much 日本語 into my unwilling brain as I can before
setting sail back home. Far from being one to return empty-handed from
the land of jewels, I have, although perhaps half-heartedly at times, done
my best to acquire this language - which is more than what I can say about
some of my associates. I'm baffled by the chronic apathy and complacence
of people, who would choose to live for years on end in a kind of linguistic
limbo, unable to participate in the simplest of conversations, rather than
spend a few regular moments in front of a textbook.
The constant tension one feels not being a native speaker of 日本語 and the
fear that the slightest lapse in concentration will derail one's already
wobbly train of thought can be stressful at times, especially in a country
for whom language acquisition is practically an official national pastime.
I must say, I find it a little unfair when touring the bookshelves of ジュンク堂
to find probably five times the amount of 英語 instruction books for 日本語
speakers as there are 日本語 for 英語 speakers. I wouldn't find it that upsetting
except that the quality of those 日本語 textbooks is really quite low, and
most of them are essentially novelties, although I do own a number of them.
I'm praying I can maintain (develop?) the discipline to continue my own
studies once I return to Australia, and one day actually say that I am
fluent, but that day is a long way off, I fear.