How I studied the Japanese language as part of my degree

– By Sidhi

みなさん、こんにちは。 私は シディです。(Hello everyone! I am Sidhi.) 

In this blog, I’ll drive you through my journey of studying the Japanese language as part of my degree at the Modern Language Centre.  

The most important bit of undertaking any journey is the reason behind it. My reason for wanting to learn the Japanese language was to be able to read my favourite book by my favourite author — ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Muarakami. I read the translated version of the novel years ago, and since then I had always wanted to read the book in its original form. I had no prior knowledge of the language when I decided to get enrolled in MLC’s Japanese 1-semester programme, and the only words that I knew were from either watching a couple of anime and/or  listening to Jpop. In all honesty, I was a bit anxious about studying the language as I had heard it to be one of the most difficult languages with very complicated symbols for letters; however, the idea of being able to read the original version of my favourite book kept me going.  


There are a variety of options as to how you can study a language at MLC: as part of your degree, as an additional course outside of your degree, weekday classes, weekend classes, 2-semester courses, 1-semester intensive courses, and so on. I studied the language through the 1-semester intensive course as part of my degree, and so, I had two-hours long classes every Tuesday and Thursday. There were around 15 of us in the class: all studying different degrees and in different years. It was an insightful experience to study a new language together with a variety of people with different nationalities and ethnicities. Along the course, we discovered fascinating ways in which different languages, say hindi, use the same language rules as the Japanese language, and the process of learning the new language became less difficult by observing and realising these patterns.  


I studied the entire language module online, as last year I had to study remotely from my home in India due to Covid19. Although I felt anxious about studying the language online, for studying a language is better in an interactive setting, I thoroughly enjoyed the online classes. The lessons involved all sorts of exercise and practises including written practice, verbal practice, group exercises, and exercises in pairs. We had a lot of speaking practice in our seminars and we practised our written proficiency through homework and online exercises. 先生 (Our teacher) would pair us up in breakout rooms on Microsoft Teams so we can practise speaking as one would normally do in an actual conversation. Homeworks were marked by 先生 every week before class, and there were office hours in case we had any doubts about anything or needed more help with a topic. Even though we were not physically present together in a class, the sessions were always very interactive and the distance did not matter much. Additionally, there were other services provided by the MLC like the ‘Native Speaker Practice’ to help us with our speaking skills.  


Studying any language is a large commitment in terms of both effort and time, and it is even harder when you are studying a BA alongside, but it is not a mountain that cannot be climbed. Practising for one hour every day when you do not have classes is necessary and sufficient to help you keep up with the pace of the intensive language courses. It is also important to ask questions when you do not understand a concept entirely, while it is equally important to know that no question is insignificant or silly.   


This year I am studying Level 2 Japanese in-person on campus and I am really enjoying it, and although I still am not able to read Murakami’s ‘Norwegian Wood’ in Japanese yet, I am sure one day I will be. I hope studying a language course at MLC will be a fun experience for you.  

Here I have attached a picture of my class from last year as we smile at our cameras while studying on Teams:  

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