I was recently put in my place this last December with the JLPT 4 test. I wrote it about it in “Why my JLPT Fail was Still a Win“. It was a very eye opening experience and a great motivational experience.
The biggest problem with it is not being able to convey my how I felt afterward to others in my class. It really is one of those things you have to experience to understand. It isn’t completely a bad feeling just one of disappointment in yourself, and the wanting to do better next time. Today friends and classmates in our local college Japanese Language club got to feel the same thing, finally.
I don’t say this to be mean at all, but our class lives in a bubble in the middle of the United States. Not a lot of opportunity to speak and practice Japanese. If you want to figure out what level you are at it probably wont happen easily unless you actively seek it out. Most people in my class don’t. What happened today burst that bubble for many and let them see the bigger one they were inside of. So I guess you are curios what happened.
On Monday I went to The Tulsa Japanese Language and Culture Meetup. It was an awesome experience since there are a couple of fluent speakers some middle of the road and me, at the bottom. Anyway, I mentioned the college club and invited the others to come if they wanted to. Well one of the fluent speakers showed up, lets call her Sarah. I was excited she showed up because she could really contribute to the group with her speaking ability. My teacher seemed excited about this too and they held a few conversations at breakneck speed in front of everyone.
While I was listening to the conversations I saw the exact expression showing up which was showing up on my face during the JLPT. The “what in the world have I gotten myself into” look. It was also awesome for Sarah to be fluent as an extra motivator to show it can be done for sure.
After the meeting I asked several people how they felt about what they just experienced, and all of them basically told me they felt like someone destroyed their brain. The best way I know to put it is they now know their place in side this bubble that is Japanese language, with me along with them.
Fortunately not one person was defeated and everyone is motivated to learn more now that they realize truly how far there is still left to go, which means good things are going to happen this year with the club.
So in conclusion to all this if you are learning try to find a couple of people that are fluent and listen to them talk in person if at all possible. It is totally different to listen to 2 people talk in person than from a computer now matter how much I or you might want to argue to the contrary. Never be discouraged by what you don’t know just realize there is something else to learn and next time you will know it.