It took me years to be able to say “I learn this language only to read books, I am not interested in communicating with natives”.
I once heard a professor say that the main purpose of a language was to communicate and that learning only to read was nonsense, that a language was, first of all, a spoken act. Since then, I started feeling unqualified or even unauthorised to say “learning languages is my favourite hobby” because I am not a social person and I usually prefer spending my time alone than with other people, except for close relationships.
As a consequence, I ended up being ashamed of my speaking level and of the gap that created itself between my reading/test level and my communication skills. What is strange is that I even started feeling guilty and sometimes hid the fact that I could read in a language (but could not speak). I prefered to deny any competence than to admit they were not equal.
One day, I saw a friend reading a book in German. I asked him if he could speak German and he answered that he could not speak German or communicate in it, that he could just read. I remember that I was impressed and repeated with admiration “you can read books in German?!” (it was before I learnt German myself, at a time when I thought anyone capable of reading words like Schwarzwälderkirchtorte was some kind of genius).
I don’t know why, but it took me a long time to realise that, what I was despising in myself and admiring in this friend was exactly the same thing. And of course, being able to read a language without speaking it is a thousand time more glorious than not knowing the language at all.
So yes, I am learning Japanese mainly to read novels in Japanese. I have always been interested in Japanese literature, but I have been frustrated with the translations I read until now. My goal is to be able to read challenging novels in Japanese.
This blog helps me to stay motivated and to give a structure to my language journey.
About the blog.
This blog changed a lot since I first created it. As it stands now, I update it three times a week:
- On Mondays, I write some general reflexions about my learning Japanese, the strategies and material I use, the exercises I practice…
- On Wednesdays, I write about the novels or other books I read in Japanese.
- On Fridays, I write about the things I did during the week to stay in contact with the Japanese language. While my main goal is to read novels, I still want to improve my listening skills, to be able to read the news in Japanese, understand films without subtitles and get to know Japanese culture, society and history better.