Do you remember your first homework assignment? Was it in the first grade? I’m trying to think back and cannot remember what was the first thing I brought home to do. I’m guessing some alphabet practice.
That’s roughly where we are at with my eldest son. His first assignment was to practice writing the letter “い” a few times. Dutifully tracing an initial couple of examples and then filling in the remaining boxes on his own. So begins a long process of repetition to get one’s head wrapped around the hiragana character set and then a set of 80 simple kanji. The daily drill will be critical to master the hardest part of Japanese – writing and reading.
My impression of Japanese education is that there will be a lot of repetition. I’m ok with that, to an extent. The physical act of writing helps to wire the brain and, from what I’ve read, is better at stimulating it than typing on a keyboard. If you take notes by hand, you simply cannot write everything down that someone is saying and have to find ways of paraphrasing and summarizing to keep pace. I’m stuck with English as my primary language, but I can salivate at the idea of being able to take notes using kanji. So much meaning locked up in a single character makes me imagine that the Japanese could be the ultimate note takers. To get to that point, however, you’ll need to spend years learning and memorizing.
A significant portion of my children’s lives are going to be dedicated to learning written Japanese from this day forward and it does weigh on my mind as to the value it will provide them. All those hours spent on a language used by a small fraction of the world’s population, although still one of the larger economies. Still, I think it will be the process of memorizing and learning that will pay off for them in the long run and feed into the other endeavors they pursue.
The homework was just a small step in a much larger journey today and I’ll continue to do what I can to help them putting one foot in front of the other.
We also noticed that he got his first loose tooth today.