Thursday, 17 June 2010

Japanese and the World Cup

These last few days I've been mostly watching the World Cup and studying Japanese.

Even though I've only just finished my degree in Japanese Studies, this last year I haven't had much chance to study the language itself, or at least in the way that I like to. I was pretty busy with a dissertation that took up a lot of my time, and then my language study was mainly concerned with homeworks and assignments for specific classes. That meant that my overall language ability, and my kanji especially, really suffered. These last few days I've just been going over a vocabulary list which I've been compiling throughout the year and re-learning a lot of kanji and vocab. I'm also going to get back on track with my goal of learning all the jouyou kanji (a list of 1945 commonly used kanji) using Anki. I'm about halfway there at the moment, and it's said that if you know all the jouyou kanji you can read basically any Japanese newspaper article without needing a dictionary.

Just spending two or three days immersing myself in Japanese vocabulary, kanji and newspaper articles has seen a real improvement in my ability, and I'm sure my kanji powers will soon reach their previous levels. Obviously, the main motivation to be at the peak of my abilities is because I'm starting work in a Japanese office in under two months. I remember a similar situation two years ago when I studied hard for weeks before heading off to Japan for my study year abroad and really saw an improvement then. When university and exams are out of the way you can study the things you want and in the way you want, and I think that's when you really see results.

I have been avidly watching the World Cup as well though, managing to catch parts of every match. Whereas in previous years there would often be matches played at the same time, it's great how this year there are basically three matches one after another throughout the day, so you can watch footy from noon 'til night. It's been a funny tournament so far, with complaints about the ball and the vuvuzelas, and an abundance of goalkeeping errors and red cards. It's also a shame to see that South Africa probably won't be progressing to the next round - the first time that will have ever happened to a host nation.

But the World Cup is always an amazing spectacle because of the melting pot of nations and cultures it creates. It's a reminder that there are all these different peoples and languages throughout the world, but that we're all the same in that we love football. The first World Cup I remember watching was the 1994 tournament in the USA, which England didn't qualify for, but I remember my dad buying me a souvenir magazine which had all this information and stats about the various countries involved. I was only 6 at the time, but I think that World Cup, and then subsequent World Cups, really sparked my interest in other countries and international relations.

Obviously, this year England are involved, and I think they've got a decent chance of winning. Each year the support for England's football team throughout the country grows, and even my mum and sister watched our game against the US on Saturday. It'd be great for us to win this year before I head off for Japan.

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