Perfect on Paper

I had a test on kanji yesterday, and my score was perfect. My teacher praised me but she doesn’t know that I don’t know the meaning of the kanji characters in the test. I didn’t even read the sentences. I just memorized the homework she gave me last week.

In my lessons I always learn new grammar rules, words and kanji characters, and I am expected to memorize them. I never get to use them in a sentence, and there is no discussion about “why”. My teacher told me to just memorize everything.

    character – a letter, number, or other mark or sign used in writing

Memorization is a part of learning, but it is not learning. It is only a tool. True learning is being able to understand something and then use it outside the classroom, which is the most important, especially when learning a language.

When I was memorizing the kanji characters for the test, I was frustrated and I wasn’t really learning, so I decided to take a break from taking Japanese lessons and study on my own.

I want to learn to speak Japanese the same way that I learned to speak English, Filipino, and Ilocano – by using it. This means that I will be speaking to myself in strange and broken Japanese like a crazy person, but that’s okay. It’s better than wasting my time memorizing things that I will probably forget in a few days.