Chatting in Japanese…with my dad?!

I’ve already written quite a few times about my attempts to learn Japanese, but recently something extraordinary happened.

I had my first (brief) conversation in Japanese with…MY DAD.

Now, Romanian is our native language and we’ve always spoken it at home, barring a few random words/sentences in English or French.

Why did we chat in Japanese then?

Well, ever since Kokoro and I got engaged, my dad has been quite adamant to learn at least some basic Japanese to communicate with the in-laws.

He started off where most of us did when we first decided to take a crack at a new language: Duolingo, of course.

By the time our families first met, he had already learned basic sentences and words that could help them during that first awkward meeting – and he did so on quite short notice!

After several months of more or less daily lessons, he finally completed the Duolingo course, but he wasn’t fully satisfied!

He felt like he could have learned more grammar, more vocabulary, more everything, basically.

After some browsing, he came across a new learning platform (JapanesePod101) and nearly instantly bought a six-month course…

I’ll be honest, I started getting quite competitive! There was no way I was going to fall behind my Japanese lessons and let my dad pass me!

I’ll learn more kanji than you, dad! Or something like that.

I instantly subscribed to the course as well and now we’re both taking the same lessons at our own pace and, most recently, as I said, we just had a brief chat in Japanese.

What was the topic? Miso paste. Obviously. What else?

We recommended him to buy some miso paste since he loves miso soup and was complaining that he couldn’t make his own properly…I promise our family talks about more things besides food, ok?

In any case, my dad’s always been a diligent student and quite a fast learner, so I was happy in many ways to have some competition and the motivation to push each other to see who can learn faster and more.

It’s also very helpful to have someone to bounce the same topics and vocabulary off of since Kokoro and her family speak a very…difficult…form of Japanese.

I’d say it’s a mix of dialects and self-made words that make it nearly impossible for me to follow their conversation at times – it’s even difficult for Japanese speakers, from what I’ve been told!

So, to have someone to practice standard Japanese words with has been very helpful and I would have never imagined a few years ago that this person would be my dad!

Sometimes it reminds me of my high school Spanish and Italian lessons where we would work in pairs to create fictional dialogues based on that week’s lesson – ordering at a restaurant, meeting someone new, describing our favourite pastimes etc. You know, those awkward 2-minute dialogues we’ve all had in a language class at some point or another…

I highly doubt it’ll get to that point, but the thought is still pretty funny to me.

From Duolingo at first, to JapanesePod101 now, who knows what’s next for him. For now, however, there’s one thing I know for sure: the competition is heating up!