Musings about Japan and life as a human, a cosplayer, a minority, a music lover, an English teacher.

Writing in Japanese

At the start of every class this year, I have introduced myself while writing my name in Katakana. Most classes have said nothing about my writing, a few kids and teachers have made remarks about it, along the lines of being surprised that I could write in Japanese.

Now I haven’t told these kids that started studying Japanese ten years ago. In fact, in my farewell speech to my last two schools, that was the first time I had ever mentioned it.

But whether it’s ten years or ten months…it’s really not hard to write in Japanese. It takes practice, like with any other writing system.

But, for some reason, some Japanese people have it in their minds that foreigners can’t write Hiragana or Katakana, and Kanji is just simply impossible for anyone who isn’t Asian.

Kanji isn’t easy, that’s for sure. But when I write the days of the week in Kanji, it’s really not deserving of a “Wow.”

As with other things, Japanese people probably aren’t used to it. Maybe a previous ALT couldn’t write, or something. Maybe it’s because I have really neat handwriting.

Yesterday I wrote my name in Katakana for a 3rd grade class. I got an applause.


I just smiled, but on the inside I was facepalming. I almost mentioned that I had been studying for 10 years, but decided to just move on.

An outline for the curriculum I’m planning this semester, 99.9% in Japanese. I generally write my lesson plans in Japanese, even though I’m the only one who looks at them.

EDIT 9/14/2013: Yesterday I had a 6th grader give me the “Wow she can write Katakana” comment, and that’s when I told them that I’ve been studying for a long time and learned it when I was in high school. He had made a mention about the previous teacher’s Katakana, which implicated that it was more of a comparison to the last foreigner’s writing skills, and not a, “Wow, non-Japanese people can write in Japanese” way of thinking. Nonetheless, just as some Americans treat immigrants as if they’re incapable of speaking English, there are some Japanese people (mostly older ones) who think that non-Japanese people have little to no Japanese language skills.


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