Growing up, I learned French without too much difficulty and got to the point (and, sadly, have since strayed far from it) where I was most often taken as a native speaker by the French (until I made some gaffe or other.)
How much more difficult can Japanese be, I thought to myself? Well, it turned out to be much, much, much, much – did I say much? – more difficult. For two years, I went to an intensive language school and lived in a completely Japanese-speaking environment. With all that, I struggled mightily to string a few semi-coherent words together.
And then one day, on the train into language school, I realized that I could understand every word of every announcement being made. What had been “gibberish” to me the day before was suddenly perfectly clear.
That “Aha!” moment didn’t end my difficulties with Japanese, but it was an important turning point and I was, and still, am grateful for it.
Any big “Aha!” moments in your life for which you are grateful?
[The photo of the man with lustrous black hair is, sadly, not me!]