In the first week my host family went to quite a lot of effort to help me practice my Japanese. Initially I could only understand one of the sisters well so I would often turn to her to help me understand what the others were saying. Now I can understand the mother well and I talk to her the most. My comprehension and vocabulary have improved considerably in the past four weeks, but probably the most important change is that the mother now speaks more slowly and clearly to me. I still struggle to understand the younger of the two sisters though, but according to the mother she uses Hakata-ben (the local dialect) quite strongly.

My speaking is much better than my comprehension so I often lead conversations by asking questions or talking about things that I think the host family may find interesting. I can understand much more when I have a fair idea what the other person is talking about. Having conversations like this is probably a bit frustrating for the family, becaues when they want to change the topic of conversation I get lost easily and it often takes a fair bit of effort for them to get their point across.

Particularly in the beginning our conversations were quite simple. We often talked about the differences between Australia and Japan and I have also enjoyed trying to explain the rules of cricket and Australian Rules football with the aid of pictures. I often try to use stuff that I?fve learnt in class and I?fm always happy when I hear words being used that I have only just recently learnt at school. Slowly, as my Japanese has improved, we have become able to talk about slightly more complicated things.

By the end of my time at Genki JACS I will have completed 125 hours of class time in just 5 weeks. Back it Melbourne it would take me 18 months at my current rate to rack up that much class time. On top of the class hours I?fve had a similar amount of time either talking in Japanese to my host family or to teachers and other people outside of class.