We hear much these days about the wonders of brain plasticity. Researchers believe the capacity of our grey matter to develop new neural pathways could be one way for those of us in our senior years to hang onto our marbles for a bit longer.
Learning a second language is recommended for developing these neural pathways. With that in mind I decided to attempt to reconnect to pathways set up decades ago when I first studied Japanese. My choice of language – a toss up with equally ancient French – was reinforced by having a Japanese daughter-in-law whose parents speak little English. So each week I join a group of similarly-aged optimists under the tutelage of an extremely patient Japanese sensei who luckily has a great sense of humour.
日本語 kanji for Japanese language (Nihongo)
As with everything the digital revolution has transformed the teaching of languages. Apps have streamlined the learning of the phonetic hiragana and katakana scripts, and the Chinese-character-based kanji symbols, with the new technology incorporating audio, for pronunciation, and animation to show all-important stroke order. So my iPhone is like a classroom in the palm of my hand. No excuse now to waste time on public transport or in waiting rooms. I’m not sure where in my brain my residual Japanese is stored but, as I struggle to put together sentences, I sure wish a search engine was available to locate it .
My iPhone to the rescue.