Speech Contest Update

With my speech contest submission due tomorrow, I’ve recorded two videos of my speech and am currently deciding between the two. Here’s a copy of my speech for anyone who’s interested.

Participating in this speech contest was definitely another great experience with writing, and this time, reading out loud. The LTL competition I entered in for both Chinese and Japanese last December helped me work on my Japanese writing ability (the language used for speaking and writing in Japanese are very different–from the word choice to even conjugations used for verbs and adjectives!). While this speech contest furthered my formal Japanese writing ability, I was also able to practicing reading new vocabulary and characters I hadn’t seen before while saying them out loud as well.

Overall, I would say my main takeaway from this experience as a self-studying student learning Japanese is that this kind of real experience using the language is one of the best ways to improve when learning a language. Not only does it serve as practice for using what you already know and to learn more, but for me, it was also amazing to see how far I’ve come since a year ago.

Recent Updates

I recently decided to participate in a Japanese speech contest coming up on April 8th this year. This competition won’t be live, however; it’ll just consist of a recording I have to submit by the above date. I will be entering the contest in the level 4 group, which means I will be writing a 6-8 minute speech and will have to mostly memorize it. More on this to come!

Other than this, I am also in the process of starting up a Japanese club at DA. In this, I’ll primarily focus on teaching everyone the Japanese language in the most effortless, yet productive, way possible. This will be a test of my own knowledge as well as an interesting experiment to learn about effective teaching methods for foreign languages.

Interim Reflection

An independent study is definitely a great experience I think more people should have the opportunity to try. Of course, while everyone at Durham Academy has this chance, I think there are many other potential factors stopping them from choosing to do so, but that discussion is for another time.

So far, it’s been quite the ride, trying to figure out how to go about a more organized way of self-teaching. I’ve had a lot of experience with self-teaching various topics throughout my entire life; however, it’s definitely much different when I have to make a schedule for myself and meet a minimum hour requirement every week instead of doing nothing one week and 30 hours the next. Despite this, I still think this is good practice for learning how to consistently learn since many areas of study require consistent practice rather than erratic. Overall, I think I’ll be working on maintaining a better schedule to keep with my original goals for this independent study.

Speaking of erratic, I know I haven’t been too consistent with my posts here, so I plan to work on that going forward as well. Regarding other things I might work on for this blog, I’m thinking about acting a page to my blog for minor updates on what I work on every day or week in addition to a post about some recent updates to my independent study, so look out for that as well!

自己紹介 Self-Introduction






このブログポストはもう長くなりましたから、これで書き終わりたいと思います。ポストが遅れてすみませんでした。 (≧∇≦)/


Hello everyone, my name is Jet Tanaka, and I am a senior at Durham Academy. I was born in Japan and moved to the U.S. when I was four years old, and I currently live in North Carolina. I used to be able to speak Japanese, but began forgetting most of it starting from when I was five years old. I attended a Japanese Saturday school until I was seven years old and was still able to engage in basic conversation in Japanese.

However, from then on, I could only understand Japanese and not properly reply most of the time. For example, I used to visit Japan every year before the pandemic, and whenever I would talk to my grandmother, I would always just sit there, listening to random stories and only reply with un, which is the equivalent of yeah in Japanese but is also used as a way to acknowledge someone speaking (which is extremely common to do in Japan, along with head-nodding).

I was introduced to anime in 7th grade, though I wasn’t planning on studying Japanese back then. In 2020, I started watching Japanese YouTube videos. In May 2021, I joined a Discord server centered around learning Japanese. In this server, I found people to practice my Japanese with, both speaking and typing/reading, and there was also a bot that had flashcards with vocabulary we could all practice reading with. Although some of the individual characters were repeated in some of the words in these flashcards, I learned to read about 1,000 different words and phrases that month. I plan on using this bot to practice my Japanese reading once again, though due to having to do college applications and allocating my time to practicing in other ways, I probably won’t get through as much.

This blog post has gotten a bit long, so I’ll just stop here. Thanks for reading and sorry for the late post 🙂