Dear Michael and Kazue-san,
When I was on the course a couple of months ago, back in September, the sugestion was made by yourselves to try and learn Hirigana and Katakana to help improve the pronunciation and learning with my Japanese language study. You asked me to let you know were there any improvements.
Well, the results are: -
I can read hirigana, at slow speed, pretty competently now and this has helped my understanding of the true pronunciation of Japanese words. There were a few suprises, after having used Romanji for so long.
The Katakana is a bit harder, I can memorise about 30% of the characters, with there not being any true Katakana text I have found this harder as I get alot of practice with the hirigana texts.
I will be starting on the Kanji shortly, and have order some Kanji cards to assist in this.
The biggest difference I have noticed however is my last visit to Japan 2 weeks ago, early November. With learning the hiigana and the katakana things became so visable. Shop signs, street signs, notice boards, pretty sad to say (and anorakish)even the labels for the different cutelry compartments in a Tokyo Starbucks all sprang out and started letting me know what they were or indicating what they could be.
I am hoping studying the Kanji is going to add another dimension to this. Will be trying this out in December on my next visit.
Conclusion - learning the hirigana and katakana has been invaluable.