It's wonderful to hear from you. It's amazing how quickly the year has gone since we worked with you at Hinton House.
I'm delighted to hear that the course has helped increase your self-confidence.
I would like to encourage you to act on your plan to learn Japanese for use with your Japanese customers. I do appreciate how difficult it is to find time, particularly as you have young children.
Here are some thoughts:
• begin by learning hiragana ...
you could try getting your children to join you as well (if they're of reading age) and help each other. The easiest way for a busy person to learn hiragana 'on the run', so to speak, is to buy a pack of 'kana cards'.
Please get in touch if you'd like advice on where/how to get these.
• learn katakana ...
once you've learned hiragana (which, honestly, doesn't take very long ... and it can be fun learning), move on to katakana
Being able to read both hiragana & katakana will make your business trips to Japan more interesting and (trust me) easier in a practical sense. It will also be a big
encouragement to learn more of the language when you actually feel the benefits from your efforts to learn to read (and write) hiragana & katakana
• after you feel comfortable with hiragana & katakana, get yourself a copy of 'Japanese For Busy People' - the title tells you that it was designed for people just like you.
You can either use this as the basis for a self-access course (in which case, do get the CDs as well as the textbook) ... or it can be the basis for a taught-course, using a Japanese teacher who might come to your office on an occasional basis or at a local FE college or university.
You can go at your own pace & set very specific learning objectives(linked to your job). It can be done more easily than you think ... it's best to look at the project more as a marathon than a sprint. Don't bite off too much to start (i.e. begin by learning the hiragana & katakana, to give you both a good foundation & confidence) ... and then work steadily rather than too intensively.
As we might say, "Tokyo wasn't built in a day" [!]
Gambatte! (Go for it!)