I want to give you a list of the things you need to learn Japanese. I will go over some actual study methods in another post, but that’s the usual stuff you see. I want to talk about the underlying bits people sometimes forget to talk about when it comes to these kinds of things.
I’ve been studying Japanese for about 5 and a half years now. While I still wouldn’t say I am completely fluent, I do consider myself situationally (thats a word right?) fluent. Today I want to focus on how to get there and go beyond. I am still learning and continue to further my knowledge every day. I don’t think it’s something you ever really want stop. So let’s get to the points.
KEY POINT – Don’t focus on the methods too much, don’t spend all day reading about the best methods. Find something you enjoy and make that work for you.
- Motivation – The number one thing you need when it comes to learning a language is a drive. You need an interest. You need something that fuels you. It can be as simple as being interested in anime or loving Japanese food, but it needs to be something you really find an interest in. It has to be something you will get enjoyment out of or have a good reason to learn. If you don’t have any desire, it doesn’t matter the methods you use, you won’t make much progress, which leads us to the second point.
- Consistency – When it comes to learning a language, sometimes the methods aren’t as important as just making a consistent effort. Trust me on this, if you can get yourself to study everyday even just for 30 minutes, that will take you so much further than spending 5 hours hammering away at vocab every Saturday. Consistency is the key. If you continue to immerse yourself into the language by devoting time every day you will start to make connections that otherwise just won’t work. This is why motivation and a drive or so important. If you have those then being consistent will be easier.
- Balance – This has many different meanings. One such meaning being having various methods of study to keep things interesting. It also means balance your language study within your life. Don’t focus on it so much that it stresses you out every time you can’t remember a word, but don’t go very long without practicing your abilities in some format either. The brain doesn’t handle long study sessions well; it takes little additions over a long period of time to learn something. So make your study sessions short, but consistent. It will help you learn and keep you from stressing.
- Confidence – Okay this one is probably also one of the most overlooked. Especially when learning to speak. Let me be honest. You can study from textbooks and do flashcards for years and years and not be able to speak but fragmented Japanese. In order to get to a point where you can use the language, you will need confidence. That comes from making mistakes and realizing that it’s okay. Practice and practice, it will come. I’ve improved so much compared to a year and a half ago when I first came to Japan. Sure I have learned a lot of new words and have had a lot more experience, but the biggest difference is my ability to speak. I didn’t have much confidence at first, and while I still am not super confident, I know its ok to make mistakes. The confidence you acquire by practicing, making mistakes and enjoying the language is the key to unlocking everything you have learned and bringing it to a usable format.
Those are just four things I think everyone should think about when it comes to learning something. Learning a language is a great thing, but don’t stress so much. Enjoy what you do and it will come with time. I use to find myself getting so stressed about learning the language that I started not enjoying it. It’s not worth it at that point. Take it easy, have fun, enjoy it, and be a consistent worker.
I will make a post about actual study methods later, but I want to clarify that there is no magic bullet for this. Don’t get too carried away with the best methods. Just do something that gets you closer and remember why you wanted to start in the first place. Peace.