Sometimes immersion will bog you down. (At least that’s what I’ve found.) The most common response to that will be, “That’s because you’re not keeping it fun.”
While I understand what that means, I think it’s important to remember that what’s fun for some may not be fun for others. Watching a movie in Japanese without subtitles may be fun for some, but there are those of us that get frustrated because we don’t know what’s going on. Studying the kanji is less frustrating to me sometimes than watching a movie entirely in Japanese. (Eiji is the opposite.) When you’re just starting it’s so important that you keep listening and keep at it, but since you barely see any results that can be darn infuriating.
But something IS happening, and you need to remember that, stick in there, and sooner or later it will seem like progress happened overnight. So how do we avoid giving up too soon, or falling out of the habit completely? First you need to find what works for you, and USE IT. And then you need to take some extra steps to keep yourself on track. Here has what has helped me so far.
It’s important to remember why you’re doing this. Want to visit Japan? Want to watch movies and understand everything? What is it, exactly, that you want. Say it out loud. Pause and reflect on it. Usually this is enough to light a fire under my butt.
Imagine what it will be like when you reach your goal! Daydream about chatting with someone online, in a restaurant, or ordering something off a Japanese website over the phone in Japanese. Try it. Nothing makes me get off my ass and study (or just turn on some Japanese talk radio) like some good old fashioned visualizing.
When you feel yourself becoming frustrated just take a break and think about what it is that put you on this path to begin with. Want to visit Japan? Pick a day and mark it on your calender. When’s the next JLPT test date? Mark it. You may not actually go take the test but wouldn’t it be great if you could? If you were ready for it? Sometimes setting simple goals is a really great way to light the fire for a little while. Human beings tend to get really excited and motivated about something for a while and then the motivation dies out. Embrace this, use it, and learn to ride it to the end and simply relight your fire!
Seek out others. Read an article from someone who inspires you, whether it’s someone who’s already learned the language, or perhaps someone just living life in Japan. Look at some great photographs of Japan or the Japanese culture. Watch a few videos on YouTube. Learn a new Japanese recipe!
I just recently started a Tumblr myself in regards to that last one. Any time I’m feeling down I just sift through it and it usually has me back on track in mere minutes!
This one is an important one, and one that’s often overlooked. Doing well? GREAT, now go to a Japanese restaurant. Or a local tea ceremony. Or a local Japanese store. Buy yourself something Japanese that you’ve been eying, even if it’s a ridiculously overpriced local TV show you love (Supernatural, House, etc) dubbed in Japanese. While these shows aren’t “ideal” for language learning (because with a Japanese show you see how people speak, interact, and daily life), you still are listening, and that’s sometimes all it takes. What’s your favorite movie? Get it in Japanese dub. Watch it when you’re feeling down and it will get you back on track. You may not feel like you’re making much progress, but you are, and it’s encouraged to treat yourself once and a while.
Learning Japanese At HomeOur goal for Kanji & Tea, aside from sharing our struggles and successes, is to help provide the everyday person with all the tools necessary to learn Japanese on their own through everyday immersion.
How did you learn your first language? Hands on and not through a text book! You listened, you watched, you absorbed. Well, what's stopping you from learning your second or third language that way? The answer is nothing.
You have everything you need to get started. All that's left is to just start.
Photos Over TeaNo images found!
Try some other hashtag or username
Conversations Over Tea