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.

Set Goals

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.


4 Responses to Staying Inspired

  1. Cosmo says:

    I love your tumblr! What a great idea. Now I want to start one. Are you ordering Japanese dubs of movies from amazon? I think I am not immersing myself enough. My hubs is not a fan of the AJATT idea and my daughter is still trying to learn English so I have to figure out some way to get more into my day so that I am doing it enough to get fried. I find that a trip to Little Tokyo always get me back on Kanji though. I get so angry that I can’t read all of the signs or rent videos from the video store. I also like to go on lang8 and imagine beings able to post journals in Japanese for other people to correct.

    • says:

      If you do, let me know and I’ll follow you! And yes, I ordered an English TV show (Roswell, zomg) in Japanese Dub. It was expensive, but worth it. I watch it with the Japanese subtitles on and see what I catch. I hear more I recognize, but Eiji catches more while reading. (A lot more!)

      I too imagine posting entire entries in Japanese!

      (We should remember that it will happen one day, as long as we don’t give up!)

  2. Delphine says:

    Great tips! Inspiration and motivation is a big passion of mine, I love finding new ways to motivate myself. As for maybe a solution to what’s fun for you – maybe watching a movie in Japanese without subs that you’re already familiar with in English would make things more fun, since you already know what’s going on? Or maybe read a summary beforehand of whatever you’re watching (or read it *as* you’re watching if you don’t want spoilers XP)? Do you enjoy watching kid’s stuff? Even if you don’t understand everything, kids’ shows and movies are intentionally made much more simpler and would thus be easier to follow. Or maybe watch stuff where it really doesn’t matter what they say, it’s still enjoyable (such as sports, game shows, etc)? This way even without understanding a thing you would still find it fun – the Japanese is just a plus.
    For me, watching variety shows is one of my favorite things despite not understanding everything, and because there’s not really much of a script, it’s very good for studying as it’s very natural speech. Not to mention oftentimes there will be subtitles in Japanese, which I find so helpful! However, depending on the show, I could be laughing my head off or be bored to tears. I’m a fan of the Japanese music group Arashi, so the vast majority of the variety shows I watch includes them. The way they act and talk just make me smile, so I love watching their shows (along with watching their dramas and listening to their music) and now I’m almost addicted to watching them – which is the point! Many Japanese celebrities end up on variety shows or even have their own shows, so if you become a fan of some artists (actors, musicians, comedians, etc), that may be all it takes for you to love watching some pure Japanese material.
    Just some ideas! Keep it fun, and keep yourself inspired 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *