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Mar 17, 2011

Keep Your Goals Close

Your reasons for learning Japanese have a strong impact on how you do so, because they really shape your needs and methods for learning. As such, I think it's especially important that people consider their reasons before they begin learning Japanese, and then continue to remember them throughout the trip. In effect, thinking about your reasons for learning Japanese will give you two main benefits: it will give you a new burst of energy and motivation as you remember what you're ultimately wanting to do, and then it will also show you the path you need to travel down to reach that goal.

For an example, imagine that your reason for learning Japanese is to go travel in Japan and you want to be able to greet people, ask basic questions, and order food. In such a case, you're not going to want to start off by memorizing all of the kanji and then start gobbling up vocabulary, because your goals are much more shallow. In such a condition, using a product like Pimsleur or some other kind of simple program is really all you need. To put it into more general terms, if your goals are to know a limited selection of things really well, then you really only need to focus on those things.

There are also people who like to have a broad, but shallow, grasp of their second language. These people learn a lot of common words, some grammar, and a handful of kanji. Their goal is to be able to pick up some loose meaning in whatever they happen to come across. They won't be reading any novels or making any grand speeches, but they'll have enough knowledge to be able to understand basic Japanese. I think a lot of people end up in the class after they lose sight of their goals and stop trying to learn. Perhaps they simply don't need to know Japanese fully, so for whatever reason they've invested an intermediate amount of time and have an intermediate knowledge.

On the other hand, the people who this blog aims to help are wanting to learn Japanese to a native level, so they're going to focus their time and efforts on things that pay off in the long run. Unlike someone wanting to learn key phrases, names, and pronunciation, someone who is aiming to know it all must work in a broader sense. In this case, the focus goes to making it easier to digest and learn more Japanese in less time, because there's a lot out there to be conquered. Thus, learning all of the kanji and investing time into making a review deck in Anki is worth the effort – because it makes everything easier in the long run. The best part of this learning style is that you actually become good enough to use and enjoy Japanese media, which transforms studying into a fun and relaxing time. Of course, learning Japanese to native level also takes the most time.

The point in all of this is to think about what your goals and reasons are, then decide what you need to do in order to achieve them. There is no single path to success, so perhaps switching between the three “styles” I've talked about here is what you need to do in order to reach your goals. Whatever the case, keep your goals in mind and you'll definitely achieve them.

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  1. I just want to read VNs and watch / read raws, not necessarily talk to people. That narrows things down, doesn't it?

    I don't want to half-ass it either, though.

    >Of course, learning Japanese to native level also takes the most time.

    My problem isn't time, it's motivation, although you've already given tips in that regard. Seriously, your blog is a gold mine.

  2. >I just want to read VNs and watch / read raws, not necessarily talk to people. That narrows things down, doesn't it?

    Raws may take a bit less effort, but ultimately learning VNs without half-assing (just learning basic grammar and relying on machine translation) will take a great deal of time.

    I'd like to say that if you have no motivation, it's best not to force it since it'll usually end in quitting halfway, but I also don't want to discourage you from attempting to learn. Whenever you feel ready for it, you should give it a shot, but don't focus on making it into work or tire yourself with it. Keep your goals clear in your mind. There's so much I want to do with Japanese. Understanding music, reading novels, watching my girl cartoons, looking up random videos on Nicovideo, chatting with some of my favorite pixiv artists as they run streams on Nicolive drawing their newest pieces, being able to read random comics pulled from the web in Japanese, etc.

    The list really goes on. I've a lot envisioned for myself when I reach the highpoint of my journey, and I plan on keeping my pace to reach that point. I don't care how long it'll take really, thinking about the time it'll take to get there is counter productive. Even if it feels like I'm moving slow, the truth is I'm moving faster than I realize, but it's something I can't tell because it's a gradual growth. It's not as if one day before I reach that high point, I'll go to sleep knowing virtually nothing, and then wake up like a native speaker. Along the journey, I'll grow, so there's no sense in thinking the time of the journey, that's not what I need to be focused on. I just need to focus on how to move forward in my journey.

    And my goals keep me from looking back. They keep me from stopping in my tracks. The goals keep me feet moving down the journey.

  3. >I just want to read VNs and watch / read raws, not necessarily talk to people.
    This and playing untranslated games but, I may like to interact with them a bit(online) with my tone(the way how I say things I don't know if that makes sense), because I suck doing high level communications(speeches,essays, other long forms of writing).