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Apr 30, 2011

Be Gentle

In reading the responses to the reading style article, I've remembered a very important part of learning Japanese – being gentle with yourself. It's so easy to get caught up in achieving, in learning, and in acquiring more Japanese that we turn things that could be fun into work. Then when we want to kick back and relax with something Japanese, we can't – we've conditioned ourselves to equate Japanese with working, with studying, so now it can't be fun. When this happens, something has gone drastically wrong. It needs fixin'!

The point of the reading style article was to remind people that there are multiple ways to approach reading, so you should never feel forced into one or the other. You decide for yourself! When you find yourself treating Japanese like work and then avoiding Japanese because you don't want to work anymore, then you've got a major problem on your hands. Remember, when it comes to learning Japanese, you are a child! Imagine that as a child you had nobody around to force you to eat your green vegetables – would you have eaten them? Of course not! (Unless you're one of those weirdos that likes veggies – just kidding). This is the same situation – if you turn Japanese into a “vegetable” you are not going to keep eating it of your own free will.

This means that in order to keep learning Japanese, you're going to need to turn most of the experience into something sweet and delicious, because then you'll be drawn back to it again and again. Get addicted to having fun with Japanese and the learning and knowledge will come naturally. Keep in mind that you are both the teacher and the student, so you can set whatever agenda you want for the day. If you want to learn by playing some video games, then do so. Do whatever you want to in Japanese and don't feel like you have to do anything. If you are having fun in Japanese, the desire and will to learn things will come naturally, because you will obviously want to enjoy and know more.

So take this core idea with you: be gentle. You are a child once again in this learning process, so be kind to yourself. Children need time to have fun, so give yourself that opportunity. Vegetables are great, but in this case eating sweets can give you the same benefit – so do what is more fun. In learning Japanese I want you to remember two conditions to determining what is good: if it is Japanese and if it is fun, then it is good. Remember and live by this rule and you'll find yourself a master of Japanese in no time at all.

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  1. I was misled by the title.


    I like most vegetables and dislike most candy. Guess I'm a weirdo. Ah, but you're right. That method would conserve one's sanity the most.

    >master of Japanese in no time at all


  2. Right, you shouldn't force yourself into anything. If you find yourself not in the mood t oread, I find listening to music or watching something in Japanese works fine.

  3. Thanks for this post. It helps me realize things! I have a habit like "Oh,I should do that." "I havent done x, I'm dissapointed" I forgot to have fun sometimes.

    But when it comes to Japanese, I'm very picky. I ignore non-Anime programs coz its like Anime is the candy. I think viewing oneself as a Japanese child in this state will help. Thanks for making me realize.(´∇`)