What Can You Do Now That You Couldn’t Do Then?

While studying Japanese, we often get caught up in the now. What can I read? What can I understand? What can I say? Little by little, a “why can’t I” manages to find its way as a prefix to these sentences. Or maybe you might change the word “what” with “when.”

What Can You Do Now That You Couldnt Do Then

While dwelling in the past is normally a bad thing, reflecting on your language past can be a potion of positive power. Regardless of what you feel like you can or can’t do right now, it is definitely more than it was at any moment before this current moment. The further back you go, the greater the gap is compared with now.

Then and now

When you make the comparison to your past and current Japanese-learner self, you see how much progress can actually be made in a short period of time. Upon this reflection, most people are actually blown away by it. If only you could have a conversation with yourself a year ago to explain this revelation.

This is why keeping videos, or written entries or anything that shows your Japanese from a past time, and looking at it in a later time can feel so good. Having a video of me speaking Japanese in 2006, or looking at mid-2006 journal entries from the old social network Mixi, is special to me.

What Can You Do Now That You Couldnt Do Then 3

Making a reflection on the past to gain that positive boost can only be made if you have something to look back upon. Beginners don’t have this, yet they need it. So I thought it would be fun to share everyone’s past and present Japanese learner self gaps in the comments, to show what kind of amazing progress can be made in a year.

In the comments section, list a few things that you couldn’t do 1 year ago, that you can do now.

For example:

I couldn’t a year ago, but now I can:

  1. Read manga
  2. Have detailed conversations
  3. Do J-J with confidence
  4. Understand the news
  5. Write journal entries in Japanese

*Note: if you’ve been studying for less than a year, change “1 year” to “6 months.” If you have been studying for multiple years, you can change 1 year to 2 years or more.



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Adam

Adam

Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.

Comments

What Can You Do Now That You Couldn’t Do Then? — 15 Comments

  1. Aww, Japanese has become such a major part of my life that I sometimes forget that I am doing stuff in Japanese. That leads to a pretty weird feeling…
    I was watching an anime (Ajin) today and it just hit me. I was watching it in Japanese. I wasn’t relying on English subtitles. That realization felt pretty weird, because the idea of me learning Japanese in the past year seemed pretty ridiculous. One year ago, I wasn’t able to do anything I am doing now xD.

    • First, I did actually watch the entire first episode of Ajin before and watched it again yesterday. I actually really like the animation style, but it does feel very American graphic novel. The story is pretty rough content-wise so that makes it hard to binge on.

      However I did follow that up with a five episode Terrace House binge. I did have the Japanese subtitles on, some of the mumbling is too hard for me to parse in real-time, but it has been a really long time since I just sat down and watched multiple episodes in a row of something without feeling like I needed to pause and review the plot.

      I think I might have to visit Tsutaya and grab copies of the old seasons and maybe also Ai Nori just to ride the wave. :)

      • Ajin is slow to start but ends the first season well. I recommend you sick with it, despite the jarring art style.

        Ps. Everyone watch old boy Japanese dub on Netflix, and mad max too (not much dialogue in this one though).

        • I like Ajin but I think the pacing would be better in a movie format. They did make a movie version which I might check out at some point.

          • They actually made the movie first. The episodes are just movie(s) cut in parts with a few minutes of extra scenes.

  2. What perfect timing for this article; just today I decided to try my hand at one of the volumes of 進撃の巨人 that have been sitting on my shelf, unread, since I last went to Japan in July 2015. I’ve been avoiding them for a while since a) I haven’t been that interested in SNK, and b) I tried to read one of them when I initially purchased it and struggled with it soooo hard. The past (almost) year I’ve viewed my volumes of SNK as something I’d probably never get around to reading, seeing as obviously they were too difficult and frankly I even had trouble following the story back when I read it in English.

    Today, though, I read through volume thirteen in about an hour, and am halfway through volume fourteen as I type this. I’m understanding so, so much more than I did back in August (although there’s a lot of vocabulary I’m not familiar with), and am actually really enjoying the reading experience. This past year I thought I wouldn’t ever really be able to understand 進撃の巨人 in Japanese, but was really just deceiving myself—I’m glad I decided to try again!

  3. A year ago I couldn’t:

    1. Say I had finished RTK
    2. Read simple manga
    3. Understand a J-J definition

    All of that I’m doing every day now. I’m still struggling with the simple manga. One struggle is actually that simple manga is kana-heavy. Kanji is so much easier to read especially with furigana. I often have a hard time recognizing words I actually know, but which is written in hiragana only. But I’ll press on! Only way to get better at reading is doing it :)

  4. A year ago all I could do on the speaking front was apologise for my broken Japanese. Now I spend all the time I am alone talking to myself in Japanese and have lots of ‘wow, I just said that without even thinking about it’ moments.

    A year ago I started on my first 3 star drama, Dragon Zakura, and found it so tricky that I subs2srs-ed it. This week I’ve just finished my first 5 star drama, Jin, and understood enough for it to become my new favourite.

    A year ago I felt I had to look up every word I didn’t understand when reading novels/manga. Now I’m better at knowing words by instinct and I can also read news articles.

    Looking at it like this, I’ve actually improved more than I think I have! I’m trying my best to turn any negativity into “what can I do right now” thoughts. (A tip I learned from 反応しない練習)

  5. Six months ago, I couldn’t:

    Recite Japanese vocabulary for 40 minutes during a walk with my husband.

    He reacted as though I had done something amazing. Maybe I had! 😃

  6. A year ago I couldn’t:
    Read a j-j card with confidence.
    Understand whole sentences in Japanese media.
    Understand most of the general kanji.
    Talk to my friend in whole Japanese sentences.

  7. A year ago I couldn’t:
    Create J-J cards with 1 branch at most.
    Read Japanese novels every day.

    Still a lot more I need to do but this year has been a huge improvement for me!

  8. a year ago i…
    couldnt even read anything except hiragana,i was still doing RTK back then.now i find myself doing nothing but read VN 3-5 hours/day haHA

  9. A year ago I couldn’t give presentations in Japanese. (or at least I’d have been really really nervous and messed up a whole lot)

  10. During the 60’s I spent 7 years in Japan and took college courses and USAF in Japanese and total immersion – at best I learned 250 kanji’s when active but there are 5K to 10K and students had to know 1800 to read a newspaper – The most important phrase I learned was “Kore wa non deska”(What is that?) – Also when I first arrived I found many girls working in department stores to be fluent in English as well as in bars – My first wife was a local national but she only spoke English to me – This is a great site – I used to be fluent but got rusty over the years since I’ve had little contact with native Japanese – I found most of them to be fine people – – Now I’m fairly old and have lost of spare time on my hands so I thought I’d brush up on my language skills – and if I ever get the money to go back to Japan for a while I’ll go –

  11. A year ago I couldn’t read any sentence if it had kanji in it (I’d just started a beginners’ kanji book but had only learned maybe 5 readings)

    There’s still a lot of sentences I can’t read, of course, but now quite frequently if I’m on twitter or playing a VN I’ll just look at a sentence and be able to read it! I get unreasonably excited when that happens.

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