Enjoy Being A Beginner

The Beginner phase. You are full of hopes and dreams. New textbooks and programs. Ideals and magic are in the air. You have just started learning Japanese. And already…

Enjoy Being A Beginner 4

You want to be out of the beginner phase as soon as possible. Who wants to be a beginner after all? When you can be something more. You want to be fluent in Japanese, not a beginner. The faster you move on up the mountain the better right? The view is way better up there.

Slow down and stop rushing

The beginner phase is fun. Everything is brand new. You are learning all about the intricacies of the Japanese language and the way it works. You are making new sounds with your mouth and getting used to new sounds with your ears. You are reading something that is not English.  And you are writing all kinds of fancy symbols. Japanese is so different from anything you know and you are getting to experience that for the first time ever. It’s a rewarding place to be in.

By trying to blow through this all you miss out on taking the time to appreciate what you are starting. By choosing to learn Japanese, you have embarked on something special. This is a new video game. Do you rush through the early levels of a brand new video game just because you want to get towards the end? You take your time in the beginning, get used to the controls, the freshness, the originality, and what makes the game worthwhile. Only then do you worry about speeding up.

Intermediate is waiting in the dark

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The higher your level, the more fun you have right? No. Anyone who is in their intermediate phase, especially the mid-level blues, can tell you differently. Intermediate is where you face your biggest challenges, most frustration and annoyance with the language, and the increased appearance of you shouting “Why Japanese People?!!” Your infatuation with Japanese settles down a bit, and you have to watch it’s cold eyes stare you down telling you that you are not allowed to enter its domain.

Things do get better. But it takes time. Many people give up here. Those that don’t move on to the more enjoyable Advanced phase.  But there is nothing like what you experienced in the beginning.

Beginner Fun

Need a graphic to explain it all? Sure.

Enjoy Being A Beginner 2

Share your experience

Are you a beginner? Having fun or rushing?
Are you an intermediate? What advice do you have to the beginners here?

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


Enjoy Being A Beginner — 19 Comments

  1. I used to be a beginner. Right now I am on that steady slope down into the pit of intermediate depression. Though I can’t say I 100% miss how new Japanese was to me, I just wish there were things that were my level. A lot of stuff I encounter now either seems too easy or too hard.

    Must keep going!

  2. Ah yeah, I’m in the pit of despair! I suppose the graph is fairly accurate, though I think this site warning me of intermediate blues guarded me against them to a certain degree.

  3. Ahh, beginner was easily the easiest phase. 25 Kanji/day and occasional podcasts. Makes me kinda jeleous of あの頃の僕 :P

  4. I’m recovering from being in the pits of despair too. What helped me was focusing more on grammar and less on vocabulary. I am currently enjoying immersing myself in the language as much as I can.

    It’s slower than drilling vocabulary/kanjis using Anki or some other method, but it’s also less stressful and right now, I don’t really have the time to focus on Japanese anyway.

      • 特に何でもない、ただ文法の本とサイトを読んでいます。日本語の文法はフランス語のよりとてもやさしいです。

        Nothing specific really, just reading grammar from books and websites. Japanese grammar is far easier to learn than the grammar from my native tongue (French).

        Once you know where to put words and how to conjugate them, you can practice with immersion. You can pick up a manga or a novel and read while searching words that you don’t know in a dictionary like jisho.org. You can also write about your ideas (check out lang-8.com) because you know how to build sentences while searching unknown words in a dictionary.

        It might be slower, but it is also a more natural learning process. I learn what I need to learn, not what I have to learn. I find that I learn better by identifying patterns than by repetition.

  5. Climbing out of the pit :) If your part way through Intermediate, read Rave Master. Loads of words from that deck.

    • Gonna take a look at Rave Master, kinda getting bored of the typical beginner manga. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. I think the chart is wrong. “Fun” never goes negative, and I think there are a lot more zig zags, especially as you start to pull out. I don’t study Japanese but I am in some intermediate stage of French in which I am rapidly oscillating between “omigosh I understood that and I know what to say in response!!” to “wtf that made no sense I am never going to learn this.”

    • I don’t mean to be rude, but the chart doesn’t ever show/imply that fun goes negative. For that to be the case, the line would go below the x-axis/bottom line.

      Though, I bet Adam would probably agree with you that there are lots of ups and downs throughout a language learner’s journey. It is just a bit simpler to see the trend on the graph without it being zig-zagged I think.

      • uhmm yeah. I don’t mean to be rude but you should probably read my comment again.;) I have a degree in math, but thanks for the lesson.

        • -Having studied french, I think Japanese has very less in common with English than French does, so that frustration is much greater. The zig-zag would have been accurate (and I would have preferred it to be so), but would also have distracted the readers from the true purpose of this post.

          -Based on your comment, he was not wrong. You said, “Fun never goes negative” implying that (you think) the graph shows that fun goes negative at some point. I think you had a brain-slip and confused slope for y-cordinate at the time you wrote that comment (hey, happens to us all!). It’s a hilarious misunderstanding, and let’s keep it so ;)

          • Just to clarify (and because I think you might have mentioned your are not a native speaker of English elsewhere? But your English is excellent so sorry if I am mistaken), when I said “I think the chart is wrong. Fun never goes negative” I specifically meant that the “error” in the graph is that it never goes negative. Learning another language has serious moments of awfulness that are not just less fun but quite the opposite of fun. Negative fun. See? Oh well, whatevs :)

            • Thanks Annie! Yeah, I get you. We cool :)
              Btw, are you a user here or did you just happen to pass by?

            • The problem is that to convey this idea clearly you should have used a colon, not a period, and added a disambiguating statement in parenthesis. Either that or rephrasing completely.

              I think the chart is wrong: “fun” never goes negative (and it should), and I think there are a lot more zig zags, especially as you start to pull out.

              (yes, I'm answering one year after the fact, I just had to say it)

    • Your comment shows how easily language can be misinterpreted, even if you are a native speaker.

      I also misread your “Fun never goes negative” to mean that you were saying that “fun is something that cannot go negative” (which the chart doesn’t show), as opposed to “what is wrong with this chart is that fun doesn’t go into the negative like it should.”


      As for the zig-zags, yes it was done like this for simplicity.

      If you want some zig-zags, check out this chart haha:


  7. Talk about motivation, just saw 4 cute Japanese girls talking…I was so tempted to try to talk to them but I chickened out lol.

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