Failure Is Moving Forward

No one likes to fail at learning Japanese. You would like your path to be a straight line that gradually moves up over time. Who could possibly want those massive failure dips that bring you to your lowest and make you regret you ever took your first step?

Failure Is Moving Forward

The overwhelming feeling is often that failing is moving backwards. You get stuck, you’ve hit something massive, your progress has fallen, you have been doing something wrong. Very wrong. Whatever you were doing has stopped working and now you are back where you started, maybe even in a worse place than before.

This is an illusion.

It turns out that it is the opposite. Failure is moving forward. And faster than you think. If you are experiencing failure, you are actually doing something right, not wrong. Because if you haven’t failed during your Japanese journey, you probably aren’t studying Japanese at all.

Failure is everything

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You are supposed to fail. You haven’t strayed from your target. You are working your way in the right direction. Your original map, your original strategy guide was wrong. That’s it.

It would’ve never gotten you to your destination. Failure allows you to fix that map and get you going where you need to be. No one starts with the perfect guide, no matter how much time they put into it and researched. Even if you followed the Jalup Walkthrough down to the exact letter, you aren’t immune to failure.

The feeling is bad but it will pass.

I know, you can put a positive spin on it all you want, but Japanese failure still feels pretty terrible. Especially when you hit a chain of failures (often at the mid-level blues or the other high risk failure areas). But there is no one that has become fluent in Japanese that hasn’t had their share of failures.

Embrace the failure – and use it to reflect on where you are

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So you just went through your first live conversations and completely stumbled over the most basic of sentences? Good. You can now practice that and increase your output.

Tried watching the news and can’t understand anything? Good, now you know you have to introduce and continue practicing it every day if you ever want to get it.

Started watching anime without subtitles and can’t follow anything despite several months of studying? Good. Now you can start increasing your immersion and contact with anime and realize you need to start little by little.

Studying Japanese will humble you. Just when you think you’ve gotten good, you have a door slammed in your face. After you finally manage to open that door, another one is waiting.

Don’t get down on yourself

The worst thing you can do is complain to yourself, and others. Why me? Why can’t I succeed? Why can’t I be good? Why do I keep falling. If you are failing you are on the right path. Just keep walking, picking yourself up after every stumble, changing your route as you intuitively see fit, and your string of failures will lead you to Japanese glory.

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


Failure Is Moving Forward — 4 Comments

  1. I’m loving all these recent posts that talk about the unpleasant facets of studying Japanese. Many people that have already become fluent tend to gloss over those aspects and only tell other beginner/intermediate learners about their triumphs. I’m actually in the middle of bouncing back from my “lowest point” right now. Right before I left for basic training (2 months minimum of no studying), I hit some mid-level blues and got frustrated with my lack of progress. Once I came back home, I became increasingly frustrated, until I finally did the worst thing possible and quit for a while. At least, I tried… I kept coming back to it over those months and poking around a bit before stopping again. Turns out I just can’t stay away from my passion, no matter how much it hurts me. :D

    Finally, I got so fed-up that I went back to my roots… some grammar text books and flash cards. I figured my issue was how much I had forgotten. You wanna know the weirdest part, though? I remembered nearly all of it! It turns out I just had some over-inflated idea of where I SHOULD be, instead of noticing where I’m actually at. And it turns out that where I’m at is actually pretty good. So, I’m going to finish “going back to my roots” and take the next step from there, instead of trying to jump straight into “where I should be”.

    • Thanks. I think it’s more important to help prepare mentally rather than make everything seem like a rainbow path to success. Though it’s always important to remain positive.

      Glad to hear you are back to the game and stronger than ever.

  2. I am taking a break for 2 weeks (adding ~10 cards/day)because my review load reached an unsustainable level (~400/day for sentences and ~100 for Kanji). I think I flew too close to the sun and got my wings burned, lol.

    • It’s always a good idea to alternate high pace with low or medium, because the slight drop in pace prevents you from the major drop in pace that burnout would cause.

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