How to be Mediocre – How to be Good – How to be Great

No one starts learning Japanese thinking they want to just be average. But the unfortunate truth is that it often turns out that way. And that may be if you’re lucky. Many people don’t even make it to mediocre. They simply disappear. And if you disappear, who is going to watch and read all that amazing Japanese stuff out there in the world? Nobody. It’s time to step up your game.

How to be mediocre

how to be mediocre - how to be good - how to be great 1

  1. Have an idea of your goals
  2. Study a few hours a week
  3. Compare yourself to others studying Japanese
  4. Wake up and eat breakfast
  5. Try out every learning method/strategy
  6. Argue about Japanese
  7. Believe Japanese is impossible
  8. Take breaks from studying Japanese for weeks
  9. Avoid learning kanji
  10. Use English subtitles
  11. Complain about studying Japanese
  12. Make Japanese an interest

How to be good

how to be mediocre - how to be good - how to be great 2

  1. Have a list of goals you want to achieve
  2. Study several hours a week
  3. Compare yourself to others studying Japanese at your level
  4. Wake up and eat breakfast while reading Japanese
  5. Try out different learning methods/strategies finding out what matches you
  6. Talk about Japanese
  7. Believe Japanese is difficult
  8. Take breaks from studying Japanese for days
  9. Push off learning kanji
  10. Use Japanese subtitles
  11. Get annoyed by studying Japanese
  12. Make Japanese a hobby

How to be great

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  1. Have an evolving and constantly changing list of goals that you detail how you will achieve
  2. Study a few hours a day
  3. Compare yourself to yourself
  4. Wake up to Japanese, and eat breakfast while reading/listening to Japanese
  5. Try out different learning methods/strategies, altering it to match you
  6. Talk in Japanese
  7. Believe Japanese is a difficult challenge you will conquer
  8. Rarely ever take breaks from studying Japanese
  9. Learn kanji now
  10. Use no subtitles
  11. Enjoy studying Japanese
  12. Make Japanese your passion

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


How to be Mediocre – How to be Good – How to be Great — 9 Comments

  1. Really need to stop using jp subs… Only problem is sometimes I have to watch at low volumes and still want to use my tv, sound system.

    Also need to start speaking more. Doing good on the other 10 though. Would be interesting to see this article extrapolated in an ideal ratio for doing each activity. For example, how often we should speak, read, anki. Steve Kaufman reckons around 2-3 hours a week for speaking is an ideal figure. Not that I’m doing anywhere near that. Obviously as much talking as possible would be better, but I don’t know how many people have native speakers available.

    • I use a massive headphone extension cord for my TV when I can’t watch at an appropriate volume level.

      Just remember that you are getting low volume listening practice as well, which actually is also an important skill.

      Interesting question about ratios. I’ll have to think about that a bit.

  2. One thing that should be mentioned clearly is you WILL go from mediocre->good->great mindset. It’s normal to watch media using JP subtitles when you are an intermediate. The main challenge is not getting stuck on one of these mindsetd

    • Of course, everyone has to start at mediocre. As long as you don’t stay mediocre. 常に上を目指せばいい。

  3. I think this is a great list, but I’m curious about the suggestion that “no subtitles” is better than JP subtitles.

    IMO, the biggest roadblock for listening comprehension is a lack of familiarity with vocabulary and speech patterns. Once you know the words, your brain fills in the gaps in the audio even if the volume or sound quality is low. Watching with JP subs makes it easier to fill in these gaps, which if anything accelerates your growth toward being able to fully enjoy material with no subs at all. They make more complicated material accessible at a lower level, aid context-based learning and sentence mining…I’m kinda struggling to find a drawback to using them where available.

    I mean there’s definitely value in spending some time with pure audio, non-text immersion as well. But given how hard it can be to even find JP subtitles, that kind of happens naturally doesn’t it?

    • I still think Adam means in order to maintain a skill balance you need to incorporate pure audio active immersion at some level. Personally, jp subtitles have helped my comprehension a lot, and I’ve learned more words through context than from any other form of immersion. However, just like speaking and all the many output techniques there are, the best way to learn to listen is to listen.

      Subtitles are great for overall comprehension, but if you overuse them your listening skills won’t be balanced against your reading. I can vouch for that, but it doesn’t bother me too much because I enjoy media a lot more. I’d compare to it shadowing, reading out loud, inner monologue, etc. They are all great supplements for conversations, but you’ll never get great at speaking if you don’t speak.

      Obviously you’re doing a lot of subtitle free immersion too, so that’s why you can’t see any negatives with them. But you’re right in that the lack of available subs means it’s going to become difficult to to overuse them anyhow. It’s still useful to know though, as others may avoid anything without them.

      Tldr; use, don’t abuse jp subtitles. Though you’ll probably discover that their rarity makes this nigh on impossible anyway.

      Ps. If you really love subtitles, try rewatching your content without them. This way you can use them to your hearts content :)

    • ジェームズの言う通りです。Japanese subtitles are a positive thing. However over-reliance can create imbalance.

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