The Cocky & Humble Cycles Of Learning Japanese

Think your Japanese is pretty good? Think your Japanese sucks? That’ll change. Over and over again. In rapid succession over the months and years. You feel you are on top of the world one moment, and the bottom the next.

The Cocky & Humble Cycles Of Learning Japanese

You can’t escape

Everyone starts off at the same level 1.

No cheat codes. You are full of uncertainties, have little to no ability, and question your progress early on. Then you start to get better at something. At multiple things. You compare yourself to others your level. You compare yourself to your previous self. You compare what you couldn’t do then to what you can do now.

And now you are feeling good. Cockiness sets in. You are pretty bad-ass. Flex your muscles a bit.

The Cocky & Humble Cycles Of Learning Japanese 2

Then something knocks you down. An experience makes you realize that you didn’t know as much as you thought you did. There are so many people better and doing things better than you. You have such a long way to go.

This repeats endlessly.

It’s great to feel confident about your Japanese. If you could stick to one emotion, this would be it. Right?

Both are equally important.

You need to have those moments when you feel high up in the kanji sky. But you don’t want to stay up their too long. A little self-doubt and humble attitude breeds motivation to get better. It keeps pushing you up till you start getting cocky again. And then something knocks you down, and you restart the cycle.

How are you feeling right now?

A bit cocky (be honest)? Or a bit humble?



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Adam

Adam

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

Comments

The Cocky & Humble Cycles Of Learning Japanese — 10 Comments

  1. I was feeling really good about my pace right at the end of February, then I hit a set of sentences and new words in the Intermediate deck that really gave me trouble. This would have been fine except several months of a pretty fast pace of study had my review times pretty high already. So I had to slow down. I decided to mine some J-E sentences from Tae Kim to review some of the grammar points I was fuzzy on, and only add these for a few days to let the comparatively more difficult (and more time-consuming) reviews from the J-J deck come down a little bit. It’s a good compromise to keep improving but take some pressure off. I’ve come to terms with this now, but there was a day or two of very serious frustration before I chose a course of action. Where I had been feeling confident in my pace, and good about my reviews, I was definitely feeling stupid and slow. Why are these cards suddenly so hard? Isn’t J-J supposed to get easier, why is it getting harder? Why am I not remembering these readings? Etc. For me, the key to dealing with this was to analyze what was hard about the cards (grammar points I was fuzzy on, plus (more than anything else) too many reviews to do comfortably in the amount of time I allot for anki before starting my work day so anki was eating into my evenings too, and anki reviews after work suck) and then come up with a plan for getting over it. And I know in a few days, I’ll be back on track.

    • Do what I do and do the review ahead feature in custom stud. Reduced review count for how ever many days you put in. I do this during the weekend for my review from Monday to Friday (granted it’s like 500 ish cards to do but it’s the weekend and I have time. Really helps with power leveling.

    • Try not to let it frustrate you.

      While J-J gets easier over time, there are some spikes in difficulty you’ll face based on certain word groups. Some things just are harder to grasp no matter how well you’ve progressed in the past. When you pass through spikes of difficulty, things will return to normal.

  2. Currently very humble. I have very little confidence in myself in native materials but a bit cocky on anki. I never had a change a pace progressing from JE to JJ. Of course some words gave me trouble but I kept pressing hard until I get it some day (Tetris article) but overall a smooth road with occasional (more occasional than neginner) bumps. Isn’t it true some time you can’t find something strong enough or you like that can humble you down (aka cause of high level blues syndrome)?

  3. Last week I had dinner with some Japanese people and an English person who had lived in Japan for fourteen years. They were all chatting quickly on complex topics and I had no idea what was going on. Having had no practice, I was shy to even try saying a few simple things.
    I was very humble afterwards.
    But, just as you write, this feeling pushed me to action: I set up some speaking practice sessions with Japanese people.
    These went well and the tutors were impressed with me – putting me in a bit more cocky mode.

    • Sounds like you used the experience well then.

      This type of thing happens regardless of level. Even when you use Japanese for work like me, sometimes you get blown away by someone better than you and you realize you can do better.

  4. I’ve recently started tackling the news, so at this point in time both in equal measure!

    When I understand every word of a news story, half of me feels smug and the other half is disappointed not to have discovered any new words.

    Then the following news story I won’t even get the gist and in reverse, half of me feels level 1 again and the other thinks ‘great, lots of new words in this one!’

    • That’s the great thing about the news. There is so much diversity in topics, it’s always an up and down ride!

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