When Should you Start Conversation Practice?

While most study starts off solo, sooner or later you’re going to find your way to meeting and talking with Japanese people. You connect with the actual Japanese world. When you’re studying alone in your room, in your own bubble, it just feels like study. But the second you step out and start a casual chat with a Japanese person, it becomes real. Since this is such an important moment, you may be wondering when the best time to begin having conversations is.

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There are two common ways of approaching this.

1. Start talking immediately

From day 1, find people to talk with. The more you talk in Japanese, the more you get a feel for it, gain control of it, and find a reason to use it. Language is meant to be used, and having a conversation embodies that. Don’t be shy. Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about mistakes. Just get out there and talk your mouth off.

2. Wait till your ability gets better

Rushing into conversations too early will leave your speaking riddled with mistakes, which ultimately create bad habits. You want enough input before output. If you keep immersing, when you finally get around to conversations, things will flow more naturally. You will enjoy conversations more and your time will have been spent efficiently.

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Which way is the better?

Here on Jalup, you notice that the final world in the Walkthrough is the conversation world. You’d assume then that it is best to hold off on conversations until then. The more accurate truth is that I like a combination of both viewpoints above.

First let’s clear up one confusion. Practicing your speaking ability doesn’t equal having conversations (which is what the Walkthrough order is about). You absolutely should be practicing your speaking from day 1. This happens in your early pronunciation practice as you master the kana, in reading anything and everything out loud, in you repeating after your flash cards, and in you shadowing (which if you aren’t doing yet, you should).

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Having a conversation in Japanese contains two important elements that are not to be underestimated: Fun + Motivation.

Having fun and motivating yourself are essential keys to success that need to be employed as soon as possible. They are the only way to overcome the stress and struggles of the early stages. If you have no conversations, you may be depriving yourself.

However, having too many conversations early on takes away the focus of what you really need to be working on. It’s going to create mistakes you’ll have to work on later. So it’s advisable to have cemented a a decent amount of beginner and intermediate material before you dive into conversations.

The solution

Do both.

Have fun with conversations any time you want regardless of your level. But keep it minimal and don’t get carried away. If you want to have an hour of conversation a week with a Japanese friend, go ahead. But don’t have an hour conversation every day. Once you get closer to a decent level (ex. somewhere around Jalup Advanced), you can go dedicate yourself to extreme conversation practice.

When did you start?

People deal with conversations as a part of their studying differently. Did you start having conversations all the time right from the beginning? Or did you wait till your Japanese got better. How long did you wait?



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Adam

Adam

Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese. On a quest to become 日本語王 (king of the Japanese language).

Comments

When Should you Start Conversation Practice? — 6 Comments

  1. What motivates you to state Jalup Advanced as a measure of Intermediacy? I only ask because I spent some time contemplating whether or not I was truly intermediate today and realized I haven’t even reached the 8 month mark yet which World 1’s “What Level are You” states as the approximate time required to reach Intermediate. It won’t be until 9 and a half months that I complete Jalup Advanced. Do you cite Jalup Advanced as a good bench mark for intermediate because by this time one has 3000 sentences under their belt and then have the vocabulary of an intermediate learner…

    Onto the topic of the article, I have had to begin conversation in class, little bits at a time coincidently conforming to the guidelines in this article. I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about speaking bad Japanese at this level if I don’t speak it enough to crystallize any bad habits. I had been wondering when to start conversation and whether or not it was a good idea to wait until I visit Japan this summer for 3 months. A lot of what I have read on this site has eased my concerns about not conversing in Japanese until this point and made me feel that it was actually a good thing to refrain from conversation.

    I think after completing the Jalup series before Japan and starting on Manan’s deck during my Japan trip while practicing conversation seems like a good plan and a good way to propel me to the proficiency mile marker which I assume is only truly accomplished if one is also proficient in conversation… I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Well, anywho, Cheers!

    • Please excuse the direct nature of my comment, I realize now that it may sound a little confrontational if that makes sense. I don’t want to sound perturbed or anything, so I apologize in advance for my tone.

    • Sorry if the wording was kind of confusing (I just changed it slightly). It’s really just an estimate, and I was basing it because I know a lot of people start heavily getting into conversation practice around Advanced. There is no requirement though, and people should start when they feel they’ve cemented down a good amount of Japanese.

      Of course this is just observation and opinion. As I mentioned above, people are split up into the two groups above, and while I prefer a combination of both, people have done just fine with group 1.

  2. In my non-professional opinion, you should start conversation practice when you want to do it. I know some people want to dive into it immediately, which is awesome, and then for others they take their time as it isn’t a priority (me). As long as you’re not forcing yourself to the point that you resent or get bored of it.

    Also, maybe there’s an introvert/extrovert split on this? I could see extroverted people want to start speaking way earlier than introverts would. A huge generalization but I wouldn’t be surprised.

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