Adjusting The Speed Setting Of Your Japanese Game
Sometimes here on Jalup, and on many other sites, there is an image of having to do everything fast. Learn kanji fast. Learn J-E fast. Learn J-J fast. Get to your first novel fast. Get to your first conversations fast. Speeeeeeeeeeeeeed. First one to get to the flag wins.
However this is the exception, not the norm. And this is the exception for people who enjoy a speedy game.
It’s not just about becoming fluent in as fast a time as possible and who can get there faster. The image is that those who get to fluency fast seem worthy of great praise. They are the chosen ones. They have ultimate power. They can do it, and you are obviously doing something wrong because you can’t do it as good as them. This makes you feel lacking, especially when you spend too much time playing the comparison game.
There are three things you need to remember about speed.
1. Speed creates a danger of burnout
Ultra fast learners often burn out. They drop their pace down significantly, returning to normal. Something in life gets in the way. Or on the rare occasion, playing too fast results in them abandoning the game.
2. Learning Japanese is a lengthy journey, and taking your time can be rewarding
When your Japanese journey is at a normal pace, fluency often feels like it eventually just comes to you. Over the years, you continue steady, doing what you love, not rushing, and soaking in everything. Before you even realize it, you are fluent. This doesn’t mean you can study for a few hours a week and expect this, but for regular paced learners, you get there.
3. Speed is not constant
Whatever speed you are going at now is likely to change, based on your circumstances, your motivation, and level. If you are taking it easy at the moment, there may become a point where you will want to put on the jet boosters. If you are going so fast everything seems like a blur, there may come a time when you’ll slow down to take things in more leisurely.
So who cares if it takes 2 years, 4 years or 7 years to become fluent. You can enjoy the journey way before you reach that fluency. I’ve met successful people on both end of the speed spectrum. Sure, doing what takes people 5 years in 2 years is admirable and awesome. But it isn’t necessary (or possible for some people), unless you want it.
Choose your speed setting
Fast or slow, make sure that the speed setting is based on your real preference. Don’t play the game on a setting that isn’t your game-play style. Otherwise you might ruin a great game.
What’s your current speed setting? Slow, normal, fast, or turbo?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
I would say my current speed is very slow, I am currently doing 10 new cards a day for anki when I feel like it, and just keeping up with reviews on days I don’t, where as before I would do 40 a day in my sentence deck and 10-20 new kanji a day.
Although the amount of time I spend in the language is up from where it used to be, I am now doing it because I am watching or reading something I enjoy.
10 new cards a day isn’t so bad, especially when you already have a big deck and a lot of reviews. If your language “enjoyment” time is up, that’s a big positive.
Just want to say, the slowest jalup leveler is comparable to one of the fastest students in a Japanese course in college. So do not fret too much. Personally, I have a slight advantage of being bilingual so my brain is already used to partitioning itself and understanding strange grammar.
I find this to be true. The pace that the Jalup method uses is blindingly fast compared to “normal” methods of learning Japanese. Our goals and ambitions are usually also much higher. We are aiming for fluency. Many learners abandon Japanese before reaching any significant level of competence.
I joined a Japanese night class after having followed the method for 6 months. The other students had followed the night classes between 3 and 5 years, but I was almost at the same level as them. Some of them are convinced that I am some sort of language prodigy, but the truth is just that I use better learning methods and study harder than them.
I definitely hope this is true.
Definitely gotta know when to put on the brakes and when to speed up.
Like any good racing game!
I swear that learning Japanese can relate to EVERY single video game ever
I’ve found that I work best going through cycles so far. My base level of cards per day is 10 (sentences, I’m still finishing up Kanji at a rate of about 40 a day, but that’s temporary). On weeks where I’m off (yay teaching!) I get a significant amount more done each day, closer to 30. It’s important for me to throttle back before work starts again though, otherwise my reviews remain too high and I can’t finish them until just before bed. I always have to remind myself that slowing down so I can function at work is not failing at my goal, it’s just giving my brain an opportunity to really chew on the new information.
That’s a good perspective to have. Slowing down can sometimes actually help speed you up (by allowing the brain to do its thing)
Thanks for this. I’m moving at normal speed, but have been chastising myself for not going faster. I have a friend who is in fast mode. However, our goals are different. He hopes to become a translator. I’m doing it for the brain workout and joy of discovery. I’ve got to remember this when we study together.
Speed is relative. If you are enjoying your pace, getting closer to your goals, then that is the perfect speed for you.
I struggle with this too. My personality drives me to want to be a power-leveler, and set new records, and beyond that, there’s so many books on my shelf calling me to read them but when I pick them up my brain just shuts down on all the unknown kanji. But I’ve found that while adding new cards is easy enough, there’s a very clear line where reviews go from being a routine part of my day to a frustrating chore. 10 cards or so a day from the JALUP decks (plus anything I encounter in my immersion that I feel like I really need to know NOW) seems to keep me under that line. I’ve done some speed bursts in the past, and likely will do so again, but I think 10 cards a day is my average pace. If I want to learn faster, I can read more without the review creep penalty.
Remember that I also mixed between power leveling and normal pacing. Avoiding over-work frustration is an important priority as well.
My current speed is slow. I was going at it much faster a few months ago but I think I started to burn myself out. I haven’t really studied in months and I feel bad because I know it’s not good. I have a horrible habit of starting things and just dropping them. Japanese is the only thing I’ve kept going on for over a year and I’m terrified I will do the same thing and just drop it. It brings much so much joy but I was burning myself out by comparing myself and beating myself up because I was going too slow.
I need a career change desperately and I thought I could do something w/ Japanese but it takes so long that it may not be possible so then I get into a funk of, well why do it then.
I needed this article so much, thank you. I need to remember to just enjoy it and soak in the accomplishments of just realizing you understood even a few sentences in that Japanese musical you just watched. :)
I have a similar issue of getting super into things and then burning out. With Japanese, I’ve made a change by making everything Japanese related a routine. 10 new cards, 1 chapter of manga, 1 show, listen to radio plays during my commute. Same thing every day. When things are just routine, I don’t go 300% on one day and then hate myself the next for doing nothing. Slow and steady really does get you farther in cases such as ours, I think.
Yes, keep up the enjoyment, and before you know it, it may lead up to that career change you always wanted. Rather than torture yourself to get there, which may completely destroy any future possibilities, enjoy the ride.
I get so obsessed with speed even though I lack the key to all of this… CONSISTENCY!! I’m definitely trying to unlearn a lot of bad learning habits. Thanks for writing this. Definitely needed the reminder.
Consistency is hard to get. A challenge in its own!
Definitely. I’m back on japanese after a break, and I’ve given up trying not to take breaks because…I just seem to be the sort of person who can’t not. Yes, I lose a little in the breaks, but it’s normally stuff that was shaky anyway. I work pretty fast/hard when I am working on my japanese, so I suppose it evens out.
I’m soon going to be at the level where, if I feel like a break from active study, I can just watch anime or read a light novel instead, and I think that’ll make a big difference.
It’s been an interesting experience, seeing what things will keep me motivated and what will make me get fed up. My breaks are getting shorter and my time between longer, so maybe through learning japanese I can even become a consistent person! I think that would be a bigger miracle than just learning a new language, to be honest…
I’ve realised over the past few months that what keeps making me burn out is trying to go too fast with anki. However, I mistook it as “trying to go too fast WITH JAPANESE”. Nuh-uh. After testing it out, turns out that doing a moderate amount of anki AND A TON OF IMMERSION makes me really happy, to the point that I havent even felt like playing video games in the past little bit! I’m really confident that I have found my pace now. Moderate-anki speed, fast immersion!
I’m really happy to hear that you finally found the perfect balance for yourself.
Good comment. I definitely think I can learn from that. Time to slow down with Anki.