Avoid a Negative Learning Environment
Being around positive people can make a major difference on whether you learn Japanese or don’t. The people you study with, the people you ask questions to, and the people who write about studying Japanese. These all go into your Japanese learning environment. While everything may begin bright and welcoming, it can turn dark very quickly…
Everyone starts off extremely excited to study Japanese. It’s not like one tired day you mildly mutter to yourself, “hmm, I guess I should start studying Japanese…” You are filled with unending energy and are ready to shout out to the world “here I am! I’m studying Japanese, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get to the golden land of fluency!”
That initial enthusiasm naturally fades a bit, as to be expected, and your rocky mountain climb begins. You encounter hurdles, gain your battle scars, and fight valiantly forward. Because you encounter a lot of difficult things, and struggle, it can be easy to start complaining and feeling a bit negative.
Why can’t I do this! Why is this so hard! What the hell!?
This is also normal. No one goes through the difficult Japanese worlds unscathed. Some people tend to bounce back from these surges of negativity quickly. Other positive learners, and a positive community can help pull you out of that darkness.
However, it’s when you reach a bit of that darkness, and instead of having someone pull you out, someone jumps over you and drags you further down. Deeper, and deeper. Darkness combines with further darkness. Negativity starts to brew, and expand in all different directions.
Temptation to negativity
Sounds like it would just be easy to avoid. No one wants negativity after all? However it is tempting. When you are down, it is easy to complain. It is easy to get angry. It is easy to get frustrated. It feels good to get that all out with other people. Especially other people who know what you are going through. Misery loves company, and you are creating a party of darkened Japanese learners.
When negativity gets together it starts increasing rapidly and going into areas that you weren’t even negative about in the beginning.
Negativity will start off attacking methods and tools. Then native materials. Then Japanese people. Then Japan. It continues to branch out. Once you get stuck in the negativity abyss, it is hard to get pulled out, even by positive learners. You are so used to the negativity and have become friends with the other negative learners. This is your new world. You can’t escape. And if you aren’t careful, you may even turn into an evil Japanese learner.
Don’t let yourself slide too far
The solution to prevent this is to make sure you keep track of negativity, and don’t let it go too far. Everyone will have negative thoughts about learning Japanese. Everyone will complain at some point. But it will all come down to what you do with those thoughts, and who is around you when you have them. Choose your allies wisely. You will share your fate with them, and your party determines your success. Once you go down the wrong path, it is hard to make it back to the light.
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 feel very fortunate to have come across, and allied myself with, JALUP. It is a resource of people and ideas that keeps me “in the light” on my Japanese journey. Thanks, all!
Always gotta stay in the light!
This is just good life advice. Get too negative and it will bleed over into everything you do.
True. Sometimes Japanese requires extra careful attention because there is a lot of possibility for frustration if you approach it the wrong way.
Very true. Keep calm and stay positive! :)
I have been sliding. I still love the language. Life jumps in the way sometimes and I’m ok with that–but there’s some guilt about throwing away all that progress in a backslide.
For me, studying in a group can bring on the negativity because so many others are doing better than I am. It’s mostly because I’m in hobby-mode. It comes from having a big family and many responsibilities that don’t pivot on my Japanese knowledge.
Wish me luck!
There are plenty of other people here that study on the side and don’t make it their main life focus. As long as you show it a little love now and then, it will continue to grow, at the pace you decide.
I have been in hobby-mode a lot of the time since I started studying Japanese many years ago. One thing I feel really helped me is to promise myself to do at least 1 anki review each day. It is easy to squeeze in a single review, only takes a few seconds or maybe a minute and when you do the one it may become 2 and then you get that feeling of “Yes! I accomplished more than I set out to do” which is a great booster. Other days it may just stay with the one and you can keep the good feeling of keeping your promise. It will also ensure that when there is more time for studying, you can spend that time learning something new, because you have not forgotten what you already learned.
Even the busiest of days should allow for a single anki review :) 頑張って！
Thanks for the article Adam.
Staying positive is such a good way to keep making progress with Japanese. Personally, when I’m feeling frustrated doing RTK, I remind myself that RTK is meant to be a challenge, and feeling frustrated is part of overcoming a challenge. Growth comes from pain etc etc. I then find I can let that frustration go and push through to an emotionless state.
Frustration to greatness is the way to go. And you make a good point. No true challenge is without its share of frustration.