Sometimes it can feel like there is a large divide between people who take Japanese classes and those who self-learn. But it’s really just all part of the same spectrum. People that take classes usually also self-study, and people that self-study often take some kind of formal lessons (whether that is a live class, online live class, recorded class, or through a tutor).
If you take a class, you assume it is going to make you study more. But what if it doesn’t?
It’s not as obvious an answer as you might think. Classes can have one of two effects on the people attending them.
Japanese classes make you study less
This was me, and I didn’t realize it until much later after I finished the class. When I first started studying, I went to a book store, bought a kana book, a kanji book, and a beginner textbook. For a few weeks, while still on my initial Japanese learner’s high, I was studying intensely.
Shortly after, I managed to sneak my way into Japanese 102 at my university, the semester before graduation. This class did made me study a lot. But as all classes do, they have to be set to the pace of everyone. This became what was normal to me, and was how much and how often people studied. While self-studying strategy and information is way more abundant now, your environment can set your way of thinking.
Would I have studied more if I didn’t have the class, and just continued along my several week path of self-study? It’s a possibility. I may have gone much further, faster. Then again, I may have quit Japanese. What I do know is that it told me how much Japanese study was enough.
Japanese classes make you study more
When you take a Japanese class, there is a pretty good chance you are passionate about learning the language. It’s rarely a school requirement.
Some people use classes as just one source of motivation and structure. It provides you with specific things you don’t get elsewhere: a teacher to ask questions and correct you, study-companions and forced Japanese interaction on a daily basis. You take what you can get from this and then you go all out onto self-studying.
Many people here using Jalup take some kind of class, but are still intense J-J and immersion learners.
What did classes do to your study time?
The blanket statement “classes are bad” usually come from people who were super successful with self-studying. This can make it hard to see the value of classes, when the negatives feel so apparent. I fell into this mindset quickly, because while I loved taking an introductory Japanese class, my real progress (caused by a real increase in study time) didn’t come till way after that.
Though self-studying isn’t always the magic bullet that many people make it out to be. It takes motivation to do everything yourself. The person who fails at self-studying might have gone far in a classroom setting. This is why for people on the fence, trying it is always worthwhile.
I’d love to hear from those of you who have taken some kind of class. Did it make you study more or less?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.