Creating Good Japanese Habits vs. Removing Bad Ones
Study 2 hours a day. Get your Anki reviews down to 0 in the morning. Watch at least one J-drama. Read at least one manga chapter. We create these types of Japanese daily goals that we want to become ingrained habits. Once they are habits, the path to fluency is simpler and your study life is so much easier. But that’s only one part of the equation, because good habits like these are easily broken.
A good study habit takes a long time to acquire. The first few days may be the easiest (because you have that initial habit-creation energy), but from there on out you reach a series of danger zones that threaten the existence of those good habits. Even once you have a good habit, there remains a chance that it will not last.
The focus on the above types of Japanese study habits is high, and important. But it’s just as important (if not more) to also focus on removing bad habits that would interfere with your studying. You know the typical offenders:
- Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime
These shave off hours of your available time, and make it harder to achieve your Japanese dreams. Regardless of how many good habits you are working on forming, all it takes is one bad habit binge to destroy them. This is why I think it is more important to focus on the bad first.
What would happen if you limited or stopped some or all of the above? Your free time would explode. You wouldn’t even know what to do with it, because you’ve been spending your free time on it up till now. One of the hard parts of breaking habits like these is that if you don’t have something that takes up that free time that is now created, it’s easy to fall back into those habits.
Well you’re in luck. You have Japanese, and Japanese would be happy to fill those newly empty time slots.
Make sure to actually fill in a bad habit with Japanese
A danger in removing one bad habit, and trying to fill it up with Japanese, is sometimes it might just end up with another bad habit in its place. It’s great that you are spending less time on Netflix, but not so great that you are spending more time on Instagram.
The solution is to limit or remove multiple bad habits. You don’t need to completely banish them from your life (for example, saying I will never watch English TV again). You just need to create and adhere to limits you set. Though depending on your personality, it may just be easier to remove them completely. In my case, I could never just watch one episode of a Netflix show. So rather than try to fight tempting addictions, I just got rid of things one at a time that got in the way of my studying.
Bad and good habit exchanges
One of the top strategies around creating Japanese habits is to cleverly exchange them with bad habits. The most successful Japanese learners do this well. Turn habits you do in English into their Japanese counterpart. Only watch Japanese Netflix. Only read Japanese tweets. Only watch Japanese YouTubers. It takes plenty of adjusting, but can be even more powerful than just attempting to extinguish your bad habits.
But I can’t live without English (insert any time-waster you do in English)!
Yes you can. You didn’t always need to do it in the past. And you won’t want to do it after it’s gone from your life. Assess your typical day, and see what you can replace with the Japanese version.
In the beginning, it’s going to feel like a weak replacement that “just isn’t the same.” An English TV binge will feel completely different than a Japanese TV binge, especially when you are still at an early level. But things will change, and eventually it will feel as natural as your original habit. This is a great place to be in.
Your bad habits turned to Japanese success
What are some bad habits you removed or replaced (with a J-version) that really transformed your Japanese study world for the better?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
Great article that everyone should read! The power of habits is incredible; I have changed my life (for the better) so much thanks to creating habits! Removing bad habits is just as amazing too, and like you said, good thing we all have Japanese to use to replace them.
Japanese is always waiting to make every day brighter and more productive!
The idea of replacing English based media consumption to the Japanese equivalent seems like a good theory.
However, the problem is Japanese content is created for Japanese target audience. Whereas English media has far larger audience appeal and more niches in general. For example I want to play a hardcore RTS on PC, which is Starcraft2. Don’t want to play any other game only this one. There isn’t any Japanese equivalent. I don’t intend to play some inferior Japanese language game just to see more Japanese.
Well, it depends.
Depending on the game, there are translated versions. I’m not familiar with Starcraft 2, but it is worth seeing if anyone created a translated version (official or mod). This was done with WOW (https://japaneselevelup.com/turning-world-warcraft-japanese-learning-experience/) so even many of your English favorites can be changed to Japanese.
Also, it gives you a chance to explore more Japanese games you may not have before. You may find yourself connecting with some great ones that you wouldn’t have if you focused all on English games.
At the very least, you can try to connect with Japanese players who also play your favorite English-only game.
You might find this interesting-
Unfortunately SC2 has not been localized for JP yet (and many JP fans play it in English as a result), but SC1 remaster came out recently and has full JP language support. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Starcraft =)
And to Adam’s last suggestion, there’s a large JP community around SC2 that you could look to jump in and interact with, so you’re at least talking about the game in Japanese. Here are a couple of good accounts to start following if you go that route-
Also FWIW, there’s *tons* of JP media that’s interesting to more than just a JP audience. I literally grew up playing JP games (Nintendo, Playstation) without realizing where they came from and enjoyed the hell out of all of them. It’s one of the reasons I chose to learn Japanese in the first place – there are a lot of amazing Japanese games out there that I want to play.
While there are some minor cultural differences, Japanese gamers for the most part want the same thing as western gamers. We’re a lot more similar than I think you realize.
My twitter is almost completely Japanese. I follow only a couple of accounts that post in English. The same goes for Twitch. I feel like the harder I studied the more I just naturally started switching things over. I also started to really get into Japanese music and Idols and I really had no choice as a lot of that stuff doesn’t get translated. I have tried in the past to consciously switch things over because I know it will be good for me, but I had much better luck when I just did it naturally as a result of my intense effort to learn, and intense interest in Japanese. I just became so interested in learning, switching things over happened without me even trying.
The good thing about switching everything over is, when I get really burned out or bored, my twitter and twitch just don’t change themselves. I’m still surrounded by Japanese and I’m still interested in the streamers and idols I follow. That interest inevitably pulls me back into studying.
If I was currently really into some activity, and I couldn’t find an equivalent in Japanese (or it wasn’t a popular activity in Japanese) then I would be cautious in just giving it up. Instead, I would just try to dive into learning Japanese and hope that over time I could find things that interest me even more.
Yes, as I mentioned, this isn’t about banishing English from your life. This isn’t realistic and it may have the opposite effect of pushing you away from Japanese. It’s about removing activities that you don’t actually want/need and/or replacing them with Japanese versions where possible.
This is true, at first I was trying to banish english & french completely from my life as AJATT recommended. I’m sure it works great if you have the strength and willpower for it, but for me, all it did was make me constantly quit, so here I am 4 years later, with maybe 2-3 month’s worth of learning under my belt. I understand now that english still has a place, and I am enjoying myself SO MUCH MORE now that I made japanese the biggest part of my life instead of the ONLY part.
Netflix = Terrace House!
It’s really helping with patterns.
May Terrace House continue for all of eternity :)
Just in case you missed it. Netflix also made a new あいのり which started on 10/26.
Wow, I didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing! And ベッキー is the MC?!