In Japanese there is a lot to learn. A lot. So much that you feel like there is no end in sight, no matter how strong a futuristic language-telescope you are using. With every step forward, you start to notice increasingly complex categories of how things in the language relate to you. Things that you don’t know. Things you want to know. Things you want to learn. Things that you should learn. And then finally, things that you have to learn.
Have to learn? Study it, now! You have no choice?
Ever notice when you have to do something, you are less likely to do it compared to when you want to. Sure, you may do it, but most likely your “have to” will make it less enjoyable, less likely to see it to the end, and more likely to dread the next “have to.”
Should you just eliminate your Japanese have-to’s?
There is nothing you have to do in Japanese. You are learning for your own reasons, whether that is to order something in a Japanese restaurant, or to write the next great Japanese novel. Everything in between is up to you, and no one else.
There are a few things that will feel like absolute “have to’s.”
- You have to stop using romaji.
- You have to learn hiragana.
- You have to learn kanji.
- You have to learn grammar.
But I’ve met people who just wanted to have basic conversations while visiting Japan. They don’t have to learn any of that. There is only “should” or “need” based on what you “want” to do. Do you want to read manga? Then you’ll need to study kana and kanji in order to read that manga. How you fulfill that need is up to you.
These are just generalizations though. Most people aren’t questioning whether they should do the simple building blocks we all know that we should and need to be doing to accomplish our goals. I’m more concerned when you get to the smaller picture stuff.
Do you have to learn all the insects, animals, and tree vocabulary? No. Do you have to master the high-polite Japanese? No. Do you have to learn the all the slang that is used between high school students? No. Do you have to learn Osaka dialect. No. But you’ll want to if you love learning about nature, or plan to work in a Japanese company, or if you are around high school students a lot, or if you like Osaka comedy.
You choose what you want to learn. What you want to leave out. Learn these things because you desire them and you are can expect to have a lot more fun.
Drop and replace
Are there any perceived have-to’s that you ended up dropping that made your studying feel so much better? What did you do instead of those have-to’s?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.