Quit? It’s January 1st. It’s the start of a brand new year of unstoppable Japanese progress. To make sure you continue this through 2019 and don’t need a new resolution in 2020 to start studying Japanese again, there are three enemies you need to keep track of. Three “Quit Monsters” that can strike the moment you let your guard down. Who exactly are they and will you be ready?
Quit Monster 1: Boredom
Every person, site and video will try to make out how fun and exciting learning Japanese (or any foreign language) is. So why do so many people quit out of boredom?
Because the initial fun and excitement will wear off. It can be easy to get seduced by the flash of fun new apps and Japanese learning games. But when you are on this study high, you’ll most likely have fun in the beginning even with a plain paper textbook.
You get used to the taste of early fun. Once it fades, no matter how beautifully designed a tool is, it just won’t interest you in the same way.
1. Make the actual studying intrinsically fun by making it both challenging and rewarding.
2. Connect your textbook learning to immersion (TV, manga, novels, anime, movies) as soon as possible, even if you only understand 1%.
Quit Monster 2: Overwhelming
I talked recently about dangerous flash card goals causing problems for many people. Japanese if filled with overwhelming elements: 2 alphabets, 2000+ kanji, multiple polite systems, and grammar that makes your head spin.
Japanese can overwhelm you at any moment. When it does, your urge to study dies, making you feel like this:
You’ve seen it before.
- 500 reviews due → overwhelmed → stop studying
- Try to power through nothing but kanji for months → overwhelmed → stop studying
- Set insane goals for yourself because other people say this is what you can and should be doing → overwhelmed → stop studying
Saying this can sometimes cause mixed feelings for people. A smart comment was left recently by reader Dominik. He said:
I just can’t recommend going slow with Kanji. There is not only the burn-out due to being too fast and having too much, but also the slow burnout by the feeling to face an neverending amount of Kanji cards… I chose the 65/day route for RTK, after failing a few times at slower paces. Spending a whole year staring at Kanji cards everyday would have driven me crazy, without feeling any progress.
For some people this works, and you might even say that any other way wouldn’t work for them. What overwhelms one person, causing them to quit, may be the secret to success to another. It becomes a balance between finding out what overwhelms vs underwhelms you (bringing out Boredom Monster #1).
Quit Monster 3: Life
The fiercest monster of them all, and one that people tend to underestimate. No matter what is going on in your life when you start studying, your time, energy and mental state will eventually take a drastic dip. That’s life. When you take that dip, you need to be ready.
This is why advice about studying – all advice (including mine) – needs to be adjusted to your life. This is why there is no best way to study Japanese. Life won’t have it. Everyone has some kind of learning obstacle in life (whether physical, mental, temporary, or permanent) If you are 40 with 2 kids and a time consuming job, it’s not the best idea to try to study in the same way as someone single in their early 20s.
1. Acknowledge your life situation, but do not make an excuse out of it. While you may not be able to study in the ideal way (whatever that actually is), you can study in your own way. If that’s only during your commute and 30 minutes before bed, then that’s you. Maybe you can’t become fluent in 3 years. But maybe you can do it in 6 years, on your own terms, in a way that makes sense to you, and only you.
As Bruce Lee once said: Be Water. Let your studying take whatever shape it needs to be in your life for you to succeed.
The most inspiring success stories aren’t from the wealthy, single person with unlimited free time and resources. It comes from the person who had everything in life going against them, yet still managed to push through. This can be you.
Happy New Year!
Keep the quit monsters at bay, and go on and make 2019 your year.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.