Why do cars have brakes? To go faster.
If you haven’t heard of this before, take a second to realize how much sense this makes. Now let’s apply the same principle to learning Japanese,
Why do we make mistakes learning Japanese? To go faster.
Yet everyone tries to do the exact opposite. You avoid making mistakes. You avoid going faster.
The bad stigma behind speed and mistakes
Going fast feels wrong. It makes it harder to create a rock solid understanding when you don’t give the proper attention to all the details.
Making mistakes feels wrong. It creates bad habits, leaves you with doubt and decreased confidence, and makes it harder to move forward.
The most common scenario I’ve seen a hundred times
I’m moving along fine. But then I hit a card that confuses me. I struggle, and just can’t fully understand it. Every time I see the card I almost always fail it since I need to review it again and again.
If I move forward without getting it, a negative chain reaction starts. I didn’t understand card 5. Card 6 relies on 5. Card 7 relies on 6. Card 8 relies on 7 and 6. If I don’t fix my understanding, my Japanese is going to collapse in on itself. I need to slow down and work hard until I truly understand 5.– Japanese learner caught in a downward spiral
The advice you need to hear
When the above situation happens, the advice from those who have overcome it is always the same.
Just move forward: faster, and with mistakes.
Getting stuck and slowing down is bad. It makes things worse. Back to the original car analogy: would you rather drive at 10 miles (16 km)/hour to get your destination, without ever having to brake, or go at 60 miles (100 km)/hour, but brake sometimes.
My repetitive but important advice: just because you don’t understand or are mistaken about some Japanese, doesn’t mean you need to stop until you fully get it before moving on. There are no long term consequences for moving faster through difficult concepts, regardless if other concepts build off of them.
I know the doubt and worry is already boiling up inside of you. But I promise, there are 2 things protecting you from your imagined impending doom.
- Reviewing old, current and new sentences over time will unlock understanding automatically and just like magic. It just takes a varying amount of time for your brain to process things.
- While it might take a few days, weeks or months, immersion will eventually clear everything up that the cards alone couldn’t.
Once either or both of these protectors sweep in, you get a free avalanche of understanding. Your understanding injection of hazy card 5 automatically opens up the 10 cards linked to it that also caused problems. This should be your goal. Not wasting time stressing and struggling to death over each card, marking it wrong dozens of times.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.