If You don’t Love Studying Japanese, then it is Not for You?
Ever heard this wise advice before? The ultimate self-reflecting test to find out if you will ever make any sense out of this crazy language. If you don’t love something, and aren’t passionate enough, you’ll never get good at it. If you hate the studying, you really don’t like it enough. You don’t truly want it.
Yeah, that’s not right at all…
It sounds right. If you don’t like what you are doing, it is only a matter of time before your motivation wanes, dislike takes over, and you are now studying something else that you truly love.
However, this phrase is focusing on the wrong part. The keyword should be Japanese, not the studying of Japanese. No one studies Japanese because they like studying Japanese. Of course there will be an abundance of amazing moments that actually come directly from the studying part. But there will also be just as many rip out your hair out of frustration moments.
You study Japanese because you love Japanese. The better phrase would be:
If you don’t love Japanese (insert your ‘why’), then it is not for you.– Doesn’t have that same blaming ring to it…
How you should feel about studying Japanese
People try to be positive about studying Japanese. That’s good. Studying should be a an exciting adventure that means something to you. But this overwhelming positivity is dangerous.
Studying Japanese at times will absolutely be:
Accepting that is important. It doesn’t matter how much you love anime. It doesn’t matter how amazing your trip to Japan was. It doesn’t matter how much you love cute things. Studying Japanese is tough. Tough things result in the above 5 emotions. That’s normal.
The winning key
When you find yourself down, wondering whether you really want this enough, and whether you deserve fluency despite disliking the studying, remind yourself that loving Japanese has nothing to do with loving the study of Japanese. No one studies atop comfortable fluffy clouds floating above the rainbow sky. A lot of the time is spent in the mud with freezing rain pouring on your head.
But before you start thinking “I’m ready, bring on the pain!” it is not about extremes. It is not about “no pain, no gain.” Because while you don’t need to love studying Japanese, you can’t absolutely hate it. Otherwise you will never do it. This is why all those mini-victory moments and feelings of progress and happiness are extremely important.
I had read recently that in trying to accomplish something, you need to keep in check whether the pain of doing it is edging over 50%. I don’t agree with this number, but I think it is good to look at the pain vs. fun ratio. More accurately, I think it is never a steady number. 95% pain one moment, and 5% the next.
It’s the fluctuation that is important. When pain gets too high, it needs to be followed up with an influx of good feelings.
Do you love studying Japanese?
Let us know honestly in the comments.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
I’ve made attempts at studying Japanese in the past. Because I focused 90% on study and 10% on immersion, I gave up every time (even though I love connecting with Japanese people).
Focusing on the larger “why?” has been helping me a lot.
I think a lot of people face this exact same thing. Studying is in the forefront, your why is in the background, and things don’t work out well.
… I actually do. :-D
You are absolutely right in your post though. And I guess this is also a big reason why the Jalup method is working – it tries to put as much Japanese into studying Japanese as possible ;-)
I think the people giving the other kind of advice take it from fields or hobbies where such advice might actually be sound, e.g. sports. While there are some parallels (e.g. you want to finish a marathon one time in life even if you don’t like running), here the training (running multiple times a week) is much closer to the reason why you chose that hobby (because you love running) than with Japanese. Maybe that is too simple, as even running has its ups and downs (as studying a language has) but still I think that for such a hobby that kind of advice might actually be good.
As for me, I actually enjoy a good challenge, so even the studying itself is mostly fun for me. There are sure days where I feel less motivated but except at the worst days during the RTK it never was not fun.
Also I absolutely love learning (not in the physical act of studying but finding new things I did not know)! Topic is almost irrelevant, as long as I can learn something new it is fun for me. And language is such a great thing with so many unknowns, I am constantly marveling in something new, even if its just small things
I think you are right – for the average person whose hobby is playing a sport, it can contain your why fully every time you play. But for pro-athletes, while they might love an actual game, I’m not sure how much they enjoy shooting 1,000 times a day in practice starting at 6am.
Becoming fluent is becoming a pro-athlete :)
*My sports analogy might be way off. Not exactly my area of expertise…
While I think its not so far off, but I would not compare becoming fluent to professional sports – very few people do the latter but many more the former. I would rather compare it with serious hobby athletes, who achieve great results while still having significant “other” parts of their life besides the sport. For the rest I am pretty sure also the greatest football professional sports players force themselves to training some or all days.
I still like the comparison though. In my experience, most sports/fitness goals require the same kind of long-term thinking and motivation management as becoming fluent in a language does. Having reached some of them during my life I can see that many of this is easily applicable to language learning (e.g. creating and removing habits), and I am pretty sure it works the other way around.
So lets keep the “Becoming fluent is like running a marathon”-analogy and just imagine it more literally than before :-)
I’ll definitely leave the sports analogy to you :) A marathon it is!
I’m also using the analogy of running to explain why I like learning vocabulary (most of the time). I made the experience in running that there are days or moments when you have a high, you feel the power, all goes smoothly. And there also days and moments when you are very tired and don’t like to finish the round very much.
At learning vocabulary I have the highs and good feeling when the learning and reviewing of vocabulary goes very smoothly. Also recognizing some progress is nice. But at other times when the vocab will not stick or you are tired or would like to relax it can be hard.
Because of the motivation to make some progress and because doing the reviews is some kind of habit I did not have problems keep going until now.
I think the post is on target but I also personally enjoy the studying part more often than not. It has its ups and downs for sure. But there have been a number of times in the past two years where I think to myself I think I will miss the studying of Japanese. The feel of adding cards and getting to 0 reviews. The brain challenge.
It is funny because if you asked me three years ago before I started I would have said I hated school/learning/tests. My worst subject was probably foreign language and I was ‘bad’ at it.
I think the methods are CRITICAL. In hindsight what I hated was a classroom setting, cramming, testing, grades, etc. Self study, self testing, is totally different.
For those who like the studying process itself (which there are definitely people who do), the good news is even once Japanese is finished, you carry all the study techniques you’ve learned to the next big thing you want to learn. Keeps life interesting. That’s how I taught myself programming.
I never really thought about it like that, but that is a great point. Thanks