Japanese is important to you. I get it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here. It’s important enough that you are planning the next months and years around it. It’s important enough that you are willing to make the sacrifices, go through the struggles, and put in the much deserved time learning Japanese needs. That’s what you are thinking. This is the big picture. But what about your daily life? Where does your Japanese actually rank? And is this ranking a problem that you need to fix?
Not counting sleep, every day your attention and time is spent on people, study, work, fun and other activities. Some things get the lion share of your time (like your job), and some get a tiny portion (like watching cat videos).
Seeing where your daily time is spent can provide an accurate picture of what really matters to you, and not what you merely think matters to you. By doing this, you can find where your Japanese importance rank resides, and whether this is where you actually want it to be.
Let’s say you proudly declare that Japanese is the number one priority in your life. For 90% of you, this is false, unless you are dedicating most of your daily time to studying. That’s fine, and you aren’t expected to make it number one (unless you truly want to ). But is it number 2, or 3, or even 5?
All you need to do is look at the numbers.
1. How much time do you spend daily studying Japanese?
2. How much time do you spend daily doing everything else (besides sleep)?
If you spend more time binge-watching English TV shows on Netflix than you do studying Japanese, Netflix is more important to you. Now I can hear you saying, “no I just do that to relax. Of course Japanese is more important to me. That’s my long term goal and dream.” That’s partially true. But from the daily perspective, you’ve put that relaxation through Netflix above your determination to learn Japanese.
Accept the reality and adjust
Your Japanese importance ranking will have a direct correlation to how long it will take you to get to fluency. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there, as long as you decide that the length of time is okay. Whether you want to put in 30 minutes a day, and become fluent over a decade, or put in 3 hours a day and become fluent over 4 years, both are great. The problem is when you think you consider Japanese of vital importance to you, but only put in 30 minutes a day.
I think it’s better to correct yourself, to avoid frustration about why you aren’t improving as fast as you think you should be. Japanese doesn’t need to be number one. If it’s number 4 in your life, that’s still just as good. You won’t have false expectations, because you understand there are other important things in your life that you are putting higher than Japanese.
What’s Your Importance Rank?
In your daily life, what rank do you give Japanese? Make sure to consider all the things you do during the day, and don’t trick yourself. Next, what amount of time do you put in daily that is giving it that rank?
Leave your answers in the comments!
*Note: this isn’t an emotional or caring ranking. Obviously you probably value your family or loved ones over Japanese, even if you don’t spend as much time with them.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.