What is the Importance Rank of Japanese in Your Daily Life?
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.
3. Martial arts
6. Watching TV
Due to my very study intensive career path (majoring in economics while learning math on the side to become an Actuary) I can only put in around 30 minutes a day on average with the occasional motivation surges making me put in a few hours a day over a short length of time (usually a week).I have come to accept the fact that I don’t enjoy learning Japanese enough to overtake any of the others ahead of it but I do enjoy learning it casually. My motivation for Japanese comes and goes but at least keep up with my reviews so when that motivation hits I can make progress. However even at this ranking over 2 years I have learned over 700 Kanji / 3000 Vocab words / N4 grammar which while it isn’t anywhere close to fluent it is leaps and bounds ahead of most learners who quit completely.
You can definitely still achieve a lot in Japanese even when Japanese ranks low to you. What matters is that you recognize this and don’t set false expectations. So it seems like you are doing everything right and have made great progress even at the lower ranking.
This exercise of ranking things is really great for highlighting the dumb things I spend too much time on. YouTube is not that important to me, so it really shouldn’t be so high on my list. Especially being above Japanese.
YouTube (and any other streaming type of video site) can so easily creep up on your ranking without notice. It happened to me multiple times in the past.
When its put this way, Japanese is about 6th or 7th for me. I really want it to be higher, ideally at spot #3. My problem is I can only remember so many things in one day. I’m currently going through Jalup Beginner at 30 new cards a day, which is already pretty fast. I’d like to dedicate about 3x that amount of studying each day, but if I add 90 new cards a day I’m sure that’s a recipe for disaster. What should I do? I’m also using WaniKani btw.
When you start introducing native material (TV shows, beginner manga, etc.), this will raise your rank up, without unreasonably putting too much time into just learning/reviewing cards.
You can also try to add in supplementary activities to the sentences, like shadowing them or writing them out.
I´m really happy to say Japanese is number 1 in my list.
Finally got a work where I can use japanese everyday so I´m practicing japanese while working and when I return home, I watch some japanese youtubers or listen to some podcasts (trying to apply the shadowing technique!)
Thanks for your post!
Nice! It feels great when you can make Japanese top priority.
It seems to bounce around a LOT… but for me I’ve found the best strategy is to make sure that whatever is above it contains some Japanese. Maybe my ranking for actual study is at an 8 or 9, but somewhere around 3 or 2 is my desire to watch/keep up with certain Japanese shows and franchises. I just make sure that I always watch it without English subs. So, even if I feel meh about studying I am at least getting a lot of exposure.
Honestly it’s one of the luckiest breaks I’ve ever had in studying Japanese… because I literally have months worth of content to watch, I’ve found my desire to study Japanese increase as well as the ease of studying increase. Learning new words in my JALUP deck or new RTK kanji is so much easier now that I’ve heard these words over and over. Or previously difficult definitions are clarified. Things like いい加減にしろ！ and 認める used to be impossible for me but are totally understandable now thanks to countless hours of TV watching… :)
Also, I would recommend if at all possible get some buddy to push you along. I have had absolutely no luck finding a Japanese study partner, but I have found a lot of new friends online for shows I’m interested in. They watch stuff with me and give me recommendations for new shows. I translate stuff for them for fun and occasionally subtitle stuff, which helps me learn a few new words here and there. I wouldn’t be watching as much as I am, or be tempted to watch more American shows, if I didn’t have my friends :) we sometimes even get competitive about binge-watches.
2 Food / time spent in kitchen
6 Phone usage
7 Transportation (fernbus, train and so)
8 Japanese studies
9 Playing music (with my bands)
People call me a very social person, and it is with people of all kinds of relations I spent by far most of my time on. I like cooking. Usually I spent more time on work and school, but it is split up because of the exam period and short holiday in January. I got the new Switch this month and it has outconquered my phone usage. I was surprised to find “Japanese studies” beneath transportation, and my bands definitely has to talk less, play more.
But okay! What to do? I’m surprised that I spent so little time on studying, because Japan is very important to me.
In the category I have included time spent on shadowing (10min a day), Anki (5min a day) and reading Japanese novels (30min a day), no passive exposure to the language nor immersion.
Some of the people I meet are Japanese and I also have friends I’m skyping with in Japanese. Even if I had included immersion it wouldn’t have raised a lot, because I have seldom used it in this new year.
Perhaps if I could manage to squeeze in listening immersion when I’m in the kitchen – or when I’m on the go.
What if I could manage to get an hour more every day being on my own in order to study Japanese actively – I would probably feel more satisfied with my effort – – –
Thanks Adam for an good task that I hadn’t seen coming, before sitting in this bus. Interesting to wonder what I’ve been using my time on since new year.
There’s always a way to squeeze in a little more listening immersion. Also a little bit more Anki (have a few minutes of downtime here and there throughout the day? Do some reviews!)
And I’m glad I could help you reflect :)
Not counting work since that’s a “must do”;
1. Getting a proper amount of sleep (this includes both not sleeping enough AND sleeping too much; cant be having either of those)
2. Meditate (also time specific; atm Im at 30 minutes a day and my goal is to reach 1 hour a day)
3. Japanese. Every minute of my day that doesnt include one of the above 3, has japanese going on. Of course sometimes I have chores to do or cooking to do but even then I have semi-passive japanese going on.
Giving Japanese the time it deserves :)