Studying Japanese in 2021… How far we’ve come from studying Japanese in 1899. Or in 1999. No one says they wish they could study like it used to be. With all the super advanced tools, the unlimited and instant access to everything Japanese, you have it made. This is the age of studying Japanese (or any foreign language). But does it sometimes feel like it is actually getting harder to study Japanese?
Covid-19 Motivation Down
As of this article, the Covid-19 situation has significantly improved in many countries, but others still struggle. Discussing covid, and the mental and physical effect it had/is having on everyone is a whole other topic. And that really isn’t related to Japanese as much as it is to everything you do. But there is one big thing that has sapped motivation.
You can’t go to Japan
Visiting Japan is one of the biggest motivators to any Japanese learner. Both the time leading up to your visit, the time spent there, and the time after it. For over 15 months, unless you live there already, you probably haven’t been going. When you will be able to go again is still unknown.
Too Much Information
You’d think with so many apps, methods, and techniques all to learn Japanese, you would have more advantages than anyone before you. More info = more power.
With so much information at your fingertips, where do you actually go? What do you actually do? Maybe you’ll be clever and find people, posts, and sites that organize that information for you. Except now there are too many places that organize that information for you as well. You have a lot of sorting to do. Once you finished sorting, next comes…
Would you rather have 3 choices or 1,000? More choices doesn’t necessarily mean a better decision.
You’ve gained the ability to find the perfect method to align to exactly how you think. But I’ve seen way too many people spend so much time deciding what to do that they just never end up doing it. Even when they do do it, they still have all those choices, and information waiting on the sidelines. Any time even the slightest doubt of your choice pops up, you wonder if you should try one of those other 1,000 sources.
The in-about ratio grows out of control.
Japanese fluency is not as special as it used to be
It’s still special to you. But it’s losing some rarity. That’s not to say learning Japanese is easy. Or that everyone is becoming fluent. But there are definitely more fluent learners (and those studying the language) than ever.
This is good news, because it means that so many more people are achieving fluency. That gives you visual proof that you can join them. But it loses some of that “you’re the only one!” charm. While that is superficial, it does feel good to be able to accomplish what so many else couldn’t.
Even if you aren’t worried about that extra special feeling, with more fluent speakers you have a new problem.
Comparison is getting worse
The more people you see fluent in Japanese on the internet, the more you compare yourself to them. Everyone’s achieving victory now, but you aren’t? Look how good they sound. And they only spent (insert some seemingly impossible short period of time) to get there, despite you spending (insert some painfully long period of time).
Comparison is at its peak. And it hurts.
Less Japanese-only content
This could be seen as good or bad. But much more Japanese content is translated into English these days. It’s probably harder to find non-translated anime and manga. While this might be irrelevant to you, there was always a cool factor of getting access to content way in advance. You knew if you wanted to enjoy it, you absolutely had to learn Japanese.
But is studying Japanese really harder?
My point here isn’t to discourage you. Because this article is only focusing narrowly on new challenges that you didn’t have before. Most of Jalup focuses on all the other great positives that make your studying better than ever. But I like to give the full picture.
I just want to remind you that studying Japanese is hard, no matter how “easy” or “convenient” it may have seem to become. It’s always better going into battle aware of all the monsters you will face (old and new). Don’t get caught up in “everyone is mastering Japanese now, and I have all the best tools in the world, and I still can’t do it!” Everyone struggles. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
2021 doesn’t mean learning Japanese is a given. Maybe 2075, when you get that matrix-like link to you brain to upload information, things will be different. Only then will it be time to close down Jalup.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.