When people think of language learning from their early school days, unpleasant memories may arise. This is especially true in the U.S. school system, where the way language is taught along with its perceived need, does not satisfy bringing up a generation of foreign language lovers.
Depending on your home country, you could probably only choose between a small handful of languages (most likely that involve some combination of English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, other romance languages). You may be starting off from day one with a language you don’t have much interest in.
Excitement is what gets you to the golden land of language learning rewards. When it’s not there, your attention is on assignments, homework, quizzes, tests, and grades. Obligation language learning in school does have its good moments and there are plenty of success stories. But I think more people have a negative experience. This negative produces a terrible result:
I don’t like language learning.
This person won’t pursue a new language after they graduate and become an adult.
Enter Passionate Language Learning
When you choose to learn a language on your own time, unrelated to school or anyone telling you to do so, for your own fun reasons relating to something you love, the experience is vastly different.
When I talk with people who had bad obligation language learning experiences, and tell me that they are bad at languages or ultimately hate them, it can be hard to convince them otherwise. It is hard to show them the fantastical world they are missing out on. I’m not saying passionate language learning is an easy world. But it has the potential to bring unlimited pleasure and happiness.
Japanese is unfortunate (or fortunate?)
Japanese is probably one of the rarer languages taught in schools. I know Chinese has increased over the past decade, but Japanese doesn’t show its face much. At first glance, this might make you sad. You couldn’t learn the one language you wanted to in school. Imagine if you could have spent 5+ years learning the language as part of your childhood education?
Good or bad?
You choose a language you are passionate in and turn it into a school obligation. If you aren’t careful, it can suck the life out of that language. It becomes a school subject that you lose all control over. I’ve heard of people who try to bring in what they love (anime, manga, video games, etc.) and are told rather sternly to “save that hobby stuff for later.”
I sometimes wonder if the reason why people that study Japanese intensely love it is because they didn’t learn it in school. Japanese is almost always passionate language learning, which increases the chance of success and overall satisfaction. I started Japanese when I was 21. I don’t know if I would have developed the same love for it if I started when I was in high school.
Stick with passion?
If you are here on Jalup, Japanese is passionate language learning for you. Do you wish you had the chance to learn Japanese in school or are you glad that it stayed far away from obligation?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.