You want to be fluent in Japanese. You crave it. You don’t just want to be okay or good, you want to be great. Mastery of Japanese only becomes a reality if you know what you want. What you want, and your goals, feed your motivation.
Without motivation, you die a horrible Japanese learner’s death, usually quite early on (2-3 months in?). There is no continue button or extra lives. You are done. Probably moving onto something else, which is not going to be anywhere near as amazing as Japanese.
Motivation sounds obvious. You don’t need me telling you to get motivated. You probably are motivated . . . for now. Motivation is a resource that is consumed quickly. You may have all the motivation in the world right now at the start, but watch as it slowly starts to wither away. This is normal. This is bad. And you need to prevent this from happening.
You don’t know what you want unless you think about it. And even when you think about it, thoughts are fleeting, and Japanese will last way longer than that. You need to keep track of your goals, from the very beginning. The big dreams. The small dreams. And everything in between. This is not a “save for later” step that you can skip and deal with it when you have more time. You won’t have more time.
I recommend creating a motivation/goal chart that you look at often. You need to remind yourself why you are working so hard. This should be an ever evolving and updated work. Even if you think you know why you are motivated, you need to write it down.
This is crucial for when you have those bad days, bad weeks, bad months, where you are ready to throw it all away. You can’t rely on what is in your mind for motivation when your mind is currently held hostage by negativity and the thought of giving up.
Motivation is split into two types: 1) General motivation (what generally makes learning Japanese so great) and 2) Specific motivation (what makes becoming fluent in Japanese worthwhile for you).
- Japan has some of the largest companies in the world.
- Japan is a world leader in technology and innovation.
- Japan is a massive importer of foreign goods.
- Japanese is a gateway language to Chinese.
- Learning about Japan introduces you to other Asian countries.
- Japanese sets you apart since most people in your country don’t speak fluent Japanese.
- Immersing in a foreign culture gives you a better understanding and pride of your own culture.
- Japanese literature is ranked as some of the best in the world in both quantity and quality, and only a very small percentage ever gets translated into English.
- Japanese TV and movies are amazing.
- Japanese people are some of the top users of the internet.
- Japan is really another world, and to experience it to the fullest, you need fluency in the language.
- Japanese people are quite attractive (caring about fashion and appearance contributes a lot)
- Japan is a big trendsetter.
- Many Western companies have offices in Japan now.
- Japan has extremely rich and old culture, history, and beauty.
- Japan is the center of Anime, Manga, and Video Games.
- Your resume/CV will stand out regardless of whether the company you are applying to has any use for a Japanese speaking employee.
- It’s just generally impressive to family members, friends, or members of the opposite sex.
- Becoming fluent in Japanese will actually make you smarter and a better problem solver.
- Being fluent in Japanese increases your ability to do general multi-tasking, since the brain does it on a subconscious level when switching between languages.
- Being fluent in a foreign language prevents all kinds of neurological diseases as you get older (ex. Alzheimer’s)
- Japanese music is extremely diverse and just plain excellent.
Below are 12 questions which you should know, or eventually know the answer to. They all go towards your “why you are studying Japanese” and turn that ambiguous image in your mind into something you can actually work towards. Your goals and dreams will change and develop several times throughout the months and years. Let them evolve.
These are questions to be answered with absolute honesty. They are only for you. The truer you can be to yourself, the better you know yourself, and the better you have a chance of survival.
- What do you like about Japanese (the culture, the people, and the language)?
- What specifically do you want to be able to do with Japanese ability?
- What do you want to be able to do with your Japanese ability in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years?
- What skills in Japanese are most important to you out of reading, writing, listening, and speaking?
- How long are you prepared to study before you can start enjoying “fun” Japanese material?
- How long are you prepared to study till you become fluent in Japanese?
- How many hours a day are you prepared to study?
- How are you going to make time in your life for Japanese to be an important part of it?
- Do you want Japanese to be a part of your career (what type of career)?
- Do you want to live in Japan (where and when)?
- What do you think you’d be missing out on if you didn’t learn Japanese?
- How do you think fluency in Japanese will change your life?
Take your time in thinking about these
This isn’t something that you are going to know all the answers to instantly, and most of these will take a lot of time and thought. These go to the core of who you are and what you want to accomplish. But they are powerful questions you will eventually need to answer.
Know thyself, Know Japanese. Or something like that.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.