To ever be great in Japanese you must create the need to learn Japanese. This might seem kind of contradictory at first, because unless you are escaping a Japanese prison and need to communicate with your prison mates to pull off your master plan (classy prison breaks don’t require partners), you are probably studying Japanese because you want to. However “want” is weak. It gives in easily. It fades away. It is killed off.
You must turn this “want” into its more powerful version, “need.” This can be accomplished through any of the four stages below:
Stage 1: Change Your Physical Environment
This is not a new concept, and you probably have already been doing this. Change as much as you do on a daily basis in your normal life into Japanese. This requires creativity as some things can not be changed completely, but they can definitely be tweaked. Check here for some great environment change suggestions from the popular Japanese learning site AJATT.
Stage 2: Change Your Physical Location
Yes, living in Japan is still one of the most powerful ways to upgrade your want to need. If you are a college graduate, you most likely will be able to do this through the path of teaching English. Make sure to heed the warnings that I provide in the English Teaching posts, as it is unfortunate that many English teachers never bother turning learning Japanese into a need.
Stage 3: Change Your Mentality (Make Yourself Addicted)
This is by far the most difficult, yet most powerful weapon you have at your disposal. You mentally create a need (addiction). The challenge comes in that to acquire addiction, you need the appropriate level of Japanese that the addiction requires. This is one of the reasons why I created the level-based Japanese Drama Guide, and I eventually plan on following it up with a novel guide, comedy guide, and movie guide (one day…)
– Watch TV shows with cliffhangers that make you watch 10 seasons (anime is great at this.)
– Read Manga and its 60 volumes where at the end of each chapter you absolutely must know how it continues.
– Play Final Fantasy 7 and max out all your characters.
Stage 4: Strive To Be The Best
Competitiveness creates the need to be great. Learning Japanese fits this mold quite well. Think of it like this: 1) Most people don’t learn Japanese, 2) People who learn Japanese usually fail and give up, 3) People that do learn Japanese often are pretty bad at it.
This means there is a field out there where you have the potential to rise to attaining something that so few have reached. Lately, I have not met many foreigners who are more fluent in Japanese than me (though my speaking skill is slightly rusty as of late). However, when I do meet them, it immediately re-sparks the desire to become even better. Why stop at “Fluent” when there is such a higher plane to reach.
Turning this into practical use, find others studying Japanese around you and make it your goal to surpass them. Never stop surpassing others. Surpass me. Become legendary.