Creating the Daily Need to Learn Japanese
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.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
After I read my first manga in Japanese, Love So Life, I became so excited to get to the next volume again and again. I have to pace myself because of a budget, but it’s absolutely true! A need has been created!
Nice article :)
I discovered some time ago now the greatness of 実況プレイ, that is people recording themselves playing video games. Some series are great, many not so great, so that would be a good guide series too I think.
Can’t wait for your other guides!
Comedy guide? Need!
Movies guide? Yeah!
Novel guide? Hell YEAH!
My suggestion is to make it a Habit. Make it harder to forget to include Japanese in your life. Find something you do every single day and include it right next to it. Right after you wake up, right after lunch, during your drive to work, while your at the gym, or right before you go to bed. These are good times to include Japanese in your life.
Research shows it takes something like 21 days to make a habit, if you can get it to stick, you won’t need to worry about giving in easily or about it fading away. This can help establish a bare minimum amount of Japanese in your life. Obviously it’s important to do much more then this, but but at least you will do something.
まさにその通りです。ハマるって大事ですね。大変貴重なアドバイスをありがとうございました。I started learning Korean basically because it has similar structure with Japanese. And I’m doing your advice, changing my laptop environment into Korean, in my case. But then G-mail and Facebook makes changes so often, it gave me headache… so I changed the language back to Japanese which I’m much more familiar with.
I started learning Japanese because my wife is Japanese. The need will always be there for me. And it’s great because I can always ask question 24/7!
#3 and the above are reasons I wish I liked anime, manga, and to a lesser extent Japanese dramas. I’ve always hated anime and manga, and the few J-dramas I’ve tried to get into have lasted about 3 episodes before I was bored to death by them. This stuff just isn’t any good if you’re over 16 years old typically. It’s one of the main things that kills my study of Japanese – I have no motivation to see it through other than to talk to people. Of course, being a shy introvert means this isn’t a great reason either. Everyone always mentions anime and manga as a great motivator/reason to learn Japanese, but what do us people who hate these things look to?
I’d have to seriously disagree that J-drama isn’t good if you’re over 16 years old. First, are you sure you are finding j-drama that matches your level? And second, are you watching a wide enough variety to find what you like? Every new season of dramas, probably 15-20 new shows come out. Most people personally find 1 to 2 that they like. However, if you are just new to the Jdrama world, you have the past 10-15 years of dramas to look through, so you should have no shortage of material to find some great gems that really resonate with you. Once you do, I promise you will change your view.
Trust me, there are plenty of Jdramas that I get bored of in the first few minutes and give up (let alone 3 episodes).
Have you been through the jdrama guide on this site?
Well, what is the reason you decided to learn japanese in the first place? I know you say that you want to talk to people but you also say that you’re shy and thus don’t really like talking to people that much.. was that the original reason? Try to remember the other reasons and that might help you :P
I love anime and more precisely, I love Dramas, but I see where yo uare coming from.
Talking to other people is a definite advantage.
Can you remember why you wanted to learn Japanese in the first place? Was it the culture? Was it the language? And just think of that. Another motivator is wanting to more there…
I agree with Adshap in that you probably just haven’t found the right Drama for you. I am 18 (and a girl) and completely obsessed with a lot of dramas.
Gokusen is a really good series, and so is GTO (2012).
Can’t say we would really be into the same Drama’s as I watch mine to stare at the cute japanese boys ;)
Good luck in finding a Drama that suits your taste. I am sure there is one out there you will like.
Changing my phone and computer language to Japanese seems to help quite a bit. Since I’m on my computer for much of my free time, the extra association forces a more immersive environment.
I’ve recently created a need for Japanese. There is not one day I can’t go by without watching at least two drama episodes or 1 movie, listening to drama audio or a podcast or reading a manga (even though I can only understand around 10%). I even enjoy doing exercises from my textbook simply because it’s Japanese.
I thought I would never be able to create a need and that I would always have to force myself to do anything Japanese.