If you have ever considered living in Japan, you have probably read up a little about culture shock, and the phases that a person goes through in adjusting to foreign life. I am convinced that these phases can easily be applied similarly to learning Japanese.
1. Honeymoon Phase (Month 0-3)
– You love Japanese, and everything about it is new and exciting.
– You are fascinated with the differences between Japanese and English.
– You make interesting observations and discoveries about Japanese.
– You are constantly studying Japanese and having fun.
2. Boredom and Frustration Phase (Month 3-12)
– You have a mix of frustration, anger, and boredom over the pace of your learning.
– You feel that you can’t do what you want to do.
– You may go through periods of taking short breaks from Japanese and starting up again.
– It can be difficult to find fun material and keep your motivation.
3. Adjustment Phase (Month 12-20)
– You grow accustomed to learning Japanese and have developed a Japanese immersion routine.
– You know what to expect, and you understand the pace of your learning.
– Japanese starts to feel normal to you, and you engage constantly in Japanese.
– Japanese as a whole begins to make sense, and negative reactions to the language slowly dissipate.
4. Mastery Phase (Month 20+)
– This doesn’t mean you have reached a mastery of Japanese, but more that you have fully integrated Japanese into your life.
– You often prefer watching/reading Japanese material over your own native language material.
– Not engaging in any kind of Japanese material for an extended period of time leaves you feeling like you are missing something.
– You no longer consider your interaction with Japanese as “studying”, but just something that is a part of your life.
The turning point: progression from phase 2 to phase 3
This is really the place which decides whether you will either:
1. Continue studying Japanese and eventually become fluent
2. Decide Japanese just isn’t worth it and give up
The bad news is that the hardest part of your Japanese studies comes so soon along your studying time-line. The good news is that if you can get over this phase, you will most likely reach a very successful level of Japanese.
Keep this in mind when your motivation hits an all time low.
Referenced: Wikipedia article on culture shock