Understand Your Weaknesses And Your Strengths Will Shine
Do you picture yourself as some unstoppable Japanese learning beast, absorbing knowledge left and right, and dominating every kanji, word, and sentence you come across?
You want everything.
● You want to be an elegant speaker who can capture the heart of his audience.
● You want to understand everything you could possibly ever hear or watch.
● You want to be able to write out beautiful compositions worthy of praise and awards.
● You want to be able to pore through with ease even the most advanced literature Japan has to offer.
You want your language to shine like the massive sun over all those that have climbed Mount Fuji.
While you want everything to be perfect, and all-powerful, you have to accept something important.
You are going to have weaknesses.
Those who seek perfection and fail come across this realization early: One of the big keys to Japanese success is accepting your weaknesses to allow your strengths to shine.
Trying to shine in every Japanese way possible is going to lead you down an unpleasant path. In your own language, you haven’t mastered everything, and never will. Can you wow an audience of thousands of people? Can you read and fully comprehend or listen to lectures of advanced subjects such as science, medicine, and technology? Can you write novels?
You most likely don’t want to achieve the peak for every possible thing that exists. You want to choose what matters most to you. Some people want beautiful handwriting. Some people want to be able to write publish-worthy Japanese. Some people want to be able to speak in a refined way that allows for public speaking. Some people want to be able to understand hard science. Others don’t.
When you don’t want something, you don’t focus on it. That skill becomes weak and unrefined. That’s completely fine.
When you know your weaknesses, you can decide in the future if strengthening them is important to you. Then later you can address them head on when it matters to you.
Weaknesses can go straight down to the core of Japanese
This can be reading, writing, speaking, or listening.
Most people have the greatest difficulty in speaking, because they spend the lion share of their studying with reading and listening. So you have a speaking weakness, because right now it isn’t your focus. You know that weakness, and later on you can slowly work to change that and turn it into a strength. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you don’t really care about being the best speaker. Having normal conversations is enough, and you don’t need to be able to do anything more than that.
Choose your weaknesses
Your weaknesses are the product of how you forge your Japanese learner path. Then you can decide what to do with those weaknesses.
Don’t ever think that to become fluent and beyond you have to remove every single weakness. That’s the biggest mistake. You are allowed to have weaknesses. You are supposed to have them. Having weaknesses, and understanding them, is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
What’s a weakness that you have that you’ve decided isn’t important to you (even if just for now)?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
In the past (*cough* like two or three months ago), one of my weaknesses was being unable to handwrite very many kanji. Most of the time I paid this no mind. I didn’t think that being able to handwrite kanji was very important, and it was okay if I didn’t focus on it at all. As time went on, however, the fact that I coudn’t write simple words like 経験 and 絵を描く from memory when I needed to began to bother me a lot. I’m really glad that the RTK mod deck here goes keyword => kanji because, due to that, my kanji writing and recall abilities have gone up exponentially. (Thanks Adam!)
Right now, one of my weak areas is definitely speaking, but I don’t have anyone I need to be talking to in Japanese right now, so that’s okay. (Side note: It might be fun to start something like a Japanese-only JALUP LINE group, though! It’s not speaking, but it’s definitely a form of output. For all us poor folks who don’t get to interact with others in Japanese very much. ^_^)
Glad the RTK mod deck is still being used after all this time!
Hmm, let me think about the Line group possibility.
Even with the existence of Kanji Kingdom, I think there will still be people who benefit from the RTK mod deck for a variety of reasons (ex: They already started RTK before discovering the site and want to continue it).
And yeah since the forums didn’t quite work out, some other way for JALUP users to connect and chat (esp in Japanese) would be great =)
Currently, I am weakest in writing. Like with speaking, I can bs my point across, and people will get me, and I can’t do that in writing if you get what I mean.
Totally understand it. I think it’s because speaking is meant to be less smooth, and writing is expected to be more refined.
My weakness is output in general (speaking and writing). I have a hard time producing any Japanese at all. For now I’m okay with that. Input before output. The fact is that for the time being I have no need to produce Japanese, I only want to consume it.
I do want to work some on output in the future though. I want to travel to Japan and be able to get by in Japanese while there. For that I will probably mostly have to work on my speaking abilities. It is not going to be easy since I’m shy and not very confident when facing somebody directly. I feel most comfortable safely behind my screen where I can take my time with what I want to express and fiddle around with each sentence until I’m satisfied. But I will have to work on that and I’m prepared to do so.
Last night I actually had a dream about talking to a Japanese person in Japanese and I just did it without any trouble. I take that as a sign that I’m really getting this whole Japanese thing internalized and it has become part of my identity.
Those Japanese dreams are the best and really are a sign that things are going in the right direction.
My weaknesses are definitely listening and speaking at the moment.
I am perfectly fine with not being able to speak much beyond the basics. That can come later.
As far listening that really annoys me, but I already know how to fix it. Immerse more! I am doing lots of immersion currently, but was not doing it as much as I should have in the beginning, so I am still far behind on this. However, everyday I notice new words and expressions when I immerse, so I know that I am making progress.
Yup, it’s just little by little. Once you reach a certain in the near future you’ll laugh that you ever had trouble in the first place.
My weakness is in writing. I just don’t write anything and I don’t need to. It’s like, I can achieve a certain effect through speaking by varying my intonation, gestures, using filler words, etc. But I can’t do that in writing. In writing, need to be aware of collocations, idioms, grammar, subtle kanjiisms and all that stuff.
I think writing is a major weakness for a lot of people. Most people don’t write nearly as much as all 3 other attributes.
Listening is my strongest, followed by reading. Speaking is my weakest followed by writing. However, I do notice that the more I listen the more I form Japanese sentences in my mind, now I just gotta figure out how to get them out of my mouth <3
I always found that just reading books or manga out loud is a great way to bridge the gap.
Strongly agree with this. Also if you’re not doing it already, even reading your Anki reviews out loud can be help.
Second this. Reading my anki reviews out loud really helped me a lot!
It’s interesting when I compare Japanese skill ranking (Reading-Listening-Writing-Speaking) to English skill ranking (Listening-Reading-Writing-Speaking).
It seems to reflect the main method of acquiring each language…
I’ve completely abandoned writing in Japanese to work on my conversation skills. But considering that I’m not a fantastic talker in English and far better at expressing myself in writing than in conversation, maybe I’m fighting a losing battle!
Or maybe working on your conversation skills in Japanese will actually also increase your conversation skills in English. Since being a good speaker is more than just vocabulary and pronunciation (which you probably have down fine in English if I may guess). So some of the skill points you gain by practicing conversational Japanese will be in general conversation skills applicable to both languages.
Japanese may be the motivational boost you need to work on becoming a great speaker :)
I agree with Silwing, that becoming a good speaker in Japanese may actually help your English as well, since it all relates to how your brain expresses your thoughts.
I was planning on my weakness being writing but I’m realising now that I’ve actually started doing Japanese in school that they really want me to write and its greatly frustrating. I certainly never plan to make big speeches, that’s not something I could do that confidently in English. And I mostly just want to be able to read fiction and History. I guess the thing I would like to be best at is listening.
Who knows though, maybe you’ll end up liking writing!