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What is the Hardest Part about Learning Japanese? — 8 Comments

  1. Your order of difficulty was exactly right for me! I find it hard to think of what to say in a conversation. It takes me so long to formulate it the person will have probably walked away by the time I reply. Also, listening to someone talk, my mind is slow in processing it, so I have to ask for a repetition. But it’s getting easier and more fun just by daily review of the Jalup app.

    • Conversation practice is the best solution to getting out of your head what you want to say. Regardless of how many times you say it out loud, or how well you know something, being in the midst of a conversation and being able to wield your Japanese effortlessly is a separate skill that needs refinement. You’ll get there though :)

  2. I think the things that are hard change depending on the level you’re at. For me, one thing that always gets me is when an author uses the older (outdated) version of a kanji which can stop you from reading even easy verbs you know like for example 見る being written as 観る. The first time I saw that it blew my mind.

    Grammar can also be tough as it’s possibly the furthest away from English possible. But at the end of the day, Japanese is a pretty forgiving language. Virtually no exceptions to worry about, very easy to search for words just from hearing them only, a huge variety of resources and detailed grammar explanations available and a huge amount of native resources which can found on every day use sites like youtube and netflix, etc.

    Sure it’s hard, but the challenge never feels unfair.

  3. For me the hardest part is the learning curve to get even to the basics. As an english speaker if I was trying to learn spanish after 3 months of daily dedicated study I can expect to have made some decent inroads.

    Starting Japanese it took me 3 months just to learn the three syllabaries. For the most part I still didn’t know any grammar, words, etc.

    The ramp up time to learn the language is much higher than many other languages.

    At this point I am so enjoying the experience of learning it, it doesn’t feel like work or a chore at all. It is how I like to spend my free time. If I can keep that feeling up I think I can get to fluency no matter how long it takes.

    • That’s an important point. Much slower gratification can be hard deal with when you compare it to other languages similar to your own.

      • I agree with this, it takes a very long time to just get to a basic level. Also, most people don’t seem to understand how much more time it takes to learn Japanese compared to other languages, or even how long it takes to learn a language in general so it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. After living in Japan for 1 year, coming with 0 Japanese, I have had SO many people in my home country make comments like “so, you’re fluent now right?”. A lot of people seem to expect that even if you didn’t study you’d somehow be able to speak Japanese fluently in such a short period of time just by being around it which is absolutely not the case, it takes way more than 1 year even if you’re studying for hours and hour every day.

  4. Big Boss Battle? Grammar. Subcategory? certain verb endings like transitive vs intransitive.
    [Also, I tend to spend more time around older folks, so it can be jarring for me to switch to uniformly casual speech when I’m hanging out with buddies or talking to young ones (although hearing their silly giggles when oneesan makes an “obvious” mistake is a treasure, haha).]

    I sneak frustrating grammar into my language “meal” like a parental unit sneaking greens into a veggie-averse kiddo’s dish, haha.

    My sneaky recipe:
    1 Heaping Scoop of Sweet Emotional Memory (amusing vocab/phrases/chunks from media, cultural/nerdy interests, language exchange/friends, etc)
    1 Pinch of Tart Grammar Drizzle (quotable nugget that popped out as a curiosity/useful point to investigate via Japanese example sentences)
    1 Brave Dose of “Real Life” practice (via type/speech) for that cementing adrenaline rush of being able to express new things (which my brain also digests as confirmation that “see?! this *is* important to remember!”)
    = Tasty OM NOM NOM emotion sandwich.

    Mind you, a bunch of my language-learning buddies insist that grammar is their Baby Boss (so they’re a huge help to me. meanwhile, I’m the cultural anecdote and word nerd with a zillion tricks to recall random vocab/phrases) — to each his/her own! Respect your own strengths / growth needs, and adjust your method accordingly (your brain will “click” in all due time).

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