While most study starts off solo, sooner or later you’re going to find your way to meeting and talking with Japanese people. You connect with the actual Japanese world. When you’re studying alone in your room, in your own bubble, it just feels like study. But the second you step out and start a casual chat with a Japanese person, it becomes real. Since this is such an important moment, you may be wondering when the best time to begin having conversations is.
There are two common ways of approaching this.
1. Start talking immediately
From day 1, find people to talk with. The more you talk in Japanese, the more you get a feel for it, gain control of it, and find a reason to use it. Language is meant to be used, and having a conversation embodies that. Don’t be shy. Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about mistakes. Just get out there and talk your mouth off.
2. Wait till your ability gets better
Rushing into conversations too early will leave your speaking riddled with mistakes, which ultimately create bad habits. You want enough input before output. If you keep immersing, when you finally get around to conversations, things will flow more naturally. You will enjoy conversations more and your time will have been spent efficiently.
Which way is the better?
Here on Jalup, you notice that the final world in the Walkthrough is the conversation world. You’d assume then that it is best to hold off on conversations until then. The more accurate truth is that I like a combination of both viewpoints above.
First let’s clear up one confusion. Practicing your speaking ability doesn’t equal having conversations (which is what the Walkthrough order is about). You absolutely should be practicing your speaking from day 1. This happens in your early pronunciation practice as you master the kana, in reading anything and everything out loud, in you repeating after your flash cards, and in you shadowing (which if you aren’t doing yet, you should).
Having a conversation in Japanese contains two important elements that are not to be underestimated: Fun + Motivation.
Having fun and motivating yourself are essential keys to success that need to be employed as soon as possible. They are the only way to overcome the stress and struggles of the early stages. If you have no conversations, you may be depriving yourself.
However, having too many conversations early on takes away the focus of what you really need to be working on. It’s going to create mistakes you’ll have to work on later. So it’s advisable to have cemented a a decent amount of beginner and intermediate material before you dive into conversations.
Have fun with conversations any time you want regardless of your level. But keep it minimal and don’t get carried away. If you want to have an hour of conversation a week with a Japanese friend, go ahead. But don’t have an hour conversation every day. Once you get closer to a decent level (ex. somewhere around Jalup Advanced), you can go dedicate yourself to extreme conversation practice.
When did you start?
People deal with conversations as a part of their studying differently. Did you start having conversations all the time right from the beginning? Or did you wait till your Japanese got better. How long did you wait?