Most everyone can get motivated very quickly over something, but when it comes to actually sustaining that motivation, it’s a whole ‘nother story. Here are 5 things that I do to keep my motivation high and not allow myself to become too overwhelmed with learning Japanese.
Drowning in English
The goal with immersion is obviously to be surrounded 24/7 in Japanese (or whatever language you’re learning). Yet, it can sometimes cause you to start to break down, especially when you’re not very far in Japanese yet, because here is this (somewhat?) foreign language being slammed at you all day long. Sometimes you want to just sit back and enjoy not having to struggle to understand what they’re saying. There is something to be said for just sitting down and watching something without having to consciously figure out what words/sentences mean.
For me, I drown myself in English every so often. Usually only on the weekends though. I’ll pick a day, and while I’ll still do all of my Japanese fun tasks such as Anki revs/new, read manga, ReadTheKanji.com, etc, after all of that I’ll watch English movies/shows all day long. I’ll flood myself with English media until I’ve had my fill. Which in turn, allows me to come back at Japanese that much stronger the next day.
Do Tomorrow’s ANKI Reviews Today
In fact, I’m always consistently ahead of the game. Each day I don’t do that days reviews, because there are none. I always do tomorrow’s reviews, every single day. That way, even though it’s really the same thing, mentally I always know I’m a day ahead of the game. And I always have that safeguard, that if I really couldn’t get to my reviews today, then tomorrow I’ll actually just be right where I was meant to be in the first place.
Only Today Matters
If you think about how long it’s going to take you to learn Japanese, it’s overwhelming. It’s too big of a picture and most importantly, too far in the future. One thing I’ve learned is to focus on the fact that only today matters. Tomorrow isn’t here and yesterday has already come and gone. No need to focus on either of those. The only focus needs to be today. Making sure that I get today’s anki reps done. You’ll be surprised at how much lighter a load Japanese feels, when you’ve taken a step back and have decided to not care about the future, but only about today.
Don’t Wait Until You “Know” Japanese
Start enjoying Japanese this moment. Right this second. Go, turn on Japanese music and let it soak in! Because a lack of knowledge of the Japanese language shouldn’t be the reason you stray away from Japanese media and video games, it should be the reason you play even longer. A prime example would be kids (maybe your kids? I don’t have any 😉 ). If a 5 year old kid just received his first GameBoy and the game Pokemon, would you honestly scold him and be like : “TROLOLOLOLOL. You can’t play that! You can’t even read most of the words! -Snatch- Let’s store that away for later, when you have a higher reading level.”
Of course not! In fact, if it’s your kid, you may have given it to them for the sole reason of hoping to get them to do more reading and improve. The same way kids learn by playing games and then referencing their parents for help via “And what does this mean? .. And this? .. And this?”, adults can play games and reference a dictionary. Just consider the dictionary (online or physical, doesn’t matter) your parent. When you have a question, ask it! It may not always have an answer, but it’ll do its best.
If you can find a Japanese study group, I’d definitely join it, for the social/communication skills. But for those of you, who like me can’t find any groups near you, try to find an authentic Japanese restaurant. By authentic, I don’t necessarily mean the food, I mean the staff. It has taken me quite a while, but I’ve finally found one place near me (20 minutes away) where all the staff are Japanese (often they are Chinese or Korean).
They greet everyone in Japanese and I always remind them to only speak to me in Japanese when they sometimes forget. While I don’t get a whole lot of time to practice because they are busy, some is better than none. Plus, a big part of it is that other Japanese people eat there and I get to listen in on their conversations, attempting to pick up what they’re speaking about. Also, I’m really hoping to make friends there over time and maybe eventually have a Japanese friend to regularly hang out with. One can only hope. 😀