Studying Japanese

It’s harder than I thought. Sometimes, I feel like I’m no longer capable of learning it because perhaps my brain doesn’t work like it used to anymore. Is it really due to the fact that I’m not getting any younger (going 29 this year)? Is it the language itself? Or is it just a lack of motivation? Living here should be enough motivating force for me, but it’s not how I feel. I have this dream of speaking Japanese fluently so I could work in a field where my language ability is required. How challenging it would be, I said to myself.

Before I came here, I felt the excitement thinking about learning the language but the feeling started to dwindle the moment I saw the big picture. I feel like I’m facing a big rock. Breaking it into pieces is a stupid thing to do, I thought. Why would I let myself be in that situation when I could just make a turn and walk away from it? But then again, it’s the only way to get to where I would want to be.

Japanese is quite intimidating. Memorizing hundreds of kanji, remembering words that are sometimes difficult to pronounce, grasping grammatical rules that are sometimes confusing are wearing me down. It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I don’t want to come across as a whiner. I’m only stating facts that some people may not agree with. It’s no concern of mine. What concerns me is the fact that I’ve been losing the fire that ignites me to study the language even when I’ve been given the privilege to learn it. Knowing the root of it is what I’m trying to find out.

I don’t want to put blame on anything. I guess it’s just me. Maybe this is just a period that’s trying to give me a lesson. Maybe this is the part of a song playing on air that’s hard to catch but when you listen to it again and again, you realize that it’s actually a beautiful song. Okay then, I’ll let it play on repeat until it makes sense to me.

If there’s anyone out there that shares the same sentiment, hang in there!


Author: Sheryl Gim

1990 | Filipino living in Japan | Believer in love | Bitten by the travel bug | Caffeine intolerant

115 thoughts

  1. I also felt the same way before! But then I found out that learning Japanese in class is not for me so I’ve started learning it through games to improve my reading skill or conversation with Japanese people to learn casual Japanese. I’m still struggling to speak but I find it more motivating now than when I was studying Japanese in class.

    I hope you can find somethjng that can motivate you to practice Japanese. 頑張って!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its well worth persevering, I felt the same way at first but then I found it was more motivating to make it into a game. I love J-pop, so I use Utamap to get the Japanese lyrics, listening and singing along helps with getting used to the rhythm of the words. I also used Memrise for vocab, Tae Kim’s Grammar website and the Jisho dictionary (to look up kanji).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I get it… but I’m impressed that you’ve already mastered English as well as your native language (and perhaps a dialect). Any Korean? The grammar is somewhat similar. Even after a youth spent hearing Japanese spoken at home, I had to re-establish my ability to converse with any fluency… and I apparently sound like I’m from Osaka. 😉 Reading and writing are altogether different animals, though I’d recommend knowing the kana characters really well since they’ll help with correct sounds and timing.

    I think that one of the big hurdles as an adult is perfectionism. Kids don’t care if they hack the language, so they aren’t afraid to keep on trying until they get it right. I’d recommend listening to examples of a few important words, phrases and statements, and speaking them until you have them down. (A good one is, “Kore wa Nihon-go de nan desu ka?”… “What is this called in Japanese?”) It really helps to hear the language spoken in context. There are plenty of friendly people learning English who feel just like you, and trying to communicate back-and-forth… sometimes over a couple of glasses of sake… can cushion mutual mistakes with some pleasant laughter.

    And don’t give up. Just one word or new pattern each day, and… Nihongo o hanashimasuyo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I speak Cebuano, my hometown’s dialect. I can also speak basic Korean. When my brain gets confused, I tend to speak KorJap with my Korean husband.
      Thank you but, I don’t think I have already mastered English. I feel like I still have lots of things to learn especially in the grammar department. That’s why I enjoy reading your posts. They sometimes introduce new phrases and patterns to me. Thanks to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. From this comment, I think Lightness has hit on something. If you think you aren’t strong in English, then it’s no wonder you are discouraged with learning something new. Just because there is still lots to learn about something doesn’t mean you haven’t mastered it. I’m a native English speaker who is a total grammar geek and there are times when I have to look things up. Language rules (especially for writing) have changed so much over my lifetime, plus there are so many regional differences, that it would be fair to say that nobody is ever perfect in any language. I think maybe you need to cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to celebrate what you HAVE accomplished in learning Japanese.


          1. I struggle with confidence with French. I’m fluent in it and have been speaking and writing it for over 30 years. I still let the “it’s not perfect” idea get the better of me and I need to remind myself that while there’s still a lot I don’t know, there is a lot that I DO know, and that helps. And you have a whole different writing system to learn! Serious kudos!!!!


          2. I actually struggle a lot with anxiety so my natural leaning is to get down on myself for things. I have had to learn optimism (if that makes sense) because I don’t want to live in that negative headspace and I don’t want to project to everyone else ll the negativity that does creep in. I’m a huge proponent of looking for the good, the silver lining – in situations and in people (including ourselves). It’s not always easy, but it’s there. 🙂 Your posts are pretty positive, too, so I would say you are already good at that, too!


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