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!


109 thoughts on “Studying Japanese

  1. I’m not learning Japanese so I can’t say anything about learning this particular language but there are certain rules that make learning a language more difficult or easier. If you’re a native speaker of a “difficult” language it’s easier to learn other languages. Then there’s a similarity between your native language and a foreign language you’re trying to learn. Then there’s the factor of whether you’ve learnt or (even better) achieved fluency in a different English. Judging from this post only I assume that you don’t know any other languages and your native language is English?
    This makes your task more difficult so you should be kind to yourself because of your effort. It’s not easy! However, let me just tell you from my experience of a person who’s managed to learn three language up to a native level (I make a living of writing in one of these languages) that it’s all about:

    – being systematic
    – not giving up (when discouraged watch movies in Japanese with subtitles in your own language or promise yourself one new word per day)
    – ignoring people who are rude to you when you’re trying to practise the language

    The best hack I’ve discovered to keep the motivation going is to find something exciting that has to do with the language you’re trying to learn. It has a lot to do with your attitude! Goals are important but a bit overrated because they have to do with thoughts not feelings.
    You want to learn Japanese to be able to use it in a professional context. That’s great but it’s not very exciting or motivating, is it? Try to find something you love about the Japanese culture or Japan to which you have no access because of the language barrier. With English I wanted access to books and series with no translations to my language, with French books and movies again and with Italian… boys! 😀

    You can do it, for sure! Good luck!


  2. Hi! How cool that you are an expat living in Japan right now.. I will also be moving there in a few weeks! I am also trying to learn Japanese. It’s been 4 months of regular study and I still think the only thing I can say confidently is “Beer please!”


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