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Choosing a way to Study


So you finally decided that learning ‘X’ thing was going to be your thing. Next step is to figure out how you’re going to learn it. I found that this was a hard step for me, and it seems like it’s a hard step for many. It’s easy to stand where you’re at and go, I don’t know ‘X’, and I want the goal of knowing ‘X’. It’s not so easy seeing all those millions of steps in between, or much less how to do it.

I find that it was like knowing you needed to be in Iowa, and you know your feet are in Florida. But without a map, what the heck are you suppose to do? What vehicle are you suppose to take? People have spent a lot of time out there developing maps and guides on how to get where you need to be. So, there are Airplanes, buses, boats, cars, ect… you get the picture. Vehicles are your method of studying and a map is the progression of content, the experience in getting there. Studying doesn’t have to be a boring thing either. You can plan that road to go through fun stuff like sightseeing! Not all of your trip has to be flat boring interstate, or sitting next to stinky people in a crammed airplane.

There are tons of stuff out there on how to study. I mean, you can go through classrooms, self teaching books, tutors, you name it. But just because all of those options are out there, doesn’t mean you have to use any exclusively or any at all. You can always make your own. ultimately you also have to choose one that is right for you.

Take the time to consider just what you want. Not everyone wants to be Japanese 100% like a native, or move to Japan. Maybe your interests lie in just enough to get gist of stuff. Maybe you don’t want to read/write but just to communicate spoken. Whatever your desires are, you need to figure them out. It’s hard to map to a location that you don’t even have.

So once you figure out your true destination (your desired level of proficiency, how many hours you’re willing to study a day, how much of your lifestyle your willing to part/change, ect.) you can decide much better which mode of transportation and map to take. You also have to consider just who you are. Not everyone can study on their own. Some people need support, a team, a partner, a hand-holder, ect. It’s not bad to be these things either, but you shouldn’t choose a program for a class environment if it’s not right for you, just as you shouldn’t choose a self-study method if you can’t motivate yourself to do it. Nothing is more discouraging as looking at stuff you never do, spending money on something you don’t need, or wasting time with something that is ineffective for you.

Now I’m not here to pick out programs for you :). That’s something only you can do. Most every method out there will have tons of followers. You can research what people are saying about the method, and see how many of those people have gone on to speak fluent Japanese. You’ll find a lot of programs out there give people jump starts, then give nothing at all. Some programs start off really, really slow, then pick up speed, and some just go bumbling along at one speed. Don’t forget to research well.

Now the big one. CHOOSE. I know, I know, just that simple 6 lettered word seems soooo easy. But I honestly can’t tell you how many people I see in the language learning ways never make this step. Farting around is good and all, it gives you a sense of what’s out there, what you can do, what you do or don’t like. However, never choosing a program and sticking to it in length is a bad thing. (modification is another story) There are tons of forum (and forum whores) out there wasting life away contemplating, arguing, “trying” out all sorts of methods but never actually choosing and succeeding. People love to argue about why this or that won’t work, while only a few are actually out there getting their hands dirty in Japanese. This site is just another one of those methods put out there for people to see and think about and maybe try themselves. Ultimately, you must make the choice and stick with it. Good luck with it.

Of course, once all that is said and done, all that is left to do, is DO. It won’t do itself. Just ‘DEW it man’! haha. Then, before you know it, you’ll be gaining proficiency in your target language. This step is the second most hardest step. It’s realizing on a daily basis what you want, and making decisions that get you there. While you may be tempted to leave your chosen path, don’t prematurely jump off the wagon.

Detours on trips aren’t always bad. Sometimes that flat tire takes you on an unexpected journey of growth. Sometimes your car breaking down sends you back to square one, but that’s okay. Every step, including backward ones, are steps taken. Of course, you don’t want to spend all your time in broken vehicles or on wrong roads. Most of that can be avoided by making sure you’re choosing something for you.

Modifying your path is just fine. Once you’ve chosen your method of studying and kept at it, or even right from the start you may find that you like it, but want it just a tad different. You might find that you even want to add another method along side it. This is perfectly good and normal. In fact, I believe it’s the best. Everyone is different and no one method will work for everyone. In fact, some random internet lady once said something along the lines of “the only method that will work 100% is for its creator”. It’s completely normal for people to modify their paths. My only word ofcaution lies in this: certain methods do not work if you modify them too much.

For instance, RTK is something you shouldn’t change around. Just do it the way it is meant to be. Changing key words and such could spell super trouble. Immersion methods are sort of similar. You can’t really be immersed if you spend only 1 hour a day studying, surrounded by Japanese. However, you can modify what you’re immersed in to suit your desires. There is no need to eat sushi everyday if you don’t like raw fish. :)

Mikoto Neko

The Ring leader of multiple projects who is studying japanese and raising a family! Who needs time for sleep?

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