I See Some Light!


New week, new lesson. I am on Chapter 24 this week, and there are only 25 chapters in the book! Cool, right? Of course, there is a whole second book, which is a good thing, since I don’t have the illusion that I can actually speak Japanese! Still, it is a sign of progress.

I found myself looking at the Chapter numbers and asking how the heck I managed to get here. The answer, of course, was “one day at a time”. This is the magic of consistency. You don’t have to look at the goal waaaaaaaaay down the road. Just look at what you want to accomplish today.

Today, I want to review my vocabulary and get a good start on the vocabulary for Chapter 24.

This is a small, manageable task. I am no looking ahead to Chapter 50, which seems ridiculously far away. I want to look at the 23 chapters I have finished (see how far I’ve come!) because that is a morale boost, and I want to look at what I have to get done today.

The thing is, I only ever have to look at what I have to get done today. If I do that every day, I will look up one day and find myself nearing the end of book 1 of みんなの日本語. See how that works?

Where are you at in your studies?

That’s an okay question to ask, as long as you stop there. If where you want to be in your studies is a long time away, don’t focus on it. That’s just depressing. Don’t look at what you can’t do yet. Look at how much you’ve learned.

Suppose you’re just starting. Maybe you’ve worked on learning hiragana. If you’ve learned the whole character set, have a little party to celebrate your accomplishment and then move on to katana.

Set easily obtainable goals. Today I know 10 hiragana. Tomorrow I want to learn 10 more. Great. Do it, celebrate it and set your next easy goal.

I started by learning 2200 Kanji. I never looked at the immensity of the task. If you go back and read some of my “learn the kanji” posts you’ll see that I focused on things like, “Anki says I know 85 Kanji. Let me set my sites on knowing 90.” Each small goal that you reach is a chance to pat yourself on the back and motivate yourself to reach the next little goal. A goal that is six months away is too far. In my world, a goal that is a month away is too far. Set a goal that is, at most, a few days away if you can. You want it to be almost in reach so you get there soon.

I’ll be honest and tell you guys that this comes from bike riding. You are riding with a group, and they are going hard and you are doing your best to stay with them. Your legs hurt, you’re tired but you want to stay with the group.

You pick a target, say a tree. I am going to pedal as hard as I can to that tree.

You’ve reached the tree. Now I am going to pedal as hard as I can to that mailbox.

And so on. Reach a goal, set a new goal. Make the goals easy to reach.

You’ll be surprised how far you’ve come.

Oh, and don’t quit!  If you know somebody else who is learning Japanese and you quit for a year and have to start all over and they keep at it, it will be depressing how far along they are – how far along you would have been if you hadn’t quit.

Set a pace that works for you.  Who cares if it is faster or slower than someone else’s pace?  (Unless that motivates you, then, by all means, pay attention to it.)

Just do your daily work each day and Japanese will happen.  Trust me on this.  I know.



2 thoughts on “I See Some Light!

  1. I just finished my fourth week of study in Sapporo. So far we went through 2 chapters per week, so we just finished 8 chapters in a month. Lots of stuff in so little time !
    This is at 3h/day of class, 5 days/week.


  2. I am so jealous that you get to do that! It sounds like a lot of work but also a lot of fun, and then you can walk outside and have countless opportunities to practice. Nice!

    Liked by 1 person

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