I picked up a book this weekend:
What I wanted was a workbook, and that’s what I got. So far, it is all review, but review is a good thing.
What I wanted to share, though, was a section in the book called “Become A Successful Language Learner.” It has some tips, nearly all of which are familiar, but that fact just goes to show how generally useful they are, which means they can stand to be reiterated.
Now, I would actually add my own tip first, and some of the others in my own words.
Start by knowing that you can do it. Of course you can do it. Set your mind to it, put in the effort, and you can do it. Maybe it takes you six months, a year, three years, five years…whatever. Don’t worry about the time frame. Just go for it.
Make learning a part of your life. That is, make a habit out of it. Studying Japanese has become habitual with me. In the past year, there may have been 3 or 4 days when I didn’t study, and I’m okay with that. A little break now and then helps recharge the brain, but, basically, it is an everyday thing. I don’t have to make time for Japanese anymore. It is just part of what I do each day.
Vocabulary. The author gives various study tips, such as grouping words together under headings like animals or actions to help you learn them, use flashcards, etc. I use memrise and, of course, anki. Find the method that works for you. I would encourage you to study out loud though. Actually say the words. It’ll help.
Grammar. Practice, practice, practice. Make sentences. I would add that you should talk to yourself in Japanese. Out loud.
Reading. Read read read. Try to figure things out from context. Not to be a broken record, but I would still suggest that you do it out loud. This engages more of the brain and it really helps.
Writing. Now, I am not learning to write Japanese. I can type it on a computer, and that’s enough for me right now. I think that learning to write is a good thing, and I will set to work on it eventually, but I am directing my energy to speaking and reading right now. However, the author has some good suggestions. One is that, when you send someone an email, imagine how you would write it Japanese. Good practice. Another is to keep a daily diary in Japanese. Sounds like a lot of work, but I can see how that would pay off!
Mistakes aren’t the end of the world. Basically, you are going to make mistakes. Now get over it. Not all mistakes are serious, anyway. So your sentence isn’t perfect. Does is communicate your thought? If so, then you succeeded. Don’t obsess over your mistakes. You’ll get better with practice. Also, don’t run to the dictionary all the time. Did you come across a word you don’t know? Make a serious effort to figure it out from context. Use the dictionary as a tool, not as a crutch.
Maximize your exposure to the language. It’s an internet kind of world out there. You can find Japanese to listen to, TV shows, movies, songs. You can find Japanese to read. You could set your computer or your phone to Japanese if you wanted to. If you don’t live in Japan, you probably can’t really immerse yourself in Japanese, but you can do your best.
Have Fun. That tip isn’t in the book at all, but I like it.