Plateau

There hasn’t been a lot of posting lately, due to the rather apocalyptic conditions – hurricanes, floods, road collapsing, all that sort of thing, but, even so, the learning of Japanese goes on…

One of the things that can discourage the hapless learning of languages is the dreaded plateau.

You’re learning, you’re getting better…and then, all of a sudden…you aren’t.  You’re just kind of stumbling along at the same level feeling you aren’t getting any better and maybe you won’t every get any better again.

Lots of people quit while they are on a plateau.

It happens with musical instruments, it happens with languages, it happens in pretty much anything that requires a long, sustained effort.

It’s incredibly frustrating.

I hit one of those plateaus a few weeks ago and I was stuck there for what seemed like forever.

Then, all of sudden, I was off and learning again.

I went to a book store and picked up a textbook called “Elementary Japanese 2.”  It started with a multipage comic written in Japanese showing a guy arriving in Japan, meeting a friend, going to the friend’s house, meeting his family, forgetting to take off his shows, and so on.

And I understood it all (except for the word for “turbulence” – I did have to look that one up).  And the grammar was all very familiar. I flipped ahead.  Got it, got it, got it…I understood it all.

Cool.

Then I had my Cafetalk lesson.  I was using quite a bit of Japanese, even while trying to talk about some rather complicated stuff.

Then, the next day, I had my language exchange, with the first half hour in Japanese, and I was using Japanese about 90% of the time (or more) with just the occasional English word sprinkled in here and there.

This is what happens if you can gut it out.  Suddenly you are not only off the plateau, but you feel like you have made a big leap forward, and life is good again.

There are certainly people who don’t learn Japanese because they simply don’t have time.  Life is like that.  But there are many people who don’t learn because they give up.  That’s really the key.  Don’t give up.  I know that sounds so elementary that it seems ridiculous to even say it, but you have to remember it when you hit one of those plateaus.   They always seem like they will last forever, but they won’t, and, when you come up off the plateau, you’ll suddenly be at a whole new level.

Stick with it.

You can do it.

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