After another day where my intense Anki regime pretty much wiped me out, I realized that there is a serious question of balance and energy that goes into really pushing to study Japanese. When we talk about creating an immersive environment through music, movies films and reading materials, are we pushing our minds too far? Tiring our little brains? I’m not sure.
So i’m presenty in a mode of high mental activity, trying to learn many new words each day with the hopes to increase my reading comprehension. A problem I am experiencing is mental fatigue. I mention this for a specific reason.
When I lived in Japan I suffered from mental fatigue compounded with other stresses which made language study quite stressful. Presently, I am suffering more from mental fatigue than any kind of stress. This means that I am “actively studying/learning” but it still feels chore-ish at times. I am not sure if there is a way to revise tons of words words and listen to hours of Japanese each day without it feeling a bit chore-ish. But that leads me to the point of this blog post, which talks about “resting in Japanese”.
I remember this being mentioned somewhere on the AJATT website in some shape or form, where you do your study for a certain period of time, and then just have media “around you” for the remainder of the day. Sometimes if I am painfully tired, it is VERY difficult to have anything in the background, Japanese or otherwise. I’ve been experimenting with doing it anyway, regardless of how tired I am. But my issue is more the How.
An example of how I might “relax in Japanese”.
Daily Yotei (daily schedule)
1-2 hours of Anki reps -> (takes up a lot of mental power for me)
remainder of day –> mixed media, Japanese TV shows, audio podcasts, music, maybe manga
What I find is that if i have Japanese TV shows playing the background I am tempted to analyze what I am watching (which of course takes up mental energy), but I make my approach very passive. I’m not trying to understand everything I hear, but just get the content in the brain. I dunno if this has been written about elsewhere, but i’m seeing that you will have an ACTIVE versus PASSIVE approach to immersion
I think for each person there is a balance of “how Active” you can be without getting stressed until you have gained a reasonable level of understanding Japanese that doesn’t feel like work. So for me, I had spent a lot of time being “extremely Active”, fiddling with translations, trying to understand most of what I was watching, etc and it took too much energy. I mean I haven’t even had the energy to make a Japanese blog video in over a week. To go “hardcore”, any Japanese learner must realize this kind of effort is EXTREME and requires SERIOUS passion and willingness.
I’m also seeing that “resting in Japanese” requires a sort of mental reward system. It doesn’t make sense to study/read hundreds of words each day and then read Manga that contains words you will definitely not know. I think reading some very VERY easy manga after some serious Anki reps will make you feel more accomplished. You will feel rewarded, have a sense of progress and be better equipped for the next day’s challenges.
I’m lucky to have a range of Japanese media on DVD that I can switch up, from comedy shows to documentaries and regular tv shows. I still haven’t found stuff that i enjoy actively watching more than English films dubbed in Japanese, but i’m seeing that’s not such an issue at the moment. I guess the main thing for me is just to solidify the idea that “resting in Japanese” means not thinking about any grammar or looking up too many words or spreading my “hardcore energy” over and entire day.
Will post more on resting in Japanese as I note improvements in my passive understanding of what’s playing in the background. I definitely laughed out loud yesterday when I was watching a Trivia show and they were talking about an old Japanese actor being a 田舎ブレーボイ country playboy. I guess that’s progress : )