Falling off the Japanese Wagon

What’s up guys, I haven’t posted in a while for good reason.

I hit a roadblock that had nothing to do with feel bad, stressed, but more with being bored. As much as I am seeing my progress and see that my Japanese comprehension can be carefully crafted and engineered to be better through high levels of exposure and reading, it is not as fun as i’d like it to be right now. Doing your daily SRS reps, reading and so on takes time and effort, effort that i’m find is giving me a negative feedback in relation to INPUT vs OUTPUT.

What do I mean by this?

Well, for any serious student of any langauge, there are many proponents who will speak about the idea of “massive input” (i.e various forms of media you regularly consume in your desired native language) which will lead to “output”. So essentially, if you listen, read and write enough of a language, you will start speaking it after a while. I believe this is true. But what if you are in a situation where you cannot properly engineer good output? This I am finding troublesome. As happy as it would make me to wake up at 4 in the morning and have Skype conversations with Japanese people at that time (if I can find them), that action alone falls into another aspect of “extreme devotion” that for me, and my sort of self-study approach doesn’t make such actions fun. As I have said before, i’ve experienced different stages of motivational blocks, for many different reasons.

1. The idea that it is not possible at all, and looks mountainous.

– This was when I was just starting to think about “the idea” of learning Japanese maybe two years ago.

2. The idea that it will take inhuman effort, inhuman willpower and blissful genius

– This was after seeing “pera pera” foreigners online chatting about politics, their day to day activities and so on, using colorful Japanese with an arrogant flair.

3. The idea that is is possible, but it will take forever

– This was when I realized I “could” learn Japanese, but to get a handle on all the cases, idioms, grammatical speech expressions, etc, would still requires years of mental consumption.

I can list many more, but that’s just a quick rundown.

These hurdles I believe are quite normal, but as my mind opened, these hurdles became smaller. After personally learning how to recognize and write over two thousand Kanji, Japanese doesn’t feel as impossible. Then, after I spent a 30 day period exposing myself to over 1000 words and remembering a good number of them, speech didn’t seem so impossible either. I made some fake scenarios in my previous post on the idea of “time and Japanese”.

However I am finding that  you will DEFINITELY need a way to create regular daily output (or somewhat frequent output ) that involves other speakers in the native language you are trying to learn. Each time I get a little “taste” of speaking or writing Japanese I am reminded that I have this arsenal of vocabulary I worked on building up, but I am also reminded that I can easily lose it if I do not practice speaking. So that hit me at the end of August, the realization that the effort I am putting into learning vocabulary is quite disproportionate to any relative output I have in terms of using what i have learned.

So for the last two weeks I haven’t really learned much new vocabulary because it felt a little pointless. Mind you, it didn’t feel pointless in that negative, “I’ll never remember this stuff kind of way” I was just wondering, “why am I learning all these words and I have no one to speak to?” So my quest now, is to find a Japanese speaking partner. As it relates to this blog, I have to put it very high on my priority list if I want to keep motivated.

This post is a bit weird, because presently, there is no one that can convince me that self-study is crap because of the stuff i’ve learned thus far. The only problem with self-study is “SELF” and its super, super, relative to who you are as a person. Unfortunately for me, I tend to do thing in a vacuum, away from others and I will hit “sticking points” where I just feel like everything I do, I do completely alone and it feels boring/pointless.

This is the advantage of say, a language school, where you’ll be able to have “stuff” to do everyday, people to practice with, and so on. But this environment can sometimes be recreated without the need for that system… so i’ll have to figure out a way to get a bunch of Japanese people to speak to often, and frequently. Been scratching my head over that one for a while. I’ve tried a few language exchange sites, but no one seems to really reply to direct messages there, and most of these people are in Japan (again i’d have to wake up at like 4 in the morning to chat with them) so…. hopefully I can rustle up a language exchange partner in Kingston.

I have to get serious again because I have a project I’m interested in working on in Japan and I have to make sure that when I return i’m not the bumbling barely comprehensible kid I was when I left a few months ago. I need to be able to handle reasonable conversation and explain my motivations and be able to ask detailed questions relating to my project. So… hopefully I’ll find someone to chat with, and then i’ll hop back on the wagon full force.

I’m approaching the “terminal velocity” point of what a person can do alone, so it’s time for a change.

oh, I still do my SRS repititions, I just haven’t been adding any new words. This is sad because I would have probably been at step 8 of the Core 2000 by now, and almost done BUT as i’ve said in many a blog, “no judgement”, and when I hit step 7 and beyond, i’ll post about it.


About marcusbird

Writer, Designer, Filmmaker
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