I stocked up on some books before I left on vacation. I still think used books are the best bargain for practicing vocabulary and grammar. It also helps you really get a feel of the language and how it flows. I think all those that are N4 and higher can get started on some of the elementary books. Even at a lower level you can give them a try as a good challenge.
I’m starting to also move more towards doing all my vocabulary practice on memrise.com, especially after their recent improvements. I’ll probably keep using Anki for grammar and sentence translation though.
Passionate about Language
Language are such an interesting anomaly in our modern world. We have standard systems and protocols for just about everything else, but for reason, different languages live on. I think this is at least one reason why they are so fascinating. It is the one thing that we can’t google to find the the answer to, at least not yet.
Also, recently, there seems to be more and more people interested in learning another language. And tools for studying are being created every day. So, it is getting easier and easier to study a language. I can only imagine what people did to study a language just 50 years ago.
It’s Important to Remember Why you Started
To become fluent in a language, you can probably become pretty fluent in a language with intensive study after about 2 years or it might take you 10 or more years of on and off study. My definition of being fluent is being able to have a high level discussion in your target language and use some topic-specific vocabulary to prove your point.
This is a long road to travel, so it is important to keep in mind why you started down the road in the first place. Do you like manga? Japanese video games? Traditional culture? The work ethic? The history? The cute guys or girls? There has to be something that started you down this path.
And that something will keep you going down that path. When you feel exhausted and ready to give up, that is the one thing that rekindle your flame and keep you going. So, don’t forget it and keep it in mind when you are studying.
My Personal Story
To be honest, at first I only had a small curiosity in Japanese. I did have a strong interest in other cultures though. Fresh out of college, I started tutoring Brazilians in English as a volunteer. I found the work to be a lot of fun and it was good to speak with people from another country. I had a lot of fun and I was hooked on language teaching.
But, after that experience I became more and more interested in Japan because I started tutoring more Japanese students and got along well with them, especially people from the Kansai area. If you don’t know, there is a pretty big difference in the culture of Tokyo and Osaka. Osaka tends to be a lot more relaxed than its bigger brother.
I eventually became really interested in the Japanese language because I liked the alphabets. I liked how each kanji represents a meaning. I also enjoyed the complexity and the challenge of learning the language and I wanted to able to communicate with my new-found friends in their native language.
Use your Passion in your Studies
Let’s face it. Nobody thinks dragging yourself through a drill book is barrel of laughs. It’s tough work, but necessary to increase your accuracy to the point that you can past the test. The JLPT forces you to broaden your Japanese abilities so that you become a well-rounded learner, but it can be a little boring sometimes.
That’s why it is important to relate the information to yourself. It will become a lot easier for you to remember and use if the sentences apply to you. So don’t just use the textbooks examples, make up your own, use your own ideas. So don’t just use the textbook examples. Make up your own sample sentences. This will make things a lot easier for you.
What got you Started?
What got you started down the path of learning Japanese? What is your passion? Let me know in the comments.
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