In this post, I will address some common obstacles that create the “newcomer (newbie) to beginner gap” that exists for people who recently started studying Japanese. These common things tend to make some people to give up far too early into their to self-study journey.
1. Not knowing where to start
Many people, even those with a lot of experience *cough* like me *cough*, tend to have a hard time narrowing down their large goals to fluency into bite-sized pieces. So it’s no surprise that individuals who are new to the language also struggle to do the same thing. Most people’s goal is just “to speak Japanese”. It’s not often that you’ll hear someone say, “my goal is to know 100 new words”, but truth-be-told, that’s the best way to go about things.
My recommendation for starting would be to begin with pronunciation and familiarizing yourself with the basics of the Japanese language. I teach a class on Skillshare that specifically focusing on building this strong foundation. Next, increase your (mental) vocabulary and phrase bank. At the same time, start learning how to read and write kana. Lastly, once you’ve got a solid 6-8 months of working on everything I’ve mentioned, begin peeling back the layers of Japanese grammar. Don’t worry about how to talk about politics or riding the bus right away. Also, don’t beat yourself up worrying that you’re never going to learn the language.
If my recommendation sounds like it won’t work for you or your goals, then just pick something, break it into small, attainable goals, and start! Whatever you do, just keep in mind that taking on too much at once only leads to burn out.
Here’s an example of a plan to get started:
- Learn how to introduce yourself within 1 month
- Learn all kana in 2 months
- Study introduction and greeting phrases for 5 minutes by flashcards every day
- By month 2 of studying kana, practice by writing and rewriting daily
2. No vision for the future
You need to have a goal in mind that will keep you motivated to study. If you don’t have one, stop right now and thing of one (or more). Write, type, or record your goal(s) and keep it close to you for the days that you need a reminder.
As a “newbie”, you’re more prone to burnout and giving up because you’ve invested the least amount of time into the language. It may help to have a study partner to inspire you to continue. The “study blog” community is very strong on social media right now, so now’s a good time to find people that are studying Japanese and gain inspiration from.
I also have a Japanese studygram that you can follow for inspiration.
3. Not taking study-time serious
Since studying on your own doesn’t involve a strict-classroom setting, it’s really easy to goof off when you’re supposed to be learning.
Before you even begin studying, or even if you’ve been studying for a while, stop and write down all of the obstacles that come between you and your studies. Then, brainstorm a solution to get past each one.
Plan a time and place to study Japanese and stick to it. In other words, don’t pick an unrealistic time or place and try your best not to miss your scheduled times to study. Use your time wisely (avoid distractions). Consider setting alarms to remind you of your daily goals and keep you on track. Keep up with all of the notes you take by storing them in one, organized place.
4. Giving up too easily
Remember, language learning is going to be tough, but not impossible. The voice of doubt in your mind will constantly make you contemplate quitting, but I challenge you to make it your mission not to give up! Learning a new language takes time and studying will start to pay off- if you wait for it to. Don’t compare yourself to other people studying the language who are doing better than you or are further ahead because doing so would only distract you.
I need you to decide right here and now that you will not give up on learning Japanese, even after you’re fluent!
Do you have any additional tips for people who are brand new to the language? What motivates you to keep studying? Leave me a comment below!