5 Questions To Ask Yourself When You’re Feeling Stuck [Beginner’s Plateau]

Feeling stuck or stagnant in your language journey? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you strategize to overcome a beginner’s plateau.

  1. Can I read all of the kana characters?

Pronunciation is the only part of the language that I think you should learn before or at the same time as kana. If you’re a beginner, then you should be prioritize complete memorization of all kana characters. Strive to be capable of reading/writing them all and recognizing them quickly. Don’t procrastinate by distracting yourself with grammar and vocabulary!

  1. Can I count past 999,999 and tell time?

Let’s be honest. Learning to count to 100 is very easy. Learning to count to 9,999 is equally simple. Learning to count to 999,999 is only hard for the first few weeks that you adjust to the way that numbers in the 10-thousands are combined with those below. But do you know how to say 1-million in Japanese?! Hint: it’s much easier than you think. 

You should also know how to tell time fluently- both minutes and hours. That’s right, I know you were patting yourself on the back for memorizing いちじ to じゅういちじ and slapping a はん on the back! That’s still a reasonable and good accomplishment! However, it’s time to get into the mode of learning Japanese counters, starting with time!

Lastly, you should practice reading and understanding numbers spoken at a natural pace! 

  1. Can I describe the current weather and forecast?

Small talk often takes us a long way. It’s the perfect ice-breaker around new people and could lead to meaningful connections. So, what better small talk than the weather? Can you describe your feelings toward the weather, details of the forecast, and different kinds of weather disasters?

  1. Can I give and understand directions (to and from somewhere)?

So you’ve mastered kana and can count backwards from 1,000 like a pro. You can even tell me all about how this humidity is smothering you like a loaded baked potato. Speaking of baked potatoes, could you offer me some nihongo directions to the nearest place to purchase one? 

  1. Do I know the 1,000 most common words (in general) in Japanese?

Someone somewhere had the idea to compile 1,000 words that are used in day-to-day situations. This doesn’t mean that they are words that you’ll hear every day, but these words are likely to come up numerous times per year. From describing your commute to work or school, to discussing your particular interests in a sport, these foundational vocabulary words will take you from your plateau to the next level. 

You can find a list of these words anywhere on the internet, including my recommended resource list here

And that’s it for now! Good luck on your journey!

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