Learning a new language is not something that you can attempt half-assed and expect to make ridiculous improvements. Lazy efforts bring about lazy results. On the other side of the spectrum, we have those who entirely devote themselves to learning. I like to think I am somewhere close to the latter.
It’s not just about reading a textbook. In fact, I started learning Japanese on my own this past summer just using a textbook. I was able to learn everything pretty quickly, but there were also many cons to doing this. For one, I entered the Intermediate Japanese class this year having no experience speaking. My reading and writing, and to some extent, my listening, were all at or near appropriate levels. I’m just glad the placement test consisted of both an exam as well as an interview. It was a good chance for me to build up my confidence (exam), then realize just how much work I had waiting for me.
That feeling is what keeps me going. Every time I freeze during conversation, forget a word, or misunderstand what someone says, it reminds me of why I started learning Japanese in the first place: I want to reach people. That’s it. I want to hang out with my high school roommate in his native country. I want to see the places my mother visited many years ago. After studying Latin and Ancient Greek, I want to learn a language spoken by many people.
I was never a strong writer in terms of conclusions, so I invite anyone reading this to share any tips they use to stay inspired when learning a new language. What feeling keep you going? How do you react when you fail? Share your thoughts, if you want. Also, I invite anyone to correct my kanji usage if it’s odd/outdated/wrong.