You crazy awesome language learners have heard it all before: Classes are terrible for learning a language.
Although I tend to agree to some extent, I have to say that having access to native speakers and other learners who are genuinely interested in learning on a daily basis is very encouraging. In fact, that’s what class is to me now, not a time to learn necessarily, but a time to simply add more fuel to the “I-wanna-learn-Japanese” fire. Even so, I’ll learn new stuff sometimes. But that’s not what this post is about.
You always hear that classes are bad and should be avoided, but what if you have to take Japanese classes? Maybe you want to major in Japanese in college. Maybe language classes are a prerequisite for a study abroad opportunity. What now? You can’t just merge the two. At least, not completely. But I believe you can merge certain aspects of class and self-study in a way that makes them basically feed off of each other. In this way, both become easier to manage. I guess another, better way to word this would be to integrate class study into your normal self -study routine. Yea, that sounds way better.
How this came about
Up until last November, I was reading and reviewing Genki I, with random bouts of Smart.fm (We will miss you). Around early November, a combination of curiosity and common sense led me to the internet, and there I found AJATT. From there, I found other language bloggers and started self studying/ reading/listening/etc. I had a lot of trouble in the beginning, dealing with class as well as outside of class study. This is because there are two very different goals involved. One is to get a good grade in a class. The other is to become familiar with a foreign language. Of course, you will learn things both ways, but some things will just “stick” better than others. But, I figured these two language goals were similar enough that I could combine certain parts. This post is an introduction to how I did/am doing this.
I have no idea what the heck I’m doing. I have no plan. I try random stuff and sometimes it works. There are still lots of areas that could use work. I’m simply offering an alternative to the NO CLASSES GAAAAAH camp, because some people have goals that depend on taking a class or two.
There will be a few follow-up posts about different aspects of classroom learning, such as Class Time, Homework, Studying (For Class), and other stuff I feel comfortable writing about. I’m really excited about this multi-post series, and I hope I can get to know any people who take formal classes in addition to self-studying. And feel free to reach out to me, especially if it’s to contribute your own ideas/alterations/opinions.
Footnote: Of course, some of the following posts will have things that are specific to Japanese, with specific references to the textbook used in our class, Genki II. If necessary, replace “Japanese” with your target language. I think this and subsequent posts can be used by any language learners in a similar situation. It is my hope that these posts will show people that classes and self-study are not like sodium and water.
Footnote 2: I miss chemistry….