My First Year of Japanese

Wow, it’s been one year since I first opened up Genki and started memorizing vocab lists.  I’d like to think I’ve come a long way.

It’s actually been about 8~9 months since I started all the daily listening/reading/SRSing.

To avoid sounding like a language blog parrot, I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

The Triforce of (My) Success

In this year of learning, I can honestly say that I didn’t miss a day of exposure to the language.  Even before I started working with native sources and Anki, I spent hours and hours outside of class memorizing vocab and grammar and reading ahead of schedule, for all it’s worth. First off I’d like to share a few things that I think have taken me this far in learning.  These things make up what I will call the Triforce of (My) Success.

  • Curiosity/The Open-Mind Approach
  • Positivity
  • Humor

Curiosity/The Open-Mind Approach

Sometimes, I just want to know stuff.  ていうか、I have to know it.  This combination of curiosity/stubbornness works well for memorizing stuff. Having the willingness to just try different things has been incredibly helpful for figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t.


I’ve been positive about learning Japanese 24/7 since day 1 .  Okay, there was that one slip-up.

Seeing a difficult news article makes me think “Hey, if I want to, I can learn all of this stuff!” instead of “WHERE IS THE 平仮名?! “.  It’s that kind of thinking that has helped me continue to enjoy learning Japanese.


Trick. Tiger&Dragon. ガキの使いやあらへんで. Iryu Season 3.  You get it.  I love to laugh.

The great thing about comedy is that you don’t need to understand it to enjoy it.  It’s just way more awesome if you do.  It’s just a really great feeling to laugh with the audience instead of after them.

So What’s Next?

It’s funny how in thinking about how to proceed with Japanese, the first thing that popped into my head was my experience with Korean.  I studied Korean on and off for several years and got nowhere.  Hanging out with my korean friends, listening to K-Pop, and watching countless episodes of 무한도전 is what made me comfortable enough with the language to use it (online and real-life chatting, prank calls, モノマネ, etc).  I believe it was because I never actually cared about becoming fluent that I made lots of progress.

Keeping that in mind, my goals for Japanese have changed.

More reading,writing, speaking, and listening, with an emphasis on output and ドラゴンボール. And ガキの使い.

That’s it. No ultimate kanji goal.  No ultimate vocab number.  Just more of what I’ve been doing, in even bigger, more active doses.

“Fluency” is no longer a goal. I’m adding that word to my blacklist.  Now “can’t” won’t be so lonely.



Author: Koyami

I'm Koyami. I am a freelance Japanese-English Translator and I enjoy learning new skills and reading in my spare time. Current pursuits include juggling, piano, and collecting all of the 十二国記 books. Follow me on Twitter and Google+ for blog updates, my Japanese word of the day, and more!