So you know Japanese, now what?
I read an article a few years back about a Western girl who moved to China to learn Chinese. She said that everyone told her to learn Chinese to secure her economic future. So she precisely did that, and then was like, what do I do now? Everyone told her to learn Chinese, but no one told her what to do with it. So she became a You-tuber in China that teaches American-English slang. I’m glad it worked out for her, but what she experienced really stuck with me. So it got me thinking, do I really know what I want to do with my Japanese?
At the start, a lot of us have the same goals; I want to be able to have conversations, I want to be able to understand anime/manga, I’m interested in a Japanese girlfriend/boyfriend, I want to read this or that in Japanese. But long term, I’m not sure how many people have a clear goal. For me, the simple love of the language is enough. But that kind of attitude as I’ve learned the hard way, sort of makes it nothing more than a glorified hobby. Someone who has the necessity or a very strong goal in mind will likely learn it faster and more efficiently even if they “love” it less.
I thoroughly love doing things in Japanese. Everything from watching TV shows and anime, to playing videogames and having conversations. But I spend more time at my desk doing my day job. Why, because if I don’t work I don’t eat and can’t pay for internet to do Bunpro. It’s 8-10 hours of my day. I wish I had the type of discipline and resources when I was younger to immerse and study that time instead, but I didn’t actually start getting serious about Japanese until I was well into my mid 20s. Well into the age where I had to work, or not be able to eat. Over the years my study and immersion intake has been variable because even though I loved it, it’s not like I wasn’t going to have a roof over my head if I didn’t do it. So…it was just easier to play Skyrim and waste time on Facebook after a stressful 8 hour shift. Back before facebook was responsible for the mental health decline of millions. Perhaps if I had a more clear, achievable goal, I might have reached a much more competent and fluent level by now.
A friend and mentor of mine talked a little bit about this. When I met this
guy, he was much younger than I was, but he had already passed N2. The guy was pretty fluent or pretty close to it just based on the conversations he was having with natives. He was a disciplined, tall, good looking guy who could have been hanging at parties and dating popular girls, but opted to lock in himself in his room for 6 months to immerse and study while in high school. I asked him, ‘what is it that drives you’? He put his clenched fist on his lip, looked down at the pavement for a few seconds. A face so stern you would think he was contemplating a serious life decision. He then replied “I just kept thinking about what I really wanted”. I didn’t ask him what it was that he wanted, but I had a pretty good idea of what it was, and how strong that desire was for him to give up all that time in his youth to make it happen.
For a lot of us, Japanese is our side thing, a hobby, something that we do along with other things. I completely understand this. Japanese as a career path is certainly one of passion rather than monetary gain. It’s hard to make money in the field unless you really are incredibly skilled or have strong connections. So sometimes the goals we have for Japanese aren’t always so clear. It’s something that I had to learn to love doing in order to get to the point that I did it on a daily basis. Something that I have put a considerable amount of time and money into at this point.
The goal I have set for myself is that I want to have a job that involves Japanese in some way. A job where I will utilize the language everyday, which will allow me to make use of this skill and get better at it. Over the years, I have been referred or have actually had some opportunities, but I always felt that my skill level was not sufficient. And now, post-pandemic with a lot of remote work being offered, the opportunities have only grown. Using that as motivation makes it easier to study and immerse on days that I don’t feel like doing so. I’m not just doing this because it’s fun and awesome, but the possibility of having a job where I can utilize what I love every single day. Whether it actually happens or not, I guess is not really the main point. The point is to have that extra strive and motivation to make things happen. Having a goal that goes beyond wanting to pass the JLPT or just wanting impress people. This year, some leaps have been made with the inclusion of more immersion in my daily routine, hence this series of long posts. How long it will take me to get there, I’m not sure. But at least a goal has been set.
Last month took a little bit of a hit in terms of reading and watching. Didn’t watch as much as I would have liked, but I have been consistent about it. Started watching Toradora at dinnertime which I have thoroughly been enjoying. I did watch the same creator’s other work (Golden Time) a couple years back which I liked quite a bit as well. Have not been reading any visual novels or manga since I have been utilizing and tinkering with Migaku as suggested by NickavGnaro. A pricey, but very good Google chrome extension that links to Anki as well. Makes creating flashcards a breeze, and use it daily in conjunction with Bunpro. With the learning process more or less stabilized with Migaku, I hope to get back to reading more this month. Also, PSL season is here. Judge if you want, but I know what I like, lol.