Month 8 of immersion: Having a clear goal for yourself

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.

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More power to you! Finding a job that utilizes the language is also something I’d be interested in, but I dunno if that’d burn me out on it or what, so “interest” is about as far as it goes; I’m not exactly driven to job hunt as a translator or anything. I used to think I wanted to, but then I tried forcing myself through material even when I didn’t feel like it, and realized that it’s way too much for me to just be willing to buckle down and do it for work half the day every day.

I think my real drive is having access to the people and entertainment. I’ve always had kind of niche interests and often end up finding off-the-wall media or games that nobody has ever translated, and I wanted to bust off the shackles of what others are/were willing to translate for non-Japanese speakers. Once I got my foot in the door, I also realized how much I liked dropping the middle-man and not having a translator as a proxy for a work’s meaning.

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Thanks for the long post. I met a guy in his mid-to-late forties at my Japanese speaking group who said that when he passed the N2, companies we’re flying him out to interviews left and right. He’s been in the same job for years now where he works with with Japanese people, talking to Japanese customers on the phone, among other things. He said getting that N2 really opened things up for him.

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Thanks for the info. I didn’t really plan on taking the JLPT, but I may aim for it now.

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Thanks for the post as always. At some point around late 2020 or 2021, I kinda reached the level that I need to somewhat understand the things that I am interested in… For a while I was just happy with my level and spent a lot more time reading and playing games in Japanese (instead of studying new vocab / grammar / kanji) which felt really nice.

This year has been quite interesting. I started to realize that for a while I was avoiding light novels and difficult manga. Being aimless was fun haha. My new goals are kinda similar I guess, hopefully get better, pass JLPT N3 this year and get a job (something programming related if possible) in the next few months where I can utilise my Japanese language skills hehe

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At the start, a lot of us have the same goals; I want to be able to have conversations

This is one of my long term goals really. That and just reading things I encounter.
I also love going through wikipedia, it’s a pastime I really love. Japanese wikipedia is rather large so it would be great to be able to read that and learn more about Japan on there. But that’s more of a bonus goals.

Many might be learning Japanese to get a job in Japan. But I am moving to Japan next month for a job, and so now I am learning Japanese. I’ve lived abroad in several countries and never really put much effort into learning the local language. English+body language was always enough to survive and I am sure it will be in Japan as well. But this time I want to do things differently and make the effort. Why? So I can have more conversations and read more things I encounter so I am a bit less of an outsider and can be a bit more autonomous. I am also a bit tired of moving to a new country every few years, and hope to stay in Japan for a longer period. And while my field generally is ok with just a decent level of English, knowing some conversational Japanese will surely help in being more employable. I never expect to be working in 100% Japanese though, and I don’t intend to. Being fluent in English is a strength to stand out with, while working in Japanese would be a handicap as it will take ages to be close to the level of a native speaker.

So what you list as initial/common goals, are mostly my long term goals :slight_smile:

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This sounds more like something to do with his skillset and communication ability rather than his Japanese ability because for me N2 is a low level of Japanese, and not nearly enough for anything other than light conversation. I would really aim for at least the N1 and try to have very clear speaking and writing skills.

It’s all relative of course though. Lots of high paying jobs in Japan don’t require any Japanese skill at all, while some low paying jobs (like even worse than English teacher salaries) require N1 to native level ability. There are people who would more than likely fail the N4 test but consider themselves as functionally fluent, hirable and able to survive in Japan, while some of us with our N2s and N1s, barely feel like functioning members of society.

Congratulations on the job in Japan! Out of curiousity, what field of work is taking you there?

Some research work with a think tank. Looking at how to get the Japanese economy on the up again (talking about tall orders) :slight_smile:

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Wow, this is great. Desperation breeds results - and “interest” simply doesn’t bring enough desperation to warrant giving it your all. Good food for thought.

Also, I’m glad to see that my recommendation made it into your stabilized learning process! Wishing you continued success in this journey

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Wow fascinating! They definately need it at the moment, their economy is looking a bit grim at the moment.

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