Recently I came across this amazing guy called Prof. Alexander Arguelles, who dedicated his entire life so far learning languages. I do not actually admire him for doing such a great job (woah..), but rather for having all the time, structuring his life and all this duties per day in such a way he can dedicate most of his time learning languages.
I guess that’s the secret on learning a foreign language, like Japanese, everyone is thinking about only they can speak it. Making a mystery and a secret out of it makes it even more difficult for people who really want to try. It took me almost 3 months to get rid of this inner suppression “Hey, this is Japanese, I mean.. JAPANESE!! You really think you can do it, don’t you? *doubtful look*” and getting to the point realising that Japanese is just a language among many many others people are talking (and I am one of those “people”, so why not?). I suggest everybody having this in you, this feeling, emotion or whatsoever you want to put it like – get rid of it first. You will make great successes afterwards, you will recognise. Here my little “recipe” :)
1. No fear/doubts (!)
- Additionally what I have written above, what I personally experienced, you will at some point extremely “safe” and self-satisfied. Hey, I know the kana. And you hesitate going further because you fear getting stuck (well, you should get stuck first and then think about, oh, I’m stuck here, what’s now, right?)
2. “It’s a normal language”-thought rising
- Personally, I never could decide on which textbook to use consequently first. Then I had had it. It was Genki 1 and it was good. The first chapter was good and then it – unfortunately – became odd. I really started hating it and did not use it as seriously as I wanted to use it, therefore I re-discovered in a way the Anki, being so slow on my pc, and a wonder happened. I got the flashcards for the whole Genki 1 book as a deck and finished all vocabularies in there (like 1000 cards or so?) in one long afternoon. Revising 30min. per day is a routine right now. Currently I have another system, see the stats above in the navigation bar.
- “In order to learn a foreign language well, you must always invest much focused energy using intelligent study methods and good study materials with systematic regularity over long periods of time.” – Prof. Alexander Arguelles
3. Encountering minimal successes will result in 4)
- The minimal successes I am talking about are those little “wonders” happening from time to time. F.e.: I just could not remember the readings of kanji. Therefore I thought, as Heisig explained, it would be better obtaining basic information from the kanji, the jyouyou and a few more, first, getting their meaning into my mind, just their meaning and writing and nothing else at once. After I mastered the first volume I was afraid touching the second lieing on my desk, covered by a thick layer of dust already.. But suddenly out of the blue sky I opened it and entered, shyly, I know, 15 vocabularies from the chapter “pure groups” into a new anki deck and voilá. Wonder.
4. Bigger successes (a musician would call this a ‘crescendo’)
- Normal motivation from the event (see 3)
- You mastered it. Once 4) gets into an infinite cycle and you get used to – as AJATT writes on his blog – doing everything in the language you are learning and understanding everything, you mastered the language (fully?).