Before you do anything else, please watch this video:

I made a previous post about finding ways to motivate yourself. Since then I’ve come across a lot of useful videos and blogs on learning new skills, but this one blew my mind.

I know the statements he makes in the video are pretty simple. And are probably obvious statements to many of you. But I have a confession to make… even after 8 years of learning Japanese I’ve fallen into some of the pitfalls that have stifled my Japanese…

With the new year approaching fast I want to first tell you my story…

In regards to the above video these are my personal pitfalls:

1. I don’t use Japanese, I study it. Because of this I can pass tests but I’m not as good as translating or speaking.
2. My goals have been to pass the JLPT N1 and get a job using Japanese.

In recent years my Japanese study has stagnated. I had the goal of passing the JLPT N1 in December 2013 after passing the N2 in July that year thanks to 6 months intensive study in Fukuoka. This didn’t go to plan because I expected I would be leaving the country before then to move to Japan. My job didn’t work out the way I expected though. I basically kept putting off Japanese studying because I was working as a translator and thought I would be leaving the country.

Frankly that was a poor excuse. I should have kept up my studies even if I had work and even if I thought I would be moving. This, of course, lead to me beating myself up because I had not reached the goals I’d set myself which decreased my motivation.

Motivation was then returned when I left that job and applied to an MA in Japanese Translation.

Because I had been away from it for so long, thinking that I needed to get to the next level to be successful. I forgot why I started learning Japanese in the first place. And that’s because it is FUN.

So personally I am re-evaluating my goals. I think aiming for the JLPT and wanting to be a translator are still good goals to work towards. But I am going to have fun doing it.

  1. Use my Japanese and read for fun, and translate for fun, and play video games in Japanese for fun.
  2. Study for the N1, but not be so serious about it and take the test when I’m ready. (Hopefully through using Japanese for fun more will mean I’ll improve faster in preparation for the exam).

Learning Japanese Benny Lewis

How can you use this to help you with your Japanese?

Basically, why do you study Japanese?

If it’s to read manga, understand Japanese or to be able to just speak with Japanese people? Then go out there and do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re not fluent or just a beginner, use these as challenges and tools to learn.

I think it helps to have someone on the side to practice with through talking, whether this is through skype, or with a teacher or friend. Even if they’re not native engaging with a friend and discovering the language together and teach each other is a great tool for learning Japanese.

I think it’s good to have a goal, use that goal to have fun with, play with and explore Japanese.

More resources and useful videos/blogs:

Do you have any of your own blogs/videos that you’ve come across that you’ve found motivational/inspiring or just generally useful? Please let us know and we will add them to the list!