It is hard to believe, but on Wednesday (April 18th) this blog will be one-year-old! 😄
To celebrate, I want to write a post about how blogging helped me to learn Japanese.
First of all, I love my blog because it is mine, and I am sure that we all feel the same. Having your own personal virtual space somewhere is exciting!
I have just finished reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, and I was struck by how the protagonist Anna felt after buying her new notebook: “It gives me pleasure to touch it and look at it, but I don’t know what I want it for” and “I have been sitting looking at the new pretty notebook, handling it and admiring it”*. Somehow, I have always thought that my getting excited about a new “productivity tool” was a little childish. That’s why I was struck to see the same kind of feeling described in a novel that I deeply admire. So yes, even if you don’t have a clue what you want to do with your blog, creating it and knowing that it exists is exciting and, in a way, both rewarding in itself and full of promises too.
Of course, the excitation of the first days tends to fade away with time. Whenever I felt that my blog had become too familiar for me to feel excited about it, I have changed the design. It goes from experimenting a new theme to just modify the widgets or the header (logo in my case).
I don’t know how to put it otherwise than saying that my blog gives me positive energy. Not only for studying but in life in general.
Regularity and accountability
When I created my WordPress account, I had no concrete plan about what I wanted to do with a blog. I guess I created it on an impulse, during one of those phases when I feel stuck and demotivated and when anything new is welcome. I posted a new article whenever I felt inspired, which was very irregular, and I had fun like that.
I don’t know why but one day, I decided to post regularly. Maybe I just wanted to give it a try, and I thought that nobody would notice if I failed to follow my schedule so that I could discreetly go back to a more spontaneous way of blogging. So I set my schedule, and it is still the same today:
- Monday: general post about studying Japanese or productivity and organisation.
- Wednesday: a post about books.
- Friday: me reading the news in Japanese. (I used to study songs lyrics too, but I haven’t done it for a while!)
Since then, the way I worked on my blog completely changed. It was not writing when I have something to say, but writing anyway.
As this blog is closely linked to my learning Japanese, something else happened. Whereas I used to write at times when I was making progress in my studies (with the consequence that I could stay weeks without uploading anything), I now have to do at least something in Japanese regularly because I will have to write about it anyway. In a way, the blog fills the role of a classroom with homework and deadlines!
Of course, there is the risk to forget the main purpose and end up learning Japanese to write the blog instead of writing the blog to learn Japanese. But I don’t recognise myself here, and I would even go as far as to say that, if it is for a short period of time, it does not matter which comes first. Sometimes I am demotivated, and I don’t want to learn vocabulary or even read in Japanese. But then I have my blog to write. So I do some Japanese to have something to write about, and somehow, by doing it, the desire to study for the sake of improving my Japanese comes back. It also allows me to keep doing something until the motivation flows again, instead of spending weeks of inaction like I did before.
Having a blog can help you go through phases of demotivation by providing a temporary replacement engine when your proper energy is low.
Go beyond yourself
At first, I thought that I could not possibly find something to write about on such a regular basis, but it almost never has been a problem. This proves that we are capable of achieving much more than we think and that, by just forcing ourselves a little, we can produce much more than what we usually do, when we just let ourselves drift along.
Be a part of the WordPress.com community
I knew nothing of the WordPress community before. I chose WordPress.com because I had heard of it before, but I thought that you created your blog and waited for people to stumble on it through Google. But the fact is that your first readers are the fantastic WordPress bloggers! 😊
And even though I started a blog to write, I soon became a blog reader myself. I have discovered and learned a lot of things, mainly, but not only, about learning Japanese. Sometimes, when I want to have information about something, I look for it in the WordPress reader instead of googling it.
I also got great ideas from other bloggers’ comments on my blog or others’ blog. For example, I remember someone suggesting in a comment, ages ago, that I could use Grammarly to correct my English. I have been using it ever since, and it rescued me from a lot of embarrassing mistakes (though some still remain, I’m sure)!
As long as you follow a textbook, it is easy to know how to study, but it can be tough to go on alone, once we reach an intermediate level.
I have had a lot of ideas to learn Japanese and follow paths that were meaningful to me, and it all was thanks to this blog. I got this or that idea while writing about other subjects. Somehow, writing about your own studying practice makes you reflect on it.
I am not saying that all these ideas are revolutionary ideas, but even if I end up dropping them at the end, they served as a great booster that makes me sit at my desk with a refilled energy, thinking that I will be fluent in no time! 🤣
My blog made me love English
Last but not least, I would not be re-learning English if I hadn’t chosen to write in English in the first place. More than that, using English to do an activity that I love made me love English as well.
This has nothing to do with learning Japanese, but it goes in the same direction and both desires – improving my reading in Japanese and my writing in English – encourage each other.
I feel that I could go on forever about the benefice of writing a blog, especially as a companion to another activity like learning a foreign language. Of course, I cannot say for sure, but I am almost convinced that I wouldn’t be doing half of what I am doing now for Japanese if I were not writing about it here.
*The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, pp. 578-579