All posts filed under: motivation / daily study

I don’t make any progress 😕

When learning a foreign language, it is easy to get demotivated and give up, especially when one is self-studying. One of the most common causes of demotivation is the belief that we don’t make any progress. I think that there are two reasons why language learners can have this feeling: if you don’t study, you are not making measurable progress if progress means “getting closer to an unreachable goal”, the journey will last forever. These are some ideas to stay motivated when you feel like you are treading water. First of all: are you studying? Before lamenting that your Japanese is not improving and so on, ask yourself if you are really studying. Sometimes, I think “I am fed up with studying because I don’t make any progress anyway”, when the truth is, that I am not making progress because I am not studying. I wish that I could become fluent by just watching films and reading books but, even if it does help improving one’s reading and listening skills, it’s not enough to take …

Notes on the JLPT

I took the first JLPT of the year (2017) on July, 2nd. It’s been almost a year now since I’ve started learning Japanese (with some previous knowledge of kanji thanks to Chinese that I learned years ago) and I have decided to challenge myself with the N2 level. I don’t really care about succeeding or failing at the JLPT so I thought that a higher level would be more attractive and encouraging. Here are some personal thoughts about this session. The N2 session is divided in two. The first half contains the vocabulary, the grammar and the reading part. The second half is only the listening part. Vocabulary I think that the vocabulary part is a straightforward one that does not require a lot of thinking and time: either you know the word, its kanji, its pronunciation and how it is used, either you pick an answer randomly. You really can’t afford to lose time for the vocabulary. I wasn’t good at this section, and there are two reasons, I think: Not enough words First, …

Daily study: listening to my audiobook

I recently purchased an audiobook on the site Febe. It is called 「自分を操る超集中力」by Mentalist DaiGo and published by かんき出版. I didn’t buy it for its contents but because it seemed relatively simple to understand when I listened to the free extract on the site. But then, I had to admit that it was not that simple. I could understand thoroughly what the author was talking about and could even catch entire sentences but it was not enough to follow the flow of what was being said. I decided to buy the book, too, to be able to check what I don’t understand. I already wrote a post about how to study with an audiobook but I realize that even without doing specific exercises, reading while listening helps improving both listening and reading skills. Reading If you read your book while listening to it, you have to follow the pace of the narrator, which, in my case, is quicker than my reading pace. It forces me to read faster. I never truly took my reading pace …

Anki: mistakes to avoid and tips to regain control over your deck

I have spent the last few days trying to regain control over my Anki deck. The problem is that I added much to many new words in a fit of overconfidence in my mental capacities and I ended up with a huge study plan every day that took me hours to put down to zero. I finally made a sort of Anki burn out and didn’t study my deck for a week. I have now more or less restored a “normal” deck but I am still facing 500 cards a day. These are some thoughts about how to keep a smooth relationship with Anki. Mistakes I made Too many new words per day I wanted to believe that it was possible to learn 40 words a day and challenged myself with it. The result is: I can learn 40 new words a day but it’s not a good idea. The thing is, learning 30 or 40 words a day for a short period of time is possible. Let’s say you are cramming for the JLPT …

Learning by heart, give it a try!

I have decided to start learning by heart the first chapter of 星の王子さま which is the Japanese translation of The Little Prince. I explained the benefit of learning by heart in this post and so far, it totally works for me. What helps me is that The Little Prince is a story I know very well. I had to learn some passages by heart at school because we staged it in the class. Much later, when I studied German, I listen many times to the audiobook read by Ulrich Mühe. Anyway, by learning sentences by heart, I really feel comfortable with grammar structures I had to think of before. Let’s take some examples: なら I know that it is used with the casual form of verbs, but having learned: 再現してみるなら it comes more naturally if I need to use this structure. It’s the difference between knowing how a grammar should be formed and being able to use it correctly without even think of it. もう動けなくなり to the negative form 動けない is attached the grammar point なる which is formed …

Those things that are more than objects

One way of staying motivated when learning a new language is to have physical objects related to the country. It is certainly not the biggest motivation booster than one can find, but it is a little something that does add some fuel to your motivation on a daily basis. At least, it works for me. For example, I recently got a new phone case: In fact, I don’t think that I would have bought a phone case with a character on it, if I were not learning Japanese. Somehow, having this phone case reminds me that I am different today from what I was before I started learning Japanese. By learning a new language, you acquire not only a new knowledge, but a key to a whole world. You have access to a new culture, new hobbies and new passions. It literally broaden the range of your possibilities. I didn’t learn Japanese because I was fan of Japanese manga but I started to read manga because I was learning Japanese and thought that it might …

YouTubed away

I am sure I am not the only one to get lost in YouTube, going to check something relevant and ending up watching cows opening doors with their horns. YouTube really is a world in itself, where you can learn many things and loose a lot of your precious time, too. Well, I have decided that I would allow myself to get lost in YouTube only if I am watching videos in Japanese. And it works. Instead of just taking a break and/or loosing my time, I take a break and I make some listening practice and I re-boost my motivation. Working only with textbooks can disconnect ourselves with the “real” language, as it is used by native speakers. YouTube is a gift for language learners as it gives a free and easy access to tons of materials in the target language. When I hear Japanese people speaking Japanese, it boosts my motivation and makes me want to get better to understand everything they say. Today I landed on the channel HikakinTV. I think that …

How to define one’s goals

I already posted about the importance of having several goals and write them down. But what is a goal? and how should we define them? This is my personal advice based on my experience, I hope it will work for you, too! Goals vs to-dos I hate to-do lists. I mean, I love creating to-do lists, I can spend a lot of time writing down all the things I want to do and try all the possible designs provided by the app I am using. But then, when it comes to really do the things, I hate that list. I try to change the design, but no matter if the background image is a puppy or a telecommunication tower, I hate the list. I think that I hate the “to-do” concept, things that have to be done, things that I must do, like you had to do homework at school. The to-do list transforms things that I wanted to do into things that I have to and take all the fun out of it. How …

Stay motivated: Define your goalS

Let your big goal make babies “When I am able to read literature in Japanese, I will start by Nobel Prizes”. Thinking that I will read Kawabata and Oe in Japanese helps me stay motivated BUT if this were my only goal, I would feel discouraged and would eventually give up. Because it will be a long, long, very long time before I am able to read such great authors in Japanese (not only read, but being sufficiently at ease to really appreciate). Having a big goal is great but it is important to feel rewards all the way along. That’s why it’s important to have more modest and quicker to achieve little goals. Those little goals are like shelters on a long trail. Even if the goal of the journey is to reach the peak, the goal of the day is usually to reach the next shelter before night. Set your intermediate goals One of my goals was to read my first novel in Japanese. I achieved it some months ago and I will …