Feeling Discouraged :(

I’ve been studying Japanese for about 2 years. I took one class in college a looong time ago. And then I decided to pick it up again 2 years ago.

So this past spring/summer, I went to Japan for 3 months, going to school to learn the language, and travel. I started at lesson 5 and was able to finish Genki I, and then did some of Genki II. I had such a great time when I was there, but at the same time I felt like maybe I should have progressed further? I’ve been back to home for 2 months now and I’ve felt like I’ve regressed :frowning: When I came back, people said to me, “Your Japanese must be so good now!”, and when I hear that I feel so discouraged, because it’s not. I resumed my weekly classes that I’ve been taking back home, and am having a lot of difficulty speaking, and remembering even simple things, things that I should already know! As a result, my confidence has plummeted. I think I just need to practice more, but I’m feeling pretty crappy about everything lol.

Anyways, is there any tips you guys do to help boost your morale as you go through this journey? What do you do when you feel discouraged?



When I feel discouraged because I think I am going too slow I remember how hard and different is Japanese from my lenguaje (spanish) and even I am no that good in english but the best website that I found for this are in English. So, I have to give me some credit for that xP

Mainly remember how hard is japanese, I mean, if you are not a genius It will be hard, you just have to keep doing. I dont now how often do you study but, If you do it every day, that makes the difference.

I think that regressing if you haven’t practiced using the language for a little while is normal!
I definitely also experience a lot of slumps in my Japanese studies and progression so I relate to this a lot.

Something that really helped me in improving my Japanese and feeling motivated was using language learning apps to communicate with natives (as I don’t have any study abroad, homestay, or work opportunities in Japan). I think it really switched my mindset about how I was learning Japanese. Rather than viewing Japanese as a subject like in textbooks, classes, and memorization, it truly became a form of communication for me where I now need to use it in order to speak to people. I stopped thinking about things like, “I should know this already” or “I don’t know this even though it’s simple…”. I ended up memorizing and moving forward without the intention of “learning” and “studying” and just wanting to “communicate” instead.

Overall, I think I just like to think about why I like Japanese and how far I’ve come in the first place! Having real conversations is such a big confidence booster for me personally and it’s nice to step away from looking at progress and just enjoying the learning experience of slowly getting better at communicating with people in a different language.


When I’m feeling discouraged, I think of the reason I am learning Japanese and the benefits of learning another language. You also have to remember that Japanese is a really hard language to learn, especially for native English speakers.

When you feel depressed about your Japanese skills, just think of how horribly most Japanese speak English. The languages are just very different between themselves and it takes time, patience and commitment to master either.


the recalling problem could partly be due to a change in environment. The brain remembers things in various connections and smells as well as places do play a role when it comes to recalling information. There’s a study where divers were made to recall words on the beach and underwater(? google it yourself, its 1am and i can’t be arsed) and they found that recalling the words was easier when you had to recall them where you learned them. So basically, you haven’t regressed, but your brain needs some more stimulation to start remembering stuff in a radically different environment.

And on another note, if you have trouble with exams, try to learn in the room where the exam will be held :smiley:

Not speaking a language extremely well after spending some time abroad isn’t that uncommon either. I know a lot of people who’ve been to england or france for longer periods of time and their english/french is still horrible

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After a 2 years of studying Japanese and living in Japan for 6 months, I walk in to a konbini first thing in the morning and greet the servers with an enthusiastic konbanwa! Felt like such a doosh.

You will have good days and bad days for sure. Sometimes Japanese will role off the tongue much better than others. And I bet you’re far more likely to remember the sucky days than the good ones.

Keep going dude :smile:


Personally I experience this once in a while… more or less. I however understand that I’m not gonna be able to retain everything 100%. I do know the word, I just can’t recall it at this time. The equivalent to a slightly dramatic brainfart.

I would read more Japanese books and try to speak with Japanese natives as much as possible. That’s the only thing that comes to mind. That’s what I do and it seems to work. Mind you, I can’t remember anything to save my life.

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Chin up, cap’n! Valleys are normal before mountains :slight_smile:.
I’m sure you know this: language learning progression is not a straight line up, there are a lot of deep lows that preceed highs that are barely noticeable, until eventually, you just surprise yourself and realize you’re at the top of Mt. Fuji without even having realized it.


Everyone has good and bad days, sometimes I forgot very fundamentals of Japanese, and other times I impress myself! But learning Japanese is a huge amount of information to take in so it’s only natural that we make mistakes sometimes, quite a few times I’ve had to re-read the early chapters of Genki I. Dont worry too much, just keep going - From reading your post I believe wholeheartedly you have the determination to overcome this, especially as you’ve come this far.

tl;dr - dont be hard on yourself, you’ll be fine, keep going!

Do you know about the Dunning-Kruger effect? It applies to any skill, including learning Japanese. In a nutshell, when you’re bad at a skill, you don’t know enough about that skill to know how bad you are at it, so you mistakenly think you’re good at it. But when you get better at it, you start to get good enough to notice all the things you’re getting wrong, so your perception of your own skill level drops.

It’s a little counterintuitive, and it’s hard to realise that you’re not as good as you thought you were, but you should hold onto the fact that being able to see your weaknesses in a skill is actually a sign of improvement in that skill, regardless of how it feels.


I think one of the best things to do for keeping motivation is to set up a schedule in which you do a set amount of moderate/fair amount of studying - enough that you are making a decent amount of progress while not so much that you will burn out.

Your long term goals should be considered when making this. So, say you want to finish WaniKani in a year, you set up a weekly schedule where you have set times at which you must do the level up requirements and some other times in between for taking care of the rest.

Then, once you’ve set up that schedule with you long term goal in mind, discard the long term goal in your head. Don’t think about it. Just fulfill those short term daily goals every day, making it a habit and you will likely go further than you would if you become obsessed with the long term goal.

Just use the language every day.
All will be well !

Yeah, this is totally normal and happened to me too after I left Japan. It’s easy to lose the language when you haven’t practiced for a while! I get that it’s discouraging, but remember that it’s much easier to relearn things than to learn them for the first time.

Just put in a little extra effort if you can. And find some fun ways to practice your Japanese too, like keeping up with friends that you made in Japan, or watching anime.

Yep, been there one year, studied three months, still suck. You’ll tend to focus on the people who learn faster and seem more talented than you, but learning speed is a spectrum and 99.9% of everyone can get there eventually probably.

Several years ago Bush went to Japan. Several reporters went to a language school, asking for a hurry-up Japanese language course that would let them do rudimentary things. They could give six weeks or so to it, they thought. The teacher replied that he was not aware of any 6 week courses–but he did know of a 6 year course that was highly regarded. I have never in my life worked so hard at anything as I have worked on learning Japanese, and it is what I will give myself over to when I finally retire (at 80). I will happily study it for the rest of my life. You are up against two languages, the spoken and the written, both of which are up there with Russian, Arabic, some notorious others. The rough language time between an “easy” language like Spanish and a forbidding one–like Japanese–is usually figured at about 1:10. I hope for nothing more than a moderate facility with the language. Frankly face what you are setting out to do. It is formidable.

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We all choose hell of a language. It is hard and a lot of us have struggles, a lot of struggles, but we keep going. It is normal to have bad days. It is normal to forget something. Sometimes I even forget my own language because I use a lot of other languages by daily basis. I think this is normal. Just heads up and keep going. Think how far you reach already. Just sit and look up how many things you know already. I am sure there is a lot of stuff. Don’t think about how far is to reach your goal. When you feel bad just think how far you reached.

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Everyone else already shared nice things…

Keep on working! 頑張って!


Thanks for the advice everyone! :slight_smile: It certainly is encouraging to hear that everyone goes through the same type of feelings, especially when you tend to think you’re the only one struggling. I tend to be extra hard on myself especially when I see others excel, and forget that they probably had to struggle quite a bit as well to get where they are…it isn’t easy that’s for sure. I’ll definitely continue working hard! :weight_lifting_woman:

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