I’m not really sure where exactly to post this, but I figured since this is largely related to the language, it might as well go here.
I’m usually pretty bad at explaining how I feel about something, but I’ve been pretty disheartened about my progress in Japanese recently. I always have periods like this, but it seems recently, I’ve been more discouraged about it than usual. Now, I’ve been more or less attempting to improve bit by bit over the past 10 years. I learned kana pretty quickly and then soon after started reading Tae Kim’s guide, and whatever else I could get my hands on. Theoretically, I managed to absorb the logic of Japanese grammar pretty well, but it wasn’t until I started Wanikani that I managed to properly learn kanji recognition. Now, most of my improvement focus has always been that: recognition. Reading, listening, etc. I’ve always been pretty isolated, and social anxiety issues prevented me from finding classes and people to help with on the production end of the learning curve, so I focused on recognition. It’s been slow, but at around 2016, after already feeling like I was completely hopeless on my goals, I found some renewed vigor and realized that focusing on textbooks and theory would only get me so far. I figured I’d move on towards immersing myself in the language as I figured I would gradually pick things up from there. Thanks to Wanikani and the occasional grammar refresher/note-taking, I thought it was working. I’ve began following tons of Japanese people on Twitter, played games in Japanese as much as I could, tried reading light novels and manga, that sort of thing. Visual novels specifically have always been a special goal of mine, since I really admire the medium. It’s been slow, with ups and downs, but I figured I was making progress. When I played a game, I more or less got the gist of the story and instructions.
Thing is, I always feel like I could do better. And my reading speed is still painfully, painfully slow.
I know this isn’t enough, even for my own personal goals. There are several times when I want to, say, read someone’s twitter thread or go through a news article, and I find myself oddly stumped. I should know the words. The grammar makes perfect sense. But I’m reading so slowly. Am I even getting this stuff right? What if I’m wrong? I’ve ever exchanged a few tweets with some basic. Basic stuff. But I always feel like I’m lacking. I try to pick up a light novel to read, and while I more or less get the basic gist of what’s written (and I know on an intelectual level there is nothing wrong with just ‘getting the gist of it’), I always feel like I’m lacking. I should know these words. I should be better. But I sometimes find myself having to read sentences or paragraphs repeatedly before I can get what’s being said, so that only adds up to my already slow reading speed. I feel discouraged, and frankly, I just don’t have fun. And that’s thing. I don’t know how to have fun with it. I always force myself into having to try and read something, even when I don’t have fun, because otherwise, I’m wasting the day away. I could be getting better, but I’m not. I’m doing something wrong, but I have to try and immerse myself or it’ll be for nothing. I don’t know how to improve, but I have to do at least a little to maintain my progress. And what if I lose it? What if I forget everything? These are the thoughts that are always in my head when I immerse myself in Japanese.
And of course, it’s not fun. And that often means I go days without proper ‘immersion’. Or I look at my whole backlog of light novels and visual novels and think “I have to read these in Japanese… but I know I won’t understand everything even though I should.” So I don’t read anything. To be honest, I forgot what it’s like to have fun with these things. It’s seriously disheartening. There was this VN I wanted to check out, but I ended up just getting it in English to see if I can at least have fun with it. But I just feel defeated. Honestly, I feel like giving up, but I know then all my 10-year, slow, slow progress would’ve been for nothing. And that’s if I ‘progressed’ to begin with.
Does any of this makes sense? I’m sorry, I’m just terrible at expressing myself, so I often end up being wordy. I studied linguistics in college so I know the importance of immersion when it comes to language acquisition. But I always feel like I’m not doing enough, even when I don’t know how I’d go about trying to find new methods. Simply put, I don’t know what to do. I wish I could have fun with this thing and appreciate the journey, but sometimes it feels like my goals are just unattainable delusions. I guess I just want a little pick-me-up? Is there anything I could do about this? I don’t want to give up, but if I’m just gonna beat myself over it, is it even worth it in the first place? That’s what I keep thinking.
What should I do?