Olympians XXXII (2021 - not the original 2020 thread)

  1. Lately I feel like no matter how hard I study im not improving. Definitely, getting worse. I know thats supposed to be normal. But, Im trapped in Japan. I cant leave. I have to live here. And if all the studying in the world doesnt improve me It drives the hope from my soul.

What is not improving? What is getting worse? How do you measure that? What are your actual goals with Japanese? How is not reaching that goal yet affecting your everyday interactions with the language?

Every new thing you learn is something you’re not good at. And frequent encounters with things you’re not good at, might make it hard to see progress. But are you still bad at the things you learned a while back? Are you still bad at the things you took the time to practice?

perhaps you’re starting to realize how much japanese you don’t “know”? i

if not,

if you’re studying and not improving maybe you need to change how you study? if you primary read textbooks, switch over to input and vice versa? but i’ve personally been in place where i felt i’m stuck(w.r.t to japanese). sometimes you need drastic study changes and sometimes you just need to continue a bit or go easier yourself and get some rest.

Simply everything. Things I could read 6 months ago are next to impossible to read now. Train announcements I understood for years suddenly sound jumbled and confusing. Everyday conversation at the workplace have gone from sounding normal and easy to respond to to hard to hear and hard to respond to. Literally everything is devolving in front of me.

I lived here for going on 10 years. Ive been N2 for going on 10 years. I see no marked improvement in reading anything, hearing anything or speaking even though I speak all day everyday.

In fact, everyday life feels much much much much harder over the past few months. Sentences that were simple to form and say are now just caught in my head and wont come out.

I live here. I want to speak and live. Those are the only goals worth having with the language. But, I dont see any improvement over the past year. Not really.

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Ive been N2 for 10ish years. I went to college here and my education was conducted in Japanese. Though, I am not nearly as good as I was back in the college days. I speak/Listen to Japanese all day long in the work place. But, recently two three months everything is harder than it used to be.

I also do study textbooks, bunpro, wanikani of course, read books all the time, speak in Japanese at work and listen to it at work, It feels like ive regressed a ton in the last year though. I dont feel any marked improvement from my time with wanikani. I read moderately faster and thats about it. I dont feel like I speak better at all even though I do actively use new words from wanikani and grammar patterns from Bunpro. I dont feel like I hear any better than I used to.

Im in a rut, Im stuck in Japan because if I go back to my country I wont have enough money to live. But, in Japan, there is no career progression for me. Im frustrated. I wouldnt be surprised if some of its in my head. But, I feel like its a hopeless endeavor. I feel like I can study and continue to live here for another 10 years and never feel happy with where im at or be what I feel is fluent. I feel trapped lately.

Sorry, to drop it on you and thank you kindly for listening. I dont have much outlets for releasing these feelings. Dont know what to do. Study 2-4 hours a day. Work in a Japanese environment, read almost exclusively in Japanese now and just not feeling like its doing a lick of good.


Maybe you’re on the brink of a burnout? Or already there. Have you had a break lately? Been very stressed? Have more worries eating away at your energy? Maybe the answer is to actually dial your studies down, instead of keeping at it so hard. I know when I need a vacation/break Japanese studies go on a very low pitch for me. I do the bare minimum to really give my brain time to relax. During vacation is just love to read fiction, that I hardly ever make time or have the energy for in my normal daily life.

Also, after only spending a couple months in the US, I started feeling very tired of only speaking and hearing English around me. I really felt very relieved to hear Dutch again when I got back home. Maybe you should call your homefront more often.


Im probably down on myself too. I havent had a good nights sleep in… a very long time. The insomnia and waking up randomly is abundant lately. Social anxiety and depressions ugly heads are very much reared. Lots of flash backs to bad experiences lately. Had 550 odd reviews I did over the course of 2 hours today and that was the opposite of a good time.


That will definitely impair your cognitive abilities. I say with absolutely no authority on matters of the brain, so do with it what you will!

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Its a good thought. My stress is very high. Every mistakes I make in Japanese, Every time I fail to speak is a huge hit to me. It stresses me out immensely. Because, I am here and will be here forever and life is hard here when you cant express everything you want to express. Even, when I can express MOST of what I want to say I will remember the one mistake I made. I will dwell on it. I will remember that interview 5 years ago where I didnt have the words I needed to pass it. I will feel like Im still that person even if I know the words I didnt now.

I wish I hadnt moved here. I wish I hadnt accrued 350,000 in student loans and subsequently needed to live in Japan just to survive. Id probably feel very good about my Japanese if it wasnt a question of quality of life and possible future progression at this point. In fact, that is how I felt before I knew I would never be able to leave. I just want to have everything be as comprehensible as it is in my homecountry and I dont know if that will EVER be the case.

Im already getting older and the pressure to get to where i want to be is ever present. Though, I sometimes have to remind myself I have difficulty speaking my first language (Anxiety issues) and that often my speaking in Japanese is… comparable to my first language in that respect.

Anyways, Thanks for talking to me. Ill continue to try but im honestly not as optimistic as I was a few years ago. I probably need to sleep. But, I have to finish a project.


Fair, I dont have a lot of people in the home front anymore. Ive been gone a long time. Im working to retake N2 sometime in the next few years and N1 depending on how that goes. I will admit… the reading, Kanji, vocabulary sections all look a lot easier than they did ten years ago after wanikani. So, I should probably give myself some credit at least =P


i’m not really in a position to provide any substantial advice, but good luck! just remember that rest is as important as study!


Ive also got to accept that I have some serious anxiety issues so listening and speaking will always be a challenge for me in new situations and with new people (Unless im drunk of course but thats not as uper healthy way to live life).

There are many situations where I am 100% on a conversation. NO problesm at all. UNTIL someone directs the conversation at me and my brain flusters. Happens in English too. I just need to be used to it =P


Ill keep fighting the good fight until I dont anymore I guess. Ill try to sleep more. Thanks. I appreciate it.


How is your social circle in Japan? Neighbours you like to hang out with, a club where you meet people around a shared interest (maybe running), good colleagues who you don’t talk about work with?

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Its COVID 19 time. None of those things currently exist. Clubs dont hold meetings (Though, I dont have a running club). Neighbors talking in the city is not that common here so thats not a thing for me. Meetings with friends are pretty non existant these days. And, I get cycled through differet offices every 1-2 years so I dont have a chance to really get to form good colleagues. My favorite colleague retired the year after we started talking. But, I generally only talk about work almost all the time even with friends. Since, its all I really do at this point.

I just finished work as it were and will go to sleep now because I have to wake up again in like 4-5 hours. But, I honestly dont go out much and never have. Since im already in my mid thirties I dont see that changing sadly. Most of my good friends are in Tokyo since I lived there longer than Osaka. And I have concentrated on my running more than anything else after moving out here. I had marathon friends Id talk to once or twice a week because wed see each other at marathons but… Covid.

The neighbor across from me is a chinese couple that doesnt speak Japanese or English and the person diretly next to me is 70 and terrified of me for whatever reason. lol. I used to stop at the bar thats on the first floor and talk to the owner. Nice guy.


If I order delivery for whatever reason I do keep the delivery person around for an awkwardly long time. I dont have much money these days. About 1/3 of my paycheck goes to student loans (Itd be 3000 USD if I was in the states so thats a huge cut back so… OK).

Ive been paying my loans for 7 years since grad school and I owe 100k more than I did when I started paying. MURICA

Ill probably feel more improvement when the lockdown lifts and I can be at least passively social again.

You can change your behaviour at any time in your life. I know it’s tough times right now for making social calls. But i think it’s important to find some way to talk about non work stuff. Is there honestly no way at all to even invite a neighbour for a cup of tea?

About WK. If N2 is your goal, I passed that the day after I reached level 51 (I reset in February). There is no need to keep up with the WK reviews on top of a heavy workload from work. No shame in pausing lessons for a while, either! Why not just scale down to max 100 reviews a day, and no lessons, until work gives you a break. If you want, I can stop celebrating the level ups here, as they might feel like unnecessary pressure right now.

I hope you have a solid couple hours of sleep.

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As long as you don’t start with the 17yo schoolgirl, who cares if you come off a bit weird. You might find you make a new great friend. Or at least you end up with a door to knock on in case of emergency, or a lack of sugar.

Maybe if I get on some medication for my anxiety and start working through that more. Its funny that I can stand in front of people and give a speech and show the data reports for the quarter with no anxiety but you come at me one on one and I just cant. For whatever reason.

Its gotten way worse during the pandemic because… less social contact with others really.

Nah, you do you. Im pushing myself. So, updating level ups is fine.

Yeah, I passed it back in 2009 before it was N1-N5. It was only N1-N4 back in those days. SO, stuff that would be considered N3 was mixed in with stuff that would be considered N2. I remember 火山 was actually on the N2 test. I dont remember much else from that test to be honest. haha. I figure its a good place to go back to and start from again.

I passed BJT 3 in 2013 which they told me my score was about the equivalent of a low N2 pass. So, I might be able to do it if I just… did it… even now. But, I want to really smack the info into my head.

Just smack it in there.

After I quit IT I worked at a bar for awhile and all though I hated what I was doing (Because,I felt like I was wasting my degrees, which I still feel that way which is a constant source of anxiety and stress for me… I feel like im failing myself because im doing a job that doesnt require my masters). I loved talking to new people all the time in those days and made just a ton of friends. Im not good at keeping up with others. I would assume I reside somewhere on the spectrum. But, I havent had that tested. I am dyslexic but thats a whole different thing =D

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Hey, just chiming in to say that I believe in you, and (although it might not resonate at all with you) also kind of wanted to note that you hated what you were doing as a bartender even though it seemed like a pretty good job for you (talking to people all the time). My own journey through depression has taken me to the realization that most of the pressures and pains in my life came from how I thought about things, not from how things really were. And I found that with time, observing my own thoughts and how they affected my own mood started opening things up more and more, and currently, I couldn’t care less about some of the things that seemed like insurmountable problems a while ago. It doesn’t feel like a loss at all - just feels like I’ve entered a whole new expansive space of being in the world.

Just my two cents, and I hope this goes well for you!