Really Wanting to Challenge Myself... But How? >:O

I’m really at a weird spot with my Japanese right now.
I’m right at the edge of high intermediate, but I just can’t break into the advanced area yet.

What I really want to do now, is express my thoughts eloquently. Whether that be through writing or speaking, and I’d like to understand things more deeply then just surface level. I feel like right now, I can just “get by”.

I realize my problem and I’m trying to think “How can I REALLY challenge myself to improve?” I’m so tired of staying in my “comfortable” bubble, always getting just the gist of everything.

I really want to suffer, I want to struggle, I want to have to use my brain to the utmost that it hurts. So I’m trying to think up ways that I can really challenge myself to break into that advanced area.

Maybe I should start by writing weekly thought pieces/essays in Japanese? Write detailed summaries of books/manga’s I’ve read, or maybe even try doing translations from English > Japanese.

Hahh… I dunno. I want to create a good regime for myself to follow. Anyone got any other ideas?

I’m at high intermediate, but I want to push myself into advanced. Trying to think of grueling/creative challenges that I put myself through to help with my Japanese. Any ideas?

Do you live in Japan? Because if not, that’s step one.

The real challenge is in speaking eloquently, with writing you can sit there and think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Not to mention, when writing, just because you write something doesn’t mean it’s right, so you’d need a native to go over it. But when speaking, if what you’re trying to say isn’t being transmitted right, you get instant feedback there.

The best place to be is a place where you have to be able to speak with a certain level to be understood. Something similar can be obtained with various hobbies where there is a more complex language. For example, I tried teaching someone Shogi solely in Japanese. Or reading more complex books. When I read 新選組顛末記 I realized just how much Japanese I don’t know.

But at the end of the day, there’s simply nothing other than “just do it more”. The more you do it the easier it becomes. My listening used to be awful shit. But now, from just talking to someone in Japanese as often as I can, I can listen to something like that new N2 Nihongo No Mori series without any real effort, almost as easily as I can listen to English. (Heavy on the “Almost”)

Also I don’t really know what High Intermediate means anyway, I see people say Intermediate all the times for things that really aren’t intermediate.

I am still very much a beginner at Japanese, so I wouldn’t know from experience, but Tofugu wrote an article that may be related:

Which area(s) are you hoping to imrove? Listening? Reading? Writing? Speaking?

Maybe you can write the reviews as you have suggested, but do so on and have native speakers evaluate and correct them? Of maybe find a native speaker for a language exchange and try discussing topics at a deper level than you’re accustomed to. Or, maybe try reading some Japanese poetry.

Maybe not LIVE there like Syphus said, but definitely try to talk with people who are actually native to get that instant feedback. You can use apps like hello talk and actually call with natives and talk with them. When I was in japan, I got the chance to talk with a few natives who pretty much spoke 0 english. Even when I was talking about something I knew how to say, it was still hard to surface the thoughts into words “eloquently”. The whole point of truly learning a language, in my opinion, is to have it be like breathing. It should be without effort and fluid. Simply translating stuff, I feel, wont help too much with that but obviously thats just my opinion.

The worst thing is when they pretend to understand you. So if that happens, just say something like てめえ、わかったか? and that’ll fix it right up.


Personally, I think listening and reading help me realize what native Japanese sounds like–I would suggest reading, listening, and shadowing podcasts, dramas, etc. to help you realize how things are said “normally” even if it’s just kind of passive for a while especially if you can’t talk to native speakers in your area. Though native speakers will be able to give you feedback and help you express yourself, listening to how native speakers express themselves in Japanese may help you learn how to express yourself. And of course, really think about how they say what they’re saying and what they actually mean (I know I always fail with the whole “softening my opinions” part when I speak) since recognizing the difference between how you would say something and how a native would say it is one key to realizing how you need to change.

hallelujah to that lol. Thats the issue with how shy and polite some Japanese people can be. I knew one guy when I was over there, Hiroyuki, and the guy was just too damn nice. He would always be too afraid to correct me because he was worried that it would come off as rude. It was nice that he was being considerate, but man it was not helpful at all…

Contrast that with another guy I knew that laughed at me and called me an old man for using 便所lol. Second guy was more outspoken, but more helpful learning wise.

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