Learning a language requires you to pick up skills in many different areas. Vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening, et cetera. Because of this, some skills are undoubtedly going to be harder to obtain depending on who you are and/or how you study. There is always going to be something that really makes learning your target language difficult at times. However, because we’re all different, some of the things you struggle with might be easy for someone else. So let’s all share what we struggle with most in Japanese; let’s talk about the stuff that makes you want to smash your head against a wall, or makes your learning experience a whole lot less pleasant. No struggle is too small! Whether you’re struggling with remembering katakana, or you can’t figure out how to formulate your sentences properly, anything goes. Feel free to share just one struggle, or share a bunch! And if you have tips for those struggling, share them! Let’s all try to help each other out, while also venting a little bit…
Deceptively simple grammar
Grammar, for the most part, isn’t too difficult for me, but holy heck, do I have a problem with those tiny 1-3 character long grammar points that can really change a sentence! Bigger/longer grammar points aren’t too scary for me, as they are generally straightforward: If I see something like 行かなければならない, I know that this is a negative ば-form 行く, attached to ならない, making the whole string mean “I must go.” Or even a longer sentence like “家では赤味がかった髪とそばかすのせいで、母が侮蔑を込めて 「にんじん」と名付け、皆にもそう呼ばせています” doesn’t pose a threat for me. But little grammer points like ように drive me nuts! When does it mean “like a …” and when does it mean “in order to”? And speaking of “in order to”! Take another small point like のに, which can either mean “despite”, or “in order to”! And what about ために, which can mean “for (as in doing something for someone)” or “due to”! Even a little confusing が can throw me off. Stuff like this changes the sentence, and I find it really hard to interpret… Yes, usually you can fall back on context, but sometimes it feels like the context allows for both. Don’t even get me started on 事…
So what are you struggling with? And feel free to share tips when you can to help others! Let’s do our best!
I know that feeling. I heard for pitch accents in Japanese, though, a good tip is to watch something in Japanese, write down a sentence you hear, and try to repeat it exactly as you heard it. You’ll most likely have to do this a whole bunch of times to get it right. Exaggerate the pitches you can hear like crazy, then when you actually practice speaking normally, you can tone down your “exaggeration” accordingly. Another tip is to find some audio you can download (or just record it with a microphone), then, using a multi-track editing software like Audacity, put your native audio on one track in the program, then record yourself saying the same audio on the second track, then finally, play them at the same time. That way you can hear what your messing up, or how you can sound more natural. Try to find something where they don’t speak super fast, or you can even slow down the audio if necessary. I’m generally not to worried about my pitch accent, as I’ve been doing this (repeating what I hear aloud) for a good while. I hope this can help you in some way!
Ah, those are hard in the beginning! I don’t think there is much you can do other then try to drill them in… Good think there aren’t that many!
yes, I have been trying to trick my brain with other mnemonics. Or mnemonics on top of other mnemonics, but I just got more confused. Just going to have to brute force remember those I suppose.
I know it is possible to make them stick, just need to get there
Grammar for me and ugh yes the ように and ために’s! Japanese grammar is what I struggle the most but I try to read up on a grammar point (Maggie Sensei, JLPT Sensei are my favs) , watch Youtube videos and bunpro… I got a terrible memory so I have to psychically write down sample sentences and reread it after x amount of days then x amount of weeks then it’ll finally stick… mostly! Seeing the grammar used in different sentences helps the most for me.
In order of most frustrating for me:
Counters > days > big numbers (past 10k) > months.
Anything used in conjunction with a day/week/month/year kanji to mean something else… I hates thems too!
Definitely check out the website Tangorin (https://tangorin.com/) if you haven’t already! You can write words/grammar points in the search bar, and get lots of sentences that use what you searched for. I used it for the example sentence in the OP, even .
Listening, by far.
I can read and speak decently, but even i nthe simplest conversations I tend to become lost real quick and never pick on homophones.
It’s rather humiliating but I almost don’t practice this aspect, so it’s no wonders.
Grammar! Feels like a math equation and I’ve always been bad at math (small disability). My poor vocabulary makes it a slog so I’m considering Kitsun 10k to build confidence. I also picked up a used RJtMW. The manga panels make it more fun and accessable (read: less intimidating)!
I honestly learned the most traveling solo like an illiterate caveman I’m not afraid of interacting and did it a lot. It forced me to be creative and think about ‘best’ communication with the tools I had. It felt real because the interactions were actually real and had weight. It removed my fear of whether or not what I was studying was ‘correct’ or not
Wow thanks!!! I didn’t know about this site.
That hit too close to home! I often complain to myself how I can’t hear Japanese, but then I realize I never practice listening either, because I find myself thinking “I won’t understand anything anyway”! I’m trying to change this though, and I’ve recently begun watching Let’s Plays in Japanese. I guess the only thing that we can do is just dive in anyway…!
Ugh, I’ve been awful at math my whole life! I just can’t figure out when to use which formula, so I understand how that applies to grammar. If you like Wanikani, I recommend checking out Torii SRS: it’s an SRS that’s designed very similarly to Wanikani, and it teaches the 10K vocab. I use it, but I’ve fallen really far behind in my reviews…
i struggle the most with Japanese
I would recommend the “A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar” books, as they have very detailed explanations that cover lots of different use cases for grammar points like these.
From these books I learned that ために always expresses a reason/cause and not a purpose whenever it is proceeded by an adjective, when the ために clause is in the past tense, or when the main clause expresses an uncontrollable situation.
For ように, I would say that the “in order to” meaning usually proceeds an imperative. Also, it can only come after the plain nonpast present and potential forms of the verb, whereas the “like” ように can come after past tense verbs, adjectives, and nouns. Like 壊さないように気をつけてください versus 鳥のように飛べる.
のに is easier to distinguish in speech I feel like, as the “despite” meaning is rather emotional and tends to sound quite different than the “in order to” のに. In addition, the “in order to” のに can only come after the plain present tense of volitional verbs, whereas the “despite” のに can come after adjectives and past tense verbs. You can also try telling by looking at the relationship between the two clauses if you aren’t sure - in the “despite” one there’s going to be a contrast between the two clauses, or the second clause will be dropped entirely. In the “in order to” one, there should be an agreement between the clauses, like using a bus to get somewhere, and usually the first clause will feel like an incomplete thought. I don’t know if that helps any but. ^^;
Being consistent with grammar study.
Parsing sentences when trying to read i.e. practical application of grammar.
Producing language (trying to construct the most basic sentences on my own).
That helps a lot, thank you very much! The explaintions I read elsewhere definitely oversimplified things to the point of confusion… I keep hearing good things about those grammar dictionaries, so I’ll look into them!
This is definitely difficult. When your totally stumped with a sentence, you could try putting into ichi.moe (https://ichi.moe/) and studying how the sentence is built up. That might help you when creating your own sentences too!
Ah, that’s so useful! One of my latin teachers also told my class about a site like that for latin. Suddenly translating a latin text went much faster, if you could just type in and know what conjugation that verb is, or it’s not a verb at all.
Anyway, back to the topic. I’m best at listening. Before wanikani Kanji were an unclimbable mountain for me, even tho we got extra points on the test everytime we actually used the kanji in japanese class. But thanks to wanikani I’m getting better and better at reading kanjis. Speaking is still my weak point. Writing is a bit better, because I have a bit more time to think. Honestly tho it’s a bit frustrating how little japanese I have after 8 years of learning. But I’m sure it’s all uphill from here, or at least not downhill, I hope.
[gestures vaguely at everything]
The kanji. It’s hard to remember how to write them and to study all of their sounds, so I go real slow with WaniKani.
I think Second would be grammar for me.