I have been interested in Japan for 20 years and formally studied Japanese for eight years through high school and college. I have also visited Japan five times. I love Japan! But after graduation, I assumed that my language ability had peaked. I got distracted and stopped studying Japanese for a while. Life goes on. Although I was involved in Japanese cultural clubs and met Japanese friends, I would just speak in English most of the time. No big deal, it’s just easier that way.
A few months ago I just got back from Japan with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for learning Japanese. I was suffering from jetlag when I got home and created a WaniKani account. At first, I thought it might motivate me to keep learning Japanese, instead of wasting time on games or apps on my phone. And it’s really fun!
But it also got me thinking about the process of studying languages. I wanted to share some inspirational words for anyone at any point in their Japanese study.
Learning a foreign language is a lifelong journey which is worth the effort. Technically, you could visit Japan and have a nice time without knowing kanji. You can experience Japanese culture and meet interesting people without speaking Japanese. You can also eat sushi without knowing the ingredients, or watch anime with English subtitles. But I am more interested in the alternative – engage in a difficult task, make your brain sweat a little, enhance your ability to understand people on a deeper level, set goals, and keep learning every day. There will be a moment when you get the chance to meet someone or so somewhere that inspires you. You make a connection, share an experience, build a relationship, or learn something new, and you won’t regret your time spent learning Japanese.
I understand that it’s easy to quit studying Japanese. It’s difficult. You may feel defeated and give up without proper motivation, goals, and rewards. But it’s worth the effort. So take time to figure out what works for you!
Once you start this journey, you might join a club, travel to Japan, work overseas, or make a new friend. It can change a person’s life. It can enhance friendships and lead to fantastic opportunities. That’s why I keep studying Japanese after all of these years (with minimal progress). And that’s why I’m curious… what’s your motivation?