Hiyo! Longtime lurker/part time studier here, finally starting to really prioritize my Japanese study again. The pandemic and some other life circumstances have given me some space to figure out what’s most important for me to focus on now and in the future, and I know that Japanese is one of those things. My hope is that putting this goal to “paper”, and really fleshing it out will help me to establish a plan that I can be flexible with and stay accountable to. I view this entire post as a living document that will change and adapt over time according to my needs. More info below!
I studied Japanese for two years in college, and then proceeded to not use it for the next 7 years. I landed a teaching job in Japan in my late 20s, and moved to Hiroshima City where I lived for four years. The first two years I studied pretty regularly, but found that I wasn’t using Japanese a ton. I spoke English in school every day and living in the city where there were a lot of tourists, English was everywhere. No matter how much I tried to use Japanese, more often than not it was too easy to default to English. My skills developed, but not beyond basic easy conversations and maybe around an N4 level. Listening skills were especially atrocious. About two years in, I stopped studying for reasons I still don’t fully understand - I just lost my motivation and I was getting by just fine with what I had and my support system. I’ve been back home in the U.S. for 2.5 years now and the whole time I’ve been back I’ve had this yearning for Japanese, but didn’t prioritize it.
For the past couple of years I’ve also been studying Sogetsu Ikebana with a teacher in my area. She’s received the 1st Grade Komon teacher’s diploma from the Sogetsu school (the second highest rank possible you can receive), which takes decades of study and teaching. I’m incredibly lucky to have found her, and one of my goals is to pursue a teacher’s diploma, which I should be able to start doing sometime next year. My hope is to continue my Ikebana studies long term, and to travel (especially to Japan) with this in mind.
I’m also a huge fan of Japanese media (manga, anima, video games) having grown up in that era when it was first being introduced en masse in the U.S. It’s a huge part of my identity and what I do to enjoy my time and relax.
My hope also is to return to Japan not necessarily to live long term, but for study, leisure, and honestly because Hiroshima is like home to me. I still miss it every day!
A Bit About Me
I work as a health coach by day and earlier this year had to move down to part time. While I have not been officially diagnosed with chronic illness beyond some arthritis in my back, for the past year I’ve been struggling quite a bit with my health and exhibit a host of symptoms associated with chronic illness. I deal with a lot of exhaustion and brain fog, and as a type A high achiever this has been incredibly difficult for me to adjust to. For some time I have not been able to operate at the levels I’ve been capable of in the past. It’s frustrating and demoralizing, and for anyone who is going through the same, please know you aren’t alone.
I’m lucky to be able to live with my parents. While many might still balk at the idea of a 35 year old living with her folks the only reason I’m still here after adjusting with the move back from Japan is because my parents are actually really easy to live with. That coupled with my health issues and the fact that I’m able to save a lot of money, it’s a win win situation. We have 20 acres of property where we are building a horse farm, and in some of my other spare time I am working on planting a garden. I also study clinical herbalism and am always pursuing further education in regards to my coaching.
I’m a huge fan of the fantasy/sci-fi genre of media and have recently had the opportunity to start playing video games again after many years of focusing on school. I’ve picked up Dragon Quest 10 with some friends and while my Japanese isn’t nearly good enough to understand the majority of it, I’m looking forward to using it as a measure of improvement over time.
- To catalogue my study resources, how I use them, and how effective they are, and to experiment with new resources;
- To establish short, mid, and long term goals for my Japanese study and connection to Japan, and to ensure the actions I take with my studying are in alignment with those goals;
- To keep track of the specific aspects of Japanese I am learning on a daily and weekly basis;
- To support personal accountability to my goals;
- To reflect on successes and challenges in order to keep the momentum moving forward;
- To practice my Japanese skills;
- To record my growth over time for times when I feel discouraged or need to celebrate my successes.
Read an entire book/manga (lvl appropriate) in Japanese
Reach WaniKani level 15
Stay consistent with studying through the end of the year
I have a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, so I understand the importance of developing all language skills towards fluency. With that said, right now my priority is reading. I love to read, and I want to get to a point where engaging with native Japanese material is truly enjoyable for me to support my motivation in the long term. I will still work on the other language skills with less priority.
Japanese fluency in all language skills. It’s hard for me to type this out because as soon as I think it, judgements come up in my head like, “Are you serious? You lived in Japan for four years and you aren’t even close to fluent. There’s no way that’s going to happen.” And I realize that’s what holds me back from fulfilling my potential. So there it is. I want to be fluent in Japanese, even if it takes me the rest of my life to get there.
I welcome posts from others here as long as it’s not wandering off on long discussions not related to my studying. Effective language learning cannot occur in isolation so outside input/reflections are welcome!