My Japanese is not perfect. In fact, it’s not good at all. I will be the first one to admit that. I constantly make mistakes and it gets frustrating sometimes but I must say I am proud of my Japanese ability. Learning a language is not an easy task so you too should be proud of your ability even if you are a beginner. If you remember a difficult word and use it in class, that’s great! Be proud of it. Strike a “guts pose.” Besides being proud of your ability I have come up with some other tips that I would like to see my students do. These tips can be adjusted for your level of course.
Language Learning Tips from a Language Learner
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. “My name is Ichiro.” or “My name’s Ichiro.” or maybe even “I’m Ichiro.” Which one should we use? My answer to this is, all of them! They are all used in English. Worrying about these trifling things hurts communication.
- Fall down six times, get up seven. If you make a mistake don’t worry about it. Learn from them and try not to make them again.
- Always be thinking about English. Try thinking in English when you are not studying. If you are taking a walk try to name things as you see them. If you see a sign in horrible English try to correct it. “Let’s safety drive!” to “Let’s drive safely!” (I hate those signs).
- Mentally change gears. Picture your brain like the transmission of a car. When you speak English you must change the gear in your head from Japanese to English. Many students don’t fully change gears. They are stuck in limbo between the two which causes confusion. If you find yourself saying, 「ええと」 or 「それで」 you haven’t full changed gears.
- Learning a language is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time to learn a language and it is something that you must be constantly working to improve.
- Have fun. The bottom line is you must enjoy this wonderful journey you are embarking on. It will open a new world for you just like Japanese has for me.
- Don’t give up. It will be frustrating and you will hit many walls. Many people find that once they have mastered something they just can’t get to the next level. You don’t feel like you’re getting any better. You are stuck. This is what I call plateauing. You just have to keep working at it. You will eventually break through that wall.
One last thing. I said to be proud of your ability but you should never be satisfied. You can always improve and that goes for everything in life.