It’s always exciting when you first begin studying a language. However, as time goes on it is easy to forget how to stay motivated learning Japanese.
Learning Japanese is a long journey, with a bit of a steep learning curve. There will be times when we lack the willpower to keep going. I’ve been a little bit unwell recently and after a few days rest I have found it hard to start studying Japanese again.
Here are some of the things I do when I need to find motivation to study:
Watch a video of something that reminds you why you started learning Japanese in the first place
It’s easy to lose sight of what initially drew us to our target language. Whether it be the culture, connecting to your roots, or to watch your favourite TV show without subtitles, there’s so many things that learning another language gives us an opportunity to experience. Whatever it is, watching a video or reading a book is a great way of getting and staying motivated learning Japanese.
I personally find watching videos of people who have been able to learn Japanese to a high level really motivate me to keep studying. Kemushichan’s videos are always inspiring for me; my other personal favourites include Dogen and Renehiko.
Visualise your Japanese language goals
Take some time to think about your language learning goals. What is it that you want to achieve in the future with your target language; is it passing language exams? Holding a conversation with a native speaker?
If this is something you haven’t decided on yet, I recommend taking some time to define your goals in detail. When I am lacking in motivation, I remind myself of my short-term and long-term goals and how I will feel being able to achieve them.
When it comes to setting short-term goals, you might find the #clearthelist language challenges helps you to formulate and work on the goals more effectively. Here is an example from the amazing Fluent Language from May 2018.
Make sure to celebrate little victories
Every time you feel yourself making progress, make sure to pat yourself on the back. It is easy to be demotivated when we experience setbacks, but it’s important to acknowledge the positives at the same time.
Let’s say you were having a conversation with a native speaker, but it was a little stilted. Whilst the conversation may not have flowed the way you wanted it to, you managed to get your point across and this is always something to celebrate. After all, languages are a form of communication, and being able to communicate is the most important part. With more practice you will learn what sounds more natural.
When you want to stay motivated studying Japanese in particular, thinking back to the progress you have made will really help.
Take time to look back at what you’ve achieved
This is similar to the previous point, but I find comparing what I understand now to what I understood either a few months ago or even when I first started really helps put my progress in perspective.
Think about what level you were at the start of the year. It’s quite likely that you have made more progress than you think. It is also a great incentive to keep studying.
This is one reason why journalling in a foreign language is a great idea. It is so easy to look back through your journal and see all the new things you have learned!
Having taken some time away from studying Japanese, I do tend to think about the words I used to know. In order to combat this, I like to I look back at my old study notes to remind myself of the progress I have made since then.
Make or evaluate your study routine
Sometimes a lack of motivation is linked to your current study routine. It is incredibly difficult to stay motivated learning Japanese when you have too many flashcard reviews or grammar points to learn. If motivation has been a consistent problem recently, it might be worth taking a look at your routine.
Are there any things that need changing? It might be that your expectations are too high, causing you unnecessary stress. Instead, try setting yourself a series of smaller goals every time you study. My post on simplifying your language routine might give you some ideas on how to do this.
Taking a different approach to your learning such as the Pomodoro technique has really helped me to have more effective Japanese study sessions too.
Surround yourself with positive people
The people that we choose to surround ourselves with can have a large impact on our motivation.
By surrounding ourselves with people who understand our journey, we can get support and encouragement from them when we are struggling to carry on. This can be in the form of other language learners, teachers and tutors.
You might not know any Japanese learners in your area. Don’t worry, because this is where social media can help. I’ve found Twitter and Facebook groups in particular to be a great place to find inspiration, share stories and ask questions when you get stuck. Twitter is super popular in Japan so is especially useful! There are also lots of great blogs out there for that I turn to when I need to stay motivated learning Japanese.
Language challenges are a great way to feel involved in the language learning community. For example:
I’ve also done my own 30-day Japanese writing challenge before which really helped motivate me to practice my writing skills.
Make sure to reward yourself when you’ve finished your study session
Having a reward to look forward to at the end of the session is important, especially when faced with something that seems particularly daunting.
For me, this is usually my kanji flashcard reviews!). I will treat myself to an episode of a TV show or time to play video games. When working towards a bigger goal like the JLPT, I tend to treat myself if I’ve hit my smaller weekly study goals.
I hope this post helps if you’ve been finding yourself in a bit of a slump lately. The hardest part of studying is normally just getting started. Somtimes finding enough motivation to simply start is often all you need. The best thing I can recommend is to build helpful language learning habits wherever you can.
Have you got any tips or tricks for boosting your motivation? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!