Quicktip #5: Don’t pressure yourself, enjoy Japanese


Stating the obvious again, it’s been widely known that you learn a WHOLE LOT faster when you’re enjoying what you’re learning. And I don’t only mean to state the obvious, but I also want to share something that I’ve come to realize by my own experience. I found that, although I was enjoying Japanese and learning it, it sometimes happened that trying too hard to understand came over actually understanding. An exemple of that was when I was first started to read the book Ring in Japanese. 

It was the first real Japanese novel that I read that wasn’t a children’s book and it was pretty hard at first. Needless to say, I didn’t understand much. I would spend a lot of time trying to understand sentences that were complicated and look up words in the dictionary all the time, which started to get annoying at some point. For some reason I was trying too hard to understand and to get the story, which took over actually enjoying it. In the end I put the book away and waited for a few months.

Then at some point, I got back to it again. But this time with the excitement of actually reading the story rather than understanding everything. So I took the book, put my phone and computer away, sat down and just started reading and enjoying the story. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t easy. But I started understanding more and more.

Now, obviously after a few months of studying, my Japanese certainly improved and I’m not saying it didn’t help, but the mindset I was in definitely had an impact. Rather than pressuring myself to understand everything, I just went along with the story and enjoyed the book. And I came to understand the story a whole lot better. I obviously didn’t get all the details and all, it is a quite complicated book after all, but I can definitely grasp the general idea of the story and everything I need to enjoy it, which helps me understand more and more. It’s kind of like a virtuous circle I guess.

Of course I still look up words from time to time especially when it’s a very frequent word, but I put priority on enjoying the book.

At the time of writing, I’m not actually done reading the book yet. I’ve read almost half of it, it’s quite different from the movie, more than I expected.

Anyway, enjoying the thing rather than pressuring oneself to understand is best to actually understand. Of course, the same thing happens when watching a video or movie or even when talking to someone. This goes for any type of learning I would say, whether you’re learning a new language,  a music instrument, a sport, anything, you learn better and faster when you have fun.

Everything’s better when you enjoy, so enjoy! And don’t pressure yourself!  

What do you think about this whole “enjoying the language” mindset and strategy?

What are some of your experiences around this?

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