I’ve been learning Japanese soooo much but I don’t seem to make any progress at all !!! I can’t read any books, I can’t play any games, I can’t understand any sentence I read or hear! I think I need to give up…
If it’s you, keep reading!
Many many people will think about this up to some point! So be rest assured that it is very very natural! But don’t give up yet!!! “Why?” you asked. It’s because maybe you’ve been measuring your Japanese learning progress in a wrong way!!
When you use a wrong measurement to check out your progress, it will give you a big let down.
Let’s say that you’ve been doing work out about an hour every day, but you wonder why you don’t lose weight. It turns out the Yoga you’ve been doing every day is not a type of workout that can help you lose weight fast! So your weight is not a good measurement to see the result of your workout! Then again, if you’ve been wanting to lose weight in a short time, Yoga is not the right workout for you.
That’s why it’s important to know your goals and correct method to achieve it. And also you need to know the purpose of learning you’ve been doing so know how to track your progress.
What you need to know about Japanese Learning
First! Mastering Japanese alphabet hiragana and katakana won’t miraculously make you able to read any Japanese you encounter. No no no… Because most of Japanese sentence you will encounter will be constructed with Kanji. But mastering Hiragana and Katakana is certainly the correct path to go for in the beginning. To skip them thinking that they have only a little impact on your Japanese skills is a very bad way to start learning Japanese!
To know vocabularies is a very different matter with understanding Japanese sentences! You may know all the meaning of the vocabularies in the sentence, but understanding Japanese needs you to understand the particle, conjugation form and other grammar pattern that the sentence use. Therefore it’s very normal to not able to understand a sentence even though you know all about the words. So don’t get discouraged! (๑•̀ㅂ•́)و✧
To be able to read Japanese is different than to understand Japanese conversation and vice versa! So don’t get confused if you can do one but not the other. In fact, Japanese writing and conversation are quite different. In conversation, most things tend to be vague. And even if you’re able to understand a casual conversation, you might still have a hard time trying to understand a formal Japanese conversation since the vocabularies and grammar pattern they use are very very different! So if you feel the same way, really!! These are normals!
You may have learned Japanese for a few years and finish your JLPT N3 test well but find out that you still can’t do pretty much everything… Well… although it is hard to get through, N3 material are quite basic. It can be quite discouraging, but think of the better stuff awaits you. Finishing N3 level is the start of a new exciting way of learning. You can read fewer books and get more learning by experiencing. Try playing games and reading simple manga! You will need to get dictionary with you though~
It’s okay not to be able to read some of the kanji! To take it to the extreme point, as long as you have a good conversational skill, you can even survive without able to read/write! Even some of Japanese people themselves cannot read some kanji. And as a note, even Japanese teacher always get a denshi jisho (electronic dictionary) to look for specific words/kanji with them. So it’s very normal!
To read and write is very different! Unlike English alphabet, Kanji consist of thousand of complex shape which makes it very hard to be able to write every single one of them. The purpose of kanji is to improve readability. So you can understand something in a glance. Think of it as an icon/logo.
When you saw this image above, you understand what it meant without the need of a full sentence. That’s basically how kanji works. These days, you can type easily with computers/phone. If you want to be able to write, it’s not wrong. But maybe you could postpone it a bit since there are a lot of other things that is more effective to learn rather than to learn how to write kanji. Remember that the main purpose of a language is to understand and use them. You won’t get a lot of chances to use your writing skills and we tend to forget what we don’t use so to be blunt, it’s quite a waste of time _:(´□`」 ∠):_
Tracking your Japanese progress
Mastering Hiragana and Katakana
• Able to read any hiragana/katakana (including the additional sound such ash ば ぱ) you encounter. If you didn’t understand what they meant, it’s perfectly okay.
• Able to type any hiragana/katakana you want to type
• Able to understand the meaning of a Kanji and able to read compound words you’ve learned about previously
• Able to type Kanji you want to type
• Keep learning on new kanji
• Able convey what you want to say and be understood
• Able to understand what other people are saying
• Use correct method to learn conversational skill
• Able to say something in a natural way of talking
• Able to pronounce words naturally like a native
• Able to use appropriate way of talking in a situation
• Able to pass the test with good result
• Able to implement what you get from JLPT material in everyday’s life (such as able to understand the grammar pattern you’ve been learning, etc)
• Able to understand grammar pattern you have learned previously
• Able to use them in everyday scenario
There are still more to consider, but these are the basics. The key here is you need to analyze your progress based on the things you’ve been learning about. Don’t punish yourself or get discouraged for not knowing something that you haven’t learned about at all °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°
We hope it helps! Happy learning ｡ﾟ✶ฺ.ヽ(*´∀`*)ﾉ.✶ฺﾟ｡