Japanese is often billed as one of the hardest languages to learn, at least for us "Westerners." Today I want to start a real dialogue about a real question that many of you will be able to relate to: What's the one thing that frustrates you most about learning Japanese?
Why do so many of us struggle so hard to learn Japanese? It's not like a situation where there's no interest or no reason to learn Japanese.
We're enamoured by so many aspects of Japanese culture. We're anime geeks, video game fanatics, Japanese food lovers, Tokyo fashionistas, and everything in between. Some of you may even be like me, where you actually had an interest in Japanese culture before that annoying term "weaboo" ever existed. Does anybody else out there ever get called "weab"? Sigh...
Today it doesn't matter. If you're an absolute beginner, studying Japanese for the first time, I want you to jump in and share your thoughts. Whether you've been trying and failing at this for years, jump in and share your thoughts. Even if you're one of the ones has a true grasp of all aspects of the language and failing at the language for years, I want to hear what you have to say.
I'm writing this post on the heels of a short Facebook post where I posed the very same question to some of you over on the the Japan Guy Facebook page. I was surprised at how many people interacted (yes, even for a sponsored post): over 100 comments, 30 shares and 600 likes:
Likes and shares aside, is this post really all that surprising? No, not really. It feels like Japanese is one of those languages that can genuinely confuse people. I'm a walking talking example of that. I have days where I feel like I understand so much Japanese. I see kanji that I can read and I don't stumble or stutter when I speak.
But I have bad days too, those days when I feel like I know so little There are days where the tiny section of my brain that's Japanese shuts down because it's overwhelmed by symbols it doesn't recognize. Or how about those days when no sentence comes out exactly how I want it to?
Yes, it's embarrassing to feel like this even after ten years of being here. But I'm being honest. That's what happens to me.
I genuinely just want to get to a point where I have far more of those good days than bad ones.
You might be wondering "What kind of frustrations did people mention?" Here are some of the ones that caught my eye:
Do you have similar frustrations about learning Japanese? Different ones? It's time to find out!
For this particular post, I don't want make it too long. We're going to jump right into the discussion. I may add content to this post later, but I want to hear more from all of you on this one than overwhelming you with my thoughts. I will be jumping into the comments section myself to talk about my own frustrations.
I'm INSANELY curious about understanding what people's learn Japanese issues are. So we're going to try something a bit different this time. You can share your thoughts one of three ways this time:
I'm listing this one first, because it's my first time ever trying something like this on thejapanguy.com.
I want to talk with 20-30 people from my audience DIRECTLY!
No need to be nervous whatsoever. I promise 🙂 No pressure. No putting you on the spot. Just a short conversation.
I would like to have a 6-10 minute calls with some of you who really want to. WHY? I want to do more effective research. What better way to get a better grasp on your frustrations than by talking to you directly. And this helps me understand just how serious some of you (if any) are truly interested in improving your Japanese.
If you don't have Skype, we can do Facebook. If you don't have Facebook, we can use Google hangouts or Google's mail function.
If you don't feel like taking 6-10 minutes for a conversation with me, not a problem. If you still want your "voice heard." There is a "Send Voicemail" button on the right side of this page (if you glance to your right, you should see it now). Click that button, and you can tell me in your own words what your biggest frustration is with learning Japanese. I will listen to every single email that comes through.
As always, you can leave your comments in the same classic format that you always do, in the comments section below! That's always available to you 🙂
I will read every single one of your comments and concerns.
Whether you choose to do one, two, or all three of these methods (for you overachievers out there), Be sure to share the specifics. What really gets under your skin about learning Japanese? Why does that one thing frustrate you so badly.