I got the idea of writing this from this post on the Learn Japanese with Tae Kim facebook group. I started learning this language when I was back in Brazil on May 2014. Almost two years now and I am still a beginner (even though I didn't really take this seriously back home).
I first started by subscribing to the www.japanesepod101.com website. The content is ok, the method isn't that great, but it was more than enough to get me started.
Now I am Living in Japan and, even though I learn a lot from my daily life, I felt like I needed a system to make my learning progress more effective. I wanna be fluent in less than 1 year from now so I can enjoy the most of the experiences I am having here and I figured out that every time I decided to work like "2 ours of Japanese study every day" I got bored really quickly or just gave up altogether. Because you know, "I only have 10 minutes before going to bed... so it is not the 2 hours I set myself to do".
So, the system I came up with is to get myself into situations where I have to use Japanese. Whenever I receive a letter I try to read it (but usually I have a friend confirm the contents because I don't wanna get in trouble with the bank lol), I decided to avoid spending time with English speakers by not making new English speaker friends (I am not going to avoid my current friends, so I just try to meet Japanese people with no interest in English instead). I found out this system is making a huge difference on how fast I learn and how confident I am with using the little I know. So here it goes:
- Like most people here, I commute to work by train. When going to work I go trough Anki flash cards. The collection of cards changes from now and then, but at the moment I am focusing on phrases taken from the Human Japanese app - I really want to buy the app now, btw - and kanji from the weirdly good Kanji Damage site. I usually study from 100 to 200 cards every day and always in my way to work. If I leave it for when I am coming back, tired, I know I will not study.
- I usually go to lunch by myself and try to get into situations where I need to get by with the little I know
- I go out with my Japanese friends and get into some activities that are 100% in Japanese. I think I really understand about 10% of that is said, but I usually can get the gist of what is going on. And whenever I realize some word I don't know is being used over and over again I go to jisho.org using my phone to look it up. I am glad my Japanese friends are so patient and understanding with me.
- I listen to www.japanesepod101.com about 3 times a week. I usually do this before going to bed, while cooking or doing other boring task that keep my hands busy. And as soon as I can understand the conversation, even if I don't really know every single word to the heart, I move on to the next lesson because I know they will keep reusing most of those words anyway.
After I adopted this system I started saying things I didn't really know the meaning (meaning I never studied that before), but I say them in the right way, the right context, and meaning exactly what I wanted to express. THIS is what it means to speak a language. If you are translating what you wanna say from your language to your target language back and forth then you are doing it wrong.
And if you think that it doesn't work, the fact I can write this blog is enough proof of that I in fact it does work. I did basically the same with the English language after I got the verb to be covered and now I am fluent enough to work with native people in an environment where the understanding of English language is crucial.
This was a long post, but I really hope it helps you with some ideas and get you motivated in your quest of learning whatever language you feel like learning now.
See you in the next post.. or not - we both know it will be like 2 years until my next post, and by them we don't even know if Google will still be keeping blogger up and running.