2008年12月28日日曜日

Read and watch anyway

Let's say that you have a very limited vocabulary, and because of this you can't read a book, a manga, or website in Japanese. There's no point, how can you understand it if you don't know all the words? So after looking up a bunch of words for an hour you get a little discouraged, tired, bored, or frustrated and decide to stop for now. You think "I should do something in Japanese, but I don't feel like doing it right now".

This is a big problem that has plagued language learners. The result is they avoid reading and doing things in the language and instead spend all their time trying to learn how to do things in the language. They feel content to think the progress they make in audio courses, textbooks, or whatever the new fad is translates to actual language ability. I think it's amusing that people are trying to learn a language by doing everything but the language itself.

Why is this? In my opinion the reason is ego and perfectionism. Adults think they need to know what every word means and have a perfect understanding. They think that because they're adults, they need to learn to use the language like they're used to in their native language. That the ability to suffer through the drudgery of "learning" the language what must be done.

But this thinking is the opposite of the truth. In reality, people who learn languages need to be completely humble and open minded when it comes to the language. They need to understand that in some sense, they are babies in the second language. Babies who need to grow up, go to kindergarten, experience acne, their first kiss (or not), piercings, tattoos, etc.

Language learners need to let go of the need to understand everything at first and need to spend massive amounts of time in the language "growing up". Pick up a drama series, movie, or book series and get lost in it. Don't think about what you don't understand, what grammar you need to know the sentences, or what vocab the movie has, think about the story. Be thinking "Holy crap, is he going to ask her out or wimp out?" not "Ok, so 付き合って is two verbs with one being the い form and the other being the って form..., ok what was the next word?".

If you are interested in the content and maintain an open mind, you will learn no matter what. Even if it doesn't involve a study, dictionaries, grammar guides, etc. When the interest comes first, the the study will come easier (later) without you having to force it.

Don't sit around trying to learn how to understand Japanese, learn Japanese by doing it.

3 件のコメント:

  1. I had an experiece of this the other day i was watching some of gokusen live action there were no subtitles so i could barely understand anything but without even thinking, I started to get realy interested not sure how as i hardly new what was going on but i watched 2 hours of barely any understanding but still enjoyed it i had stopped worrying about what i could and could'nt understand which i'm sure will come in time.

    Keep up the great posts good to see others on the path to fluency good motivation :)

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  2. I got into Japanese through anime. Long before I started studying the language, I watched many hours of anime with subtitles. People knock subtitles, but they're great for exactly the thing you're writing about here. Of course, eventually you gotta ditch 'em like training wheels...

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  3. That's how I learned English...
    I am from Belgium and have been watching nothing but the simpsons from when I was 3 or something, since I only have an older brother and sister, and they would not allow dutch-child programs... So simpsons NON STOP until my 7 or something, and then trying to "be my brother" 'cause he was oh so Coo!L ^^ And just as he was playing Final Fantasy 7, 8, 9... And I think back now. WTF? Those games are only English Text Boxes!!! I didn't understand anything! But never have I touched a dictionary and now I rule at English... ^^ (I swear I was 7 when I played FF7)

    -Mesqueeb

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