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cocacolatitties asked:

Okay so for like 10 months now I've been trying to learn hiragana and nothing seems to be working because somehow, because I can only write out the first column, and the k column, but if a see a chart for the basic set of hiragana I can pronounce, and recognize pretty well, but I can't seem to get past the basic set, I can barely remember vocabulary, I can't remember stroke order, I can't remember any katakana and kanji, I can't even start a conversation let alone a sentence. (Continued).


Cont. I know have terrible memory, & that learning a new language probably wasn’t a good idea. But nothing seems to work, and I’m thinking of giving up, because I met people like kimonotime on tumblr, who can read, write, and can have conversations with people and it only took her a year. While I can’t even get the basic set of hiragana down in 10 months. I new it was going to be hard, but now it seems like I have to add learning a new language to the list of things I can’t do. Do you have tips?

This is such a common worry for many learners of a language, I find. “I don’t know enough despite spending [X amount of time] learning [this language]”. And that’s regardless of what level they are at…

As such, I’ve kind of covered this a few times:

So now I’m going respond to this in a more personal way than I perhaps previously have…

(I can already tell this is going to be a very long response, sorry!).

I actually have a few friends who I cannot believe have such bad memories (without having conditions that affect the memory), yet are learning Japanese and have steadily picked it up at their various paces, who now can have conversations when forced into those situations - when they would have originally said they could not do so.

So bad memory or not, you can still do it. Don’t add it to that Can’t Do list!! I’ve been learning for six years, and the correct spelling for many kanji and even how to write kana at times can still leave my head fairly regularly.

You say you’ve been learning for 10 months, but that doesn’t tell me anything. What is important is, what have you been doing during those ten months?

Are you… trying to read some things in Japanese everyday? Speaking to friends and/or penpals in Japanese (in person/on Skype/etc) every week? Keeping a blog/diary in Japanese everyday/each week? Trying to speak Japanese when alone? Singing Japanese songs (even kid’s songs)? Playing games on your phone/a Nintendo DS to help with your writing everyday?

Because it’s all about repetition and practice. The more you repeat, the more it’ll stick. When you’re first starting out in particular, I think drilling information like that is so important. Also try to read out loud as much as you can when you encounter any Japanese. E.g., ドーナツが好きです。 (“Doonatsu ga -ki desu”). Even if you don’t understand it, keep that practice up. Then, if you’re online, get Rikai-kun or some other browser hover dictionary so that you can hover over words like “好き” and read the hiragana of it there(= すき = suki).

You can be learning for ten years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to know an extremely high, academic level of the language. It can be hard to juggle other responsibilities with learning another language.

I’ve been learning for six years, but - during that time, I’ve been studying various other subjects, and also worked and regularly looked after a baby [my brother] for over a year, as well as made time for socialising. So it feels silly to say I’ve been learning for that amount of time because - overall - the amount of time I put towards it just wasn’t enough to really get too far. Not for me at least. Language doesn’t sit in my brain as easily as learning some other things does, but I know this and so six years with life in-between is just not enough.

But, unlike some, I don’t really think that’s something that should deter us, I think it’s something that we should take into consideration before we start beating ourselves up over our abilities. Give yourself a break, people!!

Learning should be an amazing thing, and it should be fun. Little by little, slowly or not, you are enriching your mind. If something is killing your fun, simply shake it off. =)

Although, believe me, I am impatient when it comes to wanting to become good at something. So I understand that it’s hard to accept, and think the beginning of learning something is the worst part. I hate it. =P

I’d also like to add, unlike most people I see on the Internet who study Japanese, I am a mess. Ha ha! Whilst they seem to give the impression that they have very efficient ways of studying, and are highly motivated and happy overall… that is not me. Some see my blog and think otherwise, but I always try to stress the truth of the matter. I would say I often hit points of despair where the only way is up. Ha ha!

I’m currently close to finishing a year-long study abroad in Japan, and can safely say that my confidence has gradually been decreasing during this time.

It made me question whether I wanted to continue as well, and I did have a moment where I thought, “No. I’m tired of feeling bad at something. It’s too draining”. However, it was only really because I was looking at it in terms of my university (take note: I am not doing well academically at all! Always on the edge of failure, or actually failing).

So I decided to continue, whether my language abilities are ever ‘enough’, a poor level or not… I’m not gonna waste energy getting down about it anymore, because I’m still happy learning it and I know I’ll never stop anyways. So I’m going to continue doing my best, and just try to enjoy myself regardless of any academic struggles.

I don’t think it will ever feel like I know enough, but I feel lacking in even my native language, so I’m not too bothered as I can still communicate more than effectively in it, so who cares that I can’t use a few fancy words. I think it’ll be the same for me with Japanese too.

But I once read that confidence is a by-product of success, and I believe this is so true. However, what happens when you do not view yourself as ever being successful? Because people are not always able to see their triumphs, as they don’t necessarily view it in a personal way.

Same goes for so many things.

E.g., for many people, brushing their teeth is a very simple task. However, for others - despite their physical capabilities, it can be a real challenge. So if they do it and feel a sense of achievement from it, and even have a little celebration over it, good for them!

I don’t think anyone should put another down over things that don’t come as ‘naturally’ for them as it may do for others. We all have our struggles, to varying degrees over all sorts of things. We cannot always comprehend each other’s struggles, but we have to at least try and respect them because they are as real as our own.

It’s all relative. Picking on someone or even yourself for not being able to do something someone else can do is not helpful, and it’s often just mean. You should never make others feel less than you for not reaching your irrelevant expectations. Similarly, it can be problematic for you to adopt their incompatible expectations.

Not saying I don’t believe in aiming high. I just believe that you should become aware of when you’re aiming too high for yourself and feel absolutely no shame for lowering the bar in a way that’s suited to you, regardless of how it is in relation to others.

So you might need an extra 10 months to get somewhere someone else could get in 2, but so what? Ease the pressure, as I presume you’re not on a strict time limit anyways. Remember that you are not alone in it either, many are in the same position.

I’m sure there are some people who would say Give up, and will disagree with what I’m saying. But I don’t know of any reason to stop if you’re still interested in it? It might get frustrating sometimes, especially because the more you know, the more you will realise you don’t know. However, with more and more practice, you will be highly likely to keep improving regardless of whether you notice that or not.

And there will be highs as well as lows!

Sorry to both focus on the lows and talk about myself so much, and I hope this is not too depressing or irrelevant to your situation. But I wanted to talk about myself as someone who has not achieved quickly or as well as some others within the time frame that I have been learning. You just gotta keep going, and remember to enjoy it.

My science tutor once told me, "Never let how bad you think you are at something stop you from pursuing your interests. There is nothing wrong with keeping it up in your spare time at the very least".

It has stuck with me for ages. I dropped so many aspirations, so many interests, etc, just because I thought I could never be good or successful in them and/or because I sucked at them in school (French, the only language I learnt in school, was my worst subject! x).

Slowly but surely, I’m following what my tutor told me, and started to embrace things that I always wanted to pursue yet never felt good enough for. I apply this way of thinking to many things in my life now. And I can get nervous, scared, embarrassed and feel like I’ve made a few mistakes along the way… but ultimately, I think I’m becoming more at peace and thus happier with myself as a result. So my advice is to just keep going trying, and it’ll eventually work out.

But the most frustrated you become about it, the harder it will become (at least, in my experience). So breathe! And, to be honest, if you’re in that mindset, you could become a genius in the language and probably still never appreciate yourself for it because someone will always be ‘better’ than you. So leave the negativity at the door, x.

Hope that made sense, and hope that helped if you were able to struggle through this essay of a reply! xx.

Pieces of Advice.

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