With a new year comes new year’s resolutions, and hopefully one of them is to improve your Japanese. Many people start the year with a list of resolutions and aren’t able to follow through with them, but these tips should give you a few ideas on how to develop a practical study plan!
1. Set measurable goals
The most important thing is to have a goal that you want to complete by the end of the year.
Studying for the sake of it may seem appealing, but you run the risk of losing focus and giving up. You should have a one-year goal and then divide it up into some shorter-term ones as well. Try not to make it too vague like “watching anime without subtitles,” as there’s no real way to measure progress and it will be difficult to develop a plan.
Some potential goals:
- “Take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) in December.”
- “Finish my chosen textbook by trying to clear two chapters each month.”
- “Get a job in a Japanese environment and read a newspaper article in Japanese every day.”
Remember, we’re motivated by success and not failure, so make a goal that’s realistic! If you’re a beginner, don’t expect to be able to pass JLPT N3 by the end of the year. You’re better off making easy goals that you know that you can hit, and then expand from there.
Pro tip: Start planning right now! For example, check out this list of JLPT test centers and dates. Also, if you’re looking to buy textbooks that are produced in Japan, you might want to look into purchasing them from Amazon Japan, they can be much cheaper and will ship overseas.
2. Make a habit of it
People always complain about a lack of time, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day so don’t just say you’re too busy. Use the time that you have and try to commit a certain amount of time each day, or at least each week, to studying Japanese. Even if it’s just studying for 10 minutes at lunch and another 20 when you come home. Learn something new in the evening and review it the next day at lunch, just get into a habit where you always have time to study!
Also, you don’t need to keep a constant pace where you clear a certain amount of content every day. Sure, learning 10 new kanji a day seems easy enough at first and maybe you’ll be motivated when you start, especially because the starting kanji are relatively easy to understand. However, after a few weeks you may find yourself just forcing yourself to learn kanji for the sake of it without really memorizing them or knowing their different uses and combinations.
Pro tip: Know when to slow down. It’s far more useful to be proficient with two kanji than barely literate with 20. Same thing with self-study with a book, don’t force yourself to finish a chapter for the sake of it if you’re struggling to do the exercises.
3. The best way? Study in Japan!
Coming to Japan and enrolling in a language school is by far the most efficient way to raise your abilities. Studying and living in a 100 percent Japanese environment with a structured class system will guarantee that you’ll be able to make constant progress.
Just a few months of intensive study can be equal to over a year of self-study…
Just a few months of intensive study can be equal to over a year of self-study, so if you have the time to spare it can be a really rewarding and fun experience.
If you are interested in studying in Japan, we at GaijinPot are here to help you out and answer all your questions. If you apply through our placement program, we’ll find the right school for your personal goals and can also take care of things like preparing you to come to Japan and finding a place to live. All you have to do is show up and be prepared to study!
4. Use some handy resources
Here are a few more quick and recommended resources to help you along with your 2018 study goals:
- Checkout GaijinPot’s article on a few great apps for studying Japanese.
- If you’re a Redditor, check the Learn Japanese Reddit community.
- Don’t forget about GaijinPot Study’s Introduction to Japanese and our ongoing Study Japanese series with Matthew Coslett and others.
- For a list of grammar points with examples, check out Tae Kim’s Japanese guide
Get ‘er done!
There are many ways to study and everyone learns differently, so just find a way that works for you and have a goal in sight. If you are interested in coming to Japan to study, check out GaijinPot Study. We’ll make it easy for you to come here and really kick-start your Japanese!