Saturday, April 10, 2010

How To Avoid Burnout Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese: Taking on Too Much Too Soon?

We've all been there before, some crazy idea pops into your head about living and working in Tokyo for a year or following the cherry blossom front from Okinawa to Hokkaido. A love affair with all things Japanese fills your head with ideas of romance under sakura in the the Land of the Rising Sun (and other cliche). The next thing you know you've clicked through some crazy adsense promising immediate language gains and before you know it spent a fortune on language CD's, books and lessons.


Because you're highly motivated you throw yourself into your new found passion only to find that results aren't coming as quickly as you'd hoped. Now you've wasted all your hard earned cash on books that are gathering dust and your dreams of fluency in Japanese are fading fast. Burnout.

Buying more textbooks isn't going to help you out of this pickle, nor are more lessons, you probably still have a book full of tickets left anyway. It feels bad, doesn't it? But wait, there is a way out, so don't give up just yet.

Less Really is More when it comes to Learning Japanese

Here are some sure fire ways to build your momentum for learning Japanese.
  1. Don't bite off more than you can chew: Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to learn is the best way to ruin your motivation. Make small adjustments to your daily routine and you are more likley to maintain the momentum.
  2. Start slowly, work patiently: There are so many ways to say this, you're probably thinking of some right now. Slow down, take it easy. Cramming stuff won't help anything stick.
  3. Use what you know well often: Use things you know well in as many way as you can. Wear your favorite phrases out before you move onto the next thing. Ask your friends for feedback, they'll tell you when you're being annoying.
  4. What you don't know, don't sweat: You haven't learnt that yet! Keep it simple and you'll have more confidence where it counts, whith the things you use every day.
  5. Learn to recognise small daily improvements: Develop your awareness of smaller improvements and you'll be less likely to miss them as you move on. Everyone hits a plateau at some stage, knowing where you can make small improvements is crucial to blasting through these sticking points.

So you don't fall in to this trap again

We live in a world of instant gratification. Japanese is a language that needs a committed effort to learn over the long term.

Now that you know how to escape this trap, set some short, medium and long term goals so you won't fall into it again. Assess your progress regularly, but most of all have fun and don't be too hard on yourself.
Burnout is something that hits all of us at some time. Learn to recognise it before it takes hold and you'll reach your goals of being a fluent Japanese speaker.

I'm grateful to have a bunch of friends on Facebook who know what I'm going through. Why don't you join us and get some friendly support to acheive your long term goals?

How do you avoid burnout? Do you have any strategies for maintaining your motivation long term? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments.
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