Sunday, June 13, 2010

Top 10 Motivational Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes

To learn Japanese make sure your heart is in the right place first

Koichi wrote a great piece on finding your Flow in learning the other day. Flow is all about putting yourself in the place where the challenge meets and extends your abilities. Too much challenge and you can lose the motivation to continue. Not enough challenge and you easily risk losing interest. In this third post in the three part series "Top 10 Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes" we look more closely at motivation. You can catch the first and second posts here and here.

Harajuku graffiti
Harajuku graffiti

Choosing to learn a language is a challenge, but you wouldn't expect to master Japanese in a few days any more than you would expect to become a professional golfer overnight. Developing the stick-to-it-ive-ness required to learn Japanese involves being able to choose the right challenges and commit to making progress in small ways every day. Once you build up the momentum then everything else will flow.

Top 10 Motivational Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes

  1. Choosing the wrong goals: Why do you want to learn Japanese? To impress the girl in your Japanese class? To understand anime and gain credibility in geek forums on the internet? These goals won't provide you with any kind of enduring motivation in the long run. Winners motivation - performance - doing the next thing in front of you to the best of your ability.

  2. Being motivated by extrinsic factors: Closely related to the first mistake, this operates in the short term. If you are focused on competition and good grades, rather than self mastery then you risk discouraged when things don't go your way and the rewards are removed. Again focus on mastering the language and being in control of your own performance.

  3. Not balancing input with output: Too often we fall into patterns of over consumption, not only with food but also with information. When we never have the chance to become completely absorbed in something then we lose. Learning is about shifting our focus to creative output. Focus on production.

  4. Having too much garbage input: Not all information has the same quality. A lot of what determines the quality of information is how easily it is transformed by your understanding into knowledge. For this to happen you need to be active in your consumption of it.

  5. Not reflecting on what is being learned: It is said that Archimedes discoved the relationship between volume and density when he was filling his bath, and was so excited he ran through the streets naked. Newton aslo discovered gravity half asleep under an apple tree. To let your mind wander, you need to find a quite time and place with no distraction. The glass must be empty before it can be filled.

  6. Not putting it into practice: You may have heard of the 7 P's, in sport these are "Perfect Prior Practice Prevents Piss-Poor Performance". I wish I could attribute this quote to somebody because it is pure genius. Practice isn't just thinking about it, it's doing it, on a daily basis. Just going through the motions each day is not enough. You must be comitted to making your practice perfect so, that when the opportunity presents itself to perform, you are fully prepared.

  7. Not making time for learning: Make time now. The one thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful people is how they devote time to what is important. You decide wether language is important to you or not. Make sacrifices if you have to, but make the time. Can you harness the power of saying no today?

  8. Procrastinating: Do it now. There is not time like the present. You have heard these platitudes before, probably said you were going to do something about it too. What are you going to do about it now?

  9. Listening to the negative self-talk: Your mind is like a garden. You have flowers and tress that will bear succulent fruit. But only if you keep the pests and weeds out. Be the gardener of your your own mental orchard.

  10. Believing you will find a silver bullet: If what you are using hasn't worked thus far, may be you haven't given it enough time. Perhaps you are just inches from gold. There are no silver bullets, only hard work will pay off in the end.

It was a little tougher to follow on from the previous post, ironically because some of you found it inspirational. I'm glad you did. Now can you go out there and show someone else how it's done? Can you lead by example?

I'm off to Japan for four weeks rest and relaxation. I'll be able to give my family the attention they deserve 24/7. Beyond that posts to this blog may be a little more erratic, as I focus on immersion and one other project the subscribers to the newsletter would know about.

Follow me on Twitter for despatches from Summer in Japan. じゃあまたね!

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