Learning Japanese – On Motivation


Hello everyone, it’s me missingno15 and I hope this will turn out to be a long and beneficial series for those of you who just happen to have the same passion for idols but need to know “moonspeak”! As you may or may not know, I am was aiming to take the JLPT N1 this year so you can say my Japanese language abilities are decent. I am willing to share what I know, how I got there, the tools that I frequently use and what my methodologies are.

On that note, since this will be the first post, I want to talk about the most important factor that you must maintain throughout your Japanese language learning process. That is your motivation. Now, luckily for you, I enjoy helping out idol fans because you guys have the same passion as me. It’s harder for me to lets say, give an example of a specific word or grammar point that I found from a show that I watched to an anime fan or someone who has interest in neither and still feel just as enthusiastic as I am about learning something new with that material. But even for idols fans, it’s hard to keep on studying Japanese because of whatever personal obligations you may have in your life.

I guess I’ll start by sharing with you how I first got motivated to learn Japanese. Everyone loves a (good) story.


Learning Japanese for me came about around the same time I discovered AKB48; when I was in my junior year of high school. I didn’t know too much about them at the time, so I searched the internet for information which lead me to Stage48. One thing that intrigued me the most was the intimacy between the members and their fans through the theater 2-shots that they offered at the time. Not only did it intrigue me, but I felt that it was an extremely innovative and revolutionary idea since it’s usually the case that one does not simply just meet their favorite celebrity. As I read more about what all this 2-shot nonsense was, I came across some experiences from some English speaking fans in Japan and one thing that stood out to me the most was something along the lines of, “Better come prepared knowing some Japanese, or it’s going to be a really awkward staring contest”. At that point I already wanted to go so badly despite just discovering who they were, so that was when I first started to fancy the thought of taking up learning Japanese by myself. However, it was not until I watched the following video that my thoughts about learning Japanese changed from “It’d be pretty cool” to “I have to do this.”

The first thing that came to my mind after seeing this video was, “My god, their English is terrible”. At the time, I naively thought they would sooner or later learn English since they had just come to New York City a few months earlier. However at the same time, I realized that they probably have absolutely no time to learn English so I would make it so that I would learn Japanese for them instead. Makes sense. Also because of this, Kobayashi Kana always has a special place in my heart for being the catalyst that brought me to learn Japanese.

This article was originally written in an extremely condescending tone to try and scare anyone that wanted to learn Japanese. My reason for doing that is because the one question you must ask yourself is, “Is learning Japanese right for me?”. Learning Japanese by oneself is a journey of forty-eight hundred thousand steps and it’s easy to give up at any point along the way. Just like with any other serious endeavor, you must put in the time which may mean sacrificing some things you like to do or making some lifestyle changes to accommodate time for learning Japanese. I don’t think this will be a problem for Idol fans though, since I’m betting you guys watch a ton of Japanese TV shows, concerts and dramas already which is always a good source of motivation. You didn’t know it at the time but you’ve actually been studying Japanese the entire time; now take the next step to make it a personal obligation to learn it formally.

Which leads us to another point – a question you should be asking yourself is, “Is learning Japanese important to me?”. You can easily function very well without learning Japanese as English is the lingua franca so you don’t need to worry about communication unless you’re going to be living in Japan; but even if you live in Japan, you can still manage by only knowing English. How badly do you want to know Japanese and how will you prioritize that amongst the other things that you have to do? Each person has their own life so it’s up for you to decide that. As for me, I still have time to study Japanese but it’s not like I make time anymore, its more of a habit at this point. I will probably touch on what I mean by that in a later article.

This article is also intended to weed out anyone who is wishy-washy or just giving it a little bit of thought. I need you to say to yourself by the end of the article: “Yes, I will learn Japanese (by myself)”, or “No, I will not learn Japanese.” The more time you spend thinking about it, the more time is spent probably not doing anything about it which is not a good use of time. I need you to stay focused and keep on at this because not many…..well many people have learned Japanese, but it was probably because they were consistent with studying. If I do end up convincing you to not learn Japanese, then I respect your decision and I hope you continue to pursue other things for betterment of your well-being. Like learning Ruby for example.

With that said, this series of articles won’t teach you specific words or grammar points since that is your job to learn them yourselves. Instead, I’ll aim to give you meat and potatoes advice that you can use or discuss things that I found that helped me plan out the methodologies that I came up with. I’m also not good at writing (I think he did a pretty good job -Editor Garry) so while you’re challenging yourself to learn Japanese, I will also be trying to get myself to write more stuff for you guys.

So Yeah. Learn Japanese. Like Now.


About Kenneth Uy

流暢への道の途中。 Follow me on Twitter @missingno15

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