New Year’s Challenge: Progress Report #008

Hey guys! Well, I’m back again to update on my Japanese language learning progress – and it’s been going okay this week. I had a couple of big distractions, in the form of my relatives coming to visit for a few days (which, obviously, was great) and I’ve spent some time over the last week trying to organise things for university in September (good news: I now have housing and a preliminary reading list!), but all in all I’m happy with where I am. That’s really what I want to talk about this week.

New Year's Challenge Progress Report #008 | 学习Sprachen

Okay, so one of the things that I really, really like to do is challenges. It doesn’t matter what it’s for: I like language challenges, I like writing challenges – I’m even getting into sporting-related challenges a little bit (though not much!). There are a couple of reasons for this though the main one is the solidarity that comes with doing a challenge. If you’re running a race, then it’s nice to have all those people beside you; the same goes for language learning and writing, which often can be rather solitary pursuits, especially if you don’t have any close friends or relatives who are as interested in those hobbies as you are.

Another reason is, I’ll admit it, the competition. This really applies more to the language challenges, and it is of course friendly, but having a ranking can be a fun way to push yourself further; if I know I’ll pass the person above me if I just read for ten more minutes, then I’ll probably do it. There’s no real harm in it: I definitely don’t think less of anyone who isn’t at the same point as I am and I get a little extra studying done. Yay, great.

There is, however, a downside, and it’s one I’ve noticed in myself a lot. It’s also a result of me being me, but sometimes that striving to do better, or to study more, or whatever, simply stresses me out.

Take this challenge, for instance. I set it for myself. My main goal wasn’t even to study for a certain amount of time, it was to find free resources and use them. Of course, I need to study to prove my hypothesis (that you can learn a language without paying for materials), but I’m constantly worrying about how much Japanese I’m studying and how much progress I’m (not) making – and it leads to that vicious circle where I don’t end up studying for a few days because I haven’t studied for a few days and it seems almost pointless to start.

So what can I do about it?

For one thing: keep going. Consistency is key but any studying is better than none at all – it’s not going to make me worse.

Second: don’t worry about the progress I am or I’m not making. I’m not really comparing myself to others with my Japanese (because I don’t know that much), but the same rule applies if you are doing that (and I totally get that too; sometimes I am super jealous of people who have learnt other languages really well and really quickly, especially if I’m studying one of them too, and that’s fine, just, you know, remember to be motivated by that) – this is your journey. You’ll learn at whatever pace you learn at – and so will I. I have more than one language as a priority (German is #1 right now) and I have other things to do too, so I know I can’t put as much time into Japanese as I could in an ideal world. But honestly, even in an ideal world (i.e., no work, no obligations other than language learning), I’d still probably find a way to be distracted. Still, the progress will come, it’ll just be slower if I put in less time.

I think that’s an important point to bear in mind with whatever task you’ve set for yourself. No one is perfect at what they’re doing; bestselling authors write crap sometimes, Olympic athletes have bad days and mess up, and language learners are exactly the same. The important thing is: if you want it, keep going.

I need to write that and stick it somewhere I can see it, I think! 😉

That being said, I am going to set myself some goals for this week (yep, we’re already halfway through it, I know…). I did manage to get some of the MLC workbook done last week, so yay! I’m feeling good about the hiragana, I just need to get on the katakana now.

My goals for this week (until 1st May!):

  • Complete two lessons of Easy Japanese
  • Finish the hiragana section of the MLC workbook
  • Watch one more episode of Last Cinderella

Let me know what worries you have about your language studies. Do you find yourself more stressed or more motivated – and what really motivates you?


  1. I read that you don’t want to buy any resources as a challenge, but nevertheless I want to recommend one book for learning the Japanese syllabaries to you, which helped me greatly when I learned the script myself. I had struggled to retain the characters for *weeks* before I got this book, but with the aid of this book, I managed to learn them in just two days(!!) 🙂 The book is “Kanji Pict-o-Graphix: Over 1,000 Japanese Kanji and Kana Mnemonics”
    by Michael Rowley The book works best if you are a visual learner, though. If you buy it second-hand, then it wouldn’t cost that much either. It is one of the best Japanese resources I came across and really worth having.

    • Oooh, thanks for the recommendation! I don’t know how long I’m going to keep trying to use free resources (probably the year, but we’ll see) but even if I don’t use this book, I’m sure it’ll come in useful for someone else! 😀 So thank you (again)!

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