How does one start learning Japanese again after being out of the game for so long?
Since it has been a number of years since I actually self-studied, participated in language exchange clubs and even taken a language course; I felt it was in my best interest to start from the very beginning.
By starting from the beginning, not only does it act as a well-rounded review, but you re-learn the fundamentals.
I did a quick review of my kana tables; both hiragana and katakana to refresh my memory. As well as hand writing out each character while saying it aloud.
Once that was complete, I took out all my old textbooks and started with the very first lesson. And to my surprise, though I understood the word once I heard from the audio CD, I had a hard time visualizing what the word looked like in its kanji form.
This made me realize that since I have not been actively maintaining the different skills of language learning; reading, writing, listening, and speaking; my skills have diminished quite significantly.
I personally had thought; “if only I can turn back time and start over, I would do things differently.” Well here’s my chance!
It has been about 3 weeks since I started over, and I feel I understand more now, then what I did when I first started learning Japanese nearly 15 years ago. Although I have some regret not taking my studies seriously when I was a teenager, I am now more motivated than ever to reach my ultimate goal of becoming fluent in Japanese.
One piece of advice I would like to share is; learn the kanji based vocabulary as soon as you encounter them. Do not be afraid of jumping right into learning kanji even if you are just embarking on your journey into the world of the Japanese language.
Kanji seems to be the number one daunting task for Japanese learners, but if you start now, you will save yourself time and effort in the future. For example, a lot of textbooks teach vocabulary in hiragana only; so I learned “chair” as いすand not 椅子. By not learning the kanji from the first encounter, I had to learn this word twice.
And now that I am learning vocabulary with kanji instead of hiragana, my brain can now recognize certain kanji as easy as hiragana; like 木. (Tree; き)
Learners, what have you done to help you with get back on track? Feel free to leave your comments. We would love to hear from you.
Next week, we talk about finding the time for self-studies.