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Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice?

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Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice?

Postby Shiroisan » Sun 09.25.2011 3:30 am

Does anyone have any inspiring words for someone who got suddenly and quite intensely overwhelmed with the amount left to learn for passable proficiency? :doh:

In the past 5 or 6 months, I decided to dedicate all my spare time to learning the language. So I bought Genki 1 and studied with dedication. I am now confident in all the material in that book, however only in a written context; When I hear someone say one of the more complex grammatical sentences, my mind has to go back and slowly replay what they said to try to figure out what grammar rules were used to make up all the word conjugations. Because initially the word SOUNDS unrecognizable.

I told myself, that would just come in time, right?

QUE the panic attack! :sweatdrop: :sweatdrop: :sweatdrop:

This was when I realized that I'm only ONE SIXTH of the way to proficiency. How on EARTH am I supposed to recognize and interpret all those conjugation rules when someone says something if there's going to be SIX TIMES AS MANY RULES TO REMEMBER!! I thought I had gotten so far by finishing a textbook but I realized (by measuring up with the Japan Times and JLPT system):

N5 1/6: Genki 1
N4 2/6: Genki 2
N3 3/6: An integrated guide to intermediate japanese
?? 4/6
N2 4.5: Progressing from intermediate to Advanced
?? 5/5
N1 6/6

And this was all not even considering the incredible amount of kanji I'm supposedly supposed to magically attain; I was merely considering speech.

I'm scared. I was so determined and thought I had the abilities to do this. Now I'm ... unsure.

Please help :cry:
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby squarezebra » Sun 09.25.2011 4:58 am

You've been at it for only 6 months. Rather than looking forward at what you don't know, why not try looking back at what you've already achieved. Languages take time... lots of time. You gotta keep going, keep going, keep going and keep going. You'll probably feel very different about things in 2 years time.
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby furrykef » Sun 09.25.2011 10:27 am

Inspiring words? Let's see... the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Then you throw up your hands, cry "I've been walking for ages!", turn around, and your jaw drops when you find you can still see your house. :lol:

But seriously, learning Japanese takes a looong time and a lot of effort. There is no way around it. I often feel like I've wasted the past few years, and I often lament that if I'd known how hard it'd be, I'd probably never have started. Then I have some small moment of success -- like understanding the dialogue in a manga -- and then it feels worth it. I'm getting there -- and you can get there if I can.

This was when I realized that I'm only ONE SIXTH of the way to proficiency. How on EARTH am I supposed to recognize and interpret all those conjugation rules when someone says something if there's going to be SIX TIMES AS MANY RULES TO REMEMBER!!


Well, grammar is actually the easier part of learning Japanese. I have a fairly good grasp of Japanese grammar. There are still lots of things I don't know, sure, but there's nothing I find particularly difficult to handle. What kills me is vocabulary, though I'm getting better at that, too.
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby Shiroisan » Mon 09.26.2011 12:41 am

@squarezebra
I sure hope so. I'll keep bashing on. As for looking back at what I've done, it helps for a second but then when I compare that amount to the grand scheme of things... well yeah :blush:


furrykef wrote:Inspiring words? Let's see... the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Then you throw up your hands, cry "I've been walking for ages!", turn around, and your jaw drops when you find you can still see your house. :lol:

But seriously, learning Japanese takes a looong time and a lot of effort. There is no way around it. I often feel like I've wasted the past few years, and I often lament that if I'd known how hard it'd be, I'd probably never have started. Then I have some small moment of success -- like understanding the dialogue in a manga -- and then it feels worth it. I'm getting there -- and you can get there if I can.

This was when I realized that I'm only ONE SIXTH of the way to proficiency. How on EARTH am I supposed to recognize and interpret all those conjugation rules when someone says something if there's going to be SIX TIMES AS MANY RULES TO REMEMBER!!


Well, grammar is actually the easier part of learning Japanese. I have a fairly good grasp of Japanese grammar. There are still lots of things I don't know, sure, but there's nothing I find particularly difficult to handle. What kills me is vocabulary, though I'm getting better at that, too.


It's nice to hear someone else acknowledge the immense amount of time and effort required for this venture, reassures me that I'm not just imagining it.

Doesn't grammar difficulty make vocabulary difficult in many ways? What I mean is, lets take a word you barely ever use, and have enough trouble remembering in it's dictionary form as it is... Then you hear it a new weird form because of a certain grammar technique... and half the word is cut off and replaced with something else, and the half that you heard was said so quick that you're not even sure you heard what you thought heard :blush:
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby furrykef » Mon 09.26.2011 1:45 am

Shiroisan wrote:Doesn't grammar difficulty make vocabulary difficult in many ways? What I mean is, lets take a word you barely ever use, and have enough trouble remembering in it's dictionary form as it is... Then you hear it a new weird form because of a certain grammar technique... and half the word is cut off and replaced with something else, and the half that you heard was said so quick that you're not even sure you heard what you thought heard :blush:

Well, there aren't really all that many different ways of conjugating verbs or adjectives, and other parts of speech don't have that problem at all. Contractions, though, can be a little bit of a problem. For instance, わからない becoming わかんない, or たべているんだ becoming たべてんだ, or まかせておけ becoming まかせとけ. There are other kinds of phonetic changes to watch out for too, like ひどい becoming ひでえ, though that's pretty much street slang. I think, though, that things like these are usually not a big deal... you learn the contraction or phonetic change once and you will usually remember and recognize it, in my experience.

Still, it can be difficult to recognize a word once it's inflected and contracted and such like that, if you're not too familiar with that word. Just practice, though, and you can iron that stuff out. :)
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby ダラゴスちゃん » Mon 09.26.2011 12:01 pm

There's quite a bit. I still need to go much farther than you. And yet I have only 2 years (maybe more or less a few months) to learn this. I'm planning on going to 東京大学 (University of Tokyo) in a few years. Hopefully I'll be proficient by then so I can speak correctly. I really do hope I don't do anything I won't regret!

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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby Hektor6766 » Tue 09.27.2011 3:23 pm

I have downloaded the VLC Media Player and DVX Youtube Downloader (just one of several that are out there). VLC lets you loop and slow playback. I download anime, news reports, movie clips, whatever would be a good example of authentic, ordinary Japanese language, and study difficult passages I encounter using these features, typing what I hear into my jwpce, polishing it until it makes sense. I also go to TBS and NHK and play the videos while following along with the accompanied text. These can really help your listening comprehension.

As for the journey, it doesn't end at a thousand miles. Language is a life skill you acquire, to more or lesser extent according to the effort you put into it. Periodically reassess your skill and revisit anything you're still not completely comfortable with, and find another source that explains them in a different way. Tae Kim's site is great for this. You'll have days when it seems you haven't learned a thing, but you'll also have those days when you break through some grammar you've had trouble with, or you spontaneously recognize a new kanji or word you've had to look up in the past. Savor those days and remember you'll have more in the future. Your skills will grow on you with time and persistence. They don't say 頑張って for nothin'!
Last edited by Hektor6766 on Sun 10.02.2011 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby Shiroisan » Tue 09.27.2011 5:42 pm

Hektor6766 wrote:-


Thx for the tips Hektor! One thing though: What level of proficiency do you think you should be before attempting to record/ dissect real-life recordings that, obviously, can be more difficult to comprehend than a beginner textbook?
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby ダラゴスちゃん » Tue 09.27.2011 5:55 pm

I would just try to get the general idea of what they are saying. At the very least, try to see if you can't recognize some familiar phrases.
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby micahcowan » Tue 09.27.2011 7:56 pm

Just an observation, especially from personal experience, but don't be surprised that listening comprehension doesn't come with textbook study.

I've been studying Japanese off and on over about 20 years. Focusing pretty much exclusively on the written language, as it occurs in books (and the last few years, on the web). Don't be impressed by this number - Japanese-learning resources are vastly better today (mostly thanks to the web!) than they were 20 years ago, and so even though I was often very diligent and hard-working, someone equally diligent and hard-working could catch me up in about 5 (and bear in mind that when I started, it was initially at a leisurely pace, and I was eleven years old). Fewer than 5, if they had the opportunity to actually be in Japan (unfortunately, I have not).

My ability to read Japanese is good enough that I can use my OS, and favorite sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Gizmodo, Slashdot in Japanese, play video games in Japanese, etc. However, my listening comprehension is very poor, because I've really spent very little time in it. In particular, deciphering written Japanese, though obviously complicated a great deal by the use of kanji, still generally affords you as much time as you care to take to decipher it, whereas the spoken language has a pace to it that usually can't be avoided.

Also, a typical classroom won't help you much with listening comprehension, either. Even if you're at a level where the entire classroom is conducted in Japanese. The reason is that spoken Japanese in the classroom really bears little resemblance to typical spoken Japanese in a variety of other situations, in manner, vocabulary, and pacing. It takes a fairly impressive arsenal of vocabulary - and not just "known" but immediately comprehended - to understand a significant percentage of Japanese flying by in a conversation; the only real way to get there is to either be in a situation where you will be exposed to Japanese conversation on a daily basis, or if you must rely on video/audio content, to manage to find just the right "laddering" of content that each new exposure builds only slightly upon your existing understanding (so you don't get lost).
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby Hektor6766 » Tue 09.27.2011 8:04 pm

Just as ダラゴスちゃん said, take encouragement from the familiar phrases you recognize, and try to get the general idea. Save some favorite files and go over them, again and again, and come back to them after a few days. Then add some more favorites.

If you watch the newscasts, use rikaichan, at least at first. You'll need the place-names dictionary.
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby Snowflake » Tue 09.27.2011 9:22 pm

Shiroisan, sounds like you and I had a similar week. By the end of last week, I could have written your same opening post. I don't have any words of wisdom to offer, but I can offer my empathy. I'm still a beginner (*maybe* inching up on upper beginner) despite having been at this off and on for several years. I'm pretty sure I couldn't take this year's N5 with any hope of a passing score. There are days, weeks, months where I feel I'm chugging along, feeling right proud of myself, then BAM, I get hit with an ugly reality check: I haven't even scratched the surface of this glorious language! So far still to go.

Thank goodness there are folks here who *can* offer words of wisdom and guidance. As for me, all I can say is "you're not alone".
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Re: Overwhelmed with amount left to learn... Words of advice

Postby phreadom » Wed 09.28.2011 6:33 am

Hektor6766 wrote:They don't say 頑張って for nothin'!


I think it counts for something that I could guess "がんばって" for what you wrote there, even though I didn't know the kanji. Being able to learn things just enough to start guessing from context is just another part of learning. :D (And thank Rikaichan for confirming my suspicions!) :lol:
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