I love self-studying. It’s my preferred mode of learning.
But that doesn’t mean it always works for me.
So I’m writing this post to take into account the major reasons why self-studying the Japanese language didn’t work for me and possibly for you.
This isn’t a story of failure. What I want to do is to share the reasons I’ve experienced first-hand in hopes that you’ll be able to devise a strategy to counter them.
Here’s how it started…
When I decided to finally take my Japanese lessons seriously over two years ago, I did what any determined soul would do. I searched for recommended self-help Japanese study books online and visited our local bookstores to get a copy of them.
I did manage to get two reference materials which I devoured for the next two weeks. My goal was clear – to read them ahead of time so that the next time I sit down to practice my Hiragana and Katakana, things will be easier.
Things didn’t turn out that way.
In fact I did nothing to forward my lessons for the succeeding weeks. It was not until the summer of 2013 when I decided to stop writing fanfiction and just get things done. That time, I was more serious. In a month, I’m able to write words in Hiragana and Katakana.
But the problem?
I stopped. And that’s how I ended up starting from scratch again at this moment.
I did some evaluation on what had happened and here are 4 reasons which I believe are behind most of the unsuccessful self-study ventures we’ve had.
REASON 1: Self-studying offers too much flexibility (which can hamper consistency/discipline)
Discipline is the most important thing you should have the moment you decide to self-study. I am writing this from experience and I have to say that without it, you will end up quitting sooner than later. Even your passion to learn the language will not be enough to further your learning.
While the idea of choosing your own time and place to study is fun, and which I still prefer, it gives you a lot of options to delay your lessons.
REASON 2: Self-studying encourages jumping from lesson to lesson
And since it’s flexible, you also have the option to choose what lesson goes today and what not. This results to minor but important topics being left out to favor what interests you more – generally not a very good idea if the whole point is to work your way up from the basics.
REASON 3: Self-studying lacks the formal instruction /proven-effective module to follow
There’s a reason why JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is created the way it is. Each part has its own level of difficulty and it is expected for you to pass one before you proceed to the higher level.
Each part covers specific Japanese lessons which you ought to follow in a typical classroom setting. But with self-studying, you don’t necessarily have to get access to these systematized instructions. And even if you do, the choice whether or not to follow it is still yours.
REASON 4: Self-studying lacks the encouragement/motivation provided in a classroom setting
There’s something good about being in a group and studying the same lessons. It encourages exchange of ideas and feedback process as means to evaluate your performance. Self-study most of the time does not care about this. After all, you are moving at your own pace, the way you want it.
Self-studying is a good practice. It allows you to be creative in learning your lessons and reduces that stress that you have to deal with on preset schedules, assignments and possible group works. It’s also personal so you can adjust and readjust it to favor your other needs.
But self-studying is not for everyone. You do not just decide to go for it and expect to succeed without discipline.
It didn’t work for me at first, but that didn’t stop me from realigning my schedule and continuing my self-study at present. I love the process, and I love the Japanese language.
Any thoughts about self-studying Japanese? Share them on our comments!