Learning a new language, whether you are looking at adding English or Japanese to your list, is difficult for many individuals. Something that often times makes the process less frustrating and much, much easier is to simply keep an open mind and make sure the attitude stays in check. Maintaining a positive outlook during the learning stage and keeping a zealous attitude about the process can go a long way in making it easier and more enjoyable to learn a new language. So whether you have a trip planned, are looking to make future education plans easier, are seeking an enchantingly attractive foreigner mate, or simply want the ability to speak another language, get ready to learn with these important yet fairly simple tips:
Think on your feet and learn to go with the flow.
You might not be able to say “I am taking a trip to the mall” in Japanese early on in your practice, but “I am going shopping” will likely be easier for you to learn. Both phrases essentially express the same thing and will help you get the same message conveyed when you are speaking to someone, so do not be afraid to simplify things or think of other easier ways to say something if need be. It is OK to switch out words or phrases that are too hard or complicated for you right now and to use something easier. The important thing to remember though is to take the time to learn and practice those phrases and words you wanted to use but didn't know off-hand.
“Perfectionism is a double-edged sword.”
Naturally after spending all the time and effort with learning a new language you will want to be good at it and will get annoyed when you struggle or make mistakes, but you must be careful! If you get so caught up on the minute details of phrases, words, and pronunciation, you will forget the joy of learning a new language and will be moody, depressed, and frustrated much more than you need to be during your learning process. Remember that learning a language, especially complex ones like English or Japanese are a process—it is more about the journey of learning and discovering the language than it is about mastering it on par with a native speaker. Strive to get it right but don't get stranded on the perfectionist side of your brain.
Mind the things you say regarding the people and the nation attached to the language you are learning.
Never bad-mouth the history and culture represented by the language—you will likely be learning with the help of native speakers in some fashion, and you do not want to insult, belittle, or offend them in any way. It is a struggle at times to learn a new language and it can be unspeakably frustrating; there are often things you do not like or understand about the language. However, this is not an excuse to be rude, resentful, or insulting. The rulebooks for English and Japanese are vastly different, but dismissing their language and grammar rules as odd or difficult is no excuse to insult either language or either group of people. You would not like someone insulting your native language and your heritage so do not do the same. This is an important step to successfully learning a new language, and it is also one that ends up being a problem area for many people.
Attitude plays a major role in how successful you will be on your journey to learn a second language.
It will involve things like hard work, acceptance, patience, dedication, passion, and commitment. But simple acceptance and maintaining a positive attitude at all times will go the farthest in many cases. Are you learning English in order to get a better job? Is another language required as part of your education plans? Is learning Japanese something you want to do to be better prepared for a trip or a big move? Whatever the reasons you have for learning a new language, these reasons are critical to your motivation. Don't forget why you originally embarked on your second language journey. Celebrate those reasons and congratulate yourself on the successes (no matter how small) you've enjoyed along the way. You just ordered a pizza in Japanese! Allow the positive benefits that result from acquiring a new language to be a way to stay on track. You will reach points where you are struggling and feel like giving up, and you will simply have to dig yourself out of the hole and sally forth. It might not be fun all the time, but the rewards are well worth it and you must keep pressing on! Allow past struggles to fuel future exertions.
Find the study method that works for you.
Everyone learns differently, and acquiring a new language can be one of the hardest things you ever try to do. No matter how badly you want it, if you do not go about it in a way that works for you and fits your learning style, then you will not be as successful as you could be. Some people learn a language best by practicing it orally out loud all the time over and over. A similar approach is immersion, forcing oneself to learn the language in order to survive. Some individuals focus on written vocabulary and basic communication first, then build from there. Conversely, some learners focus on spoken communication first and then tackle written forms later on. Language is innately social, so one of the best ways to learn Japanese or English is to get a respected tutor, friend, or language partner to practice with. Have them speak the language with you, encouraging them to brazenly correct your mistakes. Allow them to convey the language's nuances in a natural conversation setting, and you will soon be holding your own.
With these helpful tips in mind you can maximize the return on the time, effort, and energy you put into learning your new language. Whatever the language and whatever the motivating factors may be, these practical and simple steps will make you a language expert in no time!