“You’ll never learn [all there is to know about] Japanese” – an important message for the lifelong Japanese learner

It happens to all of us at some point… discouragement.

What to do about it?

My advice? Make the commitment that Japanese language learning will be the rest of your life. And then have fun with it.

Maybe you’ve been studying Japanese for a few years and you feel like the more you learn, the more you learn just how much Japanese you don’t know…

Trust me we have all been there. In my own case, many many times.

(one of the first times I felt that way was in my Advanced Japanese class at Jochi University when we all realized that even with 1900 kanji under our belts and “functional fluency” we were just at the base of Mt. Fuji, not the top)

And I am sorry to have to be the one to break the “bad news” to you…

**You will have these moments for the rest of your Japanese-learning life.**

I call my moments “Tori Vs. Japanese” and I have them every Thursday morning when I have my personal Japanese lesson.

Yes, you read that right. Although I also tutor Japanese, I take a Japanese lesson every week. Monkey or not, I want to fall from the tree as little as possible. Humility is a virtue.

Trust me, humility is the best weapon you have in your fight against the Japanese language.

Hey, even Japanese language superheroes like Dogen admit they learn new words everyday (see his clip below).

Here’s a dirty secret:

Native speakers will also never completely learn their languages.

They will be learning it all their life. And so will you.

If they ever stop learning and using it, they will plateau or regress. And so to with you.

Think about it, a language is everything that has ever been done in the history of the world that has been done (or explained) in that language.

(How many people do you know who can talk about the history of Swahili transitioning from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet in Japanese?)

Language is a world.

To say you’ve learnt it is like saying you’ve learned the whole world.

That being the definition is it any wonder that you won’t even get close?

So in my opinion, your main goal should be to enjoy the ride.

And while you are doing that (enjoying the ride), here are some other good goals:

Immerse yourself (aka burn bridges)

-replace English with Japanese

-find your Japanese clique

Reach for functional fluency

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