Today’s guest post is from Mars Dorian who writes over at I luv Empire – which is his online comic and project to make the world a more epic place. Mars is German and we hung out while I was living in Berlin (and talked together in German of course).
This post shares his Japanese learning story and strategy… presented in his Japanese Manga-like drawing style with himself as the main character! It’s over to you Mars!
1) Since my early childhood, I was OBSESSED with Japanese culture. I loved the animation, the food and everything that came from that odd, little country on the other side of the globe. I knew in my guts that I was DEFINITELY going to go there someday. It was only a matter of time.
2) Then in my early twenties, when I was in Australia, it came to me: I was living with Japanese peeps in China town, and I said to myself: Hell – I’m going to Japan next… and I’m going to dominate this language in less than a year!
I knew this was going to be a tough challenge, but I have a passion that’s strong enough to melt the moon, and the focus of a Terminator hunting down his target. And you know what? I did indeed succeed in this mad quest.
This is how I did it:
3) Total immersion:
Since I was going to live in Australia for almost a year, I had to bring Japan to ME. And that meant buying Japanese books, listening to Japanese music, eating Sushi, consuming Japanese cartoons and animation…hell, even getting a Japanese girlfriend. I completely surrounded myself with my target language, in order to get the MAXIMUM input.
Lesson: Do the same. Bring your target language into your daily life. Change the language settings of your browser and mp3 player, eat that food, watch online videos…your imagination is the only limit here!
4) When it came to actually learning, I focused almost exclusively on the 1000 most used words in Japanese. It turns out that if you understand the 1000 most used words, you understand about 80% of daily conversations.
This brings many advantages: First, you understand your target language much sooner, and as a sweet side effect, you’ll raise your self-confidence which results in better language learning!
Often said, but works like magic in real life. It’s a well-known psychological trick that if you ask yourself “What would (insert person here) do?”, you begin to act like them.
That’s why I pretended to be a Japanese at times, mimicking their gestures and speaking flow. It’s amazing how powerful it worked – my pronunciation improved dramatically!
And remember: it’s a learning aid. It’s not about going crazy and being someone you are not 😉
6) Have redonculous fun.
You may say this is obvious, but it’s NOT. Many times I learned the language when I was in a bad mood and just didn’t feel like it, and as a result I didn’t learn much!
Being in a good state DRAMATICALLY increases your receptiveness – the better you feel the better you learn.
So, make sure you get into kick-ass mode before you learn – hell, dance like a monkey on fire if that helps you. But do it in your target language