Learning How to Learn Japanese

Zach Daniel:

tl;dr – This essay is broken into four sections: 1) why I’m learning Japanese, 2) some basics about Japanese alphabets, 3) what makes it a hard language to learn, and 4) the tools I’m using to learn it. If you just want to know about that last bit feel free to scroll down to the bottom.

I’ve always wanted to learn another language. For years, I would pick up Duolingo and mess around with it for a few weeks before moving on to something else. Then, a little over a year ago, my best friend decided that he wanted to learn Japanese. While I’d love to say that being able to speak Japanese has been a lifelong dream, my motivation is slightly less pure. Specifically, I took the fact that Japanese is, by some accounts, the most difficult language an English speaker can attempt to learn, as a personal challenge.

This changed the shape of my learning journey. Now, instead of trying to optimize for short-term usage, I was headed down a path that would take years to complete. Knowing that was surprisingly helpful with my motivation, as it changed my whole perspective around comprehension, ensuring the time took to learn new things didn’t get me down. I was finally equipped for my language journey: I had motivation, a partner, and time, and that is all you need. Or so I thought.