Right now my Japanese is pretty bad by my own standards, but after a year in Japan chances are that I will have improved considerably. I have an opportunity to record myself speaking Japanese now, and continue afterwards to make videos every month to track my progress in learning the language! I think it will be cool for myself and my family/friends to watch these videos and see just how far I can push myself.
I live in the “Chinatown” of Vancouver, AKA Richmond, where you can easily get by without knowing any English. My Tagalog is half-decent, but my accent is absolutely and hilariously awful, but the thing is I don’t care! It’s really fun to speak another language and part of the game is sucking in the beginning. I recently read a quote on Reddit:
“Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.”
- Amy Chua
After I read this quote, I instantly felt the truth of the words sink in and thought that I must be brave in order to succeed in my language goals. I can’t really even imagine how many doors learning a new language could open up for me in the future, but I know that I have to take it step by step and build the base structure that is the key to success.
I am going to make sure that my kid is at least fluent in Japanese at an early age since everyone that I have spoken to have explained to me that English will come naturally once they start going to school in Canada. At this point my Tagalog and virtually non-existent Chinese will be tough to pass on, so I have decided to focus on Japanese instead and to become fluent in a years time.
Off the top of my head these are the ways I believe that I can prepare myself for success in this ambitious endeavor:
1.) “I must not fear, fear is the mind killer, fear is the…” OK this quote is from Dune, one of my favourite books, but essentially you have to let go of being worried about how stupid you think to sound to others. The chances are pretty good that they would respect and appreciate your effort!
2.) Set realistic, bite sized goals that track your progress. I once read that winning small battles are the first step to winning a war. You have to stop focusing on the immensity of your challenge and split it up into bite sized goals that you can tackle and win one by one! Give yourself the chance to gain momentum and don’t turn back. In my case, my first goal in my step to Japanese fluency is to be able to learn basic phrases that I can use to converse with my in-laws.
3.) Use resources effectively, ask questions (or Google) when necessary. I am often mind blown-ed when I think about the amount of information that is instantly accessible to us nowadays at the tips of our fingers. I plan on using YouTube, podcasts, forums, books, articles, and whatever else I can find to supplement my learning. Thankfully I have a wonderful Japanese wife that I can ask when I have any questions, but if you don’t have one, then make some new friends that are also interested since learning together is more fun!