Learning a Second Language

My experience

My journey to learn a second language has been trial and error. Some days I feel like giving up and other days I am loving it. When I decided to learn a new language I spent a lot of time researching the best ones to learn, their degree of difficulty and what the process should be like.

I had an idea that I wanted to learn Japanese because I love watching anime and it would be awesome to be able to read and understand Japanese animations. I have enjoyed some Japanese dramas too, but I am an anime fan. Never really got into Manga, however, even though I love reading.

In the beginning, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where to start, I got lost in research, instead of just starting and seeing what would work best for me. Of course, you should plan and set a guideline for yourself, but don’t get so absorbed in the planning process that you do not even begin. It eventually made me so frustrated, that I was ready to give up before I had really begun. There was just too much information and opinions out there. I must have downloaded, read and watched a ton of media resources.

Eventually, I focused on learning the writing scripts so that I could become more familiar with the characters and their sounds. I learnt the Kana scripts: Hiragana and Katakana, basically their alphabet, and some vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation by watching and listening to YouTube videos. Then I downloaded several apps to help with my learning process. I have yet to begin in-depth learning of the third script, Kanji, but I have come across it while building my Japanese vocabulary.


These days I am relying solely on the apps and not being very proactive. I think I have gotten lazy and it has become a task to check off daily. I am learning, but I feel like I’m not putting in enough effort. I have to achieve a balance between pushing myself too hard that I can not remember anything and get frustrated, or being so easy on myself that I do not learn anything.

Teaching yourself presents quite a challenge in self-management. You are responsible for setting up a course outline, scheduling times to learn and times to study, keeping yourself motivated and testing yourself on the material. Right now I am having difficulty in executing most of these. Luckily using an app is a great way to target those areas since they are designed to move you from beginner to advanced, offer practice and study reminders as well as tests and challenges.


Tips for Learning a New Language

  • Set language- learning goals:
    • focus on what you want to learn
    • break down your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks
    • set realistic, achievable goals
    • write down your goals
  • Focus on learning the top used words used in your chosen language
  • Study SMART
    • use spaced repetitive system for studying
    • make use of cue cards to build your vocabulary
    • incorporate new-language words when speaking your native language
  • Use the new language as much as possible and immerse yourself in it to familiarise yourself with its sound and sight
    • listen to radio, music, tv shows and videos in your language of study
    • try reading news, books and articles
  • Get real-life exposure
    • speak with an online tutor, try Cambly
    • get a language partner, a friend who wants to learn also
    • join a language club
  • Learn the culture
    • this provides you with historical content that can help you learn and understand the language better
  • Fluency over Accuracy
    • focus on learning to express yourself easily over being correct. Most of us are not grammatical precise when speaking our native language, yet we are understood.
  • Test yourself
  • Have fun

Below is a list of the resources I have been using to help me in my journey to learn Japanese. These resources offer other language options as well and may offer some help to you as well.

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Thank you reading.



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