A matter of motivation
When I was in high school and was learning Japanese, I started to really love it and put a lot of effort into memorising words and practicing grammar points and the like. From then, I always prided myself on my Japanese ability, although at the time I would still have been classified as a beginner. I remember going into tests in uni and thinking that even if I hadn’t prepared what was going to be on the test, my domain knowledge from earlier would have been enough to get by. That’s the weird part about language learning, you can do a whole lot of learning before you even start a class relatively easily if you know what you’re doing. In that case it’s just a matter of motivation.
For some reason, I just remembered this one time during high school when we were taking a test with people from other schools, I believe it was for a Monbukagakusho scholarship, and this one smarmy a**hole student who had done a study abroad (I didn’t do study abroad until uni) questioned my language ability. There was a poster that said ‘世界’ world in Kanji characters that at the time I couldn’t read, and this really inflated his ego. It also really gave me a motivation boost, not only to learn Japanese, but to prove this guy wrong, who I really had no prior knowledge of, nor have I seen since.
Now with the benefit of sustained effort over a long period of time, I hardly think about it and don’t feel the need to compare my ability. I know there are people that are better than me, but it doesn’t affect my ability to get by at all, so there’s no point worrying about it. I guess it is all a matter of motivation, so I guess I really should thank the guy, if I ever come across him that is.
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