I’ve gotten a lot of great advice and tips from reading all kinds of message boards and blogs, but to be honest, I think the best lesson I’ve learned is that eventually, you just have to stop drinking the bathwater and start getting things done.
When I saw the 999th iteration of the same general argument over whose study method is better on one of the boards I frequent, I realized that both methods are no good if they spend their time arguing about them in English, no less. And I was just as bad for wasting valuable time reading them… okay, and now writing about them, but this will be the only time.
So to anyone who reads this: if you’re trying to learn Japanese, or anything else for that matter, and you’re looking for shortcuts, good idea! Look around, grab a few, try them, and move on.
Most traditional language-learning methods are horribly inefficient. There are a lot of folks trying a lot of neat stuff. I’ve posted a few methods that have worked for me. They may work for you, they may not.
But please don’t waste your time getting entangled in message board drama— especially message board drama about study methods. It’s like arguing about the best way to clean your house, while your house remains a pig sty. It accomplishes nothing, except consuming your valuable study time.
If It Works For You, Rip It Off
In my mind, the best theory of language acquisition came from a glass studio tech I interviewed in Seattle way back for a documentary I was working on. He was talking about finding ways to build a better glass studio, but the idea works for pretty much anything. “If you find a good idea that works for you, rip it off.”
To go along with the perfect bottom-line theory is this corollary: use it as long as it works for you. But if it doesn’t work, stop doing it.
If you want to tell people about it, great. Good ideas need to spread. But don’t let message boards become a time sink. I look at a high post count as a bad thing in those cases. My thought process goes like this, if this dude is so great at Japanese, why is he posting so much on an English-language forum about it? Maybe I’m just a suspicious, cynical and dark-hearted person by nature, but, well, there you go.
Says a person with a high post count on a Japanese language learning message board.
One final thing– don’t waste a lot of time worrying about trying to set up the perfect study method. It’s a fool’s errand. Just dive into the language, make a bunch of mistakes, and make adjustments as you go along. The less time you spend worrying and arguing about it, the more time you’ll have for doing it.