Victory Dance!

Some of the most motivating moments in learning Japanese can be when you comprehend things without trying to.  You just read/hear it and get it, it comes naturally.  You don’t tell yourself “I’m going to read this.” and then read and proceed to try to translate in your head, go look up words, etc.  It feels like such a sign that you’re really learning.

My friend gave me this poster when I first started studying Japanese.  I had no idea what it said, I could read the kana, but they were largely meaningless.  I could tell it was an ad for art supplies, that was about it.  Nevertheless, I slapped it up on my wall.

For the next year and a half, I would occasionally glance at it, and attempt to read it.  Once, I even tried to look up the grammar concepts to see if that would help, but I didn’t know enough to be able to look any of them up properly.

Then, one day a few weeks ago while setting my alarm clock, after months of ignoring its existence, I looked up at it and read: 

I thought, “Oh, cool.”  It took me a minute, and then I realized, “Holy crap, I just read that and understood it!” I then proceeded to have a party for my small victory, which was basically just me dancing and singing (horribly, as usual) to なんとかなるさ.

Have you had any moments like this?  What one stands out the most for you?  Share the excitement and awesomeness of your learning victories in the comments!

PS: If you haven’t heard なんとかなるさ, by NEWS, you should check it out.  It’s the happiest, catchiest thing since….ever.  Perfect for victory dances.


11 Responses to Victory Dance!

  1. Don R says:

    This is quite a small one but I’ve just started putting sentences I to Anki and I started with the ajatt sentence pack and one of the first sentences was 掛かって来い。I thought it was a weird sentence and I couldn’t even really understand what the first verb was really saying but then I was listening to Dragonball Z and he said it. Among all the words I couldn’t understand it just jumped out and I thought that was awesome. Even now I started picking sentences yesterday and today I’m hearing words I learned or seeing it in print.

    • veganliz says:

      Woot, that’s awesome! Don’t feel like you have to play it down in your head (or to the internet world) as small. If you’re excited about a moment like this, it’s great and there’s a good reason for it! And not shrinking its significance in your mind helps keep the motivation from it.

      Thank you for sharing!

  2. It seems so long ago now, but at the end of my Japanese 3 class my teacher 多田先生 took everyone out to lunch. After lunch she gave me a book (novel), I said I don’t even know what the title means but she said “Don’t worry, just keep and one day you’ll be able to read it.” But one day I picked it up a couple of years ago and I could read the authors name and the title pretty easily and understand it! The book is 最終便に間に合えば by 林 真理子. I also have a sign from an old food place my grandmother gave me, it says 丼物いろ。I actually stared at it just now and realized something about it I didn’t notice before =P



    • veganliz says:

      すごいね! It must be awesome and pretty motivating to get a book like that. Your sensei sounds like she was really great.

      はい、韓国語は面白い言葉ですね! 賛成、studying two different languages at once would be too much! (At least for me, especially with the whole immersion thing.) For now….韓国のポップスを聞きます!^^ and that will have to do.

      Thanks for sharing, and let us know when you read that book! ^^

  3. For me, it was picking up よつばと!and realizing, “HOLY CRAP, I CAN READ THIS.” This was after having learned maybe 500-1000 words, so obviously I couldn’t understand everything, but the “gist” was more than there. Was one of the most profound and empowering moments in all my studies so far.

    • veganliz says:

      Woot woot! Glad you mentioned よつばと! too. Such a fantastic, widely-appealing manga ^^ And great for reading because a good chunk of the dialogue is on the level of a 5 year old.

  4. We definitely can’t read entire books our posters yet, but just the other night we were stumbling through Silent Hill (the Japanese version) of course, and we discovered the kanji for what/nani. This is embarrassingly elementary, but it’s only been a few days and it was definitely a victory moment for us!

    We enjoy lots of little “victory moments”. It’s very important that you take a moment to get excited and reward yourself every little step of the way. It will help you stay motivated.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. tokidokinihongo says:

    I love Japanese music so I follow a lot of Japanese bands and their blogs and such. Release dates are always a big part of a musician’s blogs posts. I decided to post a sentence in my SRS deck with the word 発売日, which means release day/day something is released/sale date, and while I am still trying to figure all the Kanji out in that word (I can only reproduce the last Kanji with 100% accuracy), I have memorized the meaning and how to pronounce it through it’s presence in my SRS deck.

    I was listening to a comment made by one of my favorite artists and they promoted their new single using that word and I was able to pick it up and understand it. I was so happy! It helped me to see that the SRS really does work!


  6. Delphine says:

    I don’t have any specific instance in mind, but I do feel excited if I, for example, re-watch a drama that I haven’t seen since I first started studying Japanese, and realize I can understand sooo much more than the first time. It feels awesome! Small victories are important 🙂

  7. Theo says:

    Liz, Great post always. I must compare you to khatz. You are like a friendly teacher that makes everything so passionate and intimal. Khatz is a like a great politician who people love to follow. 😛 About my dancing moments. I think I already have 4 or 5 times. I can’t remember right now but it was like this- i think it was when I was watching anime or something, i can’t tell-. Anyway, it’s was fun and enjoyable, actually, sometimes when i’m reading/listen/watching “too much” japanese i feel that i understand the things but i can’t express, is it weird? sometimes is like a slow motion time that you listen so clearly all the sentences but i still can’t “translate”, it’s there within, somewhere, growing to get out of my belly 😛

  8. It’s always satisfying if something that has been non-understandable suddenly becomes understandable! Pat yourself on the back, you deserved it! 🙂 Good luck with the Japanese studying!

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