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How Not to Learn Japanese

A Cautionary Tale Based on My Own Personal Experience

So you want to learn Japanese. There could be plenty of reasons why: maybe you think your future awaits you in the Land of the Rising Sun. Maybe you want to impress a cute Japanese person. Maybe you just want to watch anime without needing subtitles. 

Whatever the reason, you've decided to take on the task of learning this language, and you're going to do it...

Or not. 

Here are five tips for completely failing at learning Japanese:

Stick to romaji.

Let's be real—it'll be so much easier to learn the language if you just ignore the writing system completely. Who has time to worry about a whole new alphabet? What do all those squiggles even mean, anyway? You don't know. You don't care. Stick to what matters: understanding the words. Besides, Google Translate's app means you don't have to learn to read, anyway. And writing? Psh. Japanese people can understand romaji. Probably.

Avoid kanji like the plague.

Fine, you decided to suck it up and learn kana. Try—hard. But are you really going to sit there and memorize 2000 kanji? No, you're not. You'll be fine. It's not like they actually use all of those kanji in Japanese. If you just write everything in kana, people can probably figure out what you're trying to say. Huh? "Homonyms?" Homonyms are an English thing, aren't they? What do you mean "kami" can mean three different things?

Don't study vocab.

Who memorizes things anymore in the age of the internet? Everything you could possibly need to know is in the palm of your hand. If you don't know a word, look it up. Don't know the next word? Look that up, too. If you keep having to look up every other word you want to say, maybe you'll remember them eventually. Anything's better than having to stuff all those words in your brain beforehand. 

Don't talk... ever.

Let's face it: you suck at Japanese. Your pronunciation is awful and half the time even you don't know what you're trying to say. The sound of your own voice speaking Japanese is like the sound of nails on a chalkboard. So just... don't talk. Don't practice with other people, don't sound out words. Don't speak Japanese at all. Instead, glue your mouth shut and just continually study the technical stuff. That way, you don't have to forever suffer the embarrassment of sounding like a complete moron. Eventually when you've completed your training and finally deign to speak, what will come out of your mouth will be on-par with native speakers. Oh, speaking of which...

Avoid native Japanese speakers.

If you think talking to higher-leveled students makes you sound cringeworthy by comparison, then absolutely stay away from Japanese people. Obviously they won't be encouraging and excited that you're interested in their language. No, they're going to make fun of you. They're going to point and laugh at your awful foreigner accent. And it's not like by listening to them speak and mimicking them, you can lose said foreigner accent. The best thing to do is to just avoid Japanese people entirely. There are no Japanese in your area? Great! Don't go looking for them!

And those are my five tips for ensuring you never become fluent. Basically, if you want to not learn Japanese (or any language, really) just stick your head in the sand and hope for a few years. It'll come to you eventually. Guaranteed. Look at me—I've been self-studying for two years now and I can barely string together a sentence!

Happy studying!

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