When it comes to studying it is easy to be lazy. It’s both easy to skip study sessions and to only study half-heatedly. Obviously both of these are counter-productive to learning Japanese. Since advanced Japanese grammar is based on the basics, you need to study often to keep them fresh in your mind. I have found that the best way to break bad habits is to create good ones.
Creating good study habits
To make sure that you continue with good habits make sure they are as easy to complete as possible. In the case of Japanese, it is important that you study often. If your Japanese study time is competing with TV time or going out with friends, you are a lot less likely to choose studying. Allotting time slots into your schedule for Japanese study will help make sure they don’t get passed up.
Since emergencies can always happen (and they always seem to), you should also create a backup plan. For instance, if you weren’t able to study in the afternoon during your regular study time because of an emergency business meeting, you can study the first thing when you get home. The back up plan makes sure that you don’t forget to study when you are the busiest.
Make Japanese Study Fun
I mentioned in yesterday’s article Learning To Hear Japanese that studying Japanese should be fun. Choose study materials that interests you and dig into topics in Japanese that you find fascinating. If you like tennis then find as many materials about tennis as possible. If you love the topics you are using to study Japanese, it stops feeling like studying. You are much more likely to get started each day if you are looking forward to it.
Give yourself Rewards
We are great at training our kids and pets using positive reinforcement. When a child does something we like we give them sweats or take them to play. For some reason though, we stop doing this once we become adults. Well, it’s time to pick it up again. You will be more likely to study hard if you know you will be rewarded for it. Your reward can be anything from buying something you wanted to a cup of coffee to going somewhere you want to go. The point is that you are getting something you enjoy for studying hard.
There are two keys to making rewards encourage better habits. The first is that you can’t cheat. If you don’t study then don’t give yourself a reward. This also goes if you didn’t complete your full study time. The second is that the rewards should be in proportion to your accomplishments. A reward for keeping your study schedule for a month should be bigger than the reward you give yourself after studying 30 minutes.
In the beginning it may be difficult to stay on track. If you get thrown off your schedule then just keep getting back on. After you have managed to stay on track for a while, it will stop seeming difficult and just feel like part of your daily routine. And remember, the best time to start your new schedule is right now.