My Japanese Learning Goals for 2021

I often write about the latest technology, applications, and software for learning Japanese. However, as many in my network are quick to point out, we shouldn’t let rote digital flashcard use overshadow practical learning methods. Eventually, we have to take your Japanese out into the real world by reading books, giving presentations, writing emails, and more.

Since I live and work in Japan, I’m surrounded by opportunities to put my Japanese to the test, and I’m constantly reminded of my need to improve. So, for 2021, I’ve committed to doing more of two things: reading more Japanese content and making more presentations in Japanese.

Hitting the Books

Despite the English on the cover, this entire book is in Japanese and is one of many that I’m looking forward to reading through.

Last year, I wrote about how I was working my way through Iwata-san, a book filled with the wisdom of former Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata. I went through the first three chapters, creating digital flashcards for any unfamiliar vocabulary and expressions I came across. Then, I stepped away from the book to review everything. Instead of reading the rest of Iwata-san, I decided to start over to see how much of the new vocabulary and expressions that I retained. So far, the results have been positive. Not only is my second time through easier, but it’s also more enjoyable.

Now that I have a solid process, I’ll complete Iwata-san and approach more books in the same way. Next up will be The Gifted Gene and My Lovable Memes, by auteur game creator Hideo Kojima. I’ve skimmed through parts of this book, and I can already see that it will be significantly more challenging than what I’m used to. However, I’m hoping that learning from one of the most creative minds in gaming (or any industry, for that matter) in his native language, will keep me motivated.

Making Successful Presentations

An excerpt from one of my original seminars that I aim to start delivering, at least partially, in Japanese.

Presentations are tough–even in one’s native tongue. Sure, I give elevator pitches and talk about my work in Japanese, but eventually, I’m going to have to deliver longer, more formal Japanese presentations and provide more of my services in Japanese. These opportunities are already materializing, and I’ve already started studying as well as applying and practicing what I’ve been learning. I don’t have any special app or book to aid me in the pursuit of this goal (surprise!) since I don’t plan on changing up my Presentation Zen inspired seminar style any more than necessary. Achieving this objective will be all about seeking out the right coaches from within my network to make sure that I can accurately convey my thoughts to my audience.

Charting a Path Ahead

You may have noticed that the above pursuits aren’t very specific. Normally, I’m a big fan of SMART goals, but for now, I’m just pointing myself in a particular direction, hoping to enjoy the journey. Between business and my other study efforts, I have plenty of existing goals to worry about.  I’m not sure how many Japanese books I’ll read or presentations I’ll give in 2021. For these objectives, I just want to establish good habits and momentum. Perhaps I’ll update you on my progress when 2022 rolls around.

Originally from California, I've been living and working in Japan, now my second home, since 2009. My work as a communications consultant lends a unique perspective to my writing, and I often explore the business behind Japan’s beauty. When I’m not working, you can find me hunched over a screen reviewing kanji flashcards in my never-ending quest to master the Japanese language.