Qubyte Codes

My new year resolution

My resolution this year was to work on my Japanese speaking ability.

I've already failed.

The keys to making a good resolution are to make it measurable, and incremental. To achieve it you need to define what "progress" and "done" mean for it. A vague promise to get better at something does neither.

So, how do I rescue it?

It's never too late! I'm only 16 days into the year. Lots of time to achieve my goal, as long as I can define it! I also have to be realistic about my spare time. My son was born at the end of last year, and while he's the biggest reason for me to improve my Japanese (we want him to be bilingual), he's also a time sink (in a good way!)

First I must ask myself what's been holding me back. I've been learning Japanese on and off since around 2001, and I still can't hold a conversation. My listening ability by far outstrips my ability to speak, and that imbalance is revealing. I think the problem stems from three things; perfectionism, laziness, and roleplay.

Perfectionism is easy to explain. I'm a lapsed physicist and a programmer. Both fields emphasise precision. I dislike making mistakes, even though I know that making them is the faster path to learning.

Laziness is also easy. As a programmer, I automate things. With a little code, I can optimise away monotonous or repetitive tasks. A language is a bulky thing though. I can't write some code to learn it for me. Not yet anyway.

Roleplay is more difficult to explain. A language isn't just words. It has a personality, and you have to act it as much as you speak it. I'm bad at roleplay. It terrifies me.

These three issues are holding me back, and I don't think there's a solution to that. I'm going to have to push through. I think that defining what progress looks like for learning to speak more Japanese will help with these issues, and also rescue my resolution.

So, how should I define progress? What does measurable look like for the ability to speak a language? I'd love to know your thoughts!