Learning another language is on my bucket list

Have you ever seen one of those full-language-immersion-throughout-your-day methods to learning Japanese as if your life is as static and controlled as this rock garden? I have come across it once or twice and it seems like a laughable concept once you compare and contrast it with the reality of living in Japan.

The concept went something like this: 

  • 08:00 – Wake up, do flash card review and learn new cards. 
  • 08:30 – Listen to a Japanese podcast on the commute to work.
  • 12:00 – Read your daily Japanese newspaper subscription over lunch.
  • 15:00 – Attempt to listen in and catch up on Japanese gossip in the smoking area.
  • 17:00 – Listen to Japanese radio on the commute home.
  • 18:00 – Watch NHK news in Japanese while you cook and eat dinner.
  • 20:00 – Drink and chat with locals using caveman Japanese at an izakaya.
  • 23:00 – Cry yourself to sleep.

Note that this was presented as a concept, as if the person had never done it themselves! What is your reality while living in a foreign country – be honest, what happened yesterday? Was it something like this?

  • 08:00 – Drag yourself out of bed, skip breakfast and text your native language friends.
  • 08:30 – Read news headlines in your native language and start worrying about the world.
  • 08:40 – The train becomes packed like sushi and you can barely raise your arms to hold on let alone look at your phone.
  • 12:00 – Eat a bento by yourself and play your favourite phone game, something like Candy Crush.
  • 15:00 – Eat a snack at your desk.
  • 19:30 – After doing some overtime you pass out on the train home whether you get a seat or not, and drop your phone on the floor 5 times (I witnessed someone do this, and yes I counted).
  • 20:30 – Eat out and drink with your native language friends.
  • 23:00 – Binge watch an entire season of television beyond midnight.
  • 03:00 – Toss and turn in the heat of summer.

I like this quote from Niko’s Japanese-learning website Nihongoshark:

I always say that the only way to learn a language is to just go live in the country where they speak it. Just get thrown in there, and you’ll pick it up in no time.” – Person who speaks no foreign languages.

It’s been a dream of mine to learn another language ever since I left my home country. After a brief tour through Asia about 11 years ago, I quickly regretted not continuing to learn French back in High School or University, beyond the mandatory learning through Junior High. It would have been far easier to learn ‘Qu sont les toilettes?’ than 洗面所はどこですかHindsight is 20/20.

My bucket list is and has been comparatively and incredibly hard versus the ones that I read about and hear people talking about. They take years of determination and responsibility rather than a quick impulse, a hundred bucks, and then a feeling of completion within seconds. My list is more like this:

  1. Read 10+ books per year
  2. live in a foreign country
  3. learn a foreign language
  4. have kids
  5. retire early

Unfortunately, in that order.

Some people could jump out of a plane or step into the ocean with sharks dolphins and then check something off of their list – enviable!

Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) level N5 complete (3 years ago), level N4 here I come. It’s going to take a little more than these cheat sheets that I bought before I came to Japan~

Japanese Cheat Sheet Pack By Nihonshock.com

I passed the N5 test with 62.5% more than 2 years ago. The N4 test should be fun!


  1. Congratulation for Your idea of learning a new language. I live in Finland and I learnt Spanish while working there 4½ months. French I learnt by translating ten book with my dictionary – it was hard. Portuguese in two winter courses.


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