When Learning Japanese, It’s All About The Little Victories Every day is something to celebrate

    When I started making the “Little Victories” lessons switch on TextFugu, I realized that the entire concept of “little victories” can be used by anyone learning Japanese no matter how they’re doing it. Because, when it comes to learning anything, especially Japanese, it’s all about the little victories.

    What Are The “Little Victories”?

    The idea of little victories is really simple, though quite difficult to achieve… especially if you’re learning on your own. A little victory is basically one of these things:

    1. A sense of accomplishment after you’ve done something.
    2. The act of finishing something… anything really.
    3. Understanding something (i.e. a concept, remembering a word, kanji, etc).

    Now, little victories may seem simple, but that’s only when you’re really thinking about them. If you’re using most textbooks, resources, etc., there’s almost no focus on little victories. Instead, your “victories” are spread thin, take more effort to complete, and are generally forgotten about. Sure, there are “chapters” set up, and you (in theory) learn something (or often, something_s_) by the end of it, but you rarely realize that you’re making an achievement.

    So, to sum it up, most resources either don’t pay attention to victories at all, or their victories are too big / too spread apart.

    Why Are The “Little Victories” So Important?

    When you “complete” something or “get something done,” you get an energizing boost from it. The funny thing is, “big victories” and “little victories” are nearly equal when put side by side. Little victories, however, can happen with so much more frequency and this is is what makes them so powerful.

    When you create “little victories” with you Japanese learning, the “energizing” effect starts to snowball, and you’ll want to study more and more and more. The long your go without a victory, the more your energy to study depletes, and eventually you start running on empty. When you run on empty, you start associating bad feelings with Japanese studies, which means you end up quitting altogether.

    How Do You Create “Little Victories” For Yourself

    Basically, here’s what it comes down to: Set your goals small

    I know this seems kind of lame. “But I want to set big goals to achieve!” … “But I want to be a go getter!” etc. Small goals, however, are the key.

    Basically, here’s all you have to do. Basically, there’s a kind of hierarchy to everything you use to study with, and I’ll map out some of them.

    Traditional Textbook “Victories”

    • Level 1: Finishing the entire book
    • Level 2: Finishing a “section” (usually 1/2 or 1/3 of a textbook)
    • Level 3: Finishing a chapter
    • Level 4: Finishing a segment of a chapter
    • Level 5: Finishing one grammar point / one area of a segment.

    Now, most people / resources will have you focus on Levels 1-3. You want to get rid of that notion, and focus entirely on levels 4 and 5. Sure, have a bigger goal that you’re working towards, but when you sit down to study, you should take your textbook, and break it up into small, almost laughable pieces. Things that will take you 5-10 minutes to complete.

    Vocab / Kanji Lists

    • Level 1: All the vocab words in a stack. This could be 100+ plus items!
    • Level 2: Half of the words in the stack.
    • Level 3: Set of 10 words (this is where things start to get little, though I’d break it down further)
    • Level 4: Set of 5 words to learn.
    • Level 5: One word to learn.

    You want to focus on 4 & 5 again. Each time you get one of those things done, remind yourself that you’re getting closer to your ultimate goal of learning Japanese. Also remind yourself that each time you do one of these little things, you’re accomplishing something and moving forward. Basically, we’ve turned something that would normally be one big achievement (let’s say 100 words learned) into 20-100 little victories. Each one of these victories will motivate you to keep studying, and make learning Japanese a lot more enjoyable.

    One last thing I should mention is that before you start on a “little victory” section, you should spend a minute or two planning out what you’re actually going to learn during that period. Whether it’s a set of five kanji, a grammar concept, or whatever, the important thing is that you know what it is you’re setting out to accomplish. I know this may seem like a lot of extra work (going in and planning each little victory) but it will really help you out a lot in the end.

    Really, though, the most important thing is to just know the (little) goals you’re working towards. If you don’t know where the little victory finish lines are at it’ll be pretty hard to feel any sense of accomplishment when you end up getting to them. The power is in your hands – you choose what counts as a little victory.

    What Are Your Little Victories Methods?

    The more you think about little victories, the more you can see them in the real world!