5 Japanese Learning Strategies for Introverts

How do you learn Japanese when you’re an introvert? We’ve all felt it before: whether it’s working with a group or talking to people individually, interacting with others can be tiring. It’s exhausting enough in your native language, but using the language you’re learning can feel even more demanding. And, for introverts, using a new language with others can be the most draining of all. Introverts – or those who draw strength from being alone – tend to be quiet, introspective, and reserved3,4. These traits can lead to some introverts feeling frustrated when learning new languages, such as Japanese. However, being introverted isn’t a weakness when learning – it can even be an advantage! Take a look at our strategies below to find fresh ways of learning Japanese that work best with your personality type.

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Why Might Learning Japanese be Hard for Introverts?
Strategy 1 – Find a Group You Enjoy
Strategy 2 – Focus on 1-on-1 Conversations
Strategy 3 – Know Your Limits
Strategy 4 – Form Good Study Habits
Strategy 5 – Practice and Preparation
Additional Tips and Tricks
Conclusion

Why Might Learning Japanese be Hard for Introverts?

Learning Japanese as an introvert can be hard for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is that if you want to be fully fluent in a language, you have to practice speaking it with others. Introverts usually feel more comfortable when alone3, so it can be tiring to spend an extended amount of time practicing Japanese with others; this can include talking with teachers, other students, and native speakers. As a result, some find themselves focusing on other Japanese language aspects (reading, writing) instead and not developing skills that require another person.

Additionally, many introverts don’t feel a strong need to talk during conversations4; while this is good for building listening skills, it creates fewer opportunities to practice speaking. Furthermore, due to preferring to stay quiet, many introverts find themselves being talked over whenever they do speak4.

Introverts also tend to process information during their time alone; spending time alone helps introverts to “get their thoughts together” and is crucial for understanding past events3. Thus, having long classes and many conversations can lead to feeling overwhelmed, especially if a lot of different topics are covered. Many classrooms also focus heavily on talking with classmates, which can make the situation worse.

So, is it impossible to become fluent in Japanese as an introvert? Of course not! Japanese is spoken by extroverts and introverts alike. Read on to see our strategies that will boost your skills and set you on the path to fluency.

Japanese Learning Strategy 1: Find a Meetup Group You Enjoy

Spending time with others doesn’t have to be an arduous task; if you can find meetup groups that use Japanese while engaging in a fun activity, it’ll be easier to join in conversations and less tiring overall. This can be in the form of a Japanese book club, a hiking group, or any other hobby you like! It may be hard to find one of these groups in your area, so checking online is a good idea too; there are loads of specialty groups out there, especially on Facebook, Discord, and other social media platforms.

Trying a virtual group might also be a good option if you struggle with being in-person; you can choose whether or not you show yourself, and the atmosphere can feel less formal than in-person meetings.

Also remember that it’s ok to spend time listening as well. While you should try to talk, you don’t have to force yourself to talk all the time. Listening is a key language skill too, and joining a group will allow you to listen to a variety of different speech styles. Introverts often have an easier time understanding spoken speech as well!

Check out: Do’s and Don’ts of Your First Japanese Language Exchange

Japanese Learning Strategy 2: Focus on 1-on-1 Japanese Conversations

Sometimes, it’s hard to feel comfortable talking with a group – especially if you don’t know them well; in fact, most introverts prefer to talk in a small set of friends instead3. So, if you find yourself struggling with a bigger group, try finding a way to practice your Japanese with a singular partner! Talking to one person is less tiring than a whole group and usually needs less time. This also helps to start a meaningful relationship with the person you’re talking with (which in turn makes talking more enjoyable). Chatting with one person also makes it easier to schedule a set time for meetings (as opposed to a whole group); creating a routine habit of practicing can be a good way to get used to speaking Japanese! You can check out details about our private lessons here.

Once again, if this is hard to find in your area, trying language exchange apps (such as HelloTalk or Tandem), websites, or online tutoring might be the easiest way to achieve this idea. (You can even get started today with our online private lessons!) Just make sure you also spend time talking to others as well; after all, Japanese is used by all sorts of interesting people!

Some language exchange offer features to call or video calls them, and because it’s all online, it’s a great option if you’re shy. You can find a language partner with your targeted language (besides English and Japanese).  

  1. HelloTalk
  2. SewaYou
  3. Tandem

Janese Learning Strategy 3: Take a Break

In order to be fully fluent, there will be times when you need to get out of your comfort zone and do things you don’t feel confident in. However, knowing when to take a break is important too! Japanese should be fun to study, but if you’re constantly stressed from pushing yourself (either from speaking or being around people), your motivation will decrease and your Japanese won’t improve. If you start to feel drained and burned out, taking a break from people is the best route. This can give you time to focus on other crucial areas too. After all, language isn’t just spoken – it’s also written, read, and heard. You can’t forget to do these as well!

If you find yourself getting burnt out at particular times (like later in the day or after a certain amount of time), try to avoid these when you can. Plan practice times when you feel most energetic or alert, and set time limits on what you do (e.g. talking with a partner for only 30 minutes). Ultimately, you know yourself and your limits the best, so find what works for you and go from there!

Japanese Learning Strategy 4: Form Good Study Habits

Whether it’s Japanese or any other subject, knowing how to study can make a huge difference. Luckily, there are some approaches just for introverts! Maloy Burman, an education expert, writes of a few practices that many find helpful; one is to make time for independent study2. Since most introverts process information best when alone, making sure to set up private study times is very important2. This will give you time to fully understand the material and prepare yourself for upcoming tasks.

Studying in groups with a lot of extroverts can often be distracting, but studying with a small group of other introverts is another idea Burman mentions2. Not only are these groups (usually) quieter, but it also gives you a chance to learn from others2. Perhaps someone else can tell you of their effective study methods! Lastly, studying in a quiet place is very effective2. Many find that being in their rooms, the library, unused classrooms, or other peaceful places helps to maintain focus.

Japanese Learning Strategy 5: Practice and Preparation

Even when you become more relaxed using Japanese, there will still be times when you feel nervous and uncomfortable. This can be during tests, presentations, talking to someone new, or even just an off-day. A smart way to minimize these feelings is to prepare as much as you can and practice until you feel ready – especially for speeches. Very few people are good with impromptu speaking, so there’s no shame in going over what you want to say! One practice method is to write out what you want to say on note cards. You can then glance at them for reference when talking. With enough repetition, the words will come naturally, and you’ll no longer need the cards. Another method is to practice in the outfit you plan on wearing and in the same venue (classroom, auditorium, etc.); this way, you’ll know how the situation will be ahead of time, and it will feel more familiar.

If you are taking a Japanese class, you can also try asking your teacher for a copy their notes beforehand; seeing the topic and reading over the information early can make you feel better prepared to participate in class. It’s also a good idea to read ahead in your textbook too!

Additional Tips and Tricks

  • When practicing with others online, try sending voice notes! This will help you become more confident speaking the language out loud.
  • If you find yourself getting nervous when speaking, try writing down a few key points for what you want to say.
  • Keeping a tidy desk while studying can be a good way to reduce distractions and keep your mind focused2.
  • Jot down notes during a conversation; this can include new vocab, topics covered, or questions you have. After talking, you can review these notes by yourself and better process the conversation.
  • When in a classroom, try sitting closer to the front; this will put fewer people between you and the teacher, making it easier to concentrate1.
  • Try setting goals for yourself during your conversations; these can be things like asking a question or using a particular type of grammar pattern. Goals can help keep you engaged and focused on the topics at hand!
  • If you need a break from people but still want to practice your listening, try listening to some Japanese media! Finding a podcast with a transcript or a video with subtitles will help you to follow along.
  • Try not to compare your progress to others, especially if they seem to have an easier time with the things you struggle with; we all have different strengths!

Conclusion

Things that are worth doing in life are often hard to do, and learning a new language is no exception! While it may be tiring putting yourself out there and making the effort to become better at Japanese, you will be proud of yourself when you see how far you’ve come. Plus, the more you try, the easier it will get! So, keep these tips in mind and you will be speaking like a natural in no time!

Want to Learn Japanese in a Small, Fun Class?

If you learn Japanese the fun and easy way, Coto Academy offers small, cozy Japanese language classes from beginner to advanced. We also offer online private lessons to better help you with your specialized learning needs or preference.

If you want to study Japanese online or in person in Tokyo or Yokohama, get in touch with us. We offer a free level check and consultation to match you with the best course.

References

  1. ASO Staff. (2022, November 8).  Introvert’s guide to college success. Accredited Schools Online. https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/introvert-guide-to-college/
  2. Burman, M. (2018, December 19). 6 Helpful study tips for high school senior introverts. Edu Special. https://www.edu-special.com/6-helpful-study-tips-for-high-school-senior-introverts/.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, July 27). Introverts vs. extroverts: What’s the difference? Health Essentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/introvert-vs-extrovert/.
  4. Lauretta, A. (2022, May 2). What is an introvert? Forbes Health. https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/what-is-an-introvert/.


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