Grinding: Focus On What You CAN Do

This entry is part of 16 in the series Intermediate Angst

Often enough, a comment puts it much better than I ever put it. This was one such situation. Handsome AJATTeer Pingfa brings us back to basics, urging us to focus on what we can do, on what we can control, on our point(s) of maximum power and traction.

There’s a quote I read once that I really like (big aphorism collector here). It goes something like: ordinary people try to do what they can’t do; the true hero simply does what he can do. Once you stop whining and complaining and worrying about what you can’t do, you realize that there’s far more that’s within your power than you give yourself credit for. You become resourceful, like MacGyver with his Bisquick. You don’t necessarily become MacGyver; he had his tools and you have yours (plus he’s fictional). But you do become like him, which is the point really.

How do you get where you want to go? By moving in that direction. How do you move in that direction? By using whatever means of locomotion are readily available to you at that particular place and time. Ancient people didn’t refuse to walk until horses had been tamed, or refuse to ride until cars had been invented. Stop wanting to know whether or not it works. It works. It’s working. Move already.

Pingfa on April 27, 2013 at 20:58:

The best way to do get over doubts about a language is to put aside the doubts and break down what you know you can do for sure.
You can learn words. That’s a guarantee. Maybe you won’t always understand the context, but it’s easy learning a word. Look it up, look it up again, win.

Even if you know absolutely nothing about the sentence structure, one thing anyone without a significant mental retardation is guaranteed to be able to do is learn a word. Learn all the words within a sentence and you can piece them together. Even if you know all the words within a sentence but don’t know the context of that specific sentence, there’ll be sentences you can piece together that further clarify those sentences.

So keep being exposed to words. Keep absorbing words, and eventually you will be able to piece those words together to form a coherent sentence. It’s like many pieces of a puzzle, once you’ve figured out how one piece fits with another and another piece fits with that, you’re on your way to making a bigass puzzle.

If on the other hand, if one has doubts not so much about their capability but about their motivation, I believe the best way to maintain motivation when you are lacking comprehension is to seek out media you enjoy as is without the need to understand it. Enjoy some pretty visuals. Watch dubs of movies you already know the dialogue to. Don’t concern yourself with learning if you don’t want to, put your feet up and enjoy the ride.

You might think at some point, ‘I really should learn more’, but that’s really not necessary to maintain exposure. As long as the language continues to surround you, you will solidify what you’ve learned even if you don’t actively learn any more.

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  6 comments for “Grinding: Focus On What You CAN Do

  1. Aspiring
    May 26, 2013 at 11:19

    you gotta grind right now!

    ,i guess
    😀

  2. ケイトリン
    May 26, 2013 at 14:28

    I like the point about seeking out media you can enjoy without understanding it. I made the decision to switch to raw Japanese because the way I see it, if something can’t hold my interest because it’s too hard to understand, I should skip it, even if I think, “I’d love this if only I could read it!” I can always go back and check it out again later. It’s not like it’s going to disappear from the world.

    And even if I can’t follow every part of every conversation, that’s no big deal. I watch shows in English, forget most of what was said on them anyway, and never worry about it.

  3. May 27, 2013 at 15:47

    Turn the hourglass, preacher! It’s all about the tiny building blocks! All you need then is lots of context-rich source material… like TV shows or manga to be able to understand how they fit together. (I… wasted a lot of time with dictionary sentences which I had no hope of understanding without a picture. Don’t make my mistake :P)

  4. フレヂィー
    May 29, 2013 at 10:13

    www.sanseido.net for quick/dirty sentences. They are plain and waaay easier to grasp than most 電子辞書 out there.

    Nice post.

  5. 眠い
    February 25, 2014 at 05:21

    I agree with this. I did have to look at where to go, but I had little trouble after that. Nowadays, while I cannot understand the text that NPCs say, I understand a great deal of the menus in キングスフィールド(I love this game I play it lot in Japanese). Furthermore, the game uses pictures for the weapons/armor/other items, making it much easier as well.

    Also, if you asked me about what a Japanese stream would be doing in Dark Souls at the time, I could tell you, as I’ve played it in English, alot. Which is odd, considering that I played past New game only once or twice and wasn’t any good at PvP to begin with. I wonder how much of Dark Souls II I’ll understand from my knowledge of the first game.

    Lastly, I’m starting to be able to take hints from the Kanji. I know this because a certain NPC had a Moon Gate I wanted, but wouldn’t give it to me. I keep talking to him and he simply repeated his last line repeatedly. That’s when my grinding paid off. When I saw シース and 持 in the same sentence, I figured that he wanted a Statue of Seath and knew exactly where that was. I came back and he gave me the 月のゲート when I gave him said item.

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