Here is a really cool post about the need for input at bilingualmente. It’s right on the money with the problem of thinking in your base language instead of in your target language, and how to solve it. I was just discussing this with Momoko yesterday. Other than failing to systematically learn kanji in large quantity, another major reason people have trouble with Japanese even after taking classes in it, is that the textbooks, perhaps by nature of being written in English, tend to focus on the parts of Japanese that work the most like English — it’s easier to explain and easier to grade — after all, no one wants to discuss how to use “やっぱり” or “ていうか” or “って”: that might actually take some thought or even (gasp) require a change in methodology. Unfortunately, the Japanese that is structured like English (or that has analogues in English) is only a very small part of the language, and it’s certainly not the part that most Japanese people use. Real Japanese is not “hard”, it’s just different; it is a different paradigm from Germanic or even Indo-European languages. In order to use Japanese properly, let go of who you were and do things the Japanese way — and that goes for any language, really.
You’ve got to paradigm-shift! Diversify, optimize, realize! OK, now I’m just being silly.