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Eliminate your weakest link.
1) What are you worst at?
Sentences. Putting the vocabulary and grammar together to form coherent sentences of more than just a short and/or simple phrase, and recalling those things at a moment’s notice for conversations. It is masked as “I don’t know what to say” or “I don’t know how to say what I want to say”.
2) Why is it your weak spot?
I think it’s because I started out translating Japanese songs to English before I actually learned the Japanese language. ^^; I ended up thinking in short phrases and relied heavily on dictionaries while I just sort of threw together the translated words however they best fit, sometimes using only word meanings I preferred rather than the most-used meaning of the word.
What does this weakness hold back?
If I can’t do sentences well/think in sentences, then I can’t write sentences well either. It severely hurts my conversational abilities because it causes my mind to go blank when I am faced with a Japanese person trying to talk to me in Japanese. I often know what they say, but can only offer a couple of vocabulary words in response, or an English word with a Japanese accent. “OK desu.”
That hurts my confidence in speaking and makes me want to just translate songs (or sing the songs) instead!
3) What do you need to do to eliminate this weak spot?
I think I should write in Japanese without relying on a dictionary or running each sentence through the Nifty translator. I should actually use Lang-8 like Koichi recommends.
If I spent fifteen minutes a day reviewing sentences in Anki or writing a post in Japanese without help, I think it would help fix this problem. I can record myself speaking in a mock conversation, and do the shadowing method to help me improve with my quickness of speaking and actually putting sentences together on the fly. Then, of course, real conversations become easier, so I’ll improve with creating sentences!
Then I think the problem will be fixed.
Do you have a similar problem? What will you do, or what are you doing to fix it?