Ajatt suggests keeping to you Japanese immersion environment and not worrying about trying to talk to L2 natives until you are completely ready. Here is the thing tho. If you are not a naturally social person, or maybe if you suffer from social anxiety, or maybe if when you try to talk to L2 natives they don’t understand you right away and that bothers you, you may feel like not talking. Even tho u maybe should be talking, you’ll think, ah I’ll just wait until I’m fluent and then start talking to people and they will all think I’m so cool.
Here is the thing tho. In my experience, and I’ve mentioned this before, the human brain will eventually get turned off of doing something if there seems to be no point. So if you are learning a language to talk to people, but then when you learn a word or phrase that you could use, but don’t use. That is one minus point for your brain as far as you really needing to learn the language. Of course you can wait until you are comfortable with the tones or the pronunciation, well at least for me, I didn’t notice a decline in motivation until I knew for a fact that I could be talking to people but still didn’t cause I wanted to be 100%. I wanted it to be cool when I started talking in my L2, not just ok, or cute. At first I was ok with just knowing a few phrases, but then this form of elitism took over where I felt like, anyone can say nihao I have to more than some random guy. Or maybe it was a combination of that and the fear that I would just become satisfied with nihao when Chinese people tell me o wow good for you your so good you can say hi in my language. Whatever it was I slowly became more and more ASM about my language learning so that I wouldn’t talk to L2 native until I was close to fluent.
It might be that the(my) brain doesn’t feel in terms of fluent or not fluent, and so its like not a worth while goal in terms of being a fun goal from start to finish. Or it might be just that my original pure goal was to make Chinese my language and be able to communicate with Chinese people in Chinese as such. Which doesn’t necessarily call for fluency, it just calls for that native feel for the language that even kids have at 500 word vocabularies. Yes that’s what I think it is. Hey I just figured this out while typing it. So for the brain, fluency isn’t having a huge vocabulary, its more about how you feel, and that is what I think alot of people want to get out of language learning. They what to feel that feeling when your used to another language. I’ve felt it with Chinese, it’s like having another soul. That comes from immersion more than anything I think, and immersion using the most frequent vocab, repeatedly is best, so it becomes ingrained and becomes apart of you. kids learn the most common words first and are native with those alone. That is important to know.
I was thinking of swiching languages because it seemed like there was nothing for me to gain anymore in Chinese. Then when I was serving customers at a part time fast food gig, a woman with a young kid come to the counter and she spoke almost no English and she said soothing in another language and made the hand signal for 6 in Chinese and I suddenly realized she was speaking Chinese to me. It had been awhile since I had touched Chinese, and the stress of the environment was wreaking havoc on my memory as well so and I actually had to count in Chinse out loud to six to realize she was asking for 6 and pointing to the chicken wings.
She realized I was counting in Chinese and in Chinese I think she asked if I was Chinese and I said bu shi, which I don’t even look a bit Asian I don’t think. I did my best to struggle through helping her and it was basically like I was in my first week of learning but it felt amazing. Other people behind her in line were watching and that added to the stress even more but I was so in the zone because it was like I needed that conversation so bad. That incident made my night and if I don’t burn out again and if I get to have enough positive experiences in this language which I have control over as well, I should become fluent.