After studying at class it can be liberating to do things at your own pace and on your own terms. Still there is no doubt that people enjoy being in groups and there are certain things you can do together that you can’t do alone. Studying is no different. If you can stay focused, there are many ways you can benefit by sticking together and forming a Japanese study group or by just having a partner to study Japanese with.
When you study Japanese together, you have a much bigger information base. If you don’t understand something, your friend might and you can ask. You can also share textbooks and interesting or useful words and phrases, books, movie and music recommendations and motivate each other. When you study Japanese in a group, it’s more interesting and the information you take in will tend to stick a lot better. You can also practice speaking together. If you are studying the same material, you can make good use of the words and grammar that you are currently studying. You can also brainstorm together and think of questions to bring to class or to a native speaker and your study partner or group member may bring up some important question that you haven’t thought of. If you and your study partner(s) level is not even, one person can take the role of the student and one of the teacher. The benefits of the student-role may be obvious but the person who takes the role of the tutor will have a great chance to review everything that they have studied up until now.
Compete and Learn
I am not a competitive person. When I was young, soccer was more about trying to kick the ball hard than get it in the goal. Since I made my own challenge (kick the ball across the field or even further), the standard challenge of soccer didn’t matter much to me. But whether you prefer common straightforward challenges or making your own original ones, a competitive attitude can help motivate you to to learn Japanese faster and will bring out your fighting spirit. If you are lagging behind your friend, it will make you much more motivated to put in a little extra time, learn a few extra words or get further in your textbook. When you are together, you can work together and build on each others knowledge and when you go off to study on your own, let yourself get extra competitive in order to try to surpass your study partner(s). Almost everyone loves a friendly challenge and you have nothing to lose. The point of competition isn’t to beat someone. Winning and losing isn’t important; the idea is to push yourself in order to prove and a rival may help give you a benchmark to measure your fluency and help motivate you to keep studying Japanese with everything you have.
The point of studying together is to make the whole ordeal more fun but don’t forget the reason you’re working together. If you aren’t learning anything, you might as well be drinking a beer or playing video games together. Try to develop a habit of studying seriously for at least 60-80% of your time and relaxing, talking about your studies and sharing information for the remainder. If you have a hard time focusing, make a goal such as finishing a chapter or memorizing a list of words and don’t talk until you finish that goal. This method should make studying Japanese a painless, even fun experience.