the small boy principle

A long time ago, I read an account of an explorer’s solo ski adventure across Labrador. It must have made quite an impression on me since I still remember much of it; but one of the things I remember most was his eating system, which he called the “small boy principle” — eat first what you like most! Pulling a sled across the snow all day takes so many calories that it didn’t matter much what you ate, as long as you got enough of it. His stash of chocolate was gone first, as I recall. Lunch was massive peanut butter and jam sandwiches, over 1000 calories each. I’m not sure what else he carried, but he’d made sure it was all stuff he liked, since he’d have to be eating it by the trainload.

I think the tie-in to learning Japanese should be fairly self-evident. You’re going to need a huge amount of input — you’re after all trying to catch up with people who have had Japanese input and nothing else from the day they were born — so you’d better be sure you enjoy it, and not try too hard to eat your broccoli, as it were. Luckily even the junk food is good for you! That ridiculous game show? That eye-roll-inducing drama? That laughably juvenile shounen manga? All of it just packed with nutritious Japanese.

Sure this isn’t going to teach you business Japanese, or academic Japanese. But until your language skills are at least equal to the average Japanese teenager’s, what are you doing trying to learn that stuff anyway? And I assure you you’ll learn more from ten hours of romance manga than you will from twenty minutes of Serious Study of dreadfully boring stuff picked out for you by dreadfully boring people. (And if business or academic language is your box of truffles, have at it!)

There’s no chance of any shortage of the material you like most, either — Japan produces more media of all kinds than anywhere else in the world (or so I’ve heard. Anyway, there’s lots.). No chance, then, of any need to study something you’re not interested in, or feel that you “should” study, because you’ve run out of the junk food.

So eat your chocolate, it’s good for you!

Comments are closed.