Thursday, January 09, 2020

[Me Time] Know Your Limits

I am always questioning myself about my limits.

What does limit mean?

I tried to look it up on the oxford dictionary and found that limit (noun) is defined as a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass.

We all know that there is a phrase "know your limits". It means that we should know what we are good at and what we are not good at. It is important to know our limits to succeed. For example, if we want to get a high score in a TOEFL test, knowing which is our weakness and which is our strength will help us to prioritize which section we should improve so we can spare more time to prepare for it.

When I was in school, English was the subject I hated the most. I don't know why I couldn't get my head around it for about 15 years!

I have been learning English since I was in primary school, but I couldn't even form a correct sentence when I was in Junior high school. One day, I was tidying things up when I ran across my Junior high school book. I opened it and the first sentence I read was "I am is a student." LOL.

When my senior high school best friend came to my house, I told her about that, then she asked me, "Why didn't you write 'I am is are a student'". We laughed. I think it was the problem why I have never gotten even 7 in English subjects back then (and made me feel so frustrated).

I come from Indonesia. I am not surrounded by English-speakers nor have talked with foreigners. Every day, I speak Javanese (one of the local languages in Java Island) and of course, Indonesian. I can remember how hard I tried to understand English because I had no clue about it at that time. Still, it seemed like Mathematics more appealed to me than English. Solving mathematical problems was way easier than building a single correct sentence in English.

When I was in Senior high school, I did well with almost all of the subjects but I chose to learn the Japanese language instead of chemistry, physics, economics, and such. The reason why it appealed to me maybe because Japanese was the first language I could get my head around to. For the first time in my life, I could build a correct sentence in a foreign language!

Thus, I am majoring in Japanese literature now even though it is not as easy as I thought before. There are a lot of Kanji characters to remember and yet, the Japanese language also has a lot of grammar! I mean it. There are over 700 kinds of grammar in Japanese. Moreover, a form of grammar can have two or more different meanings.

I think I am not good at learning a foreign language before I realized that I HAVEN'T put so much effort yet to understand it.

Looking back at my past years, I didn't practice much to improve my skills, I didn't study hard to get a better understanding of the difference between one grammar and another. I didn't know my limits!

When I was in the 12th grade of Senior high school, I took a TOEFL test and got score 460 (I knew some of the theories but I couldn't form sentences correctly). Three and a half years later, I took another TOEFL test and got only 486! If you think it is a high score, no it's not because even if I got a quite (maybe) high score, I didn't know how to use grammar in sentences and my English was extremely terrible.

I thought I have improved my English for the past three and a half years. No, I mean, I wasn't into English, but seriously in three and a half years, I could only get a minor difference score? I was very frustrated.

After that, I tried to learn English deeply. I don't know why I gain more interest in English all of a sudden. I didn't study hard. I just downloaded several English game apps. I played it when I got bored with my daily activities.

About five months later, I tried to take another TOEFL test and I was really surprised because I got 567! Wow! I didn't expect it at all. Like, I wanted to get at least 530, but ... 567? I have never imagined it!

For three and a half years, my score rose by only 26, but in less than five months I got almost a-100-point-jump score. Even though I got a HIGH score, I didn't think I could form a better sentence at that time. Really. I kinda answered all of the questions with feelings. If they asked me why I chose the answer, I could only say that it was because my heart said so. LMAO.

Now, I understand what "know your limits" means. I can't form natural-sounds sentences in English, so I should try to find the best way to do it. I can write a diary(like what I am doing now), having a chat with foreigners on many apps (we are living in a technological age so talking with foreigners is no longer just a dream), reading English articles every day, etc. There are a lot of things we can do in this digital era.

I can't speak English fluently, so I try to record my speech or my grumble on my phone. I can also have a phone call with foreigners through many apps. So, I think finding my limits is the best way to improve myself.

"Know your limits" doesn't mean that you should limit yourself. No, it is a way to find what your weaknesses and strengths are, so you can put your focus to turn the weaknesses into strengths.  I couldn't even form sentences correctly until a month ago, now I am writing a 1000-word diary in English even though it still sounds unnatural.

I have ever watched an episode of "Naruto" (one of my favorites anime), he said something like this: "There was a technique I hated back in the day but now I have mastered instead."

I hope I can master this language someday. I will make sure to never give up and keep practicing.

So, Guys! Know your limits, then break them! Thank you for reading!

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  1. Can I just say that seeing you write an entire blog post in English makes my heart blossom with pride! You did great – more than you give yourself credit for, honestly. I'm sure that you'll be able to master in English in the near future, since you have a talent for languages!

    1. Elisa :``` Thanks for your kind words .. My tears are at the peak :``

      It means a lot!


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Books' better half who's been taking small steps each day towards her dreams. She's very interested in reading literacy, education, language, culture, and philosophy. You can find her on Twitter @psybooklogy and Instagram @ra.juwita


日本語日本文学生のラトナ・ジュウィタです、どうぞよろしくお願いします! このブロクを気に入っていただけたら嬉しいです。

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