One of the biggest shocks that people have about Japan is that although everyone has studied English at school, hardly anyone speaks it.
I'm sure you had English classes for 3 years in middle school, yes? And probably high school? And can you speak fluent English?
Just imaging if you had studied Kanji for 6 years in Elementary School and couldn't write a single one! So why can't you speak English?
Well, the reason is that you were working hard, but not smart. You had the wrong goals and targets in mind.
Up until now the Japanese High School English system was built on ideas from the Meiji period.
In that time the target wasn't communication English, because there was no-one to communicate with! The aim then was to bring foreign knowledge into Japan.
People would read books in German or English or Dutch about arms, or medicine or engineering. They would dissect the grammar and translate it into Japanese for everyone to read and understand.
If you think about your high school English, it was probably something just like that. And in that respect Japan has succeeded, it now rules the world in hi-technology. Japan can achieve anything.
But It's not the Meiji period anymore, It's now about communication.
Unfortunately the system hasn't caught up yet, but it will. So realize that what you learnt in high school won't really help you.
But don't feel bad about the time you spent, you were just working towards an unsuitable goal.
And now things are different, now you have a new goal, a new motivation, and a new determination to achieve that goal.
So what if you decide to work 15 hours a day on English. Will you get good?
Well, what if you spent 15 hours a day practicing baseball? In the beginning you might see some improvement, but after a while you'll simply get tired.
Although every minute adds up, every minute has to count.
Instead of simple focusing on the time, or seeing how many CD or movie you've listened to, work smart instead of hard.
5 minutes of good concentrated practice is worth more than a hundred hours of tediously studying grammar.
You time is important, you'll never get it back, so work smart, not hard.