Compromise: Maintaining Your Immersion Environment Without Completely Alienating Your Fellows…or Yourself

The title of this post is a misnomer: I don’t know that you can both immerse yourself and avoid alienating your friends/family/roommates. But, you can help soften the blow somewhat. These are fun activities you can do with non-immersing people around you, who, as you may already be observing, can sometimes have very strange reactions to your immersion. I don’t get it — I’ve seen otherwise very cool guys become sobbing, emotional wrecks over me saying that I can’t go to a movie with them because it’s in English. Yeah…your guy friends become clingy, bipolar, high-maintenance wusspots. “Bros before hos”? Pssssh…my “bros” don’t make out with me!

Anyway…

1. Music videos

In Japanese, these are called “PV” (promotional videos); “MV” (music videos) in Chinese. Watch lots of music videos. There’s just something about the combination of music and visuals that can hold people’s attention for a really long time. People who would otherwise whine about you doing immersion in another language, somehow just get drawn in by music videos. So use them.

2. Watch L2 video with L1 subtitles

L1 would be English for most of you here, and L2 Japanese. Generally, I’m wary of the use of subs because they tend to create an illusion of comprehension, as well as (more importantly) distract from listening; I know plenty of rabid anime fans who’ve watched thousands of hours of subbed anime but don’t actually know Japanese.

But, for someone who’s not working on the language with you, watching L2 stuff can be a chore…unless and until you sub it up. So, when you have friends who don’t know, the subs don’t have to go.

3. Just Plain Music

Hey, it’s the universal language, right? Pick a style that everyone enjoys and play it up. Everyone will love Rip Slyme.

4. Food

Make people a meal. With all that stuff in their mouth they won’t be able to whine and complain about you doing immersion. You can look up the recipe in Japanese and then execute. This means you get to learn food words, too! Snap!

5. The Enemy Within? Compromising with Yourself

I, too, am still partially human. I have seen the temptation in your heart. After all, MAD TV is good for you, right? Laughter’s the best medicine, right? So watching MAD TV is nothing less than a medical necessity, right? I mean, there’s a cancer called sadness and the only cure is more cowbell, uh, comedy…right? And there’s no Daily Show in Japanese so this is all there is to go on, right?

Cut the crap.

Stop making up lame-donkey, righteous-seeming excuses to slip back into your native language. 99.9% of the reasons for not immersing are bogus. Even “burn-out” is, IMHO, almost always bogus — you’re not “burned out”, you’re just “being lame”: you need to get more creative about the immersion process. Anyone who has the mental togetherness to pronounce themselves “burned out” is simply a whiner; when you’re really burned out you’ll be trembling uncontrollably and frothing at the mouth, so chill. Find new friends, find new materials. Currently I am constantly feeding myself a stream of new Cantonese content — new videos every day, a new batch of books every few weeks, new friends every week [mostly Skype — by the way, do you like how I talk about people as if they were a commodity?…maybe I’m the cancer of sadness]. No one’s going to turn the soil for you, so you’ve got to keep it fresh.

Two techniques I use to deal with the desire to slip back into English. Credit for the first must go to Timothy Ferris.

i) Put your computer on standby or lock the workstation or whatever. Then plan and write down the next thing you’re going to do on your computer before you do it. Then do it. When you’re done, put your computer back on standby/lock and repeat. In any case, never approach a computer, especially a computer with an Internet connection, without a written agenda . This does a number of things:

a) Prevents accidentally slipping into random surfing about domestic violence by women [apparently, women are…freaking hardcore]. While it is kind of cool to be so well-read on Erin Pizzey’s research, there are other things that needed and need my attention.

b) Requires you to think about the most important thing to do, and helps you do it. Often, the most important thing to do may be to get away from that screen for a change and read a book instead, or go play outside [armed with your trusty mp3 player, of course!]

c) Prevents you actively doing stupid, time-wasting things. Before implementing this, I would often click around my computer looking for amusement, and invariably that amusement would amount to meaningless googling or compulsive email-checking. There’s something about writing down what you’re going to do, before you do it, that just raises your accountability to yourself. I don’t know about you, but I’m embarrassed to have “surf random English websites” on my “record” as it were. So embarrassed — I know that Cantonese is my priority — that I stay immersed, i.e. away from English.

ii) 0.1% of the time, there is a legitimate reason for me to be reading English. The book Eat to Live, for example — there is no Japanese translation yet [showtime, Khatzumoto?], and I was reading this book for genuine, immediate, actionable medical reasons. At times like these, I play Japanese/Cantonese music or videos, while reading the English — very quickly.

And that concludes my tips! How have you dealt with keeping yourself immersed, and wusspotage from people close to you? Do share!

  37 comments for “Compromise: Maintaining Your Immersion Environment Without Completely Alienating Your Fellows…or Yourself

  1. October 20, 2008 at 15:37

    Thanks for another great article. I’ve been experimenting with time-boxing lately, to eliminate the very “stupid, time-wasting things” you speak of, with mixed results. Writing down my plans in advance may be exactly the motivation I need to make it work.

  2. Daniel
    October 20, 2008 at 19:18

    I’m having trouble reconciling reality with how Khatz talks about 100% immersion. And calling people who choose to do some number under 100% “wusses” I think is pretty shitty:

    First of all, didn’t you do your immersion environment while living in America? If so, you get mental breaks from the undeniable stress and natural fatigue that comes with thinking and doing everything in your second language, all the time. Every time you’d leave your room you’re back in an English environment. Everything outside is in English, all the signs, all the overheard conversation, all the store clerks, all your friends, your family, your job. This is all a very, very comfortable mental relief from 100% immersion. Plus, if you fail at something in Japanese, there’s absolutely no consequences.

    On the flip side of the coin you have Japan. Everything outside of your room is still in Japanese; the signs, the overheard convos, the store items and store clerks…I don’t think I need to list every obvious little thing. And you do have real consequences if you mess up your Japanese. In the beginning that’s particularly stressful, although of course as your language ability progresses those consequences become quite minor.

    So if I want to come home and watch an episode of the Daily Show for 20 mins I’m suddenly a wuss? I think this is way less mental relief than actually doing this method in
    America for 18 months where you get perfectly comfortable mental breaks everyday while not having any consequences for your screw-ups.

    I’d like to see a more constructive post about burn-out and immersion learning in general while living in Japan. Because if you’re not already basically fluent, or have some saintly personality, immersion is going to bring you stress plain and simple, no matter how much fun you’re having.

    In my experience, if I’m feeling super-burned-out and stressed, I take a day of no-japanese-at-all, and then the next day I’m usually quite refreshed and come back to immersion with a clear and sharpened mind. Is there really something so wrong with this?

    Side note: I love watching English movies with Japanese subtitles. It helps my vocabulary and general expression range immensely, so I have no problem going to see an English movie in a theater. Anyone agree?

  3. October 20, 2008 at 19:46

    Boo hoo hoo, burn-out is real, waah, you just don’t understand~~. Just kidding, you’re right. Personally I think it’s fine to take a very short break, just an hour or two, do something else, and then come right back to Japanese. The longer you stay away citing burn-out, the more likely you are to stop learning completely.

  4. John
    October 20, 2008 at 20:33

    If you want to learn the language by watching movies – L1 audio with L2 subtitles won’t get you very far – the mind has a great way fo filtering out what it doesn’t yet understand.

    The following combinations are better, in my experience:

    L2 audio, on it’s own. This is the most difficult, but gives full immersion in the language, visual cues help provide some context – watching things once though won’t help as much as if you watch them through several times.

    L2 audio with L2 subtitles – not so much with japanese i guess, but with languages that uses the roman alphabet, the combination of audio and subtitles reinforce each other. Many films have same language subtitles for the hard of hearing.

    My favorite: an L1 film that you know, dubbed in L2, forces you to listen to the language, but you have enough context to give you a clue what’s being said, so you tend to remember the dialogue and the way it sounds.

  5. Luke M
    October 20, 2008 at 21:37

    Sorry, this is a bit off topic but……Does anyone know if there is a scenario book (script) for Trick?

    I found this one:

    www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/4048735101/ref=s9sims_c6_14_img1-rfc_g1-frt_g1-3215_g1-3102_p?pf_rd_m=AN1VRQENFRJN5&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=09N4KKWXPSVZZHWRZRBN&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=100534806&pf_rd_i=489986

    But I dont think its the scenario book for the actual tv show?

    Khatz? Anyone?

    Cheers

  6. Rob
    October 20, 2008 at 22:09

    Thanks for this post; I’ve been wanting you to write more about dealing with immersion issues. One thing you don’t really mention which I think deserves its own article, is pride-swallowing. I think that needs to be addressed right after the Belief step in the beginning AJATT stages.

    When you start and do AJATT, you are going to look like a dork to the outside world. People are going to give you dirty looks and maybe some will even point. I can only imagine what those old people in the grocery store are thinking when they see me walking down the aisle with my headphones in oblivious to everything else, “…those damn kids and their rock ‘n roll music!!!!”

    At first your family and friends will feel alienated and they may call you out on it. They will accuse you of not listening to them. All of these things can build and make it easy to pull the buds out. But from my experience (I’ve been doing this for almost one year now), you got to just let all that stuff go. Accept that people you don’t know will not like you. And like Khatz has said before, your friends and family will eventually come around and still be there at the end.

    Another thing that I did which helped me when I started was develop a hatred for English. I would trick my mind in believing that reading or listening to English was like eating beets or some other disgusting annoying thing. Obviously I have to use English sometimes as I live and work in America, but outside of the workplace it is out the door.

  7. Chiro-kun
    October 20, 2008 at 22:36

    Burnout is easy to avoid IMO if one focuses on one’s interests as opposed to the effectiveness of some grandiose method. I definitely do NOT want to be listening to Japanese Diet proceedings….all the time 😡

    Of course, I completely agree with 勝 about subs…..I remember the time I thought my Japanese was good because of 80% comprehension (with subs)*shudder*

  8. Ivan the Terrible
    October 20, 2008 at 23:16

    “I’m having trouble reconciling reality with how Khatz talks about 100% immersion. And calling people who choose to do some number under 100% “wusses” I think is pretty shitty:”

    Not to rag on Khatz, but I think the fact that he’s maintaining a semi-regularly updated web site in English is a pretty strong indication that the 100% isn’t quite 100%. 🙂

    There may be times there are things you have to do, or things that you really, really want to do, in English. If you have a job, for example, that requires communication with other human beings, being 100% immersion when you’re not in Japan or [insert target language country here] is not feasible. In my case, for example, I teach English; I can’t be 100% immersion in Mandarin or Japanese without being unemployed.

    So yes, some flexibility is necessary. The key, I think, is to understand when what you’re doing in English is necessary and when it’s simply you being a big wuss. And yes, some sacrifice may be necessary at times; I have a couple of games I reaaaallllyyyy want to play, for example, but there are no Chinese versions available, so I just have to suck it up and find entertaining stuff elsewhere that is in Mandarin.

  9. quendidil
    October 21, 2008 at 00:18

    I think the last bit is my main problem too. However, I’ve tried going on media fasts but the SRS backlog will just pile up.

  10. NDN
    October 21, 2008 at 03:00

    “Because if you’re not already basically fluent, or have some saintly personality, immersion is going to bring you stress plain and simple, no matter how much fun you’re having.”

    I’ll have to disagree a little bit. I think that’s the exact moment where a person sees if he/she really wants to learn the target language. However, I guess it’s impossible to go out thinking “I can’t watch an english movie, I can’t, I caaaaaaaaaan’t….”. One must feel on the skin what it is to lose 1-2 hours of Japanese(which he/she probably wants to know) while watching other infinitely less important things(which happen to be in the native language, i.e, already known).

    Then, after that movie/song/book, if the person is not crying (or just sad. At least I almost did cry) for having lost such precious time, then I guess he/she doesn’t want to learn Japanese (or any other target language) at all, it may be just a feeling of coolness.
    When it comes to practice, nothing (or almost nothing) can substitute trial and error, I think.

    But moving from that subject, I can’t believe I didn’t listen to Rip Slyme before. I was a pop and metal rock guy until I finally decided to give a try on Khatz’s suggestion(I guess almost 10 months after having started the immersion.). Now they’re the only thing I want to hear, especially, the “Masterpiece” album, it gets played over and over again all day.

  11. Mike
    October 21, 2008 at 06:07

    I don’t see how so many people can “disagree” with Khatzumoto on everything. No offense, but this isn’t a debate forum, and nobody asked for your opinion [if you said something negative]. All Khatzumoto does here, on HIS website, is lay out HIS way of learning. If you don’t like it, the door is right over there…no over a little bit, yeah, that’s good.

    Learning Japanese, or any language, is not just a “hobby” as Khatzumoto has pointed out quite a few times. If you want to be fluent in Japanese, you are going to have to replace the stuff you do in English with Japanese stuff.

    If everyone here is so eager to learn Japanese, I don’t see how any “argument” can exist. If you are constantly complaining about Japanese being “stressful” maybe you should just reconsider if you really want to learn or not. Well…I am going back to playing Zelda in Japanese…

  12. Alyks
    October 21, 2008 at 06:54

    I simply added the following lines to my hosts file:

    0.0.0.0 alljapaneseallthetime.com
    0.0.0.0 google.com
    0.0.0.0 en.wikipedia.org

    No problem.

  13. igor
    October 21, 2008 at 07:33

    Wow, so I know you’ve already read a TON of thank you comments, etc., but I just want to throw mine in there for the heck of it: thanks Khatz, what you’ve done means a lot to me. Okay, enough with the sappy stuff, lol…

    Seriously though, I like what you’ve done with the “Just do it” theme. I’m not ashamed to admit that this has revolutionized the way I do many things. I can’t help but examine EVERYTHING through this lens. For example, my public speaking class spends waaaayyy too much time debating, studying, and examining the theory and waaaayyy not enough time practicing. I know studying the theory is important in some cases, but, wow, I can’t help but realize all the worthless debating and theorizing, all in the name of some test and eventually a degree.

    Yeah, anyways, I know you’re probably not particularly interested in what I’m doing myself, but oh well. I’m still in the kanji phase (like 350-ish), although this taxes my immersion environment somewhat. In anime and other places, I can recognize many kanji, which is kind of cool. I can be like, “Ooh that kanji means x!” to all my anime friends. However, there are just some things that I have to do in english on the internet and other places that I am unable to do because I am not good enough at kanji yet (I know, lame excuse…).

    With audio, I almost always have japanese music playing or some random japanese podcast, although I do have to sometimes turn it off b/c I physically CAN’T do some things with that distraction. However, a word of warning; DO NOT use your car stereo to play Japanese music cds. Seriously. Just keep the headphones in. This is because, for me at least, every time I get out of school, I’m like, hey, I don’t have to put the headphones in cuz I’m heading to my car right now. Then when I get home I’m like, I’ll just wait till I get inside and turn my laptop on. WARNING! This is a poison! It was eat away your immersion environment time! And once you start to lose time, it’s a downward spiral from there.

    Oh yeah, and about the kanji thing. Assuming you’re using an SRS (oh, btw, I gave a speech on SRS in my Public Speaking class and totally mentioned Khatzumemo as an alternative to Supermemo-tho I must confess I am a faithful Anki fan…sorry!), it can become tiring doing 70 repetitions a day sometimes. I solved this by doing it at lunch at school with my friends (I have two hours for lunch cuz I’m in college). I’m sitting there at the table doing kanji with my headphones on. All my friends are like, “what the heck are you doing? You actually learn stuff OUTSIDE of school? Is that that crazy Japan-speak-stuff?” OMG, right? Well, for me the hardest part of kanji is the actual learning and not reviewing (I often have trouble with Heisig’s stories and/or creating ones of my own), so I thought I’d have my friends help. It has worked great. It’s like a really fun word game, and they stop scoffing at what you’re doing and really appreciate it. Anyways, this kinda requires SOME english so…

    As far as the writing down everything you’re going to do before you do it, I love it and will definitely implement it. It seems like it would work perfectly for me: if I don’t have a plan of action or basic outline, I go off on weeeeeeeiird tangents.

    Oh yeah, BTW. With anime, I love having it on a tab in the background and listening to it but not watching it. That way, I can skip over the subs but still get the benefit of Japanese-ish while working on other stuff. Also, have any of you realized how hard it is to find Anime with Japanese subtitles? I’m talking about like buying it (and not from Amazon.jp…). Seriously, all the flipping anime at Best Buy is like “ooh, we’re cool enough to have English and Japanese audio and english subs, but SCREW the Japanese subs!” Yeah, that’s pretty asinine…

    Okay, anyways, I apologize for cursing you with this ridiculously long comment. Thank you very much!

  14. October 21, 2008 at 10:04

    I agree with Khatz on this one. There’s a reason why the website/method is called AJATT. and that’s because you’re supposed to be listening to/reading/etc Japanese all the time! Khatz is hardcore on this, but we have to ask just how much do we want to be fluent in Japanese? You need to make sacrifices to get good. It just so happens that the AJATT way doesn’t sacrifice fun, it just requires foregoing English.

    Where have all the whiners in the comments come from so suddenly??

    Daniel – why do you give a toss that Khatz may think you’re a wuss? If what you’re doing is working for you then carry on doing it. Take what is useful from here and discard the rest.

    “In my experience, if I’m feeling super-burned-out and stressed, I take a day of no-japanese-at-all, and then the next day I’m usually quite refreshed and come back to immersion with a clear and sharpened mind. Is there really something so wrong with this?”

    In all honesty I also sometimes have a bad time here in Japan, and as part of making myself feel better throw on some English youtube clips or music for *a few minutes* to cheer myself up. Is that AJATT? No. but do I occasionally view it as vital to maintaining my mental well being? Yes. Hopefully as my Japanese progresses I’ll stop needing to do this.

    One thing though, 2 days ago I hit the half was point in RTK1 and rewarded myself by having a ‘day off’ AJATT – I felt like I was cheating myself and after an hour or so put the Japanese back on!! I want to learn Japanese so much. at the end of the day, if I cheat, I’m cheating myself.

    Like NDN said:”One must feel on the skin what it is to lose 1-2 hours of Japanese(which he/she probably wants to know) while watching other infinitely less important things(which happen to be in the native language, i.e, already known).

    Then, after that movie/song/book, if the person is not crying (or just sad. At least I almost did cry) _for_having_lost_such_precious_time, then I guess he/she doesn’t want to learn Japanese (or any other target language) at all, it may be just a feeling of coolness.
    When it comes to practice, nothing (or almost nothing) can substitute trial and error, I think. “

  15. Daniel
    October 21, 2008 at 10:09

    I wanna simplify and clarify my position a bit:

    Of course burn-out is not an issue if you’re immersing yourself in a country other than Japan. Like burning-out on playing World of Warcraft for 10 hours a day is not really an issue.

    Because when you’re going to the supermarket to get some stuff to fix yourself a sandwich, that’s like at least a 20 minute mental break back into an all-english environment. I’m giving the bare minimal example here for the sake of argument, ignoring jobs and friends and family etc.

    You get no such breaks in Japan, and thus burnout does become a real issue. That’s all I’m sayin’. I don’t see how someone in America’s 20-min supermarket excursion is any different or more noble than me having some laughs over a 20-min daily show video on youtube while living in Japan. I don’t like the word “wuss” being throw at the latter and not the former.

    Khatz’s question was how do you deal with keeping yourself immersed, I think taking a youtube break to watch some comedy or listening to English music is a perfectly valid way of taking a break, I’m trying to get some feedback on why this is so sinful.

  16. beneficii
    October 21, 2008 at 11:07

    Daniel,

    If I recall, during those 20 minutes Khatz would have an MP3 player and headphones on him playing something in Japanese.

  17. October 21, 2008 at 13:05

    ” I think taking a youtube break to watch some comedy or listening to English music is a perfectly valid way of taking a break”

    I think if you read it he’s saying -not- to take breaks and instead feed yourself more varied and new/interesting things.

    “I’m trying to get some feedback on why this is so sinful.”

    It’s not ‘sinful’ – there’s nothing catholic about it! 🙂 It’s just in order to get the results, you have to put the time in, and when you’re listening to/watching stuff in English you’re not putting in the time. In one way though you’re right; ‘sin’ is an old Greek term from archery that meant ‘missing the mark’ so yeah, in watching English TV etc., you are definitely missing the mark (of learning/absorbing Japanese).

    I say again though, take people’s advice, but in the end, after consideration; do what works for you.

  18. Beck
    October 21, 2008 at 13:39

    Not to be obvious or anything but what the hell are all of you guys even doing on this English site? Especially Alyks who says he’s BLOCKED it.

    I feel like I’ve stumbled in on a round of My Immersion is Bigger Than Yours or something.

  19. Shhhtephen
    October 21, 2008 at 15:25

    @Daniel
    I totally understand the taking a break in Japan when I was there I wanted to freak out cause AJJATT makes your head hurt when you dont think and speak in Japanese, but take a look around buddy you are immersed if your located in Japan and when you walk outside your stuck in the Japanese environment, unless your stuck on a military base which I doubt you are, but for the rest of us who are not in Japan Khatz is giving us a little motivation. I read this post and said to myself “Damn I am being a wuss.” and for me it was all the motivation I needed to just get back to studying. If khatz didn’t speak in the manner of which he does I wouldn’t even bother with his methods but he talks like a friend by putting us down here and there so we can pick ourselves back up. I in no way doubt you get burnt out over there cause even the simple stuff burnt me out and I would spend whole days stuck watching American television on the STARZ network to keep from going suicidal. Sorry to say though you are whining in your first post so that slightly sticks you in the “wuss boat” with the rest of us. So don’t get upset about a word like “wuss” cause that doesn’t even come close to hanging out with the “sticks and stones.”

  20. Ivan the Terrible
    October 21, 2008 at 18:12

    “I don’t see how so many people can “disagree” with Khatzumoto on everything. No offense, but this isn’t a debate forum, and nobody asked for your opinion [if you said something negative]. All Khatzumoto does here, on HIS website, is lay out HIS way of learning. If you don’t like it, the door is right over there…no over a little bit, yeah, that’s good.”

    Do you really think the comments section only exists so people can stop in and say, ‘Yes, Khatz! You’re SOOOO right! I SOOOO agree with every word you say!’ ?

    This site details a method that was used by one person to achieve absolute fluency in Japanese in an insanely short period of time. That means it’s got a lot of backing to it, but it doesn’t make it the Gospel of Khatz, with every tiny detail of it utterly beyond second-guessing. The general method can be entirely useful and powerful while people still have differences of opinion on the details.

  21. NDN
    October 22, 2008 at 03:33

    @Ivan the Terrible
    I agree completely on the “details” part. This method shouldn’t be taken as absolute guide for success in the way that if someone doesn’t follow this he/she won’t reach fluency. But then what would the details be? “Oh, I’m listening to too much japanese and don’t get even a word let alone a sentence.” and other simliar “details”? I personally think that details would be: what SRS to use, what headphones to use, kind of sentence I like and other more “technical” aspects. I don’t remember as a baby, being able to run to a native language as that native language was precisely what I was acquiring(I’m starting to not like the word “learning” somewhat in this context). Surely, one has to do things in his native language, but only IF forced. I guess that’s the overall spirit of the AJATT. In some post, Khatz wrote the following (general idea only): “Learning japanese is easy, just forget that you’re a foreigner.”. How can someone burn-out now?
    With all the now-existing high-tech, I think that’s perfectly feasible. By the way, I don’t have money to buy headphones, let alone an MP3 Player and obviously online buyings are out. I don’t use J-J dictionaries because my internet connection is not for 24 hours (besides being 8kB/s AT BEST for downloads), so I use Edict from JWPce. Almost no time to watch anime and if I can it’s subbed and there’s no “Japanese Item’s Shop” or something like that in the area I live in. Is any of these stopping me from learning Japanese? I could just say “Damn, I can’t go on like this, I give up.” and I must admit I’ve thought it a few times (and even stopped for 2 weeks) but the love is greater. With guys having the opportunity to immerse themselves almost (if not really) 100% in Japanese saying “I burnt out”, I feel hmmm…., I don’t know the word for that in English as I’m not a native speaker but in Portuguese it would be “Zangado”, maybe the word is “Angry”, I don’t know.

  22. NDN
    October 22, 2008 at 03:44

    I thought it would be easier to read if separated in “paragraphs”. Sorry for the double.

    @Ivan the Terrible
    I agree completely on the “details” part. This method shouldn’t be taken as absolute guide for success in the way that if someone doesn’t follow this he/she won’t reach fluency.

    But then what would the details be? “Oh, I’m listening to too much japanese and don’t get even a word let alone a sentence.” and other similar “details”? I personally think that details would be: what SRS to use, what headphones to use, kind of sentence I like and other more “technical” aspects.

    I don’t remember as a baby, being able to run to a native language as that native language was precisely what I was acquiring(I’m starting to not like the word “learning” somewhat in this context). Surely, one has to do things in his native language, but only IF forced. I guess that’s the overall spirit of the AJATT.

    In some post, Khatz wrote the following (general idea only): “Learning japanese is easy, just forget that you’re a foreigner.”. How can someone burn-out now?
    With all the now-existing high-tech, I think that’s perfectly feasible. By the way,
    1. I don’t have money to buy headphones, let alone an MP3 Player and obviously online buyings are out of question.

    2. I don’t use J-J dictionaries because my internet connection is not for 24 hours (besides being 8kB/s AT BEST for downloads), so I use Edict from JWPce.

    3. Almost no time to watch anime and if I can it’s subbed and there’s no “Japanese Item’s Shop” or something like that in the area I live in.

    Is any of these stopping me from learning Japanese?

    I could just say “Damn, I can’t go on like this, I give up.” and I must admit I’ve thought it a few times (and even stopped for 2 weeks) BUT the love is greater.

    With guys having the opportunity to immerse themselves almost (if not really) 100% in Japanese saying “I burnt out”, I feel hmmm…., I don’t know the word for that in English as I’m not a native speaker but in Portuguese it would be “Zangado”, maybe the word is “Angry”, I don’t know.

  23. Daniel
    October 22, 2008 at 06:44

    Sorry ya’ll, I didn’t mean to be so negative. I apologize. Let me start over and offer this advice:

    A hurdle I have to overcome with full immersion is comedy. I think Japanese comedy generally sux. There’s only so much I can watch of one dude acting like an idiot and saying silly crap while his friend scolds him for it.

    So I’ve had a great day (immersion-wise); woke up early, did my reps, listened to all japanese tunes all day, kept my face in books and anime all day, did my daily online newspaper article, it’s all good. I had a lot of down time at work and I made use of it. But I’m a little tired and need to take the edge off with a good laugh when I get home after work. Here’s my dilemma: J-comedy thats starting to really irritate me, or Dave Chapelle. I gotta risk breaking into English or falling asleep half miffed-off because I can’t laugh out the stress. If you’re tired of Japanese comedy like me, youtube this: 人を怒らせる方法 <—-balls deep funny. It’ll renew your faith.

    Also for you English teachers out there: I’ve came to realize that in school Japanese are taught English strictly through translation. If given a Japanese sentence, they have translation techniques. If given an English sentence, they’ve got translation tricks to get it back into Japanese. We all know this method is indescribably horrible, but this can actually help you with your Japanese. Most of the time when your students are talking in class, it’s not English; it’s Japanese using English words. So if your vocabulary is decent you can work backwards and get a lot of natural Japanese out of this otherwise painful experience. For example, when I heard a student say “in the time that has been decided” 「限られた時間」 I finally realized this is how you can talk about having to do general crap outside of your leisure time (someone correct me if I’m wrong).

    So if you’ve got a high class load and you’re all pissed off because you can’t get that much Japanese in on that today, don’t despair too much: keep this in mind and you can still be absorbing Japanese even in an English class.

  24. October 22, 2008 at 11:45

    Woah, can I just take a second and say props to Daniel for keeping the conversation productive here? I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen an internet thread get a feisty but flip positive. And no name calling!? Unprecedented. Well done, y’all.

    Aaanyway, just wanted to agree that lots of people who come to Japan without knowing any Japanese (that’s what I did) feel something like “burnout” from time to time. I think part of it’s the combo of the new language/new culture/new-job/being-away-from-home hitting all at once.

    Not saying that it’s good or bad or inevitable, just saying that it seems to be common.

    I wrote an absurd illustrated list of dealing-with-burnout-tips for a foreigners-in-Japan newsletter a long while back, and after reading this thread decided to pop it online:
    www.kidethnic.com/article/182/how-to-not-hate-japanese

    (tip 1 will be comically familiar to AJATT readers, but if you like graphs…)

  25. October 22, 2008 at 11:46

    (er, “get a bit feisty”, since “get a feisty” doesn’t mean anything. sorry.)

  26. Shane
    May 25, 2009 at 20:19

    I am happy with the comments by people saying that total immersion seems quite stupid. I mean basically he is saying, ” Hey if you wanna learn L2 completley cut yourself off from L1 unless is a necessity”. I love this site and the things that I learn from it and I believe Katz also said that do what you want and dont look for his acceptness ect. So basically I am not doing a half arsed immersion, I am listening to Japanese music when I feel like it, so about like 3-5 hours a day and learning Kanji from RTK for about an 1 or two. Then srsing it so I basically get home work out and then study Japanese for like 3-4 hours a day and I think that is really all that is needed if you want to obtain fluency in 2 years.

  27. Griff
    October 9, 2009 at 11:01

    This is a late reply, but hey, I’m new to the site!

    Anyway, I think burning-out happens to the best of us, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Take me for example, I HATE routines so burning-out happens often. But that’s not an issue. For example, say I’ve been working on SRS for a few weeks and am tired of it and feel burnt out. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break because on my hiatus, I’ll just do something else in Japanese!

    Also, I agree with Khatzumoto on immersion being essential. But I would think idea of switching over to the target language completely in like a week isn’t the best way for most people.

    Khatz and Gerry Garcia may not want to be eased in, but I think for most of us, increasing our immersion environment in correlation to our ever increasing Japanese skill would work better.

  28. Ken
    November 5, 2009 at 01:30

    Daniel, I don’t think it’s nearly as polar as you suggest.

    “Every time you’d leave your room you’re back in an English environment. Everything outside is in English, all the signs, all the overheard conversation, all the store clerks, all your friends, your family, your job.” … “when you’re going to the supermarket to get some stuff to fix yourself a sandwich, that’s like at least a 20 minute mental break back into an all-english environment”

    Solution: put some J-pop on your MP3 player, and hop on the bus to the International District for that sandwich. Even if you don’t go to a Japanese market or restaurant (and decide to hit up that cool new Vietnamese sandwich shop instead), you’re not going to hear or see much English, so you never quite fall back into L1 comfort zone. As a bonus, it’ll highlight just how much you’ve learned already: “If this was Japanese I could at least read like 2 or 3 kanji on that sign!”.

    “On the flip side of the coin you have Japan. Everything outside of your room is still in Japanese; the signs, the overheard convos, the store items and store clerks”

    Really? I’ve known people who have lived in Japan for years and managed to avoid learning more than a handful of words. Besides, these days, everybody seems to have an iPod in their ears and a book (or Kindle?) in their hands, so even what you hear and see is your own choosing.

    One of the big lessons I’ve gotten from AJATT is that immersion is what you do to yourself, not what your environment does to you. You just have to choose to be.

  29. Warll
    November 5, 2009 at 06:49

    Wow, there is a whole lot of debate in this comment field, just imagine how much time has been spent reading and writing it. I’m going to skip reading any of it and go watch a Jdrama.

  30. xangelx
    September 5, 2010 at 21:01

    I realized that I may have to give up the one thing in the world I love so much I would rather chew my left arm off then give up. So in desperate OH MY GOD freak out mode I googled the movie nightmare before christmas Japanese dubb and there it was! I almost fainted from relief. If nothing else I know I can watch that infinitely without ever getting bored (watched it so much I now know the whole movie word for word :p) no matter what language. I can even replace the english songs on my mp3 for the Japanese ones, so it’s all good!!!

  31. Sarah
    October 1, 2010 at 00:46

    Haha! Its totally unrelated to this article, but I realize that I actually surf your website more than I study kanji. ><
    *back to the books*

  32. Erick
    July 16, 2012 at 07:15

    Wow… Eat to Live by Joel Fhurman… that’s hardcore stuff man! I dig it, though. I’m curious, did you manage to follow the diet?

  33. Anonymous
    February 7, 2013 at 22:41

    I find this 100% immersion thing very difficult. I’m from Norway, so English is not my native language. I want to become an English writer some day, which means I’ll have to surround myself with English a lot. For instance, I’ve set a goal for myself to read 30+ pages every day, something I think has become imperative to my learning, and my thoughts are also in English most of the time.

    However I want to become as fluent as possible in Japanese as well, simply because I love the language and I am thinking about living there some day(possibly also write about it). How can I do both? Will I be unable to learn Japanese fluently if I work with my English at the same time, or will it just take longer?
    This technique makes it seem impossible to learn more than one language. And what if I’m simply a person who loves learning new languages. If I were to exclude all but one language from my daily life, wouldn’t I just forget the others?
    This is not meant as a critique, I just want to learn both languages so badly.

  34. Zaq
    April 18, 2016 at 10:56

    My gf hates this immersion stuff.

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