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- Do “Wide Standards” Apply To Immersion?: High Achievement Despite Low=Wide Standards
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e_dub_kendo on “Don’t Have High Standards, Have Wide Standards”:
Khatz, just to clarify, this applies to the “study aspect” like doing SRS reps, etc, but given any 86,400 second period one should be striving to be in a Japanized environment for as many of those seconds as humanly possible right?
I guess what I’m saying is, it doesn’t matter how many kanji you learn a day, as long as you learn some, or how many sentence reps you do, as long as you do some — that totally makes sense to me.
But is immersion different? I know that there have been times when I was tempted to get slack about immersion, to stay in English even after things I NEEDED to do in English were finished, but because I have deeply drilled into myself this instinct to constantly maximize Japanese exposure, I have been able to overcome those temptations to get sucked into the 24-hour NCIS marathon on USA [Network] that was playing in the other room, and etc.
If I’d been taking a less hardcore approach, and expected less of myself in this regard, I can easily see days passing with very little time actually spent in Japanese. Basically doing a small “token” amount of immersion and then saying, well, as long as I do some each day that’s good and then tuning into the Family Guy re-runs (when in the he## is this gonna get a Japanese dub, btw?).
And, I think if my immersion fell apart like that, my SRSing and what-not would follow quickly behind it. Generally, slippery slope arguments are fallacies, but in this case, the pull of English is so powerful it really does create a “slippery” condition, I believe, and we must be on guard.
I feel like I haven’t worded this very clearly, but hopefully what I am trying to ask/address is coming through. Thanks.
To put E-Dub’s question into 6 words:
Do “Wide Standards” Apply To Immersion?
I currently practice what I like to call “leveraged immersion” (mixed with a technique called “multiplexing“). Leverage in the sense of pivots — using minimal effort to get maximum results.
I have “wide” standards in terms of the effort I am willing to expend. But I want to get big results from it.
What does that mean in practice?
When I was in college, doing the “original, 元祖 AJATT”, before there was a website or a name for what I was doing, when it was just a personal experiment, a little game, I had traction.
I wanted to see how far I could take it and what would happen if I did. Well, I came, I saw, I got used to. The whole of my world was in English and I was in danger of becoming monolingual for the first time in my life. I didn’t want that. So I playfully…very playfully…pushed against it.
Obviously, the experiment produced impressive results, and I wanted to extend it. Higher, further, faster, deeper. More Japanese. More of other languages. A lot of my writing can sound rather fruity and hippie-ish, but there is a side of me that loves the core ideas of organizations like McDonalds and Wal-Mart, that shares the American corporate penchant for massive-scale, plug-and-chug replication and systematization, that makes out with pictures of Ayn Rand taped to my pillow (don’t…don’t judge me).
But the trouble with saying “no English” is that it can feel like deprivation at times. It was fine when it was just a game — “let’s see what would happen if I said ‘no English'” — but now it feels more like oppressive prohibition than playful restriction. Before I was doing it just because. Now, I’d doing it because: “Khatz must practice what he preaches”. And you’d be doing it because “Khatz practiced it and now preaches it”. Well…screw that. That’s dogma. We don’t need that. We need pragma.
So I don’t say “no English”. I just don’t allow English media on any of my good — best — machines. I let English exist — there are business books I need to read that are untranslated — but I don’t allow it on my best/most convenient hardware. English can be around, but it has to settle for a second-class existence.
So it’s not “no English“, it’s…”no convenient English“. It’s not “no English”, it’s “no unaccompanied English”.
It’s sort of a Pareto principle thing. The machines and physical spaces on and in which I spend 80~90% of my time, and which account for the majority of my computing power, have no English going on — they’re reserved for Japanese and Chinese.
So I can watch Family Guy if I want, but it’ll have to be on my iPad (she’s been demoted to bi##hbox status), over a Wi-Fi connection, with chintzy speakers, in the kitchen, standing up. Meanwhile 1, the nice Bose speakers and 90-inch projector screen right next door are playing a Stephen Chow movie. And I can hear the Stephen Chow movie. And there’s this obscenely comfy beanbag right there, right in front of Stephen Chow. There’s no competition.
I can watch Family Guy if I want, but there has to be Japanese/Chinese playing and audible at the same time. Maybe some reps going as well. In other words, the English has to be accompanied; it has to have a “chaperone”. Case in point: I’m playing Ghost In The Shell (Cantonese version) as I write this English post 2.
- In college, during the original AJATT process, I was always aiming for 100% total immersion, even though I only ever hit it a few times — Thanksgiving Break, etc.
- In college, my apartment 4 was a 100% Japanese zone. It literally was Japanese soil. It was…I had…an AT field 5 around it and everything.
- You (E Dub Kendo) and I have both grown into adults with almost total control over space and time — we can be wherever we want — at home — doing whatever we want almost 100% of the day. We’re time billionaires (although, as I’ve discussed before, this actually turns out to be a “lottery winner” perspective of our time wealth — because of overhead and “time taxes”, in actuality we have maybe 2~6 hours per day more than regular civilians; we’re not just rolling in time like Scrooge McDuck rolls in gold coins, and we can’t directly re-generate our time through savings and investments).
So we feel like we should go for “total”, and we feel bad when we don’t. The only reason we never went total before, the only reason other people don’t go total is because they don’t have the control that we do. But we have control. So shouldn’t we go total? Well, maybe not. Like I said, I have business books to read, seminars to watch.
It’s the critical frequency/probabilistic algorithm thing all over again. It’s engineering (imperfect functional perfection) over mathematics (abstract perfection). IMHO, we want to approach this like engineers 6, not mathematicians 7. We don’t need infinity, we just need…a really large number. And…that metaphorical dirt, that margin of error, that imperfection, that traction, that resistance, that English pimple on our otherwise-perfect Japanese skin, may turn out to be necessary for us to, I dunno, feel human or something. I sound like an old man now; I’m old at heart 😀 .
What about the slippery slope? Well, there is none any longer. We’ve literally inverted the slope. All convenient paths lead to Japanese. All our best gear is there. You can go English if you want, but it’ll suck. Who wants to stand up in the kitchen when Evangelion is on the big screen? I certainly can’t be bothered…
- × All Japanese All The Time
- ○ Some Japanese All The Time
- ○ All Japanese Some Of The Time
- × No English
- ○ No convenient English 8
- ○ No unaccompanied English
Don’t control yourself. Control your environment. Your environment will control you for you. And don’t control your entire environment, just control the leverage points: that is the wide standard.
PS: Should regular civilians — wage slaves, people at school, etc. try leveraged immersion? Yes and no — mostly no. Certainly not as much as say, housewives and freelancers and NEETs and NR people. For civilians — people who don’t have full control over all their time — their lifestyle already forces partial immersion on them anyway, so it’s not something they need to do consciously; they’d get better results with a deliberate focus on maximizing the immersion function at all times and in all places. So the “old ways” still apply. Having said that, things like sensory split (splicing) and multiplexing 9 are something anyone in any position could use and benefit from.
- This is the multiplexing part ↩
- This is what we call “splicing” or “sensory split” ↩
- (and in name) ↩
- and when I moved into a house, my bedroom ↩
- (wow, way too much Evangelion for me) ↩
- and statisticians ↩
- Besides, mathematicians seem to go insane and commit suicide at an alarmingly high rate. Forget that. ↩
- No English on the good/best gear ↩
- You like all the fake-a$$ technical terms I make up? Pseudoscience for the win, baby! Cargo cult linguistics all up in this 😛 . ↩