Does Input REALLY work?

This another question/comment where the response grew really long. Here goes:

Hey Khatz

A quick question when you get back from your break.

When I started using my SRS, I entered the English sentence in the question field and the Japanese translation in the answer field. But after reading your method on this site, I no longer try to translate – as you say, this is too failure prone, so now I just put the Japanese in the answer field and leave out the translation.
The only concern I have in doing this is that I am not actively using my brain to come up with the sentence I want to say – I am just reading a sentence that has already been created. It seems like the easy way out. It’s like for example asking somebody to write a Japanese email for you and you may understand it perfectly BUT you would have learned and retained a lot more if you had gone through the thought process by writing the email yourself.

I hope this makes sense?!



Hey Mark. Thanks for your comment.

It seems like the easy way out.

It does. It really does. And I had the exact same reservations as you.

you would have learned and retained a lot more

This is the power of input. Input has a lot going for it:

[1] Input actually allows you to learn MORE, and more correctly, than just output. There is simply a limit to how long of a sentence (and how many sentences) you can actively recall in a single day, but with input you can learn to read sentences of a much higher number and greater length. Part of why this is important is, Japanese has the structural power to create very long (yet very understandable) sentences, compared to English. Output would tend to bias your Japanese toward short sentences.
[a] When you get into real Japanese, it’s nothing like English structurally, and nothing like the textbooks. I fear that outputting would lead a person to remain tied to English structure.
[b] There are many (hundreds) of ways to say the same thing in Japanese. These ways are not superfluous; they each carry a different nuance. I worry that output-focused practice would force one to either have to create a lot of context for each SRS entry, or learn a limited range of vocabulary/phraseology/usage.

[2] There are words you need to be able to understand but never need to be able to use. Input lets you catch these where output would lead you to side-step them.

[3] Writing an email is not practicing a language. It is using a language. To paraphrase the folk at AntiMoon, if output is so much practice, why don’t we go practice some Dzhongka right now. Come on, let’s write an email in Dzhongka! Practice makes perfect! Writing an email is a demonstration of ability, not a creator of ability as such. What, are you going to create the text, format and conventions of Japanese email out of thin air? Of course not, you have to read (input) them first. There comes a time to “draw” (output), but first you must look at the subject. And the more accurately (native-like) you wish to “draw” the subject, the more closely you must look.

[4] Input vocabulary/phrasing/structure eventually bubbles its way up to your active vocab. It just does, naturally. Just like when you watch (just WATCH) a movie over and over again until you can talk along with the characters. You never practiced speaking with them, it just starts to come out:

“Little ducks, there’s trouble in Russia. So they called us. And we’re going over there and bringing the most lethal killing machine ever devised. We’re capable of launching more firepower than has ever been released in the history of war. For one purpose alone: to keep our country safe.”

“Did you order the ‘code red?!!'”
“You don’t have to answer that question!”
“I’ll answer the question. You want answers?”
“I think I’m entitled.”
“You want answers?”
“I want the truth!”
“You can’t handle the truth!”

“Perhaps it is fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom…Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution…but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today, we celebrate…our Independence Day!”

I watched that famous scene in A Few Good Men (YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Who doesn’t love that line?) and all of Crimson Tide and Independence Day so many times that lines like this are stuck in my head, even though it’s been some 10 years since I last saw CT or AFGM. As you use input in conjunction with an SRS, patterns and phrases will start to appear in your active repertoire, you’ll start using them, perhaps without even fully knowing where they came from; this is something I am experiencing with increasing intensity: I am using more and more new Japanese words and phrases correctly with less and less conscious awareness of where I’m picking them up from; they’re just there, as if by instinct — of course, it’s no coincidence that I remain surrounded by Japanese audio, video and text. If you just keep doing SRS reps without trying to force it, whole phrases, whole patterns, will come out by themselves, as wholes and correct. You’ll be there one day, taking your clothes out of a washing machine, and realizing that you put bleach on your favorite black cargo pants, and you’ll go: “何じゃゴリャあああ?!”. Or your friend will be pasting mayonnaise onto his kosher hot dog like there’s no tomorrow, and you’ll go “お前、どんだけマヨネーズ掛けるっちゅうねん!”, all because you’ve seen and heard these things used in the right contexts. It’s not magic or anything, it’s just some kind of neurological process at work, I don’t fully know what goes on, I just know it works. It’s unconscious, so it’s hard to test, so schools don’t like it. But it’s happening, if you just keep inputting, working diligently but patiently. Humans created language before there were governments or schools to regulate it. We do it naturally. It takes a while to build/develop this “instinct”, but input is the best way I have come across so far.

[5] Input is not all passive: for example, you still have to actively recall kanji readings.

[6] Incorrect output, if not corrected, leads to bad habits. Massive input automatically leads to correct output with a very low error rate. Perfect for the person who isn’t surrounded by enough people who have the combination of time, compassion and condescension to correct her at every turn.

[7] I’ve found myself more able to retain and produce Japanese as time has gone on. This is due to massive input. So, input has helped me not only to output the things that I have input, but to build my ability to recall and output new things. I know what words fit where, where one word would be appropriate and another wouldn’t. And this is crucial. To use English as an example: It’s a “building site” NOT a “building place”. It’s “a place where I belong” NOT “a site where I belong”. Now, there are some contexts where these examples wouldn’t work, but what I’m trying to show is that words that mean almost the exact same thing can still be quite inappropriate to interchange. Massive input will lead you to see these patterns because of the quantities involved. I don’t know whether output can or will do that for you.

[8] You’re of course free to try doing things any way you want. Some people like doing output-centered work because they get usable vocabulary quicker. This is a valid point. BUT, what about their comprehension? What good will it do you to ask for directions if you can’t understand the response of that old man who speaks in a regional dialect and, in fact, cannot or does not switch to “standard” speech? As I see it output-centered practice offers narrow, short-term benefits at considerable expense to the wider and more long-term issue of complete fluency — reading, listening, writing, speaking. But that’s just me. Let me suggest that you (and anyone else), give input a chance and not ignore it just because it’s counter-intuitive and seems too “easy”. It took me a long time to come around to it, and I was initially more than a little skeptical (“it can’t be this easy”), so much so that even when I started doing input, it was with curiosity (“let’s just run this for a while and see how it turns out”) rather than faith (“omigosh this is SO gonna work, and a little while from now I’ll start a website about it!”). I think this skepticism arises at least in part because:
[a] Output, especially speaking, is more dramatic and impressive that input. Anyone can see and hear you speak, but if you just say you understand something…
[b] Input generally precedes output in learning — we learn to understand before we learn to use, therefore it seems like a “lower” level. Why not just jump straight into the driver’s seat and start outputting, right? (Answer: because you’re going to cause an accident!)
[c] Passive memory — the ability to understand but not produce — is a stage of forgetting a language; it’s part of the process of losing proficiency, so again, there’s the temptation or tendency to misunderstand it, to look down on it since it’s associated with decay and regression, rather than progress and improvement.
[d] Our society (whatever that means) values being “pro-ACTIVE”, it values being a producer, going OUT and putting OUT, a leader, not an observer, not a fence-sitter, not a watcher…it doesn’t so much value the receptive, analytical, contemplative aspects involved in input. This doesn’t mean that people don’t spend vast sums of time and money on TV and movies, it just means that these things are not highly valued. Admittedly, this is fuzzy and a huge generalization, but…it’s just something that hits me.


I am just reading a sentence that has already been created

Perfect. This is not a bad thing. In fact, the more, the better. Remember, you need native-like Tanaka Tarou Japanese, not Mark Quinn Japanese. The time for Mark Quinn’s idiolect will come. But it will come after he knows what he’s doing, after he’s observed (heard and listened) and internalized Japanese-like Japanese. Like the writer who breaks stylistic conventions and rules for effect, first you have to know what the rules ARE. There’s a huge difference between linguistic rule-breaking brought about intentionally and rule-breaking due to ignorance. One is genius, the other is, well, ignorance. You have no business creating your own Japanese until you see how masters of Japanese — native-level speakers — create theirs. Each email/piece of output is like a dish (of food). If you want to make it edible (legible) to Japanese people, you first need ingredients and a recipe (better yet, taste some, see what it looks like, watch someone make it, and cetera!), and early in your cooking career, you need to stick to the recipe rather than substituting the ingredients. If you hope to make something acceptable to a Japanese person, then you can’t just wing it right from the start — that’s leaving your success to random chance, and your chances of success in such a situation are slim to none. Get the right ingredients, follow the recipes. And when you can consistently make something good according to a pre-created recipe, THEN start making your own variations, THEN start winging it. I’m sure this metaphor falls apart at some point, but hopefully it makes sense where it needs to.

Note that the way to learn these rules I’m discussing is not to go look up a list of rules of Japanese. Most of the rules I’m talking about are not explicitly written, but they do exist; they are real and tangible. They’re hard to express, but people instantly know when they’re being broken. In comedy they’re often intentionally bent.


so now I just put the Japanese in the answer field and leave out the translation.

Yeah. You can have [Japanese question field] and [Japanese answer field + (if you are a beginner) an authoritative English translation from the source text]. You will, of course, want to move away from English altogether as soon as poss.

Sorry for the over-long response; I’m wanting to make the issue clear for whoever else comes to read. Have fun with your studies and feel free to ask any other questions.

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  45 comments for “Does Input REALLY work?

  1. Linda
    November 13, 2007 at 23:31


    I’m trying to applied your method to learn korean, I have been studiing with FSI basic course for 6 weeks and I’m listening to music, movies and everything I can find nearly all the time for 4 weeks.
    I would like to know, how long it took you to be able to say something in japanese, having japanese words coming to your head or having a beginning of japanese monologue.



  2. khatzumoto
    November 13, 2007 at 23:42

    Since I didn’t keep many detailed records at the time, that’s a hard question to answer…but at the same time it’s also a really easy question to answer.

    If, I watched and/or listened to a lot of the same thing — the same TV series, the same video clip, the same whatever — then I could well start saying stuff the same day. Now, it’s not like I’d be holding a conversation. But, words, pieces of songs, lines of dialogue, would be there. For example, I watched an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager” in Japanese, and I paused and replayed this part I liked in it, over and over again. Why I liked it is because it was one of the first times where I actually more or less picked out an entire line of dialogue in Japanese; the character (Tom Paris) said, I still remember the line, something like: “私がオブザーバーとして参加するには、何か問題がありますか”.

    So, I mean, it varies. But if you watch and/or re-watch a lot of the same stuff, or watch Korean dubs of English movies that you either like a lot (in my case, “The Matrix”), or that you hate but that have such crappy plot and corny, predictable dialogue that you know exactly what the characters are going to say (“Terminator 3”, “Resident Evil”, no offense to whoever made them), then that’ll speed up the process.

    The key to rewatchability and relistenability is for you to enjoy those things [AT YOUR CURRENT STAGE in your Korean studies. For example, there are some Japanese rappers that I didn’t like, couldn’t fully appreciate, until I knew enough Japanese to get the lyrical games they were playing]. So go for things that you enjoy. Be shameless, be picky, but don’t be snobbish. Anything that’s in Korean and that you like, go for it, watch it, listen to it, no matter what it is. And if you don’t like it, set it aside.

    So, more enjoyment leads to more repetition leads to more skill, faster.

  3. Linda
    November 13, 2007 at 23:59

    When you listened to something did you always try to understand everything ?
    Or listening stuff (and saying it), with understanding only a part of it, is also ok ?



  4. khatzumoto
    November 14, 2007 at 00:03

    Yeah, only understanding part of it is absolutely fine (hey, if you were already understanding whole things, then you’d be fluent, right?). There’s more than enough in even a small clip to keep you busy for a day [case in point: I would learn to sing along to songs I liked, and I generally learned 1 verse per day at most]. The whole process is kind of like “learn to understand thousands and thousands of parts, little segments, and eventually you’ll be able to understand wholes”. A little here, a little there, and eventually you’ll get ALL of it and more. I don’t think there’s a single drama show I watched while I was studying hardcore, in which I had 100% comprehension, and yet now I go back and watch those shows and I understand them fully. I worked on them, I really did…but once I got bored I switched to something else, or if I got tired or if something was too complicated, or (more often) too muffled, I would let it pass knowing that at some point I would have the tools/skills/experience to understand it.

  5. Linda
    November 14, 2007 at 00:10

    That great, thanks a lot for your help


  6. Mark
    November 14, 2007 at 00:34

    These longer posts in response to readers’ questions are great – please continue with them now and then (or more often!). The AJATT/Antimoon process and results are obviously crystal clear to you, but for the rest of us, it is good to get some clarification on certain points now and then…

  7. Mark Quinn
    November 14, 2007 at 00:44

    Thanks Khatz

    The detailed response is much appreciated.


  8. yay
    November 14, 2007 at 07:59

    Hi there 🙂

    I’m applying your technique on Swedish, which will be my “real” 3rd language. I’m sentence-mining and listening now for 5 weeks and have finally started to think in Swedish. 🙂 I can understand quite a few things about linguistics and languages in Swedish and some blogposts. There was even one post about translating, where they gave an example dialog in Swedish and I noticed that it sounded wrong and just plain English. It was a simple word-by-word translation *shrug*

    I don’t know how fast you would be able to think in Japanese or Korean as I am just learning Swedish, which is quite similar to English (2nd language) and German (native language) .

    Just wanted to give some feedback 🙂

  9. Sutebun
    November 14, 2007 at 13:06

    Somewhat covered in Khatzumoto’s points already…but I want to add a little more support for input

    Anything you can’t understand is new learning material. You have to get it through input to understand it. You can not make it up on your own (already mentioned).

    Realizing that, then also anytime you are practicing output (in the sense of trying to practice it, not just naturally using output) you are doing so at the sake of taking input at that moment. This is one of the keys about mass input I think. It’s not just realizing that output can build bad habits etc, but any moment you are attempting to produce output, you could instead be learning by input things that you have yet to know.

    One last thing, the method itself seems easy. Just like other people have mentioned, it almost seems like “is this how I should really be learning a language?” But I think real application of it is indeed difficult. Doing “All [some language], all the time” requires a lot of sacrifice, consistency, and perseverance. So while the concept is pretty simple, carrying it out to its full power is fairly difficult (As you can see demonstrated by my posting something in English right now instead of doing Japanese. Though my excuse is I’m still working on Heisig so English is ok sometimes :P)

  10. Potemayo
    November 14, 2007 at 14:17

    Hey Khatzu-san, I have another question!
    You strongly advised against forced output but what if I try to speak (rather type and chat) in Japanese with a native speaker and he/she corrects my sentence(s)? Will that be OK or harmful?

  11. khatzumoto
    November 14, 2007 at 16:33

    I think it will be just fine. PROVIDED s/he keeps your chopsticks on the grindstone [<-- everybody look! a metaphor collapsing in on its own weight], and seriously, I mean, seriously, corrects you. Not in a "oh well done Potemayo, that's good enough for a foreigner" way, but in a "man, you'd better not hope to be landing in Tokyo with THAT! MM MMM *snap*!" way. Constructive cruelty. Tell her she can even embarrass you in public if she wants (it happened to me a bunch of times, not because I asked for it, but because my friend is mean like that: "Khatz, you're not funny and your Nagase Tomoya impression sucks!" ...I really had to raise my game after each chiding, and make sure my Japanese sounded natural). But it's not just enough to be told you suck (although this is a start), my friend also showed me the right way to do it -- what a *real* yakuza impression should sound like [you can tell my studies were very serious and centered around useful things]. Just ask people to pretend that you're their child, and you need to be shown the way; linguistically, this is more or less true. And, don't take people's verbal compliments. Japanese people give out compliments like drug pushers at a rave...look out for the real compliments -- when a friend asks you how to read or write a rare kanji for them, or when someone asks you to leave the room because they don't want you to hear them talking about their "heavy flow month", or when a friend no longer utters a single word of English to you and only communicates with you in Japanese...that's a real compliment; that's a real acknowledgment of ability. Anyway...have fun!

  12. nacest
    November 14, 2007 at 17:04

    Hey Khatz,
    I’m sorry if this isn’t very on topic but I need an advice!
    Sometimes I find sentences that I would like to add to my SRS but I’m not totally sure they are correct Japanese. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to tell. I guess I’d better just toss them away, right?

    For example today I was happy that I found a warning on a plastic wrapping of my new keyboard, and started analyzing it. It said:
    Now, after looking for some of those words on a dictionary without avail, I’d say this sentence is full of errors, even if I don’t understand the reason. Is that assumption correct? Should I just throw the plastic away?

  13. Charles A.
    November 14, 2007 at 19:05

    Although you did not mention it in the reply, you have mentioned it before. The SRS portion technically is your “output” portion. You’re going to speak the sentences out loud and write a few of the sentences down (preferably without looking at the sentence while doing it I assume?). Yes, it’s not creating from whole cloth, but it is creation with automatic correction. I assume the speaking part gets corrected as you’ll likely have the pronunciation of the entire sentence as the answer. The writing part is replicating the sentence displayed (with secondary benefit of getting an On or Kun reading if you’re doing Japanese).

    For myself, went out and found Japanese dubbed and subbed (hmm, JD&S makes for a nice term) version of Spiderman, Harry Potter 3 and X-Men. Now to get a region free player and put them to use. Getting all 3 for $15 makes it even better.

  14. quendidil
    November 14, 2007 at 20:54

    The words in the sentence can all be found in a dictionary; and that sentence seems to be grammatically correct to me. Maybe you could try using the simplified Japanese characters?危険
    I think you misread ボリ袋、 it should be ポリ袋 which just means plastic bag.

  15. quendidil
    November 14, 2007 at 21:01

    btw Khatz, where do you find Japanese friends? Japanese expats are common here in Singapore and I often see Japanese schoolkids here on holiday, but how do you approach them? Walk straight up and say 今日は/御機嫌よう?

    Personally I feel a bit awkward approaching a group of girls in セーラー服 and groups おばさん with their children. Should I just suck it up and talk to them?

  16. khatzumoto
    November 14, 2007 at 21:07

    Yeah, throw pride to the wind.

    One good “in” is to help people who are either lost or having some language trouble, you can always tell.

    Just one thing — you’re best off with long-term stayers, since they can get past the “日本語お上手ですね”, and really more frank with you…and, also, well, be friends. Then again, maybe you could spend a day with the セーラー服 girls? I’m sure they’d be up to it..

  17. quendidil
    November 14, 2007 at 21:29

    Also, you recommended for language exchange online long ago. I’m going to try that, thanks.

    I’ve also found; a lot of the people there are going from Chinese-English (from both Taiwan and the PRC), which might be what you’re looking for. This site is also free for both looking for people and receiving invites.

    I have tried but never got any replies, after searching the site I found no way to read messages anyway; the people I contacted might not have even read my messages.

    Do you know of mixi? I’ve heard it’s like a Japanese myspace but invite only. Would people you meet there be willing to chat with a 外人?

    I might not have expressed this clearly enough in my previous post but, once you find a language exchange partner, what do you talk about with him? And in what language? I reckon the other party would like to learn a bit of English from the exchange and I too would want to my Japanese corrected, so how do you do it?

    One problem I have faced in language exchanges is this: I got invited by a few Chinese English-learners and while I tried to correct their English and introduced them to antimoon and this site, they liked to ask “WHY the grammar rule works that way”; the conversations also quickly degenerated to Mandarin, especially after they found out I speak it. I personally am not getting anything out of the exchange since I already am Chinese but how do you help these people?

  18. khatzumoto
    November 14, 2007 at 21:32

    It depends, you just figure it out on a person-by-person basis. The general arrangement I have is I communicate in Japanese, partner communicates in English and we correct each other mercilessly. Funnily enough, most of my partners seem to rather quickly give up doing English with me, and just ask me questions ABOUT English in Japanese.

  19. khatzumoto
    November 14, 2007 at 21:34

    Thx for the link, btw…

  20. quendidil
    November 14, 2007 at 21:47

    “Funnily enough, most of my partners seem to rather quickly give up doing English with me, and just ask me questions ABOUT English in Japanese.”
    EXACTLY, that’s what I get from those Chinese too.

  21. Wan Zafran
    November 14, 2007 at 22:52

    Just thought I’d share my own experience, as I had experimented with both active and passive input forms for about a month.

    I switched between both forms daily — as in, one day I would do only active-recalls (English-Japanese) and on the alternate day I would do passive-recalls (Japanese-English).

    I discovered this: those days when I did only active recalls were very tiring for me. Also, comparatively speaking, I always made more mistakes than I wanted to, even when I was very careful, and I could manage fewer sentences because I was so tired out even after only 10-15 sentences.

    Since then I have moved on to taking input, and lots of it. Studying becomes a lot more pleasant as a result. I also find that when I read or listen I understand more, and that is certainly more desirable for me than being able to speak, at least for the moment.

  22. quendidil
    November 14, 2007 at 23:23

    @Charles A.
    “Getting all 3 for $15 makes it even better.”
    Where did you get the Japanese verison of those movies for that price?
    We can get drama series here in Singapore for about 10% of the Japanese release (legit) but I’ve never seen anyone selling Japanese dubs. Amazon doesn’t sell them that cheap either.

  23. nacest
    November 15, 2007 at 01:05

    thanks for the reply.
    I double-checked the sentence and I’m sure that’s how it’s written, so at least ボリ袋 is wrong. The 險 in 危險 is very similar to the simplified form, so I did recognize it. The doubts I had were with 「融れない」 and 「置いで」which I think should be 「融けれない(とけれない)」 and 「置いて(おいて)」. Also 「くださ」 without the い is something I’ve never seen before.

    (for reference:注意!ボリ袋は、窒息の危險がありますので、お子様の手に融れない所へ置いでくださ」)

    Anyway, apart from this specific sentence, what I wanted to express is my discomfort at not having the certainty that something is correct Japanese. Probably a language exchange friend would be able to solve this though.

  24. Nivaldo
    November 15, 2007 at 05:40

    Hi, Khatz! Your post was great. I said I wouldn’t post any more comments but I couldn’t resist and besides, I have a small question. First, I would like to say that input is special at least for me, because when I’m inputting, I’m already trying to say something even though I don’t know how to say it, it’s just like magic, I don’t know but something compells me to dso it internally although I don’t actually output. It’s a great method and I regard you very highly for reminding me about it(for english!). Well, the question is: I’m pretty sure that if I stayed for one month just listening, reading, writing, and all that stuff for english I could become truly fluent in it, I mean fluent for good, but my goal is Japanese. I always dreamed of speaking Japanese, only didn’t have(or didn’t create) the opportunity for learning it. So, I’m a little confused. What do you think I should do now that I know almost 650 kanji? Thanks and please keep posting. I hope I keep my promise this time.

  25. khatzumoto
    November 15, 2007 at 08:12

    I find a typo once in a while, too…it’s kind of fun in its own way.
    Anyway, with sentences like that “if in doubt, throw it out”. Just skip it. There are many other “fish in the sea” if you will. Testing your editing skills would be a bit too risky, I think. So, yeah, just throw it out.

    Good job picking out the errors, btw.

    (That particular sentence is otherwise grammatical AFAIK, but as a general rule you shouldn’t bother stick around and find out. Just get rid of it.)

  26. khatzumoto
    November 15, 2007 at 08:36

    tough question. I vote for Japanese, just because (1) your English is already good and, (2) the socio-economic returns for being a fluent Japanese user tend to increase with fluency [being non-Japanese and fluent in Japanese is still enough to get you on TV, and also carries enough “shock value” (“OH-MY-GOSH-IT-SPEAKS-JAPANESE?”) to be useful in social and business situations], whereas English fluency, while useful, is often taken for granted. Plus kanji are super cool.

  27. quendidil
    November 15, 2007 at 14:17

    Oh lol, I didn’t even spot the い missing. Is that a bad thing? That my brain is sort of filling in the gaps in japanese? Like in English where you don’t notice typos?

  28. nacest
    November 15, 2007 at 16:21

    you probably (and understandably) took it for one of my typos instead of the manufacturer’s. I wouldn’t worry too much 🙂

    thanks for the suggestion!

    “being non-Japanese and fluent in Japanese is still enough to get you on TV”
    Does this mean you have been on TV? I’d certainly want to see that.

  29. quendidil
    November 15, 2007 at 22:36

    A bit OOT, but today I just bought a senior high textbook on 漢文 (Classical Chinese with added Japanese 送り仮名 and 返り点). I was surprised at how easy it was for me to read compared to 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 which is a teen “ライトノベル”. The only problem I have with the textbook is the occasional archaic Japanese translation of a Chinese sentence, but working from the Chinese I can still get the gist of it.

    So Khatz, is non-fiction on the whole easier to read than fiction, or is it just for textbooks? Perhaps there are more idiomatic expressions in fiction than in non-fiction? I guess the sciences would be far more self-explanatory in Japanese than in English simply due to kanji compoundsね.

  30. Nivaldo
    November 16, 2007 at 06:12

    Thanks for the answer, Khatz! I was in doubt only because sometimes I feel like “Yahoo! I got this and that in English perfectly but not the other thing”, especially common objects in everyday life. What I know in english is more technical and social like friends, games. But things like the different types of clothes, or common parts of the human body or objects that you use at home are still unknown in my internal vocabulary. So I thought I could expand on this but now I know, my dream was, is and will always be 日本語. Thanks once more!!

  31. JT0104
    November 17, 2007 at 05:20

    Also If your scared of putting only Japanese in the answer field, don’t be. It’s surprising how fast you get used to J-J translations. I remember the first time I used J-J I would understand 30% of the definition. so would take another 5 minutes looking up all the other words to be confronted by even more words to look up and so on. And It can be really easy to think OMFG this is gonna take forever. but I started to cap things off at about 3-5 links down the chain and then quickly peek at some english to make sure I understood the words. So I would end up understanding the whole sentence for my SRS then I would write the definition all in Japanese. A lot of the time it would take me longer to learn the meaning of the definition than the actual sentence. but everything fills itself in. as you know one part of the equation as it were. I just told myself I didn’t want to see any English characters In any fields from the start. and the definitions give me input as I’m reading them on top of the original sentences!
    But what I’m trying to say is before you know it you won’t need to use English to look up any more, as you just get used to the language in the dictionary. and everything just becomes a lot more efficient.

  32. Potemayo
    November 17, 2007 at 16:53

    Thanks for the great advice Khatzu-san!

    Off-topic: I found the first episode of Negima!! Live Action on Veoh with Japanese subtitles –

  33. Potemayo
    November 17, 2007 at 16:56

    Oops, it seems that only the first part of the show has subtitles. Gomen ne, minna-san 🙁

  34. Muzie
    November 18, 2007 at 16:12

    Hello Khatz! I’m still not quite clear on how the transition to J-J happens. What’s in the answer field in at that point (my japanese is not good enough for me to understand the examples you gave hehe). Is it definitions for each word in the sentence copy pasted from a japanese dictionary verbatim? Could give an example of a J-J Q/A with the equivalent english translation so we could understand the structure?

  35. khatzumoto
    November 18, 2007 at 23:24

    The answer fields are a combination of one, some or all of the following:
    [a] verbatim dictionary defs of words in the sentences
    [b] readings of the kanji in the sentences
    [c] verbatim dictionary defs of [a]
    [d] rarely, some other information (e.g. notes on what the key (grammar) point of the sentence is, here is one actual example, not contained in the original article:


  36. JDog
    November 19, 2007 at 09:33

    Linda, I just started learning Korean by Khatz’ method, too, and found a List of Korean Pop artists on Wikipedia! I don’t know if I even like that much pop music, but if it’s for a different language I tend to be able to enjoy it more. I am less picky than with English. Hope you find it helpful.

  37. Jimmy
    December 1, 2007 at 00:21

    Hey, Khatz, I don’t know if this is the right place to post this question, but I noticed that you use lots of slang and colloquialisms when you give examples of Japanese. How did you learn stuff like that given that it’s hard to find in dictionarires?

  38. khatzumoto
    December 1, 2007 at 00:35

    Lots of reading and listening to real Japanese — Japanese by and for native speakers. It’s not like, obscure slang. I’ve never seen a dictionary entry about っていうか, but if you read and listen to enough Japanese, you’ll figure out exactly how to use it and any of its variants. How do you know if you’re right? You’ll know. Just like you figure out the meaning and usage of a new word in English — “but that’s English”, you say — same Jimmy, same brain. You’ll figure it out, it may take longer, but you’ll still work it out.

  39. Mark
    December 2, 2007 at 01:50

    “[1] Input actually allows you to learn MORE, and more correctly, than just output. There is simply a limit to how long of a sentence (and how many sentences) you can actively recall in a single day, but with input you can learn to read sentences of a much higher number and greater length.”

    Hmmm…I read an interesting article on the Supermemo website the other day ( ), which states that:

    “Active recall is needed to guarantee the high retention as defined by the forgetting index (even 99%). Depending on volume, structure, delay, etc. passive review may leave as little as less than a percent of recall. However, reading books for the sake of learning English is not just passive review. Each time you encounter a problematic word, the need for comprehension will automatically trigger an active recognition test in which the stimulus is the word in question and the response is its semantic association. This is active recall”

    I have personally been under the impression that AJATT/Antimoon relied on ‘passive’ recall, which is supposedly not as effective as the ‘active’ methods of learning promoted by Supermemo. And I have seen this ‘fact’ used elsewhere as a way of discrediting AJATT/Antimoon. But the above seems to suggest that AJATT/Antimoon is NOT actually passive at all! So, perhaps it was just me, but it now seems that AJATT/Antimoon and Supermemo are in fact in accord – all is well with the world.

    Actually, I have just been using the AJATT method on the basis that ‘it works’ irrespective of the apparent contradiction with any ‘accepted’ methods of learning, but it is interesting to see that those doubters elsewhere will now have to come up with another justification when disparaging AJATT/Antimoon 🙂 Still, maybe I won’t bother finding out how they will adapt and continue to disparage AJATT/Antimoon – maybe I’ll just get on with becoming fluent…


  40. khatzumoto
    December 2, 2007 at 05:03

    Hey Mark

    You’re right. As, Charles A. suggested earlier, it looks as though the process goes beyond pure input and includes a lot of “mediated output” or “highly controlled output”, or “output with instant and constant error-checking and error-correction”.

    Theory arguments are kind of stupid, anyway. Just shut up and go play, you know? “Human beings can’t run a mile in under 4 minutes”. Whatever, zip it and go running. You’ll learn a lot more and be a lot happier quietly running an experiment than getting into arguments [been there, done that]. In learning a language at least, shoot first, ask questions later.

    It is also entirely possible that a single mountain can be climbed in more than one way. And it’s also possible that apparent diffs of opinion are really just misunderstandings.

    無論如何…keep on climbing! One foot in front of the other in the direction of up. That’s all that matters.

  41. Charles A.
    December 2, 2007 at 17:01

    “quendidil said,
    November 14, 2007 @ 11:23 pm

    @Charles A.
    “Getting all 3 for $15 makes it even better.”
    Where did you get the Japanese verison of those movies for that price?
    We can get drama series here in Singapore for about 10% of the Japanese release (legit) but I’ve never seen anyone selling Japanese dubs. Amazon doesn’t sell them that cheap either.


    I live in Japan, so they’re just normal DVD’s that are at bargain bin prices. Sorry to get your hopes up. Still, if you have friends in Japan (via language exchange sites), perhaps they can get cheap DVD’s to send to you. Or, if they’re game, just rip the videos (with subtitles) and host it somewhere.

    By the way, the Subtitles are WWAAAYYY off the dialogue. Granted, that goes with Khatzu’s article about Subtitled TV Shows. I think it’s more like they dub to try to match the mouth, but the subtitles are more precise translations. Distracting but not a show stopper.

  42. アメド
    October 19, 2009 at 12:01

    this is sooooo true. Right only at 1500 sentences and i can feel like naturally able to understand things easier. My readings are better like i can read alot of random comments on youtube,from the web,etc,etc. Input is greater/easier to learn then just random output in the beginning. animes i can understand 70-80% now and dramas as well but not all dramas just yet. I guess this will all come in due time. I managed to go monlingual which is abit diffcult but it’s good b/c i can already understand a good majority of the sentences due to exposure,etc,etc.

  43. Dairwolf
    October 17, 2010 at 20:28

    “…but with input you can learn to read sentences of a much higher number and greater length.”

    I get the number thing, but what about the length? What maximum length can you recommend for sentences? Or does it even matter how long a sentence is, as long as someone sticks to the x + 1 rule (one new/ unknown word in every sentence)?

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