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It’s Not The Years, It’s the Seconds: A Stack of Washingtons Is Not Worth The Same As a Stack of Benjamins

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Engineered Inevitability

Measuring language “study” time in years is like trying to count mixed cash by weighing it. Hello? Denominations…

Counting language acquisition in years makes us think that we’ve been playing way harder than we actually have.

It’s not the years, it’s the minutes. It’s the seconds.

You can’t compare a stack of dollar bills to a stack of Benjamins and call them the same, playa.

Don’t tell me how many “years” you’ve been at the language.
Tell me how many seconds.
That’s seconds on task. Seconds on the bike, whether pedaling or coasting.

And, no, the time you spent being emo but not doing anything does not count.

Series Navigation<< Cute Girls, Mathematics, LanguageWhy Seconds And Not Hours? >>
Series NavigationThe Fork, The Choice and You >>

  20 comments for “It’s Not The Years, It’s the Seconds: A Stack of Washingtons Is Not Worth The Same As a Stack of Benjamins

  1. September 15, 2011 at 07:45

    So, any chance at a definition of a *quality second* spent in Japanese/_target_language_?

  2. Dustin
    September 15, 2011 at 12:13

    I’d say any second spent listening, reading, or writing your target language would count as a quality second.  “any second with target language within the radius of the senses” > “outside of radius”.

  3. blackbrich
    September 15, 2011 at 12:36

    Every second you spend *in* Japanese is a quality second.

  4. ガイ
    September 15, 2011 at 12:42

    How would I know how much seconds I have spent *IN* Japanese lol…

    • blackbrich
      September 15, 2011 at 12:49

      [Estimated Hours/Day in Japanese] * 360 * [Years Studying Japanese] * 365

  5. hermanblue
    September 15, 2011 at 15:11

    khats starts to repeat himself.

    • September 15, 2011 at 16:01

      I think that may be the point. There are probably about 10 key posts that explain 90% of AJATT, but everyone – myself included – who have tried to understand AJATT seem to need a specific approach/angle of explaining something in order to get a that *eureka* moment. Khatz is just simply giving us other ways of looking at things.
      For a website chalked full of information and wisdom, AJATT is actually rather vague to the uninitiated.

      • September 18, 2011 at 18:08

        AJATT should be clear to you by now. :p

        • September 19, 2011 at 04:53

          My eureka moment was back in January. After not really knowing what AJATT was all about for a few months, I got it from re-reading the “About” xD

          • kalek
            September 19, 2011 at 11:23

            Yeah, it totally didn’t make sense to me either at first.  18-24 hours? No one studies a language like that.  I missed the part where he was just watching and listening for most of that. “Coasting” is what he’s been calling it these days.

            I tried reading the site probably three more times throughout the next month.  It clicked by the end of the month and I jumped in immediately, starting RtK on the same day.

            I still reread articles a couple of times a week to keep motivation up, plus even now (14 months after finding this site originally) I find new things I missed originally all the time. 

  6. September 16, 2011 at 13:00


  7. Marzian
    September 16, 2011 at 22:09

    Request for Khatz: in your articles/tweets, you often quote some books of value (both Eng/Jap ones). Since I (and maybe I’m not the only one) forget to jot ’em down… Could you keep an updated list somewhere? That would be awesome, thanks!

    • September 18, 2011 at 18:08

      Oh yeah that would be awesome. I’ve been looking for such a list forever.

    • September 19, 2011 at 04:28

      A lot of these books are included in his Amazon store links to ←the left← under Phase 1. I don’t know if they’re complete lists of every book mentioned on this blog, though, but they certainly included all of the ones I remember.

      • Marzian
        September 19, 2011 at 04:31

        I’m familiar with the Amazon Store, but it hasn’t been updated for a long time.

  8. DAVID
    September 19, 2011 at 06:21


  9. September 19, 2011 at 11:20

    Come on Khatz, who *really* keeps track of every single second?

    • September 19, 2011 at 16:10

      Determined people.

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