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Japanese Websites: Learning To Ask Questions, and Getting Answers

OK, so…let’s make this one short and sweet. Asking questions is one of the most important things you can do in a language. You have to know how to ask questions in a variety of ways, depending on the social situation, the amount of knowledge you have, whether or not you give the answerer “response options” to choose from, and cetera.

The best place I know of on the Internet to get that kind of action in Japanese is: Yahoo Answers! Or, as it’s called in Japanese, Yahoo!知恵袋/ちえぶくろ/Bag o’ Wisdom. There are all kinds of cool questions and answers there. The fun and variety of a forum, with the focus of something like Wikipedia (you won’t really find stoopid arguments there). From what I’ve seen of the American/English version of Yahoo Answers, the Japanese version is tons better, so I do be recommending it.

There are also Chinese versions — Taiwan’s Yahoo Knowledge, and the Hong Kong version of the same; I haven’t read a lot on them yet, but I’m definitely going to, starting today.

And, yes, I wholeheartedly endorse Yahoo Answers for sentence-picking…There may well be errors on it, but (1) they’ll be native errors (2) a dictionary lookup will easily iron most out (3) those things that you’re still in doubt about you can either look up elsewhere, or just not add to your SRS.

By the way, the way I typically search for interesting question-answer discussions is to type in something I’m interested in in the search box. I like to read about how people perceive different ethnic groups, so I often find myself typing in the names of those [is this social voyeurism? I don’t know…but it’s cool to have this feeling of reading something that wasn’t intended with you as its target audience].

Anyway, yeah, check it out.

  71 comments for “Japanese Websites: Learning To Ask Questions, and Getting Answers

  1. JDog
    December 29, 2007 at 13:56

    That’s great. I hope to use Yahoo Questions a lot when I get to that level.

    Sorry to be rude, but I posted this comment in the comedians post and I don’t think it will be seen there:

    OK, so I went around my ‘hood looking for any Japanese book, be it manga or whatever, that I could get my hands on. My hood is Denver. I went to this place called “Sakura Square” or “Tiny Tokyo,” which is the Japanese enclave in Denver, and the one and only bookstore that was there closed recently. There was a handwritten note on the door that I couldn’t read. I asked a few employees at other shops there and they didn’t know where I could get Japanese books. Needless to say now I am pretty disappointed. Granted I know there isn’t a huge population of Asians of any kind here in Denver, but still…come on, it’s a pretty big city. I have Googled it to death and called a few places, and everyone seems to have like one children’s book that is bilingual, or lots of English translated manga, which is so disappointing. If the Japanese people I asked don’t know, then I have no idea where to turn. Anyway, ranting over now, I am moving on to buying over the internet, which I didn’t want to do because I don’t have any specific title in mind. What is the cheapest way to get books online given that I can’t really read Japanese yet? I just want something to practice with. I don’t want to do the library because I want to own stuff. I know Khatz would say but where do I even start and do they ship to the US and how would I order w/o being able to read? Suggestions on novels or manga? I don’t want children’s stuff but I don’t want deep big-worded literature either, just a casual novel would be nice or adult manga of some sort.

  2. December 29, 2007 at 15:33

    Great tip! I’ve been using the Taiwanese version for sentence mining (and just general learning) for a while. I need to incorporate the Japanese version into my workflow.

    One word of warning (though it’s a very minor one) regarding the HK version: I’ve found that sometimes the answers will include bits of “spoken Cantonese in written form” (I don’t know a better way to say that), particularly when the topic is more pop-culture. It’s not a big deal (I can normally tell when it’s Cantonese because the characters will be crazy), but you’d get lots of blank stares if you tried using the phrases in Mandarin as they’re written.

  3. Jonathan McQuarrie
    December 29, 2007 at 18:17


    I can’t say for sure if it’s the absolute best place to buy Japanese books on the internet, but I use the Sasuga Japanese Bookstore. It’s based in America, so while the books are probably more expensive than they would be in Japan, you don’t have to deal with paying exorbitant shipping fees like you would if you ordered off of Amazon, which makes them cheaper in the long run. Plus, they’ve got a pretty big selection. The only problem is, the site is completely devoid of product descriptions, so you’d have to have at least some idea of what you want to buy, or be willing to do a lot of Googling as you browse.

  4. Eric
    December 29, 2007 at 19:02

    I had never explored Yahoo Answers before — in either language — but I’m glad you recommended it for sentence mining. It’s only been an hour or so, and I’ve already run across a dearth of new and (most importantly) interesting words.


    I’ll be mining this site for some time to come.

  5. nacest
    December 29, 2007 at 22:00


    if you can use then the version is basically the same. You go [url=]anywhere in the site[/url] and start searching. There is also a semi-english version of the site (but don’t tell uncle khatz! 😛 ).
    They do ship to the US and the rest of the world, but only books, dvds and music. Electronics and the like are for Japanese addresses only.
    One thing, beware of the gargantuan shipping&handling fees! (I’ve always wanted to say ‘gargantuan’. Uh, maybe not always)

    As for recommendations… apart from manga I can’t really say at my current level. I’ve bought a couple of novels but I haven’t read them yet. Sorry.

  6. Dereck Hammond
    December 29, 2007 at 22:00

    Yeah, seconding Sasuga. $6 for a volume of manga if I remember, tons of light novels, etc.

    Also, about electronic dictionaries. Idk if anyone else on the site has mentioned this, but the nintendo DS dictionary “漢字そのまま楽引辞典” is working really well for me so far. Stylus input works well and is fast. There are a ton of entries in both the E-J and J-J dicts, probably a few 万 more in the J-J. Tons of example sentences in both.

  7. nacest
    December 29, 2007 at 22:05

    On topic,
    another site like Yahoo! Answers is [url=]OKWave[/url]. It’s pretty cool and there are Q&As on ANY topic. Check it out.

  8. JDog
    December 29, 2007 at 23:08

    OK, thanks Jonathan McQuarrie. I’ll have to check that out!

  9. Oliver
    December 30, 2007 at 08:01

    ah, yahoo answers, I’ve been using it for a while in French, since I used it in English before just to answer questions for the fun of it.

    But ya its really good. loads of context and its written by natives so you know its natural words and phrases used in normal conversation.

  10. Oliver
    December 30, 2007 at 08:13


    just go to

    go to books
    and then go to bestsellers

    read what the japanese read!

  11. nacest
    December 30, 2007 at 19:42

    do you know OKWave? It’s similar to yahoo answers, and it has Q&As on any topic. [url=]Check it out[/url]

    JDog, works just like the .com one. There is even an english semi-translated version. It does ship outside Japan (but not electronics & similar, only books, music and dvds). Just beware of the huge fees.

  12. nacest
    December 30, 2007 at 19:42

    do you know OKWave? It’s similar to yahoo answers, and it has Q&As on any topic.

    JDog, works just like the .com one. There is even an english semi-translated version. It does ship outside Japan (but not electronics & similar, only books, music and dvds). Just beware of the huge fees.

  13. Chiro-kun
    December 30, 2007 at 23:18

    インド人が馬鹿だ… (things I definitely shouldn’t be seeing 😛 )
    Great idea considering I did explore Yahoo Answers a lot (in English)!

  14. December 31, 2007 at 00:15

    lol, I cannot say anything about the quality of Yahoo answers in Japanese but those in English are often terrible. Misspellings and grammatical mistakes are comon and the answers are often all wrong as well. The idea is not a bad one as the range of topics is pretty wide and the way of discussing them refreshingy informal. I however think there are better sources for this type of stuff.

  15. December 31, 2007 at 00:41

    To Jdog, get an etext of whatever you like

  16. December 31, 2007 at 00:44

    Just to be an ass, you’ve got quite a few errors in your own post, Reineke. Yet you’re still able to be understood, neh? Just poking a little fun, but it’s essentially the same thing. You’re still using “real” English, so to speak.
    As for the quality of the answers, well, just don’t believe everything you read, haha.
    Myself, I’m a forum addict and am trying to find one in Japanese that isn’t hideous to navigate like 2ch.

  17. December 31, 2007 at 04:36

    🙁 This laptop will be the death of me, I do actually care about >common< spelling mistakes even on message boards. Heaven help anyone mining any of my sentences. English version of Yahoo boards is BAAD, and given the international status of English quite a few posters are not native speakers. I could try comparing French and Italian versions but my suspicion is that the Japanese version has a very high percentage of native speakers – assuming you avoid language learning questions. My guess is that the overall level of ahem, education in Japan is also somewhat higher.

  18. nacest
    December 31, 2007 at 06:20

    I’ve checked the Italian version and it looks ok. Of course there are occasional typos and people who are unable to form meaningful sentences. I guess this last kind could be more problematic, but after all, one adds only the sentences she can understand (with the use of a dic), so misspellings and generic errors should be filtered out anyway.

  19. Bucko
    December 31, 2007 at 06:26

    Absolute GOLD! Just look at all the juicy sentences in there for my SRS. This thread here is especially funny/controversial!…

  20. December 31, 2007 at 10:13 for simplified chinese

  21. JDog
    December 31, 2007 at 11:22

    So what is one supposed to do about withdrawal from English stuff? It’s Sunday night and I wanna watch an English movie SOOO bad and perhaps the problem is that I don’t have any Japanese ones yet.

  22. Oliver
    December 31, 2007 at 11:44

    I wouldn’t worry about it..
    I take breaks from French all the time and I’m still learning a magnificent amount so go ahead and what the English movie.

    also another good place to go along with yahoo answers, The forum for whatever games you like.. I know everyone on here has to have some video game they like, and most of these games have forums on their websites, in multiple languages


    I’ve been reading the French WoW forums and its helped me alot.


  23. khatzumoto
    December 31, 2007 at 13:33

    With all respect to all people of differing opinions, I would say suck it up and stick to Japanese. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it’s times like this where you make clear to yourself and the world whether Japanese was just something you kind of wanted and thought would be cool, or whether it was something you decided to own, no matter the cost. Those English movies will always be there — they’re on recorded media. You’ll be able to see them on magenta-ray super-duper-nosebleed-high-vision digital-optical media when the time comes. But for now, do Japanese.

    Get a Japanese movie. Get lots of Japanese movies. Lots of Japanese music. Lots of Japanese books. Watch, read and listen to them. Doing Japanese and not doing Japanese is the difference between progress and regression, I think. There is no standing still. Think of yourself as a remedial Japanese person who needs to do some serious work on his own language. When you put it in these terms you realize you have no business doing English stuff, or anything other than Japanese…

    There are enough distractions, enough non-Japanese things as it is in your daily life not living in Japan. You need not add to them yourself. If anything, you have to compensate for them by staying on the Japanese ball. In a sense it’s a question of dedication, commitment, discipline…I hate those words, but they’re the only ones I know to explain this situation. Anyway, it’s not discipline in the “run until you puke and then drink raw eggs afterwards for good measure”, or “eat gross food on a daily basis” sense. Eat tasty food…watch movies…just watch them in Japanese.

    If that still doesn’t get you going, then try remembering the dream. Remember how you want to be able to do anything and everything in Japanese. And then realize how you can’t yet. That always motivated me to get going again. You’re not the only one to have “English cravings” and you’re not weak or lazy or undisciplined because you have them; I had them a lot. Where you make your mark is by choosing what to do with those English cravings. Choose Japanese. Eventually, the cravings disappear almost entirely and you do Japanese stuff out of pure habit, no further discipline required.

    End of dad lecture.

  24. Mike
    December 31, 2007 at 14:26

    Thanks for another great post!

    I am learning the Kanji with Heisig’s book. Do you have any advice for improving (Japanese) handwriting?

    Thanks again! (By the way, you are a very inspirational writer! Thanks for all the advice/support/etc)

  25. Oliver
    December 31, 2007 at 14:34

    @ Khatzumoto

    no offense, but i’m going to have to disagree with you here.
    at his current level of Japanese, which from my understanding is very low, he will not be able to understand one lick of a Japanese movie.

    and that would mean it would be no fun to watch it.

    so saying you can’t watch English movies I think is actually hurting the cause.

    because it makes you associate learning Japanese with boredom and not being able to do anything fun, which will make you eventually just give up on Japanese.

    though I do think once your level of Japanese is high enough to atleast understand almost all of a movie you should only watch Japanese movies.

    and by all means I’m not saying don’t watch Japanese movies now, I’m just saying you don’t need banish English ones(atleast until your proficient in Japanese)

  26. khatzumoto
    December 31, 2007 at 15:23


    >and that would mean it would be no fun to watch it

    >I’m just saying you don’t need banish English ones(atleast until your proficient in Japanese)
    と仰っていますが、じゃあ — いつ、どこで、どんな風に、邦画を観ずに邦画が理解できるようになるでしょうか。

    桃子ちゃんが言うように:「You are what you eat; you are what you watch」

    >and not being able to do anything fun

  27. Oliver
    December 31, 2007 at 15:38

    one problem, I dont read Japanese, mind translating that into English or French?

  28. Oliver
    December 31, 2007 at 15:43

    hmm, I think atleast one of those paragraphs is saying,

    how without ever seeing(hearing) Japanese will you ever learn it to be able to watch?

    and, I’m not saying never watch Japanese, or never listen to Japanese. by all means listen to it alot get a feel for it.

    but.. don’t banish all fun i.e. English if you banish all fun from your life to learn Japanese you will begin to feel that it is not worth it, and give up.

  29. khatzumoto
    December 31, 2007 at 15:55

    Hey Oliver…

    Just wanted to add that is because I watched Japanese movies that I am now able to understand them fully. JDog may only be able to understand the smallest part of a Japanese movie right now, but above and beyond that there’s the fact that he needs to get used to the sounds and rhythm of Japanese. Also [forget to mention in the Japanese version], there is the fact that he will learn stuff (actual vocab) BY watching. To use myself as an example, when I repeatedly see people having their guns to their head screaming the words “唔好!!” in Cantonese…I start to figure that 唔好 just might mean something. I start to figure out the 呢邊係 just might mean something. A movie is nothing but a series of scenarios, and language is nothing but a scenario-based tool. When one sees certain scenarios and hear certain words or phrases, connections are going to be made. Not watching movies in target lang. only deprives one of this.

    >and that would mean it would be no fun to watch it
    Comprehension is not a prerequisite for enjoyment. Fun = English is not an absolute relation. I am definitely saying banish English. And replace it with Japanese. But I am also saying that he must have fun. I know you’re a smart guy, Oliver, and I know you know that fun can be had with or without English. For one thing, one can watch Japanese dubs of movies one enjoys. Et cetera. Neither of us want to banish fun.

    >I’m just saying you don’t need banish English ones(atleast until your proficient in Japanese)
    and WHEN will he get fluent Oliver? When? By what means?

    As Momoko says, you are what you eat and you are what you watch. When you were a kid, did you not watch stuff in English or French because you didn’t understand it? No — whether or not you understood that book or movie or TV show, you watched it. Whatever you didn’t understand you bridged by inference and imagination.

    >and not being able to do anything fun
    Maybe. But maybe not. Language learners (children learning their so-called native languages included) gain far more than they lose by facing their linguistic helplessness and ignorance on a daily basis — it gives them the drive and curiosity to overcome that helpless and ignorance. Because we do not understand, we seek to understand. Let JDog face his reality of not knowing Japanese, let him face it every waking and sleeping moment of every day, and in so facing it, erase it.

    It is through doing Japanese that JDog will get better at it. And it is because he doesn’t understand that he MUST watch Japanese movies, not “should”, MUST. Running away, “waiting” until he “gets good” is the perfect recipe for never getting good. Would you ever go to your own baby — “no, don’t watch that, Timmy, you can’t understand it”? “Dad what’s that?” — “Shut up; you don’t understand, stoopid Timmy”. Of course not.

  30. Oliver
    December 31, 2007 at 16:07

    1)I actually laughed out loud at your last sentence. that was hillarious

    now onto real business

    well, I do agree that JDog should watch and read Japanese alot, and I’m not saying don’t watch because you don’t understand. I’m saying you don’t understand so it won’t be very fun. you should still do it but it will not be very fun.
    If you don’t have any fun in life you will give up. it is not just a random guess that people quit things because there “not fun” its fact.
    now I’m not trying to say all Japanese is horribly boring, but one must understand that we all have guilty pleasures sometimes, and we have to realize people aren’t going to want to
    do this. weather it helps them or not. they should be able to do some recreation that they can actually have alot of fun doing.

    why do you think school isn’t 16 hours a day? it would allow us to get 8 hours of sleep and increase what we learn 10 fold. but people would simply be bored never doing anything they enjoy and give up. The drop-out rate would increase ridiculously and so would suicides.

    so all-in all, you have to allow some things in your native language to allow for enjoyment, if you never have it, you will give up.

  31. Oliver
    December 31, 2007 at 16:18

    >Fun = English is not an absolute relation.I know you know that fun can be had with or without English.

    Ah, this is true, but you must realize to people who grew up speaking English, it does directly relate with fun to them. at this point in their life they have never done anything “fun” that did not involve the English language.

    (this ones a little off topic)
    >For one thing, one can watch Japanese dubs of movies one enjoys. Et cetera.

    I really don’t think people should watch dubs of movies they know. no offense if you did this. I did too and realized that it was a mistake.
    when I watch a movie that I’ve seen in English and enjoy in English, I will only be thinking English the whole time, and once its done I won’t remember any of the Japanese spoken, just the English I already know from my past watching.

  32. khatzumoto
    December 31, 2007 at 16:36

    >people quit things because there “not fun” its fact.
    Absolutely, 100% right.

    >we all have guilty pleasures sometimes
    We do. Make Japanese that guilty pleasure.

    >why do you think school isn’t 16 hours a day?
    Well, school sucks to begin with and people learn next to nothing and remember even less. But when school’s over, what do we do? Go home and read comics and play PlayStation and hang out with our friends, right? More likely than not in the same language as at school, Oliver. We never said, OK, well so much for English, back to REAL LIFE. Because real life was always in English. We never go to a baby or toddler — “enough of language input, Timothy — go back to defecating in our pants!”.

    I am not saying learn Japanese. I am saying BECOME Japanese. Make it the language of your entire life. The cool parts, the colorful parts, the boring black-and-white government form parts. Whatever. The whole deal. Just like Japanese people do their entire lives.

    Now, I realize that you are suggesting that people take breaks, just like Chon Chan Yon did…which is fine. But for me personally, that never worked. It was basically all or nothing. It was easier to say an all-out no to English than to have my “special Khatzumoto English time”. It’s ultimately much easier (and more productive) to find joy, fun, enjoyment, fulfillment in Japanese itself than in the off-Japanese break. It was more productive to cultivate something bordering on a visceral hate for English, than to turn it into this refuge, this sanctuary, this “time off from the ‘struggles’ of Japanese”. No, Japanese had to become the source of joy.

    Maybe it’s coz I wasn’t disciplined enough, maybe because I sucked at scheduling, but in any case, I knew that and because I knew it I chose to do all Japanese all the time. Forget everything else. For those who are good at juggling…more power to ye. But I would say that if Japanese or any language is not enjoyable enough to not warrant a break, if Japanese is so boring to you that you need to take time off it, then the problem is not with Japanese it is with your methods. And right now would be high time to make some emergency adjustments to those methods.

  33. Oliver
    December 31, 2007 at 16:48

    hmm ok..

    just one thing to add.

    its not that the language is soo boring you must take breaks. people take breaks from ANYTHING you could be doing the most fun thing in the world, and still need a break every once and a while.

    oh and also
    once you get to a certain point you will no longer need breaks, but in the beginning they are definitely necessary. once you can understand atleast a good portion of what your hearing you probably will no longer need breaks.
    I currently almost never take breaks anymore, only when talking with family or doing something of that matter.
    French is basically my language now.
    I play video games in French, I read in French, I watch TV in French, but in the beginning I definitely needed breaks.( i still take them every once and a while).

    and, I’m going to bed, its very late my time

    I’ll argue more tomorrow lol.

  34. Jonathan
    December 31, 2007 at 17:47

    I’d just like to point out that if I were to “become” Japanese rather than simply learn it, then that would necessitate taking on an unhealthy obsession with trying to get people to teach me English at every opportunity, in which case watching an English movie would be just the thing to do. 😛

    But seriously, it’s not like he’s choosing not to watch a Japanese movie in favor of an English one, it’s that he REALLY wants to watch a movie, but he doesn’t have any Japanese ones to watch yet. In that case, is it really so harmful to watch one little movie in English? I know Khatz would probably say yes, but he’s apparently capable of setting up a robust multimedia immersion environment in the blink of an eye. :3

    I think so long as you keep marching towards the ultimate goal of “all Japanese all the time” (or at the very least, “all Japanese as much as possible”, because agreeing with someone completely is never cool and makes you look like a suckup…), watching an English movie or two while your Japanese movies are in the mail can’t hurt things. Just so long as you don’t start to backslide into full-on English mode because of one movie. I hear that sort of thing happens to people sometimes, even if I’ve never experienced it due to my indomitable willpower.

  35. khatzumoto
    December 31, 2007 at 17:51

    >at this point in their life they have never done anything “fun” that did not involve the English language.
    No excuse, bro. There’s a time for everything. This smells of excuse-making for adults, to me.

    >once its done I won’t remember any of the Japanese spoken, just the English I already know from my past watching.
    Thanks for sharing that. I definitely share this opinion of subs. Subs in a second language can erase any memory I had of what was spoken. But with dubs, I did personally find it to be OK. If you didn’t, I respect that, and good on you for realizing it and stopping it.

    >you could be doing the most fun thing in the world
    But language isn’t just one thing, right? It’s a whole range of stuff. You’re reading, you’re listening, you’re watching, you’re writing, you’re speaking (even if it’s just imitation). It’s music, it’s movies, it’s TV, it’s Internet, it’s comics, it’s newspapers. There should be enough *stuff* to do in your target language to keep boredom at bay permanently. So, I never really found this to be a major problem.

    Let me ask you, though — how long did it take you to get to your current level of French? Perhaps that’s an issue, too…if you have the time to “ramp it up”, then I guess that’s OK, but…if one wants fluency sooner, then I think one must be prepared to take fewer breaks. My personal perspective of time was that every single second counted, every second was one in which I could be learning more Japanese (or…not) and I would be willing to give every last available second, every moment, literally every ounce of life within me, for fluency in Japanese. So I did.

    Anyway, you reached fluency in French, and what you did worked. So, I respect that. Clearly both ways work. You’re going to be protective of your way because it did work for you, and I’ll be the same about my way. And I think that’s fine 🙂 . See you tomorrow.

  36. khatzumoto
    December 31, 2007 at 18:08

    *Ssssssss* I don’t know, Jonathan…I will say that for me…just for me, Khatzumoto, that kind of “a little bit won’t hurt” just doesn’t fly. It feels to me (again…just me) like an invitation to weakness, mediocrity and half-hearted effort. Often, radical methods lead to radical results. Fluency in a language in a short time is a radical result, it’s going to require some major, in-your-face, this-is-no-longer-Kansas changes in your life — radical methods.

    Like I said, I always viewed myself as a…native speaker who happens to have gone wrong somewhere. I don’t even know how to put this into words, how to communicate this sense of urgency. Perhaps if you’ve been illiterate and unable to communicate in a country for an extended period of time, you might understand this better. It’s that kind of “this is a serious freaking situation that needs to be corrected”. Now, you might say “yeah, but X is not in Japan yet”, and I will say “all the more reason to get ready for when she will be; not being able to function in a country is no joke, and only being able to partially function still sucks”.

    I think a lot of people lack the sense of urgency that learning a language for real (not to fumbling level, but to intentional humor, persuasion and negotiation level) requires. And I don’t, personally, buy into all this crap about what’s “healthy” and what’s “well-rounded”. Play the game, and play it all the time, and play it to win, or not at all. And I think when one comes to understand this, when one comes into the activity of learning a language with that much dedication, and drive, and just general 覚悟 (kakugo)…then one can enjoy better results faster. A single-minded devotion to (unhealthy obsession with?) English gave us fluency in it. Japanese is no different.

    Gosh…I want more people to understand this so much. We are trying to learn a language here. This is not a joke. It’s fun. But it’s not something to take a break from, I don’t think. It is not something to turn on and off. It’s like breathing, it’s the medium of some of our very thoughts. In that sense it’s uniquely different from other activities. Learning an instrument? Sure, rest. Pushing a stone up a hill? Take breaks. Drowning? Getting smothered by a pillow? No, you don’t stop until you’re in a position to breathe again. When you don’t know a language, you are drowning in ignorance; you’re dying from it. You shouldn’t stop fighting for your life — fighting for knowledge of that language — until you can breathe, until you can function in that language…hmmm…that was an excessively violent image.

    Of course it’s up to each individual what to do. And it’s none of my business what other people choose to do. But…it’s not a question of looking cool or sucking up or obeying instructions. It’s a question of getting a job done and quickly. A good idea is a good idea no matter whose mouth it comes from.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting :).

  37. nacest
    December 31, 2007 at 18:32

    I’m not particularly interested in joining one of the 2 sides of the discussion, because it may be just a matter of what kind of person you are.

    But I think I have to add something in favor of khatzumoto. Watching without understanding CAN be fun. First off, don’t 2-3 years olds watch tons and tons of cartoons and children movies? They often even watch (work-safe) non-children films, and they often enjoy them. They probably understand only a very small portion of what is being said, and nothing at all about the whole plot. But they don’t care. They like watching the action and catching funny or interesting phrases here and there. And they are usually totally absorbed in this.

    Since a few months I’ve switched to totally Japanese media (music, anime and drama mostly), What I can say is that some things are REALLY boring when you don’t understand, but not all. I’ve recently started watching a drama called Stand Up and even with my low understanding (maybe 25%) I’m having serious fun. I’ve watched the first episodes twice (I’m still only at ep. 3).

    >once you get to a certain point you will no longer need breaks, but in the beginning they are definitely necessary.

    Again, this may be a subjective thing. For me, the breaks I take “involuntarily” are more than enough. I talk to my family and friends, see (alas) English sites etc. I’m writing in English right now.
    I’ll tell you more. I’m starting to find boring anything that isn’t Japanese. I think that soon I’ll be wanting breaks from English! 🙂

  38. Jonathan
    December 31, 2007 at 18:34

    Yeah, I totally see where you’re coming from here. I don’t know if you could rightly call it a “sense of urgency”, but I tend to obsess about things naturally once I get into them. All of my shiny new Christmas presents are sitting and collecting dust, casualties of my Japanese studies. Well, except for my new watch, it gets a pass since it’s face is all in Kanji, so I can tell myself it’s part of my immersion environment. But I’m rambling. In any case, I’m just not the kind of person that can beat myself up for not watching a Japanese movie I don’t have yet. I’ll do my best to get my hands on it, but there’s not much I can do about it in the meantime.

    Maybe I’m just too easygoing. Maybe my idea of gradually ramping from all English to all Japanese is flawed, and it stems from deep-seeded fears of change that I don’t even know I have. I don’t know. I just do the best I can.

  39. Savara
    December 31, 2007 at 22:01

    Just wanted to add something to this…

    Over summer break (3 months or so) I was kinda hardcore with this Japanese learning thing 😉 After that – well school started (which isn’t a real excuse ofcourse, but it is a huge part of the fact that I’m not that hardcore anymore.). I listened to Japanese whenever I could (not at night though), even when doing the dishes etc. I had time, I had the house for myself most of the time.

    Not anymore though. I don’t watch much anime, in fact… maybe one ep every week of a series I actually like. Music? Ehm, I still have my 日本語 playlist but most often I have my “Christian music playlist” playing… For eh, half efforts I now just combined those two – I figured 50 % Japanese and 50 % English (–> Christian) stuff is better than no Japanese at all.

    The only thing I can’t even imagine stop doing are my reviews (anki + mnemosyne, so sentences + words). It’s just a habit now and I didn’t miss a day since I started.
    Now in the winter break I add more words than before, so I’m learning a bit more again. But ehm, yeah… I learned more in those 3 months than in the 4 months after school started. …

    Thing is though – I’m still *learning*, and that fact gives me joy. I might not get fluent in a more years, but I’m pretty sure I will as long as I don’t give up.

    Another thing that evolved out of this hardcore phase is that I can’t encounter new words in English (or Dutch for that matter, because even in your native language you’ll never stop learning) without writing them down – looking them up and adding them to mnemosyne ^^; Actually, I don’t think I have any Dutch words in there, but you get the idea.

    Anyway, as everyone probably knows, the “All the time” thing isn’t the *only* way to fluency, but it logically will be the fastest.

    Excuse me now as I try to figure out a way to finally go J-J *sighs* Still haven’t figured out how to do the ‘translations’ (–> Explanations) of sentences that way :/ But I’m starting to get the idea I might just know enough words to try it now.

  40. Chiro-kun
    December 31, 2007 at 22:52

    Why not….
    “I really wanna watch that English movie badly!!”
    “Sure, just delay Japanese fluency by a day”
    Whether its “Naah, a day can’t hurt” or “Uh-uh. The sooner the better” is up to the person I guess 😀

  41. Chiro-kun
    December 31, 2007 at 22:58

    I’m currently experimenting with subs at the moment and I don’t find it really problematic. The minute I’m able to catch one of the sentences a character is saying, I just remember that sentence in Japanese (with the character’s voice). That just might be me though hehe.

  42. Chiro-kun
    December 31, 2007 at 22:59

    New Years will be here in a moment so let’s all do our best towards learning….I mean, OWNING Japanese!!! 😀

  43. Mark
    January 1, 2008 at 00:31

    I also have urges to watch English language TV, and occasionally I have been giving in to that urge.

    But I have identified that urge as a reflection of the fact that there has not been enough variety or excitement in the stuff I have been watching in Japanese.

    I have a very short attention span when something is boring – so I have been addressing this urge to watch English language stuff by chucking tons of new stuff on my iPod – new *and* interesting stuff, that is.

    I can only understand about 30% of what’s going on, but the visual humour in shows like ‘Trick’ does make me laugh – the two cops are absolutely hilarious 🙂 It’s so interesting that I felt motivated to buy the scenario book ( ). I can still only understand about 30% of the book’s content, but I salivate at the thought of adding those sentences to my SRS once I have finished Heisig.

    So, if anyone is having trouble sticking to the Japanese, perhaps you could find something more visually appealing – as Khatz suggested, try ‘Trick’ and ‘Gokusen’ for starters.

    Apart from Khatz’s suggestions, I think that the drama wiki is a good place to look ( ). The listings for particular shows include ratings, so it’s fairly easy to find something good (I found ‘Galileo’ that way).


    P.S. I am currently enjoying the stuff that Khatz recommended, and as mentioned I constantly hunt through Drama Wiki, but given my voracious appetite for Japanese dramas, has anyone got any recommendations for good shows?

    Given my current Japanese level, I am particularly looking for showing that are visually appealing – perhaps shows with lots of visual humour like Trick and Gokusen.

    Thanks a lot…

  44. suffah
    January 1, 2008 at 02:32

    I actually felt a little guilty reading this thread, since it’s (mostly) in English. I guess I know which camp I fall into.

  45. Nivaldo
    January 1, 2008 at 03:14

    Wow! This discussion is pretty much constructive as it helps clear some points about Khatzumoto’s method. According to my experience I would agree with our friend, Savara, in one thing, AJATT leads to fluency faster than any other method. Sincerely, I think that the only somewhat boring part of the AJATT method is learning kanji(it takes much time and it requires tons of energy) but aside from that everything else is just fun. It’s the target language in action. I do everything I did in my native language(except school things, YET) but now in my target one. Although I don’t understand even 4% of the stuff in japanese, it’s fun to do it in MY(Japanese) language, I mean, I can no longer imagine myself doing anything in another language than Japanese. It’s this part of the method that makes everything else look easy and not demanding breaks in the middle. I can say that now I really breathe japanese even not knowing the smallest part of it, I’m still learning kanji after all(now on kanji 725 without forgetting anything behind it). And I also felt this “sense of urgency” that Khatzumoto talked about many years or maybe I’m misinterpretting his expression. If I’m not wrong, he is talking about some feeling of just being born in the wrong place, if so I must say that I also had and still have this feeling. When I was around 12, I watched a japanese movie that captivated me and left me thinking seriously about what I wanted. This site came to show me(of course not with the intention) that it was japanese what I wanted, what I had to be.

  46. Nivaldo
    January 1, 2008 at 03:15

    BTW, Happy New Year for everyone!

  47. January 1, 2008 at 10:56

    @ Oliver and Khatzumoto. You’re both right 🙂 I learned Italian by basically just watching TV. From scratch. It was fun. However, I do remember hearing many, many times why in the world was I watching something I couldn’t understand. I have also later witnessed people twitching and running away from the TV room in the student dorm if I tuned to a German station or something they couldn’t understand. The point is that I learned Italian. They learned nothing. I will agree with Khatzumoto about the subs. It’s difficult to get into the story, learn the language and follow the subs. It’s by “getting into it” that you imbue the language. And I grew up with subtitles.
    Happy New Year everyone. Maybe it’s the one in which I finally start on Japanese.

  48. Wan Zafran
    January 1, 2008 at 11:11

    To Oliver,

    Use English to get a head-start, a bearing of things, then try your best to navigate your way independently from there. Really, because one cannot expect to attain native-like understanding of things (and a native-vocabulary), if one keeps interpreting words using their English meanings. The Japanese worldview is inherently their own; so long as you’re using English, you will not be looking at the world through their window, because you’ll always remain on the outside and be looking at it from there.

    Anyway, I agree fully with Khatzumoto-sensei on the doing-it-all-the-time-method. Taking time off to bask in those pleasures readily available in your native language would tempt you even further to not study in your target language (e.g. Japanese) in the long run. Instead, If you consider as extremely important the element of fun in your Japanese studies, then force yourself to derive that fun from a Japanese-only source. Otherwise, it really would seem as if you were trying to run away.

    Dive into difficult material just as it is.

    After all, difficult material would forever remain as difficult material, unless you start ploughing through it, no? If it’s boring or too difficult for you (for now), suspend the material, and just come back to it later. Do easier stuff first; you will find that the accumulative weight of easier materials you’ve completed will later help you tackle the more difficult stuff. (Especially when dealing with grammar and complex sentences that you couldn’t parse at all in the first place.) I humbly apologize in advance for using myself as an example, but here’s a testimony: I found it difficult to wade through Japanese sentences wholly in the first place, but because I forced myself to dive in nonetheless, that’s why I find it (still difficult, but much) easier now.

  49. Wan Zafran
    January 1, 2008 at 11:45

    To Oliver (again),

    I’d like to give a tip on Japanese movies, specifically.

    Choose one show, just one, that you LOVE and wouldn’t mind watching over and over again, and do just that. (If you need some ideas, browse through All Japanese All The Time and check out all of Khatzumoto’s recommendations — it’s impossible not to find something that you would like.) Repeat entire scenes, over and over again. If need be, split the original video into small 1-minute scenes or so, and when you’re doing other work on the computer, resize those videos so that they fit onto your desktop side-by-side with your work, and play them on continuous loop. This way you’ll get to listen and watch and do work at the same time. (Better a little focus on Japanese whilst doing ordinary work, than none at all, I would say; and really, your eyes would be distracted towards the moving forms on video every few seconds anyway, so it’s a win-win situation.)

    If at this point you can’t understand what they’re talking about, it really doesn’t matter. Meaning can come later, with sentence studies or vocabulary references, and they’ll stick with you once you are actually able to make out what’s being said on-screen and attach meanings to them.

    For now, listen closely to what the actors are saying, and how they’re pronouncing it. Try to make out every syllable. Train your ear, even if you can’t train your comprehension. If you have English subs, occasionally peruse them, if only to make sense of a scenario that you have little understanding of (yet). (E.g. observe how the characters react when they say certain words, the emotions they associate with these words, and the facial/physical gestures they give out when these words are said.) If possible, get the Japanese subtitle or scripts for the show and check against those, and try pairing what you read with what you’ve heard. (An, uhh, deathly combo would be a combination of RikaiChan and the script with J-e and J-J dictionaries.)

    You’ll find that your comprehension is growing, slowly, but it is growing nonetheless. It’s a really slow process, especially when you first begin, and that “Will this really get me somewhere?” feeling will always be ringing away in your head all the time, but pay not any heed to it. Just keep working. (A distinct advantage of splitting the movie up into scenes is that you’ll get a sense from accomplishment from knowing that you’ve completed x-amount of files containing y-amount of scenes.)

    Now, if you’re anything like me, this is what you would experience: at first, you would need to (mentally) translate, and rather literally too, every word you hear in the movie to get a gist of what it means. Slowly, the meaning of a word becomes attached to its sound, and once you hear the word, you sort of “know” what it means, and you’d translate the word into English only out of an automatic habit. Then, as more words piece together into sound-meanings (instead of sound-translation-meanings) you’ll start to get a hang of sentences; you will find that sentences often go by too fast for you to understand every word individually. (This is probably because your mind is still unconsciously translating some words as you’re listening.) As you go along listening, your mind starts making sense of a whole sentence, and the meaning of words will sort of ‘blur’ into each other, just the way you don’t think about each word individually in your native language. You then start attaching the sentences to the mannerisms of the actor and their facial expressions. (This is how I think comedies really help: because the expressions are usually exaggerated, it’s just more obvious that way.) Then comes comprehension of more sentences, and subsequently, whole scenes.

    At some point, you’d be watching/learning the show as usual without thinking about it, before coming to realize, “Hey, how’d I understand all of that?” At least, that was what happened to me. (But it took a really long time; at least 2 months to understand ‘completely’ just 1 show.)

    In the long run you’ll notice that you can understand most of the movie, or the entire movie itself. Best of all, is that the listening skills/vocabulary/understanding you’ve acquired from one movie will easily transfer to another (because most shows are colloquial in nature anyway), and everything will just snowball from there.

    That’s how it’s worked for me, and I hope it’ll work out for you as well.

    (P/S: If you’re interested, try looking around for another comment, also in AJATT, on the method I use to study movies; it may or may not help you.)

  50. James Stuber
    January 1, 2008 at 11:56

    “(An, uhh, deathly combo would be a combination of RikaiChan and the script with J-e and J-J dictionaries.)”

    Is there a rikaichan script for a J-J dictionary? Or did you mean rikaichan and a separate J-J dictionary?

  51. Wan Zafran
    January 1, 2008 at 12:59

    No, I have not encountered a J-J dictionary for Rikaichan yet. I use Rikaichan to get a gist of the English, then I quickly head for the Daijirin or Koujien dictionaries. I also try my best not to use any sentences with English definitions in them; no matter how difficult they are, I force myself to use Japanese definitions only.

  52. JDog
    January 1, 2008 at 13:29

    Wow! This is the first time I’ve had a chance to look at the response to my question I posted 24 hours ago now. Interesting debate between Oliver and Khatzumoto. I have to say that I like the idea of making Japanese the joyous part so that you don’t feel you have to take breaks from it. I would say that I enjoy the music and just browsing what I can understand in my newly bought manga (I did find a shop that sells Japanese manga on the other side of town!), but I just don’t like how much time it takes to enter all those kanji into my SRS, but I know that it’ll probably be even longer when I have to do sentences. I wish the kanji part would move a little quicker! Anyway, thanks for the ideas and advice. I also wish I could listen in my sleep, but I have tried multiple times and I just have to turn it off to be able to sleep well. Otherwise it’s not as good of a sleep for me. Maybe if I just keep doing it, I could get used to it, like sleeping with a fan on when I was a kid to block out the noise. idk…happy new year!

  53. January 1, 2008 at 22:01

    Maybe it’s got to do with a tolerance for pain. After a few hours of Japanese TV, reading a book in Japanese or even playing a game, my body and brain are at their limits. When it causes physical pain to continue inputting a language, well, the body’s self defense comes first, haha.

  54. khatzumoto
    January 1, 2008 at 22:24
  55. January 1, 2008 at 23:18

    Yeah, I’ve read it. That doesn’t stop my body from physically aching.
    Plus, it’s frustrating. I don’t watch TV in English or listen to music (unless I’m driving, which in Japan I don’t.) So doing those things in Japanese is a nuisance at best. Doesn’t stop me from doing it, but sometimes it feels like my body is rejecting it.

  56. January 1, 2008 at 23:19

    Eric, while cooking you can let go of the pot! 🙂

  57. khatzumoto
    January 1, 2008 at 23:21

    🙂 lol you guys….

  58. January 1, 2008 at 23:23

    Then my vegetables and pork burn. I freaking hate burnt vegetables and pork. Barring that, I’m not getting your metaphor.
    If it’s to leave TV/music on in the background, that’s something I’ve spent 25 years prior not doing because it’s an annoyance to me. But, silence is alas the exact opposite of language input so whaddaya gonna do.

  59. khatzumoto
    January 1, 2008 at 23:36

    Find. A. Way. Trial and error. For your own benefit. But whatever you do, do not put on English, I don’t care what anyone says [my friends Oliver and Reineke, I’m looking at you 8) ]…if it’s silence then let it be silence. But there must be a way, you just need to find it by experimentation.

  60. khatzumoto
    January 1, 2008 at 23:53

    Then again, everyone’s different, right? Apparently some people can handle dubs (me), some people can handle subs (Chiro-kun) and some people can’t handle either (Oliver). Similarly, some people can handle stops (Oliver) and some people can’t (me).

    Just do whatever is fun. I find it hard to fathom how it could be that physically distasteful to have 100% target language input since it is what we did as kids…but that may just be a lack of imagination on my part…if it can’t be helped then it can’t be helped. People may well just be different in that sense. I would advise you to TRY 100% 24/7/365 input in some form, but if you need silence, you need silence [some people can’t sleep with it…other people need meditative time during the day…whatever].

    I mean…stops occur naturally for most people (I lived in the US; I had to handle business in English at times), so…it would seem to me that that would provide enough time off iff such time off is in fact necessary. But…I mean, if you spend 15 waking hours doing Japanese and you intentionally and voluntarily (out of active desire as opposed to necessity) give up 1 hour to something else, I’m sure you’re still doing fine.

    Let 100 flowers bloom. Let everyone go figure out their own deal. I’m going to stick to my way, but variations are naturally going to occur, and even if they cause me to raise an eyebrow of avuncular concern, that of course doesn’t by any means automatically mean they’re not going to work. I do think it’s easier from a self-/time-management perspective to say “all my time is now for language X”, but…if one is a better self-manager or time-manager, then a more complex, nuanced scheme should also be possible, I’m sure.

    あけおめことよろ by the way 🙂

    Oh one more thing — I have an article coming up in just under 12 hours about overcoming burn out, which is what I think this is really all about. In it, I’ll discuss how to overcome burnout without skipping a single moment in terms of being immersed in your target language (esp. Japanese). Again, I heartily recommend 100% commitment as opposed to taking time off; I think a 100% commitment is easy and fun and totally do-able, but I do respect the people who are for breaking give them the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately, this is a matter of personal responsibility — you want fluency, you do what you need to do, end of story.

    • November 1, 2011 at 21:28

      My upper limit for immersion in my target language is 10 hours a day. It doesn’t mean that I don’t ever do 14 hours of listening a day–it’s a rare occurrence tho. It’s not that I get headaches or anything–it’s just that I need some silence, and that I can’t walk around with earphones on when I’m in college. I figured that if I get about 5 to 6 hours of immersion a day, I’m good to go. However, I would NOT recommend people who have just started out to use the same method. You need to be used to your target language if you want to take breaks without hurting yourself. I mean, I don’t feel like using my native language anymore so I’m fine if I take a break for a couple of hours. My OS is in my target languages and so are my books and my music. I can’t go wrong because I’m surrounded by my L2. Moreover, I’ve already raked in about 2,500 hours of immersion and probably even more but I was too lazy to keep a decent log over the years.

  61. January 2, 2008 at 00:00

    Haha, I’m just saying that reading in Japanese, listening to lots of Japanese causes me to get actual headaches. I won’t say it isn’t getting better with time, but I can totally see why someone would say they feel like they need a break. Hell, sometimes it’s just a necessity. Calling that a weakness or a failure just seems to be too negative to me. Unless you’re into S&M or something. 😀

    Man, I really need to find a Japanese forum to spend my time arguing on. (And no one say 2ch. That is such a mess to navigate through!)

  62. January 2, 2008 at 00:13

    lol, learning a language is indeed boiling water (so you can later make a nice stew). In my own personal experience, I was exposed to Italian constantly for a few months each year, and took huge breaks. It turned out fine, but it took a decade or more. If your body needs rest or silence, listen to it. You can let go of the pot but it’s still simmering and your brain is processing. A few hours of rest is exactly what you need. There are forms of torture that involve constant sound and the outcome is not pretty. However if one’s body “craves” English, that’s just silly talk. Practice another language – if you’re in the mood for it. Or do whatever you want. Khatzumoto will soon hate my guts 🙂

  63. khatzumoto
    January 2, 2008 at 00:25

    LoL S&M…

    One thing I’m afraid of happening, something which hasn’t actually happened yet, is people going “I can’t learn in such a short time because I can’t take the heat”…I call that weakness in the sense of being a wuss-pot [hmmm…that was redundant…]. For the record, no one here has been a wuss-pot, no-one has been whining. But I’m just deathly afraid of anything that acts as a portal to those ideas, ideas that permit just half-a$$edness, you know? Probably because I’ve been a very big whiner myself, so I find the whole whining deal very distasteful…It’s at the base of people spending, you know years “studying” a language with nothing to show for it: having been in that position I can attest to how pathetic the whole thing is. There is no good reason for it. Dragging ones feet, underachievement…theres’s no reason for it. Not that anyone here but me has been an underachiever. I guess I’m just concerned about some kind of slippery slope into mediocrity, and some kind of decision that “only certain people can do X”, that kind of self-imposed elitism really grates on me, personally. These are the bad attitudes, the unexamined decisions, the unconquered vices that are at the base of most people’s language learning problems, so I’m just wary of things that even seem to hint at those attitudes.

    I’m usually not one to suggest distasteful things (I’m not, really), but…maybe this uncomfortable period is something to just buckle down and ride through? It won’t last forever, like I said Japanese becomes a habit — eventually you just do it because it’s what you do. It may well be a matter of using willpower until a new habit is formed (at which point willpower is no longer needed). And while on the subject of willpower, I think it actually takes LESS willpower to do Japanese all the time, than to do Japanese most of the time. At some point if you want to get to your destination in time you may just have to run there and darn the pain and darn the excuses and darn the consequences…if your life were in danger you would figure something out by hook or by crook, and when it comes to a relatively large project like learning a language, that same moment-to-moment, what’s the word — force, impetus, drive… — can be very useful and can be applied quite easily. The buck has to stop somewhere, right? Better here and now than later, because let me tell you — regret is a good deal more painful than temporary discomfort. You realize that a

    LoL…well that was negative 🙂 !! But sometimes…you just have to get raw, man.

  64. mark
    January 2, 2008 at 03:38


    “Let 100 flowers bloom.” (Khatz)


    “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. ” (Mao Tse Tung – prior to unleashing the Cultural Revolution and stomping on his opponents).

    Khatz, have you immersed yourself in Chinese to the extent of adding Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ to your reading list 🙂

  65. Oliver
    January 2, 2008 at 04:50

    >Let me ask you, though — how long did it take you to get to your current level of French?

    it took me about two years.
    -though I didn’t follow your method exactly I followed the main points
    “sentences”- I didn’t input them into any SRS I just read and read some more and read some more. which gave me input of well over 10,000 sentences I just didn’t have to take the time putting them into my SRS, and instead of reviewing my SRS, I read some more.

    anyway cheers =]

  66. khatzumoto
    January 2, 2008 at 08:37

    Now all that’s left is to send my opponents to labor camps once they all come out…muahahaha!

  67. beneficii
    January 2, 2008 at 08:51

    Interesting, it does seem like defeatism is endemic in language learning and I think it is one of the major reasons why adults have such a low success rate in learning languages.

    Wan Zafran,

    On the point of avoiding thinking in your native langauge, I recall hearing from another that that is one of the major reasons why for adults the Antimoon/AJATT method is supposed to not work. I personally do not buy this argument, but the other person said that through this method, as an adult, you will either impose a meaning from an equivalent word or phrase from your native language on a word or phrase in the target language, or you will remain eternally clueless as to the meaning of that word or phrase. When I told them that grammar books give lots of explanations in your native language and not target language, they responded saying, “Yes, but you will have the correct meaning, unlike what you would impose from your native language.” I also told them that a necessary part of immerson is hearing the sentences all in the target language and they responded saying that it doesn’t matter, since it would all be one big fog anyway. I told them that gradually as time goes on, the fog clears, and I’ve checked my interpretations of the meanings of various words (that I got simply from watching/listening/reading, not by looking it up in a monolingual/bilingual dictionary) and generally they say that my interpretations of those words were correct.

    The person has yet to respond and has not done so for quite a while.

    I think defeatism is so endemic that people are willing to try the methods that seem more socially correct, like the-go-to-school-to-hear-translations-from-your-native-language-and-grammar-that-works-best-with-your-native-language’s-grammar-explained-in-your-native-language-so-you-can-grind-out-sentences-from-that-because-as-we-all-know-you-are-an-adult-therefore-you-can-never-understand-from-reading-or-listening-no-matter-how-much-you-do-for-how-long-or-what-space-of-time-so-quit-being-facetious-and-who-cares-if-you-can’t-understand-the-average-monolingual-native-speaker’s-response-because-they’re-bigots-for-not-knowing-how-to-deal-with-foreigners-anyway method. But seriously, the sentences that I learned in school always seemed to be rare finds in the actual things I listen to/read. In other words, I learned a whole bunch of sentences from school and then I set to read actual Japanese and I understand barely any of it–here and there I can find one I learned in school, but on the whole the Japanese themselves use completely different ways of writing.

    But I find that understanding becomes easier as time goes on and so I will continue this method.

    I’m in Japan presently, though I will return home on the 9th and I find that I can understand the things people say better, though not perfectly and I still get taken by surprise. My accent is thick though still, and I try to avoid speaking and when I get home I’m going to return to another self-imposed silent period that I hope will help followed by more close and intense practice to sound like a native speaker. As a child I was hyperlexic and though I could read very well, I found it difficult to understand spoken speech. Because of that, I expect that it would probably take longer for my listening skills to kick in than the average person, so it is a weak spot that I am working on getting caught up in.

    Thank you Khatzumoto and Antimoon for this common-sensical method that I had some vague idea of being the thing I should do before I even heard of it. Thank you. ^_^

  68. Brittany
    January 2, 2008 at 11:46

    JDOG!!! is a free book exchange program. Basically you get rid of books you have and get books you want. Everyone pays outgoing shipping (about $2.50), no one pays incoming shipping. For every book you send out, you can get a book in.

    You can search for books by language, so I just search for books in Japanese. I’ve gotten 4 different mangas. I don’t read manga in English, so I don’t really care what I’m reading in Japanese. I look up the books to see what they’re about and if it’s not too sci-fi-y then I’ll mooch it. It’s pretty sweet.

    Also, check out ebay. There’s lots of Japanese books on there, especially kids books.

  69. Oliver
    January 2, 2008 at 12:01

    hey quick question for khatz

    this has nothign to do with this but,

    how do you rip the audio from a dvd to your computer?

    because I want the audio from all my DVDs onto my iPod for listening when doing other things.

    thanks much. =]

  70. ModishMinuet
    January 3, 2008 at 10:52

    I’d just like to add that I vouch for the “input of target language.” My Japanese is very poor, beginner and such, but I listen to my Japanese diligently. I spent a lot of my winter break listening to Japanese and watching Japanese movies, even though I understand next to none of it, and it really helped. I cheated, of course, I used subs, but I can honestly say that two weeks later, I am a lot more comfortable with spoken Japanese, and watching the same movies or similar ones without subs, I understood what was happening better and realized I actually had expanded my vocabulary. Hahaha, I must say that my confidence in this method has been greatly boosted. It produces nearly instant results, or at least, it did for me! (Except for the sub thing: I know English subs aren’t suggested, but I really couldn’t resist, and for me personally, it helped.)

    Anyways, that’s my input in the matter. Japanese gets more fun each day!

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