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Massive Turnover: How To Banish Boredom and Burnout from Immersion Even When You’re Just a Sucky Beginner

This post began as a footnote to one of my own remarks here, where I said that:

Even “burn-out” is, IMHO, almost always bogus – you’re not “burned out”, you’re just “being lame”: you need to get more creative about the immersion process.

Looking back, “creative” was the wrong word. “Active” might be more appropriate. Now what do I mean by “active”? In my case I mean just turn up the “sheer quantity” dial on your immersion. What this often meant for me was tons of “weeding out”. I would get Japanese/Cantonese stuff: movies, music, comics, whatever. And watch/read them. And if, after 10 to 120 seconds I did not like it, I would simply delete/throw away and move on…sort of like channel-surfing — just jumping from one thing to the next, until I found something that drew me in. In fact, I do this even now. Remember, the only “obligation” with immersion is the language. Everything. Else. Is. Negotiable. No one said you have to read that particular book or watch that particular program. Even if you were enjoying it 5 minutes before, the instant it gets boring, it needs to go.

What are the chances you would enjoy a randomly selected piece of media in your native language? Slim, right? Maybe, what, 1%? 10%? The same goes for the language you’re trying to immerse in. So just weed the mothers out. I mean, think of great shows like Family Guy, or South Park — if you had to watch them all day every day, even they would get old, and even CSPAN might start to look attractive.

Judging from my personal experience, I think when most people say or think they’re “bored” or “burned out” with a language due to a lack of basic fluency, it’s not really the language that’s bugging them, nor is it their apparent lack of fluency: it’s the materials they’ve got in the language. The solution to this problem is (very American): more. More stuff. More quantity. More acquisition. More sampling. More weeding. More throwing away. More putting aside. More deleting. More replacing. More turnover. More. More. More.

This intense sampling will do at least three things — (1) it’ll keep you feeling busy and active, while (2) being immersed, and (3) you’ll start to figure out what you like, there will be a core of shows, actors, writers, musicians whose work you will enjoy: you can start to use this core for further exploration — find other stuff by the same screenwriter/director/author/band. Example: the guy who directed Trick also directed Ikebukuro West Gate Park (IWGP); the screenwriter from IWGP also wrote Tiger and Dragon. Quality tends to group. If you liked one Stephen Chow movie, you’re likely to enjoy his others.

And this is why, I think, people blame sucking as a reason to stop immersing and therefore continue sucking. From my observation, there are at least three things that early beginners do wrong, that unnecessarily and inevitably lead to a sense of “burn-out”:

(1) They listen to the target language dutifully but indiscriminately. This may seem diligent, but the fact is even babies have taste. Even a near-languageless baby would rather watch, say, Teletubbies, than reruns of Matlock [except a possessed baby?]. You have taste, too. Even in a language you don’t know or only know a very little of, there a things you would rather watch. The key is to find these things.

(2) When they do find something they like, they repeat it beyond enjoyment. It is beautiful and honorable to repeat only as long as something is being enjoyed. I never have and never will re-watch movies because I have to, only because I want to. When your skin/emotions start to chafe, please cease use and consult your media library.

(3) They do not yet know what they like. Most people who have basic fluency also happen to have spent long enough on the language to start gravitating to what they like, if only unconsciously. I am suggesting you make this a conscious process of “取捨選択”/しゅしゃせんたく: consciously taking in vast amounts of stuff, throwing out what is chaff to you and leaving the wheat. And there is always a lot of chaff. The good news is that even the chaff [in the little time you watch/hear/read it] gives you information, teaches you something, serves a purpose. Just don’t hold on to it for too long: it will hurt you, bore you and trick you into thinking that “this language that is as yet a mystery to me” bores you, when in fact it’s just those particular materials that are boring you.

(PS) All of which is another reason why watching L2 dubs of stuff you do like from L1 can be such a great starting point.

Don’t think you’re not “good enough” yet at the language to be picky. You are always good enough to be picky. There are things you will be able to appreciate more later when you are fluent, just like there are Japanese rappers whom I appreciate more now that I can fully understand the depth of their wordplay, than I did before. But I have no regrets about having ignored them earlier in the process, back when I was less proficient.

Your personal taste is always valid. Even if it is merely a noob taste; it is your taste right now, and that is all that matters. When I was 9 years old, I thought Tiny Toons was the height of satire and self-referential humor. So I watched it. Now I think it’s goofy. And that’s fine. I grew up, my tastes grew up. Same with you. And you’re going to be doing some mad-fast growing up. So just…keep acquiring materials, keep selecting, keep doing 取捨選択. Massive acquisition, massive rejection, massive turnover. Think of all materials in a language as existing to be cut through, leaving only materials that you like. You are a sculptor, carving out the subset of L2 that appeals to you. We’re not talking about euthanizing baby seals here, we’re talking about getting rid of crud, so feel free to be brutal.

You aren’t drawn to English stuff because of the magical beauty of your native language. You are drawn to English stuff because you already know where to find the good stuff, from years of experience. No one gets tempted away from immersion in L2, by sucky material in L1. So I am saying this — keep spending time in L2 finding, sifting for the good stuff in L2. And that means lots of taking in accompanied by lots of discarding. Do you hate that L2 show? Throw it away. Do you “vaaaaaguely sort of like” that L2 show? or feel like you “should” like it or that that might be “good for you”? Still not good enough — throw it away; keeping things out of obligation is a nasty habit; get used to interpreting “could learn to like” as “don’t like”; people who have gotten good at keeping their homes clutter-free apply the same basic principle: you don’t keep stuff you might could use, keep stuff you do use. Are you in love with this L2 show? Good. Keep it.

You might conceptualize ($10 word!) yourself as a little “fun factory” that takes in vast amounts of media as a raw materials, keeps the good ones to produce enjoyment, and throws out the crappy ones as waste. Do not be alarmed by how much you have to throw away, just keep getting new stuff. Throwing away crappy stuff is only a good thing: it opens up physical, electronic and mental space for good stuff to take its place.

That concludes this post-sized footnote. Anyone with good selection strategies, feel free to share.

  49 comments for “Massive Turnover: How To Banish Boredom and Burnout from Immersion Even When You’re Just a Sucky Beginner

  1. Alyks
    October 22, 2008 at 13:56

    Way to drive the stake into my wallet.

  2. Alyks
    October 22, 2008 at 14:01

    He’s right, you know. But my biggest problem is often that I don’t want to get to it because I feel I don’t understand enough to enjoy it. But you know what? Having a high turnover rate for materials is actually a reasonable solution if I go in with the idea of having fun and not that I have to learn everything.

    There you have it, it’s all about fun.

  3. October 22, 2008 at 16:17

    Great advice. I think this is very useful applied to the rest of life too. Every week I see people spending hours doing things they don’t enjoy (for entertainment!) just to complain of boredom.

    One thing I like to do is watch the first episode of the dramas in a new season, then just pick the ones I like to follow. When watching the first episode, if I dislike it after 30 seconds, I’ll just turn it off and do something else in Japanese.

  4. October 22, 2008 at 18:26

    “If you liked one Stephen Chow movie, you’re likely to enjoy his others.”

    TOTALLY! ‘All for the Winner’ and ‘God of Gamblers 2’ are two of my all-time favourite movies!

    Your post has encouraged me to delete all those ‘Last Friends’ episodes I was keeping around thinking I would watch them later but actually I won’t because they really do suck and I really don’t want to watch them. *phew*

  5. Sebastian V.
    October 22, 2008 at 18:47

    >>>What this often meant for me was tons of “weeding out”. I would get Japanese/Cantonese stuff: movies, music, comics, whatever. And watch/read them. And if, after 10 to 120 seconds I did not like it, I would simply delete/throw away and move on

    I really wish I had the money to do so… But I am probably already ruining my health by eating 100 Yen meals more than once a day. 😉

  6. October 22, 2008 at 19:47

    Right on.

    Seeking out additional materials made by directors/screenwriters/authors that you enjoy or focusing on materials within a certain subject area or genre that you enjoy has the added benefit of giving you more repetitive input which in the end makes acquisition faster. Writers use similar styles and word choice from one work to another. Works within a subject area require the same background knowledge and general terminology. This helps make what you are inputting more comprehensible with less effort which is the goal.

    Like Krashen says, read deep. Sampling a bit of everything requires you to adapt to a new director’s cinematographic techniques, author’s writing style and vocabulary, subject’s jargon. That takes time and slows down your progress. If you stick with one author or one subject, you can skip that slow and boring getting to know you phase. You can jump right in the sack and get it on. And of course, the listening/reading skills you gain with that one author or one subject benefit you with any other author or subject (though you’ll always have that somewhat awkward and slow getting to know you phase).

    So find the things you like and stick with them. A word of warning though. If you are an absolute die-hard fan of zoology–you love reading anything about animals in your native language–and you pick up a book on animals in Japanese and you get bored. It may mean it’s poorly written and it’s a sucky book and you should pass. Or maybe it’s way beyond your level of comprehension and tackling it is a monumental task – in which case, you should find a lower level book on the subject that will build your vocabulary base so you can eventually meet the challenge of the first book. But it could also mean you simply aren’t willing to put in the time and work that’s needed for that getting to know you phase.

    For instance, I love linguistics. Specifically, I like reading about second/foreign language acquisition. When Khatzumoto linked to a book he had reviewed a while back (英語を絶対、勉強するな!) I was so excited that I went out and bought it the next night. I knew it was above my level of comprehension, but you can only read what you practice reading. So, why not start with the real thing. It took me probably 3 hours to read the first page. (I like to write out the sentences that have multiple parts that I don’t understand, look up kanji readings/grammar/vocabulary, re-read the sentence and try to understand it fully. I know I tend to remember things better when I write it, see it, and think about it.) I had to write every sentence on the first page and look up almost every kanjified word. But a few pages in and I’ve already got a large amount of the vocabulary that is repeated throughout the book… acquisition, vocabulary, reading comprehension, etc. Sure these words don’t come up in daily conversation (unless, of course, I wish to work in the linguistics department of a Japanese university), but the grammar that connects them all together shows up in writing quite often and often enough in conversation. And at this point, I’m guaranteed 2 or 3 sentences per page that I can breeze through. Another 20 pages and it might be only 2 or 3 that I need to write down. And by the end of the book, there will likely still be some kanji I can’t read and maybe an expression that I’ve not seen before, but I won’t need to write any sentences down. I’ll just look up that one thing and move on. The trouble for me is I’m impatient. I enjoy what I’m reading, it just takes so long to read it. But I’ve got other things to do for the times I get a bit frustrated or my brain can’t take any more. I know it’ll be worth it when I can move from this book to another language acquisition related book.

    I guess what I’m saying is don’t confuse easiness and fun/entertaining. Unless ease is your criterion for fun, in which case be smart about your choices. But at some point, you’re going to have to up the ante. Unless you’re a baby, language acquisition is going to take some active concentration which may equal hard for some people.

  7. Jen
    October 23, 2008 at 01:34

    I agree but I think that sometimes you should try to stick with stuff for a bit longer, to see if it gets more interesting. For example, a few books that I’ve read in Japanese have had a mind bogglingly difficult to understand introduction, which take me ages to get through, and bore and frustrate me, but once I’m past that bit I really got into all of them. So I think that it’s a good idea to drop something if it bores you, but you have to give it a chance first! If you are not that good at the language yet it might be good idea to get past the introductory stuff, which from my experience tends to be much more difficult to understand than the bulk of the book/drama/manga/whatever. When I first started actually exposing myself to things in Japanese, if I had done what you suggested I would have quickly exhausted all of my sources, and not ended up being immersed in the language at all.

  8. October 23, 2008 at 01:55

    So, I discovered that a good strategy for sifting through L2 stuff/materials is not to go individually from thing to thing–it can be really time consuming, and you tend to start falling into the trap of debating if you like something or not. IMO, get a whooole bunch of stuff at once. Ex: I bought an iMix of off iTunes of like 100 all Japanese songs. Yea, it was expensive, but I have a bigger library now with lots of variety. And I can be as selective as I want. I can always go back later and check out stuff that didn’t previously grab my attention. I find this is a great way to build a large, varied and long-lasting immersion environment.

  9. Keri
    October 23, 2008 at 03:11

    Hey! I am very very new to learning Japanese! I know kana, and I’m only up to about 200 in “Remembering the Kanji”. I would like read some Japanese children’s books, but I seriously have NO money! (A college student about to be married=very poor). Do any of you guys know of any free online sources that would be entertaining to a very new learner?

  10. October 23, 2008 at 05:52

    @ KERI:

    Well, as far as music, other audio, anime, and other Japanese movies, there are a lots of Japanese Podcasts on iTunes. Search for: “Yomiuri” (it’s a news-ish podcast) and “Books A to Z”. Also, there is a lot of anime on veoh and youtube. I would recommend for watching free anime. My favorites include Bleach and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. But like you said, you’re a beginner, so I’d probably stick with the anime. Oh yeah, and, if you can, try to avoid Anime with english subtitles, so try to find the “RAW” versions of anime.

    As far as reading, etc, I’m kind of at a loss. I’m not really sure about children’s books online, but if you like, you could always surf the Japanese version of wikipedia. That can be entertaining for a while. Oh yea, I know this is weird and random, but check stores that sell used stuff (like Goodwill). I discovered that our Goodwill has quite a few Japanese language manga in the used books section–those are pretty cheap. Otherwise, I’m sure you could find Japanese Manga on the internet in places like (I think they have Japanese and Chinese, tho). Again, podcasts and online anime seem to be your best bet for free fun stuff! I hope that helped.

  11. October 23, 2008 at 07:13

    @ Igor

    Interesting point regarding the anime:

    “I’d probably stick with the anime. Oh yeah, and, if you can, try to avoid Anime with english subtitles, so try to find the “RAW” versions of anime.”

    Like Keri I am pretty new to this Japanese learning business, but I have to say I have managed to pick up the odd word or too by having subtitles on when watching anime. However, I understand how this could lead to the learning of ‘bad Japanese’.

    If any of you guys get a moment, pop over to this incredibly young blog which documents my eventual tranformation from Japanese newbie to kick ass Miyagi san, largely influnced by khatzumoto’s methodology outlined in this very fine website. I think I may need all the advice and help I can get.

  12. Daniel
    October 23, 2008 at 12:10
  13. beneficii
    October 23, 2008 at 16:58

    Good post. (When I read this, I always make sure to have something Japanese playing, by the way.) I think that perhaps you were exaggerating the cases where a person would have to give up something boring, but I think that, like in all cases of _good exaggeration_, it gets the right message across. Like, for example, I have been pushing myself to do the news and SRS, with somewhat limited success, but I do try to devote a small portion of each of my days to it. Most of the time, when I’m doing Japanese, I’m doing what I like, which is what people should aim for I think.

    Still, you really get down those people about thinking they have to, for example, read “17th century madrigals”[1] or listen to language CDs all day to learn Spanish, or they’re not being “serious.” Sure, people should push themselves to learn things outside their range to discover new things, but ultimately if they want to learn the language they have to have input in mainly what they love.

    Good post!


  14. Kat
    October 23, 2008 at 22:08

    Here are kids songs, with everything broken down for the japanese learner. Plus, the songs are so catchy they get stuck in your head.

  15. cescoz
    October 24, 2008 at 06:37

    Guys…Khatzumoto is on youtube!!!

  16. Mike
    October 24, 2008 at 07:25

    Japanese drama scripts, taken from the closed captions. I wish I didn’t delete my collection of “Shanghai Typhoon” or I could of really used these.

    This is not some company, so I don’t think it has ALL dramas, but the current, popular ones are there, so, enjoy or whatever.

  17. Keri
    October 24, 2008 at 08:26

    Hey thanks everyone for all your help!
    I’m going to be searching through all the links for a while now 😀

  18. Keri
    October 24, 2008 at 08:43

    Also, Kat I really liked the look of the children’s song website! But for some reason my computer won’t play them, the boxes are just black…do you know if there is there anything I’m supposed to do to get them to play?

  19. Daniel
    October 24, 2008 at 22:57

    Published by the Japanese Extensive Reading Research Foundation. So bomb. 100% Japanese and divided into 4 levels. Good from novice through intermediate. Comes with narration by native Japanese. Check it out ya’ll.

  20. NDN
    October 25, 2008 at 02:04

    Ooooooh, so that’s why I never felt “burnt out”. Well (embarassed…), got to apologize somewhat. 🙂

  21. Jenny
    October 25, 2008 at 08:38

    Okay, I don’t mean to be judgmental here guys, but I’d like to add my two cents.
    I guess that I should make a success story of what I’m going to write and then send it to Khaz, but it’s really late here and I’m too lazy to do that at the moment.
    Cliffnotes version: I learned English just fine without using Khatz’s method for Japanese.
    Oh, of course, I did get loads of inputs – I’ve hardly watched TV/ read a book in my native language since I began my English-only crusade 3 years ago.
    Most of my lessons are in English – I’m a sophomore majoring in English so I guess that makes life easier for me – but, believe it or not, I can manage with “living” in my native language, e.g. talking to my parents and friends in my L1 and using it in daily life.
    Yeah, I must admit that it makes me kinda sad to be obliged to resort to my L1 when I could do just fine with English but then I get over it.
    Maybe my English could be better. Maybe I should be able to actually think in English for a whole day, instead of thinking in some kind of weird, mixed language.
    I also grant you that such a situation is pretty tiring because I risk burn-out since I constantly have to switch languages as if I were born bilingual, which is not the case.

    Moreover, I’ve been learning English for 6 years and I still don’t sound native. That’s a real shame, but then again, English is linked to the phonetics of hell, and words + phonetics = all hell breaks loose. I’m able to speak fluently and clearly in English and people close to always understand me + compliment me on my accent, which is enough for me.
    Several teachers thought I had lived in the US for a lengthy period of time, and several friends of mine asked me “Are you English/ American?” or just assume that I am a native speaker of English because it makes them feel so much better.

    I would also like to add that I probably just wrote something that just doesn’t sound right. I may even have made several mistakes.
    However, I still think that my efforts somewhat paid off.
    So don’t stress out if you can’t do it 24/7 a day or even 14h/day. You know, maybe you’ll take one more year but then again, as long as it doesn’t bother you, that’s alright. Try to have fun as much as possible. I hardly ever do boring things in English!

    I have a question that’s been bugging me, though.
    Ever since I started learning English, my native language has suffered a lot.
    I have a slight English/American accent in it and often translate literally things from English to my L1.
    What’s kind of sad is that I still can’t speak English without an accent, and I still struggle with vocab/ thinking in English sometimes. However, it seems that the problems I encounter in English are spreading and actually hurting my native language too.
    Am I doomed – that’s what I’ve read in some dubious books / websites – e.g. will I have a weird accent in my native language forever + anglicized expressions/ words or is there something left to save?

    Actually, if Khaz could make an article about that, it would be awesome. I’m sure that he encounters/ encountered problems too with English when he was learning Japanese, so might be able to provide us with advice!

  22. juan
    October 25, 2008 at 11:08


    I’ve recently been getting into Actually, what I think i know, actually, is that it is kind of like a textbook but I’m kind of hooked to the sounds and bells and whistles. There is a videogame hypnotism to and I wonder if people have tried it. It may actually be slowing me down but I’d like to see what other people think and have experienced.

  23. Ivan the Terrible
    October 25, 2008 at 17:06

    Juan, interesting that you should bring that up. I’ve been using the same website over the past few days. It’s L1 to L2 stuff, so it’s probably not good for the long term, but as I’m a complete beginner in Japanese…outside of Kanji…I’m finding it perfect for that absolute raw noob period of time when you’re learning stuff like 行く or 分かる. Native speaker pronunciation, addictive video-game-like study, pictures, constant repetition, notes on your progress; the works. I like it a lot.

  24. Mighty
    February 6, 2009 at 02:09

    This helps me a lot.

  25. Mikhail
    April 11, 2009 at 00:56

    Khaaaaaz Thank yoouuuuu. I AM 16. I wanted to learn japanese so i wanted to go to a japanese school or sumtin. But….. TO HELL WIT TEH SCHOOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1. I read sum of your entries and they got me into learning Japanese NOW. I got that “naaaah ill do that later” stuff outta my head. I started reading the book last night and i already cought on the first few kanji. Like up to 20 or something I dunno.I’m going to download the SRS now to see if i really memorized the ones i read on. If anyone had told me there where almost 2000 kanji before I found this blog….. I probably would have slapped em and dropped this language there and then. But you have a good way of saying things 😉 so i don’t think i’ll be stopping anytime soon.

    @Jenny: hmm. Well Jenny i was born bilingual. I know spanish/english. Even though spanish is my native language, i rarely spoke it except for at home. Therefore when i DID speak in spanish it had a very “foreign” accent to it. Now since i moved to the Dom. Rep. my spanish is very nice 🙂 , but my english suffered a bit with the accent.
    So what i’m trying to say is if you speak 1 language more than the other, the accent of the one you speak more is bound to stick to the one you speak less. It’s NOTHING PERMANENT. You say you hardly do anything in your native language anymore; So since you speak and hear so much english that accent is going to be present in your native language.ONLY because your accustomed to speaking so much English. But if you ever start to speak in L1 more than english… Well that accent WILL disappear.Your fluency WILL return (if you’re any less fluent now than you were before). I’m sure of that. Regardless of what language you speak.

  26. DrTalon
    May 27, 2010 at 06:10

    Sorry guys, I was bored on my lunch break in the far future from when the previous post to me was created lol. I remember going through RTK, and one of the ways that I attempted the kanji was to try and “follow everything by the book”. NO. Don’t do it. Following this website “To the T” is honestly NOT the way to go. I’m getting there Khatz if your reading lol just don’t think im EVER putting your site down cause this site is AWSUM. Doing this “by the book” crap honestly wasted probably 4 months of my japanese study. The reason why I say this is because I was going nowhere. I needed way that interested me and kept me upbeat and going further. I liked the IDEA of one day knowing Japanese, but the road ahead of using someone else’s ideas and creativity had to come to an abrupt halt. I had to step back and honestly question how I was carrying on with my study. My SRS reps sucked and I wasn’t remembering much, my attention span sucked unless it was something exciting and interesting and lets face it, most of Heisig’s mnemonics suck to the younger audience.

    What I did was almost MANDATORY for me in order to retain the kanji the way that I can now. Every single kanji mnemonic HAD TO BE my own, otherwise it was useless. The whole point of a mnemonic is to associate what you see with a memory, and if the memory is “by the book” like the readings of Heisig’s representation in RTK, then it’s stupid to think that you can use his OWN visulization of that kanji in a way that will work for you.

    It really wasn’t much more effort on my part to get this down and done. BUT, I did make flash cards ON PAPER that seemed to work much better than the SRS program at the time. To do this, you need to think like a boring art teacher thinks. You know what I’m talking about, like when thery ask a group or a class “What does this painting really mean to you?” Good question. The same thing applies to a kanji. Look at it and think, do you know of anything that you run into in everyday life or from a vivid memory that LOOKS like the kanji in question? If so, write down the situation that the “kanji” or “look alike memory” is in in plain english. Voila! You have your mnemonic for the kanji. It doesn’t even have to be very long, just so long as you can look at the kanji and remember the situation that your nmemonic describes.

    Some kanji will just have to me REMEMBERED because there will be no mnemonic that you can possibly think of or come up with. I actually managed to come up with exactly 1841 personal mnemonic devices for my kanji. But it’s funny when you run into a kanji through your SRS that you somehow REMEMBER doesn’t have a mnemonic, your brain will seem to narrow it down in some magical way that you can remember even the NON-mnemonic kanji faster and more accurately. I dont know, but that is how it works for me.

    If I was to add up the time it took me to write the mnemonics down for each kanji, I bet you it would probably end up being 1/16 of the total time of constant blank face memorization. It really paid off in the end.

    Through my kanji learning journey, I started with trying Heisig’s mnemonics and it took me about 4 months to have a retention rate of around 700 kanji. But, with my new mnemonic flash cards, I had them written down on paper and entered into an SRS in about 2 months WITH a retention rate of about 1600 round and about.

    So I think it paid off, let me know what you guys/Khatz think about this idea.

  27. km31
    April 4, 2011 at 07:50

    I like this idea, but i just dont see how it can be economically viable/time efficient at all . . for me personally i cant watch things over and over without getting bored, and i’m also finding that watching things when i barely understand any of it takes away a lot of the enjoyment, so it has to be something pretty amazing in the first place to hold my attention.
    Plus i spend a lot of time obn the web just browsing stupid comedy sites, blogs etc and searching for that kinds of thing in japanese i have no idea where to begin, and dont understand emough to enjoy reading them anyway …
    So any ideas on where to find an abundance of free/cheap resources ?
    (ps. ive pretty much scoured everything that’s already been suggested on this site in posts and comments! yes i know i should have a ton of stuff from all that, but i am being picky after all :D)

  28. ブライアン
    April 4, 2011 at 09:04

    (I’m going to assume you’ve learned the kanji. If not, get on that and don’t worry too much about written immersion until you’re done.)

    Start with your dictionary. Look up what you’re interested in, find out the Japanese term for it. (Alternately, look it up on Wikipedia and use the sidebar to go to the equivalent Japanese article.) Take that term and google it. So, for example, I’m a guitarist. Searching ”ギター ブログ” returns about 30 million hits. From there, it’s just a matter of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

    As for not understanding it… well, that’s kind of the point. Let go of the need for 100% comprehension or you’re going to be very bored. Find a sentence you *almost* understand. Break it down, learn all the readings, learn what it means, and stick it in your SRS. Rinse, repeat. (If you truly don’t understand *anything*, you may need to do some easier stuff first. I just spent a month working through All About Particles — not the most interesting material, but I now can more easily learn the stuff I really *want* to learn.)

    • Suisei
      January 16, 2012 at 08:06

      Sorry for commenting on a post that you’ve written month ago but I need some help x.X
      Well, what if a beginner has started  kanji and doesn’t know much ? (I’m still not sure the format Khatz recommends so I haven’t really started…)

      • ブライアン
        February 4, 2012 at 14:48

        Before you’ve finished kanji, reading is not your priority.  Start learning them right now; the format doesn’t really matter, the important part is to do them.  The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be through them.  (And screw what Khatz suggests, try everything and go with what YOU like.  Invent your own format.  It’s your learning, own it.)
        Until you’re done, focus on listening for your immersion.  Youtube videos (雑談 — lit. miscellaneous conversation — is a good general search term), music, anime (Crunchyroll streams a lot of series for free; the more recent ones even have removable subtitles.)  Just have stuff on in the background; it really does help, I promise.  LOOK at books, and manga, and whatever, but until you’ve at least most of the way through the kanji, don’t expect much.  (Oh, and FWIW, even with the head-start your reading skills will probably catch up to and surpass your listening pretty quickly once you start.)

  29. Eva
    May 18, 2011 at 01:17

    Honestly I’m learning English right now and I enjoy so much from reading your blog which has improved my English a lot.


  30. Lili
    June 25, 2012 at 22:12

    I kinda did that with english, a couple of years ago, and it was a great things.
    I still watch several series cause I love it and want to keep pratice listening.
    I wanna learn japanese now, I’ve watched some doramas, so I plan now to watch more doramas and animes than I watch series 🙂
    I don’t want to stop all at once with my favorites american series, but I can do both right?
    But I must confess I’m still kinda lost to where to start with japanese… I learned the hiragana and katakana, but I don’t have vocabulary at all.

  31. Insiya
    October 21, 2012 at 06:08

    I was thinking last night that it would be really cool if I had a book full of Japanese word searches. That way, you would remember which kanji and kana make up this one word and which ones make up this other word, and you would also learn to recognize kanji and kana even if you didn’t know what they mean (yet).I don’t know if there are books stuffed with Japanese word searches, but they probably exist. They’d better.

  32. Pingfa
    December 4, 2013 at 01:10

    I seem to have been experiencing ‘burn out’ with Japanese recently so I came across this article while looking for articles that reference this issue.
    Although I never really get ‘bored’, I have suddenly had a case of brain fog and tiredness, and I got the feeling my brain had started resisting the language. I think reason 1 and 2 are spot on, that is “They listen to the target language dutifully but indiscriminately” and “When they do find something they like, they repeat it beyond enjoyment”

    I’ve been repeating episodes a LOT. The method I’ve been using is to look up all the words of an episode and repeat it over and over throughout the day. At first this was exciting as I was learning so many new words in such a short time, and as I generally don’t get bored I figured I could handle any amount of repetition. However, once I had learned a few episodes, it became a bit of a burden to maintain, having to routinely watch the same things for so long.

    As I really wanted to assure the vocabulary I learned would stick, I kept repeating even after it was no longer stimulating. While repetition is important, so is quantity/variety of exposure – if you’re getting enough quantity you should be able to afford to leave some things behind (they’ll catch up with you soon enough).

    Glad I read this article today. Brings me back to the basics – just show up. Simples.

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