On Input

Here is a really cool post about the need for input at bilingualmente. It’s right on the money with the problem of thinking in your base language instead of in your target language, and how to solve it. I was just discussing this with Momoko yesterday. Other than failing to systematically learn kanji in large quantity, another major reason people have trouble with Japanese even after taking classes in it, is that the textbooks, perhaps by nature of being written in English, tend to focus on the parts of Japanese that work the most like English — it’s easier to explain and easier to grade — after all, no one wants to discuss how to use “やっぱり” or “ていうか” or “って”: that might actually take some thought or even (gasp) require a change in methodology. Unfortunately, the Japanese that is structured like English (or that has analogues in English) is only a very small part of the language, and it’s certainly not the part that most Japanese people use. Real Japanese is not “hard”, it’s just different; it is a different paradigm from Germanic or even Indo-European languages. In order to use Japanese properly, let go of who you were and do things the Japanese way — and that goes for any language, really.

You’ve got to paradigm-shift! Diversify, optimize, realize! OK, now I’m just being silly.

  7 comments for “On Input

  1. Luke
    August 6, 2007 at 13:19

    Heya Khatzumoto!

    I have a (probably silly) question! How do you know when something’s really stuck? I mean, I have like a bazillion sentences in my SRS and I study about an hour or so a day and, yes, I am improving greatly, but is there ever an excuse to enter the question part in English and the answer part in Japanese? I mean, sometimes I’m not sure if I will remember the meaning/writing of a word and this acts as a way to make me recall it. This is probably a big no-no, but I was just wondering whether you think this is an okay thing to do?!

    Thanks! Take care!

  2. khatzumoto
    August 6, 2007 at 13:23

    >is there ever an excuse to enter the question part in English and the answer part in Japanese?
    No. Not that I can think of.

    >How do you know when something’s really stuck?
    Excuse me for sounding like a Daoist text here, but…you’ll know when you know. Or, more accurately, when you know, you won’t know. It’ll be so obvious to you that you won’t even be aware that it’s obvious to you. When you start taking it for granted, or using it almost unconsicously, that’s when you know. Does that make sense? Like, when it’s so clear that it’s no longer an issue, that’s when you know.

  3. Mark
    August 7, 2007 at 03:34

    >How do you know when something’s really stuck?
    >Excuse me for sounding like a Daoist text here, but…you’ll know when you know. Or, more >accurately, when you know, you won’t know. It’ll be so obvious to you that you won’t even >be aware that it’s obvious to you. When you start taking it for granted, or using it almost >unconsicously, that’s when you know. Does that make sense? Like, when it’s so clear that >it’s no longer an issue, that’s when you know.

    Wow – I must admit that that answer really did make me laugh 🙂 Don’t get me wrong – I completely agree – it’s just the way you put it – excellent!

    BTW – though only having a monstrously large Supermemo/SRS database right now (with only a still relatively small Japanese component), rather than the truly gargantuan databases that Khazumoto and others on posting here have – I personally would say that the point at which you know something has stuck is the point at which you become complacent, and start to believe that you don’t need your SRS anymore!

    At least that’s my experience – and I respond to this erroneous belief by quickly swatting it away before it really becomes entrenched, I stop doing my reps, and revert to my pre-SRS days of struggling to remember anything at all…

  4. KiTA
    January 4, 2009 at 00:05

    Blog was deleted, unfortunately. 🙁

  5. Anonymous
    February 16, 2011 at 13:16

    Khatzumoto, tell me you mirrored the original article. ‘Cause if not, you dun goofed, son.

  6. NoSleepTilFluent
    March 1, 2011 at 19:53

    The author of the blog has deleted the blog. Links no longer work.

  7. kai
    December 22, 2012 at 04:46

    It seems like the input hypothesis works for inspiration too.
    Having an immersion environment has brought me back to learning Mandarin when just a few days ago I would be thinking maybe I’m just not interested anymore. I might have stopped doing reps for days or even weeks but then something from the environment that still remains would re-ignite that fire. Because of this I think the environment is soooo key because after a while of not seeing enough of your L2 you might, subconsciously even, start to think it’s not worth learning(as well as being confused and upset at yourself for feeling less and less interested.

    Side Note: This inspiration input thing seems to work with any kind of inspiration like art for example. If you want to stay inspired to create art or music, make sure your seeing and hearing enough because input equals output.

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