Strategies for Overcoming Burnout

This entry is part 4 of 15 in the series Intermediate Angst

A good number of people have contacted me or written elsewhere about how using the methods described on this site led to burnout for them. No fun. Too tiring. Can’t continue.

There are two types of burnout that typically occur. Kanji burnout and sentences burnout. Both can be dealt with by application of the same techniques. But I’ll address them separately.

[Strategies for Overcoming Kanji Burnout]

Well, here’s my first question. I am going through Remembering the Kanji. (For the third time, but hey, third times the charm, right!? 🙂 ) But, I am only working on this right now. Of course, I am listening to Japanese all the time, but I am not doing sentences or anything else. I feel that my Japanese learning is suffering from this. So, would you suggest I do sentences while doing RTK or wait until I’m done? Considering that speaking and understanding are more of an immediate need, but overall fluency is the main goal.

Second question is just a very general one. What do you do to avoid burnout. I’ve been doing your method for about a month now and sometimes (ok a lot of times) RTK is so freakin hard I just feel like it’s such a chore. I listen to Japanese all the time and my brain starts to feel tired after a few hours. I don’t want to lose that pleasure feeling I have from learning Japanese. So, how do you keep at it without it turning into a chore? What do you tell yourself? What tricks do you use? I know you suggest doing things that interest you, which is what I do (well, except for RTK, that doesn’t interest me, but…) but I still feel burnt out.

That was an email I got from a reader named L-star recently. Let’s take it step by step.

1. Reality check. While using the Heisig method may “only” involve learning the meaning and writing of kanji, let me suggest that this is in fact a big, hairy deal. It may feel lame “only” knowing meaning and writing, but it MATTERS; it makes a difference. Those kanji have-to-be-learned; there is no way over them, under them or around them, only a way through them. They need to be learned and the best time is here, the best place is NOW. Not knowing them is a state known as illiteracy. End. Of. Story. Don’t fall for the temptation to do something else “and kanji on the side”. Get those basic kanji down NOW; you’ll thank me later.

2. Put the fun back in it. Do your kanji stories rhyme? Are they violent and funny and full of potty humor and screaming and sassiness? If not, then are you TRYING to bore yourself? Because you might as well be. Don’t think of 女 just as “a pictograph of a woman”, think of it as a woman with a HUUUGE bust sticking out to the left. Don’t think of 晶 as just being “brilliant”, think of a character from Dragon Ball Z making a chi-bomb with the power of three suns (日) and screaming “KAME HAME HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!”. Don’t think of 人 in 倫 as “person”, think of it as Oprah, or Bruce Lee, or Eric Cartman.

3. Colors. While we’re on the subject of fun, realize that the adult world is black and white and monochromatic and dull. What happened to paints and smiles and visual excitement? It’s time to go back to the roots: it’s time to go back to kindergarten. Get some color in there. Go out and get some non-toxic crayola crayons right now (they have these “twistable” ones that come in a hard plastic casing and don’t go breaking or making a mess like the ones we had when we were kids). Draw pictures of your kanji stories for fun. Maybe you could draw little cards with people on them, related to the kanji. And then put these cards on your wall (hey! free Japanese posters!). Do it! It doesn’t have to look “good”, it just has to be fun.

[Edit: once in a while, you get a comment that blows out the actual article in terms of quality. This was one such comment from the man who goes by the handle nacest. I wanted more people to see it, so I’ve copied it up here]:

I think that you could have done better in the “kanji burnout” part.

In my opinion the biggest obstacle while doing RTK is not the amount of colors or realizing that you must do it no-matter-what. It’s the approach. If you are anxious to complete the book soon, if you are keeping count of how many kanji are left, then you will have to suffer the pains of hell to really finish them. There’s a LOT of them. It’s a four digit number. Every kanji is a mere 0.04% of the total. It’s not gonna be a quick process, IF you await the end of it. It’s like boiling water: I don’t know about the other places, but in Italy they say that the water will take longer to boil if you stare at it expectantly. I’m amazed at how well this applies to your (khatzumoto’s) metaphor.

Just enjoy the trip. Forget about finishing the kanji. Do them every day, and get used to it. Feel the flavor of the chinese characters. Every one of them is extraordinarily beautiful. If you are a philosopher, you may even seek enlightenment in their ancient shapes. Eat them like they are a fourth (fifth?) meal in your day, necessary for your good health. While you do this, one day, when you are least expecting it (more or less) you will hit kanji #2042 (or 3007 if you want to). Then you will be unable to believe how fast you were. I know it because it happened to me, even though it took me 11 months to complete the book! (don’t worry, it will take you much less, I was just using too little impetus with the first 1000 kanji. I finished the second half in about a month (after finding this site, by the way))

True story: once, a journalist on a trip to Egypt met a desert Bedouin. The Bedouin was used to traveling huge distances in the Sahara with his camel, taking weeks at a time. When the journalist told him that in the West there were airplanes that could cover the same distances in a few hours, he answered, perplexed: “And then, what do you do with the rest of the time?”.

The time you spend while aiming at something, no matter how long it is, is still part of your life. There is no reason to not savor and enjoy it in relaxation like the rest of your days.

[Strategies for Overcoming Sentences Burnout]

1. Look forward. If you quit now, you’ll regret it in 6 months; it’s that simple. And you’ll have to pick up the pieces all over again, because you’ll have fallen back. You might be like this one German guy I knew, who knew all his kana and some basic vocab and then forget it ALL through neglect. If you quit now, you-will-regret-it. You don’t want to be that guy telling his friends and family and guests about how “yeeeah, I used to know me some Japanese”…do you? Not that you should dwell on the negative: focus on the positive (#6 — Remember the Dream).

2. Look back. When you’re always trying to learn more, it’s easy to forget to appreciate how much you ALREADY know. Look at you! Look how far you’ve come! Look at all you know. Take a look around. Remember how you used to suck? There was a time you knew nothing. Every legend started from zero, and so did yours. You came this far. You can go further. Just keep on keeping on.

3. Log it. Logging can be a great help; it gives you something to look back on, a sense of achievement. And helps you keep going because it creates at least one thing you have to report to — you have to do something worth putting into your log otherwise you’ll lose “face”. One caveat though — keep the logging simple such that it doesn’t become a burden. A plaintext Notepad file with timestamps and one or two comments on recent progress, ideas, experiences or impressions is more than enough. You want to spend as much time as possible making history rather than recording it, so stick to the highlights. It may not seem like much but you’ll be surprised by how good it feels to go back over it. Momoko taught me how to do this.

4. Get more stuff. I’m sorry to bust out the consumerism card here, but if you think that a couple of books and CDs are enough to get you fluent in Japanese, you are, as they say in Tokyo, quite mistaken. What I mean is…You need MORE stuff. MORE input. MORE videos, MORE music. You’re trying to simulate an entire country here, remember? You’re giving yourself the Japanese childhood that you happened to miss out on. You need more stimulation. You need to hear and read all kinds of stuff that interests you. It will cost some money, BUT…it’s money far better spent than on some stupid, boring classes where you wouldn’t have learned anything anyway oh crap I said that out loud again. Plus, getting new stuff is fun. I don’t know about you, but I get a kick out of the idea that every time I buy a manga it’s an investment in my education — and, in fact, it really is.

5. Chill. It’s my fault for getting people all worked up about sentences. Your aim in life is not to dart around with your eyes and ears open catching sentences like a whale catching krill. I mean, that’ll kind of happen anyway but there’s no need to force it. CHILL. Just let the music play, run the movie, leave the TV on, skim the comics, put up the posters and just chill. When a sentence needs to be learned, it’ll call YOU. It’ll come for YOU. You collect sentences because you WANT to; you have to want the individual sentence; this project is too big and too long for anything to be a chore. You surf the web in Japanese, when something comes along that’s interesting, you pick the sentence, if not, leave it. Just enjoy BEING “Japanese”. Of course ethnically and culturally you’re not actually Japanese, BUT — what would you be like, what would you know and do, if you had been born and raised in Japan? Reading manga, watching TV and movies, listening to music in Japanese, right? Talking once you were able…being affected by trends in speech. Just enjoy yourself IN Japanese. Be yourself, IN Japanese. Don’t “do” so much. Just “be”. Just float in this world of Japanese or whatever your target language is. The sentences will come; you don’t have to struggle for them. If you just keep your immersion environment going and relax about it, your curiosity will carry you the rest of the way. Just lay back and enjoy the sounds.

Let me put it into numbers for you — typically, it’s about 2-4 hours a day of actively working on the language [SRS reviews and new entries], 2-4 hours of handling business in another language out of necessity, and 16-18 hours of just having text and sounds come into your life without “working” on them as such (tasks can overlap). Everyone’s daily routine is a bit different, but that’s the basic pattern.

6. Remember the dream. There you are. Speaking Japanese as if you were born and raised in Japan. Blazing through Japanese books. Flying through manga like a butterfly. Stinging like a bee with witty comebacks to your friends. Remember the dream. Remember why you wanted to learn this language in the first place. And use the dream to guide you now — you want to learn Japanese in order to enjoy yourself and get things done in Japanese, right? Guess what the way to do that is? That’s right: By ENJOYING yourself and getting things done in Japanese. Imagine yourself doing regaling your friends with your Nagase Tomoya impression. Imagine yourself reading 200 books a year in Japanese. Imagine yourself curled up on that beanbag reading all 6 volumes of Akira in one sitting. Imagine yourself talking rapid-fire on the telephone in Japanese. Picture yourself writing kanji like you own the place, the strokes freely flowing from your mind and out of your hand: yes, any and every kanji you need to, from memory. Picture yourself laughing and sharing obscure pop culture references with a group of people. Never let go of the dream. No matter how little it seems you know now, always be dreaming the dream.

That’s it for now. Smile and have fun.

Series Navigation<< Intermediate Angst: Dealing With Feelings of SuckageGrinding: Focus On What You CAN Do >>

  47 comments for “Strategies for Overcoming Burnout

  1. Oliver
    January 2, 2008 at 12:08

    seeing as you just posted this, I assume you will read the comments on it quicker

    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. =]
    oliver

  2. JDog
    January 2, 2008 at 13:55

    Awesome post! Thanks for the inspiration. I think the thought that “the dream” could someday become reality is very motivating. BTW I didn’t give in to my English appetite to watch TV tonight and instead went to fnn-news.com to watch some news instead. It was the only TV-related thing I could think of in Japanese, because most stuff on like YouTube has English subs which I can’t do. I do like news most of the time, as sad as that sounds, so it was a little bit of pleasure, but yeah…going snowboarding tomorrow on the Colorado Rockies!!! Yeah! I made sure to get in enough kanji and new music for the trip 🙂

  3. Jonneh
    January 2, 2008 at 14:04

    Hey man, thanks for the motivation. This post was pure greatness 😀

  4. ffhk
    January 2, 2008 at 14:07

    Hey Khatz,
    Another great post. Keep up the good work on this site.

    Thanks to you I was able to finish RTK. It took a little longer than I had hoped, but at least I kept going and finished. And I realized I know more than I did when I first started. I can pick up a few words when I watch a show, I even understood a page of one of my mangas. So thanks a lot for all your motivating posts!

  5. Jonathan
    January 2, 2008 at 14:08

    Remembering the dream is great motivation, but it’s important to make sure you don’t end up spending all of your time daydreaming about being good at Japanese instead of actually doing it. I wouldn’t think it was possible to spend an entire day that way if I hadn’t done it myself. D:

    I have to say, though, I may not agree with everything you say, but you’re definitely a master at making motivational posts! I suppose I should get back to no-English stuff, though, eh?

  6. khatzumoto
    January 2, 2008 at 15:12

    @Oliver
    Info here.

    @Jonathan
    >I wouldn’t think it was possible to spend an entire day that way if I hadn’t done it myself. D:
    Lol. Good call.

  7. January 2, 2008 at 15:35

    I think looking back and seeing what you’ve already accomplished is the single biggest motivator in my studies. I remember bumbling over simple, simple expressions in Chinese just a few years ago, and now they’re as quick on my tongue as their English equivalent. It’s a tremendous feeling, and what gets me through the rough patches.

  8. nacest
    January 2, 2008 at 20:24

    Great post as always khatz, but I think that you could have done better in the “kanji burnout” part.

    In my opinion the biggest obstacle while doing RTK is not the amount of colors or realizing that you must do it no-matter-what. It’s the approach. If you are anxious to complete the book soon, if you are keeping count of how many kanji are left, then you will have to suffer the pains of hell to really finish them.
    There’s a LOT of them. It’s a four digit number. Every kanji is a mere 0.04% of the total. It’s not gonna be a quick process, IF you await the end of it. It’s like boiling water: I don’t know about the other places, but in Italy they say that the water will take longer to boil if you stare at it expectantly. I’m amazed at how well this applies to your (khatzumoto’s) metaphor.

    Just enjoy the trip. Forget about finishing the kanji. Do them every day, and get used to it. Feel the flavor of the chinese characters. Every one of them is extraordinarily beautiful. If you are a philosopher, you may even seek enlightenment in their ancient shapes. Eat them like they are a fourth (fifth?) meal in your day, necessary for your good health.
    While you do this, one day, when you are least expecting it (more or less) you will hit kanji #2042 (or 3007 if you want to). Then you will be unable to believe how fast you were. I know it because it happened to me, even though it took me 11 months to complete the book! (don’t worry, it will take you much less, I was just using too little impetus with the first 1000 kanji. I finished the second half in about a month (after finding this site, by the way))

    True story: once, a journalist on a trip to Egypt met a desert Bedouin. The Bedouin was used to traveling huge distances in the Sahara with his camel, taking weeks at a time. When the journalist told him that in the West there were airplanes that could cover the same distances in a few hours, he answered, perplexed: “And then, what do you do with the rest of the time?”.
    The time you spend while aiming at something, no matter how long it is, is still part of your life. There is no reason to not savor and enjoy it in relaxation like the rest of your days.

    Ugh, that was boring, sorry…

  9. khatzumoto
    January 2, 2008 at 20:42

    @nacest
    You’re my hero! Thank you so much that!

    >Just enjoy the trip. Forget about finishing the kanji.
    Best advice ever. It applies to language-learning as a whole. Just enjoy the journey…just focus on enjoying each moment and each day, and “when you are least expecting it (more or less) you will” reach your destination. So true.

  10. phauna
    January 2, 2008 at 21:02

    Hey Khatzumoto, great posts and I read the whole site in a week. Slowly starting to accumulate stuff, bought some kids’ furigana laced manga and some movies. Can you suggest some Japanese movies, rather than series, that you thought were interesting or useful or whatever? Also, a post about easy starting mangas wouldn’t go astray. The first one I bought was Dreamking, and I was completely lost until I found some kids ones, クラヨン しんちゃん and ガッジュ”. I have absolutely no idea what they are about, and would have liked to get some that I knew at least the theme of. I got them at the kombini though, so the range wasn’t the best. Thanks in advance.

  11. Dan
    January 2, 2008 at 21:16

    Ha クラヨン しんちゃん I don’t think this is really aimed at kids, not in Japan anyway 😀 Maybe some of the translations in other places in South Asia 😀

  12. mark
    January 2, 2008 at 22:44

    The BBC website has a few words of advice with regard to sticking to your resolutions (might help someone):

    news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7167670.stm

    Also, like your point about ‘Getting more stuff’ – this is key for me. I get bored so easily, so I spend plenty of time on D-Addicts…

    Mark

  13. Adam
    January 3, 2008 at 00:57

    Seriously man, this is like the best post ever. I mean, all of this site is great, you’ve inspired me and motivated me beyond words to be honest, but this post was that final kick I needed to keep on track with RTK – Thanks man 😀

  14. Brittany
    January 3, 2008 at 01:31

    Looking back really helps me. When I get frustrated and start saying things like “it’s never going to happen, blah blah blah” my boyfriend laughs at me and reminds me how far I’ve come. I used to not be able to read hiragana! Or katakana, yeesh that took me forever! My handwriting was atrocious! I couldn’t remember a simple phrase in Japanese (specifically, Choco Mochi onegaishimasu). I COULDN”T REMEMBER THREE WORDS IN JAPANESE! That is crazy to me now, and the fact that it’s crazy is proof of my progress.

    @nacest: I guess I should go through my RTK book and erase all the “1237 left to go!!”? Haha. I should try to enjoy them more. I’m an artist and I definetly see calligraphy in my future so I really should appreciate the kanji for themselves rather than appreciating them for having one less to learn…

  15. dave
    January 3, 2008 at 02:29

    Back when I was doing RTK I found that it was helpful to not think of how many was left in total but to think how many I should do for that day. I was really motivated to study back then so I was doing around 100 a day. I would split my target throughout the day so I would do 50 in the morning and 50 at night. I found that if I just made sure I reached the target everyday and not think about how many were left in total, I was able to do this daily without burning out.

    I think people should think this way about the sentences too. Don’t think about the number 10,000, just think about getting 50 done today or whatever your target is daily. If you keep thinking of the huge number you’re just going to get stressed about how far away that target is.

    If you keep up your daily routine of doing RTK, really before you know it you’ll be half way, then three quarters through and then finished with it.

  16. January 3, 2008 at 02:30

    Avoiding burnout is one reason why I don’t think Heisig’s advice to *only* do RTK is good. It can be tremendously motivating to be slogging through the kanji and realize that *ping* “Hey, I know that one!” from some other source. It’s also motivating to see yourself recognizing more and more of the kanji from whatever you’re trying to read.

    The RTK rapid fire approach is motivating by itself, too. When you’re stuck at “only” one thousand or so, remember that that’s two years or more of a standard university sequence.

  17. OCCASVS
    January 3, 2008 at 03:03

    Thank you for the post and the comments.
    I’ve found many useful advices here.

    RTK did threaten my motivation and I eventually stopped learning Kanji for two months.
    Now I’m studying them again and I’m writing this message because I’ve taken a short break.

    /me is back to review Kanji

  18. Mike
    January 3, 2008 at 05:51

    Ha, I do the same comparison game for motivation Katherine. Whenever I think “Learning Kanji takes to long!” I remember that kids in Japan spend 12 years learning these, when we only invest 3-6 months.

  19. Christina
    January 3, 2008 at 07:32

    Wow thanks for posting this. I was going through a major burnout just now until I read this post. I dont have any questions or anything, I just wanted to reply and say thank you!

    Rock on.

  20. Tony
    January 3, 2008 at 09:12

    Number 7 (for me at least): It feels really awesome when you correct a Japanese person’s kanji :D.

    The first time it happened for me was when this girl challenged me to write “帽子” so I did and she said that it should be 日 over 日 not 目. So I got the dictionary and showed her she was wrong. Then yesterday my friend wrote 睦子 (another person’s name) but instead of 目 wrote 月. So I corrected it and the risk of not knowing that there is a kanji with 月 that I just didn’t know.

    Or when you ask why じゅうぶん is sometimes written as 十分 and sometimes as 充分 to a Japanese teacher and they look at you like you’re crazy for asking.

  21. Chiro-kun
    January 3, 2008 at 13:29

    *sniff*
    負けない。。。絶対負けない!!
    ありがとう!!!

  22. 名無し
    January 3, 2008 at 15:58

    Phauna said:
    >>Can you suggest some Japanese movies, rather than series, that you thought were >>interesting or useful or whatever? Also, a post about easy starting mangas wouldn’t go >>astray. The first one I bought was Dreamking, and I was completely lost until I found >>some kids ones, クラヨン しんちゃん and ガッジュ”. I have absolutely no idea what they are >>about, and would have liked to get some that I knew at least the theme of. I got them at >>the kombini though, so the range wasn’t the best. Thanks in advance.

    An advice: chose a manga that has its own anime, and watch the anime at the same pace you read the manga. That way you reinforce everything you read/watch, and its a really fun and motivating expierience.

    Just pay attention to 1 aspect: some anime don’t follow the original manga, so make your chose wisely.

    If besides manga and anime, the same story has videoogames, then great! Watch, read and play, and ENJOY the same story from different perspectives at once!

  23. Charles A.
    January 3, 2008 at 16:13

    Has the online community for learning Japanese always been this supportive and inter-related?

    I’ll be honest, before July 2007, my Japanese learning was PAINFULLY slow. Yeah, I had articles from Kanji Clinic that helped the motivation and got me into Heisig, but that was it. Then came Reviewing the Kanji website (from Kanji Clinic link no less). Oh, but look at that, on the forums was a link to All Japanese all the Time. Oh, look at that, both are talking about Anki. Oh, look at that, the Anki developer is talking to everyone there. All are not talking about how hard it is, they’re talking about how possible it is. All talking with others to improve what they have out there to help others learn Japanese.

    Yeah, you mentioned in a previous blog to avoid the various japanese forums. But I think this blog’s comments and the forums of Reviewing the Kanji offer better motivation to help with the learning. Perhaps it has alot to do with a group of people interested in efficient self study.Though most other forums I’d recommend not wasting too much time in.

  24. JDog
    January 4, 2008 at 08:58

    Hi, I have been trying to find a post from you, Khatz, to no avail. I wonder if someone could point me in the right direction. I remember it saying something about not starting TOTALLY from scratch, but telling some things which should be learned as a base (such as particles, question words, pronouns, etc). Can anyone remember where that is?

    Thanks in advance!

  25. Jonathan
    January 4, 2008 at 09:57
  26. JDog
    January 4, 2008 at 15:21

    Yes, that’s it, thanks! Doh! I feel kinda dumb for it being in the sidebar. Oh well!

  27. quendidil
    January 4, 2008 at 22:45

    Khatz, you learnt PHP in Japanese right? Can you recommend a book to learn from? all the PHP books seem quite pricy on Amazon, which one would you recommend?

  28. Chiro-kun
    January 5, 2008 at 22:11

    What about grammar burnout?
    I’ve been trying for days and I still can’t get the deal about と言う,って orて when it comes to quoting/describing etc (and 家庭教師 ヒットマン リボーン is full of it! 🙁 ).

  29. January 6, 2008 at 03:51

    Hey Khatz…I’ve heard you say time and time again how important attitude is. And you’re right. There is definitely an energy right in my chest that feels like turmoil when I can’t seem to study, and feels like I’m swinging on the swings when I’m in the studying mood. I haven’t figured out out to control it yet, but it’s there for sure.

    I have my suspicions that food and diet have something to do with it. Have you any thoughts on how your diet has affected your moods? If you can come up with a Khaztumoto-diet I will try it out. Dancing to the Kanji? Yes, I will buy that, too. Lol…

  30. khatzumoto
    January 7, 2008 at 02:26

    @quend
    Forgive me! You have not been forgotten. Um…yeah, I did buy Japanese books for PHP. NO single book was like suuper gold book to end all books, but then I guess almost no book ever is. The all had their strengths and weaknesses. I generally picked books that had good indexing and interesting, well-commented code examples. If I had to do it all over again, I would simply recommend to you the highest-rated books on Amazon.jp (I found my books at my local bookstore since I was in a rush or something [must have PHP boox NOW!], but if I were to do it all over again, I would buy highly-rated books from Amazon).

    With that in mind:
    www.amazon.co.jp/PHP%E3%81%AB%E3%82%88%E3%82%8BWeb%E3%82%A2%E3%83%97%E3%83%AA%E3%82%B1%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B7%E3%83%A7%E3%83%B3%E3%82%B9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B5%E3%83%B3%E3%83%97%E3%83%AB-%E6%B4%BB%E7%94%A8%E7%B7%A8-KJ/dp/4797332638/ref=sr_1_1/249-0487286-8125134?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199640004&sr=1-1
    www.amazon.co.jp/%E6%94%B9%E8%A8%82%E7%89%88-PHP-%E3%83%9D%E3%82%B1%E3%83%83%E3%83%88%E3%83%AA%E3%83%95%E3%82%A1%E3%83%AC%E3%83%B3%E3%82%B9-Pocket-reference/dp/4774125024/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199640083&sr=1-1

    I also recommend using the Internets. Just limit www.google.jp to 日本語 pages.

  31. quendidil
    January 7, 2008 at 22:24

    Ah O.K. thanks!

    I am a newbie to programming besides some dabbling in C++ in the past, how would you recommend inputing a programming language in an SRS? Putting in examples of segments of code? However I do think that trial and error is alright in programming, no? Because you can get a right/wrong response from the compiler immediately?

  32. khatzumoto
    January 11, 2008 at 09:03

    @quend
    I learned to code by trial and error, but Joe Wright of http://www.joewright.org/ actually taught people to program using “input”, i.e. learn to understand code first. I think this is actually really important, because a lot of programmers (arguably most pros) spend as much if not more time reading code as actually writing it.

    >Putting in examples of segments of code?
    Yeah, that sounds right. And asking yourself what they do. Not in a vague way but in very specific ways. What is the value of foo…that type of thing. I’m sure you can think of cooler, more interesting questions.

    Perhaps a mixed input/trial-error approach would be ベスト.

  33. Sergei
    August 17, 2011 at 11:53

    I’m having a problem on a different scale.
    i don’t know HOW to immerse myself into japanese.
    like… where to get stuff, what stuff to get, etc… =[
    preferably, free stuff from the internet, since israel has no interest in japan what-so-ever, and it reflects by having no japanese merchandise what-so-ever =[

    • Harry
      August 17, 2011 at 22:06

      You download 😉

      • Sergei
        August 19, 2011 at 00:54

        a great man on the internet once said “No shit, Sherlock!”
        what i mean is WHERE DO I DOWNLOAD THESE THINGS FROM?
        god help you if you respond something like “the internet ;)”
        ^ not an actual threat…

  34. August 18, 2011 at 01:17

    Yup, downloading will always be the best option. Podcasts are awesome for beginners, especially scripted ones.

  35. August 19, 2011 at 06:26

    I’m not learning Japanese so I can’t suggest podcasts in this particular language. However, a quick search on Google or iTunes will undoubtedly yield a lot of very interesting results.
    You should also make sure that you’re listening to something that’s educative enough.

  36. Daikoru
    December 10, 2012 at 12:16

    I personally don’t need to exagerate stories to have fun learning the Kanjis. I like how it’s been thought of with radicals, and I find it very interesting (to see that 本[book] is made from 木[tree] makes me realize that Kanjis aren’t just an alphabet, it is also knowledge).

  37. Insiya
    February 16, 2013 at 07:02

    Sometimes I really hated my SRS reps… until I found this site: japanese.lentil.com
    I like it because even though the kanji aren’t exactly what someone would call fun, I don’t have to enter them in or anything. Plus, it’s sort of like an SRS and is pretty effective.

  38. joe
    July 12, 2013 at 07:44

    “Reading manga, watching TV and movies, listening to music in Japanese, right? Talking once you were able…being affected by trends in speech.”

    I keep reading stuff like this on the site. People complaining about RTK anki reps and stuff like that. And then theres always advice like above following. My question is how are you supposed to follow the advice above when:

    A. Your still doing RTK and havent learned the japanese meanings
    B. You dont know any vocab, grammar or japanese meaning behind Kanji because you have not yet done J-E sentences. So you cannot physcially read anything. The only thing you can do is pronounce the sounds of the kana that appears, but you wont understand it at all. And any kanji that appears you can just say its english meaing in your head. Movies is just alien dribble to you at this point.

    Ive been learning RTK atm, and in reality I havent learned any Japanese this way, I just know what pictographic symbols mean in english. Every show I watch in japanese, I dont understand because I have never learned the vocabulary.

    Is this how the learning is supposed to be? Until you finish RTK and start sentences your basically learning nothing but RTK english meanings, and just learning how words that you dont understand, sound and are pronounced via immersion?

  39. Caren
    January 2, 2014 at 09:43

    @Joe

    Just in case after 6 months, you come back and are still wondering…

    I don’t feel like going through ajatt to find the exact article(s) that say it but , if I remember correctly, during your RTK days, you’re supposed to build up your Japanese ear. So it’s a lot of movies, anime, songs that you just listen to without particularly trying to understand them -just building up the ear so that it learns to recognize the subtle pronunciation differences between Japanese and your native language.

    If you’re watching shows/movies/anime, do it ideally without subs, but if you absolutely can’t do that immediately, go ahead and put on the subs (there’s quite a bunch of posts about making sure to have fun and that some is better than none, so subs > giving up from being frustrated about watching something without understanding). Just remember that the kiddy gloves have to come off eventually.

    As you progress through RTK (like after you’ve hit a few hundred), you start “reading” through stuff basically just to see if you recognize anything. Once you’ve hit a thousand+, you’ll be able to understand a lot of keywords and might be able to piece together what sentences mean.

    There’s also an entry somewhere in ajatt that also reminds people that it’s okay to customize. Personally I couldn’t do RTK; I couldn’t stand it! I HATED making mnemonics and I would 3-day monk because of it. I also disliked that I was supposed to build my vocabulary while learning kanji, when I knew that nothing excited me more than seeing a kanji I just learned pop up somewhere I was reading.

    So I changed it up and did lazy kanji for all the joyo kanji WHILE doing sentence SRS (I wasn’t a big fan of MCDs either so I chose the 10k sentences method).

    Is it what ajatt normally recommends? Nope. Is it customized to make my learning experience fit me? Sure was. My japanese progressed quickly, far quicker than my 3+ years of previous textbook-learning japanese ever did for me, and I wasn’t burning out. In the end, ajatt has always been about having the most japanese you can handle, if that means you have to customize, then do that – whatever keeps you learning!

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