Drewskie sent me this really cool email the autre jour. You may know him from comments 😀 , being as it is that he is incredibly good-looking and has wonderful taste in blogs. Here he is in his own words (links and emphasis added by me):
Maybe it’s that I finally found some really chill Japanese music that fits my taste (I’ve been aching for something besides upbeat pop), or maybe I’m in new-blog-post afterglow, but I’m about to write some sappy thank-yous along with a short life story, both of which I’m sure you get a lot, but I have no idea if you like or dislike. Can’t help it, it’s coming.
I’ve finally figured out this AJATT thing — specifically the “how it teaches you Japanese” part. A little late, I know. I’m coming up on a year since I found your website, skeptically examined articles here and there, thinking how full of [%&#!] this guy was — probably because deep down I really didn’t want to have to do so much for Japanese. But I warmed up to the idea. I made sure my music listening was in “This is almost done” mode as I approached the end of RTK (I took that advice immediately and put off immersion, I couldn’t do it so fast). All of that motivational material just marinated in my brain. People around me noticed a difference.
But I’m an engineer, [Khatz]. I’ve been trained to “figure out” and “understand”. I thrive on that desire to understand and the energy it produces. So when I started sentences, I was constantly struggling to “get it”. I think I went through three separate weeks where I proclaimed I understood the basic particles. They just slid off of me, and I’d do it again, “That’s RIGHT, に is for contexts and を is for targets and blahblahblah”.
I understood the input hypothesis, but I didn’t understand the implications, specifically on our biology. I figured that was just “We learn better by seeing examples than by trying to use grammar to produce sentences” — but that’s only half way there. I’m realizing that we learn better by seeing examples and not attempting to understand them.
The vast amounts of language learning power in our brain get to take over uninhibited at that point, and by forcing myself to take the role of the observer while that happens, I’m experiencing some very interesting things. Everything has a feeling. It feels right or it feels wrong. You’ve said this before, I’ve read it all, it just never clicked. I never stopped thinking, and that was a really big problem.
But all of that energy was just GONE. I was really down about all of this. But I kept going forward (vector normalization is a wonderful motivator). I set a minimum “new sentences” goal of 5 per day, which I never even approached, because every time it was starting to get late or I was busy with other things, I thought “Just read until you have 5,” and by the time I actually stopped I had more like 15. It wasn’t like before though, there was just no excitement, no “I must figure this out,” nothing — but after about two weeks of that, I started to realize that I was enjoying myself again just on a more general level. It wasn’t directed, and that’s why I liked it.
Japanese is now one of the only things in my life that isn’t directed in some way by logic and higher brain functions. It’s now a self-sustaining reaction producing pure spiral energy, and I was suddenly hitting more 30-35 card days, and now I hit spring break and I’ve had four 60+ card days, and the reviews are getting just silly-large, but I just keep going, and I love it. I love it so much.
Thank you. Thank you so much for running the blog, for cracking a whip on Twitter, for not keeping your methodology hidden and safe so your skills stay super-valuable (if this ever hits mainstream, sorry [Khatz], your days of “wow, that guy’s good” are toast). This entire endeavor has had a profoundly positive influence on my life. Thank you.
A most sincerely thankful