For your happy perusal, here’s a success story from a reader who goes by her Chinese name, Plum Ocean — I mean, 李洋. Here are her words, digitally remastered in super ultra high definition wide screen Dolby 10.2 digital surround text:
I really want to thank you for writing your blog! [Khatzumoto: Yeah!] I have found so much success through your methods [Khatzumoto: Yeah!]. This isn’t really a success story as much as it is a thank you email [Khatzumoto: Yeah!].
I started learning Japanese in September of 2007 after reading your blog. It really encouraged me that even though there are no lessons around my area, I can learn Japanese. Soon I would find that the methods are much more effective than any text book, class, or listening CD anyone could find. The difficult part of this method is ignoring what everyone else thinks about your progress, and continuing on with doing what you’re doing. I really faced a lack of confidence after talking with a professor of Japanese. I was only a few months into learning Japanese when I told him about your method. He immediately shut down the method [Khatzumoto: Boooooo!], and told me he doesn’t think the way I’m going about learning Japanese is an effective way. He told me to wait for college to really start learning Japanese, rather than going about it in such a difficult matter. He warned me that because I’m learning Japanese from media, I’ll be learning random things, rather than what I’d be learning in a structured text book. Immediately, his comment made me forget about the progress I was making. After a few weeks, I was able to get my confidence up again, and to continue on with your method. I decided not to go to the college this professor was apart of because of his egotism, and because of how he shut me down. I started seeing more success. The more I was immersed into the language, the more I was able to hear the things I’ve learned in the dramas and movies I watch, and in the songs I listen to. The language was no longer a blur to me. I was able to type down the things I heard in Japanese, and study from what I took down. I was able to repeat the sentences I heard, but have never learned before, with correct pronunciation. Learning to read hiragana, and katakana was the easiest thing for me, I had already gotten that down the first few days of learning Japanese. The kanji came the more, and more I would read Japanese. I didn’t start using an SRS, mainly because I didn’t understand how to, until just recently. The SRS has really helped me study Japanese. Especially now, since I’m learning how to write. I regret not studying how to write the language early on. Mainly the reason was because I was to lazy, and would rather type Japanese. I use the SRS to help train me to listen to music I know, and to write down the lyrics while listening to it. I also use it to learn sentences, and grammar. I’ve decided from now on to write down any Japanese I see to help practice my writing skills. Even though I can recognize, and type the characters, when writing, it’s like I never had learned them, which is why I’m focusing on it now. Along the road of learning Japanese, I met a guy who is from Japan who helps me out. He has especially been a help with my grammar, and he corrects my sentences for me, so that I can put them in my SRS and learn from my mistakes. The SRS really makes it so I remember the corrections, so that I can avoid the mistakes in the future.
Now, the success. I would’ve never imagined being able to understand a song in Japanese, or a TV show in Japanese, but now, I am able to do these things. I write a blog on a Japanese hosted server, and in the beginning of the blog it was only in English, but now with every post I write more, and more of what I write is being translated into Japanese. One day, I hope to be able to express everything I write for my blog in Japanese. The guy I met from Japan corrects the Japanese I write on my blog so that I can learn from my mistakes. Recently, I have made a big step in my road of learning Japanese. My friend who lives in America, but used to live in Hong Kong, introduced me to a friend of hers from Hong Kong. Even though he speaks Cantonese, and I speak English, he’s been learning Japanese on his own for a long time, and we were able to become friends through speaking Japanese to each other. When I first attempted having an instant message conversation with someone in Japanese with someone who didn’t speak English well, but knows Japanese, I failed miserably. I was so embarrassed, because they couldn’t understand anything I was saying. However, now, I can hold conversations with people in Japanese. I’m very happy about this. The reasons why I want to learn Japanese is because I love Japanese culture, and I want to move to Japan to teach English. However, if you strip down my reasons to the bone, it is revealed that my real reason is because I want to connect with other people, and form new friendships I would’ve never been able to form if I didn’t speak their language. Making friends with this guy through speaking Japanese has been a success story for me, because I am starting to reach my goal (^-^). The whole reason why I’m learning Japanese is coming true. My Japanese learning road will never have an end. Continuously, I will meet successes, which will make walking on this road worth it. Successes like making new friends through speaking Japanese, becoming a really great teacher in Japan, falling in love in Japan, raising a child in Japan. These dreams are dear to my heart.
I have taken four years of French in high school. When I compare my progress in Japanese to the progress I had in French, there are many differences. I wasn’t able to reach my goal of making friends with a person through speaking French until the latter part of French IV, because I couldn’t hold a conversation until my fourth year of French. While for Japanese, it hasn’t even been a year, and I have made a friend through speaking the language, because I can already hold a conversation in Japanese. It took me four years to be able to listen to a French song, or movie, and sort of get an idea of what is going on, and I am already at that level with Japanese. When listening to French, it is still a blur to me. I can’t repeat every word I hear of it, yet in Japanese, I am able to. To me, it has been proven that your method is way more effective than structured classes because of my experience through learning a language through both methods. I’m not taking French next year, I will have to study it on my own now. The challenging part will be reversing all the methods I’ve been taught in class, and applying the methods I’ve learned through your blog.
Recently, I’ve started learning Mandarin. I know it isn’t good to focus on too many languages at one time, but to me, Japanese, and Mandarin are equally important. French is just a thing I’m keeping up with so that I can hold onto the friendships I’ve made through speaking French. I’m in love with Japanese. I really love learning it, and learning it is essential to go for my dreams of becoming a teacher in Japan. Mandarin has recently become something important to me because I sponsor a girl in China who is around my age. I want to learn Mandarin for her. The English I write to her is translated, but she gets both copies of the letter. When I write Mandarin to her, she is really happy. One day I hope we meet, and I want to be able to speak with her in Mandarin. So far, her English is much better than my Mandarin, but even so, I want to speak with her in her language. The friendship we have has made learning Mandarin important to me, even as important as learning Japanese. A plus to learning Mandarin is I also love to watch Taiwanese dramas.
I started learning Mandarin February of 2008. It has been five months, and seeing my progress reminds me of the progress I had in Japanese. Starting to learn Mandarin was the hardest part. Thankfully, I had my best friend who is from Mainland China who speaks Mandarin as a second language, and Cantonese as a first. She introduced me to pinyin, and taught me how to read it correctly. At first, I was embarrassed to speak Mandarin, because I feared not getting the tones right. Now, I am getting better at pronouncing it without having someone tell me how to first. Even though I learned the kanji in Japanese, I still have to learn a whole new character set, because I am learning simplified Chinese on top of Traditional Chinese (which has more characters than Japanese to begin with). From the beginning I was able to listen to Mandarin, and repeat exactly what I hear. My friend told me that I am amazing at learning languages because I have this skill. I think I only have it because I was taught how to listen through your method. That was very helpful in the beginning. What came later was remembering what I had repeated. Learning to read pinyin, oppose to the other method where numbers are used, has helped me tremendously to remember pronunciation. My progress has been very similar to my progress in Japanese. At first came being able to remember sentences. Now, I am at a point where I’m listening to dramas and songs, and hearing what I have learned in what I’m listening to. I find it amazing, because I am able to sing along with songs sooner than when I was able to in Japanese. I pick up lines more easily. Luckily, all the dramas in Mandarin have Chinese subtitles, so that helps me learn faster. Seeing the parallels in my progress with Japanese, and Mandarin really encourages me, because I now if I keep going, my Mandarin will improve to a point of being able to hold a conversation. At first, learning sentences from passages that were taken from things that don’t have a sound sample was hard for me. However, I have found that writing down everything I see while doing my SRS sentences helps me to remember the feeling of each word in that sentence, and to connect them together to form what concept the sentence is getting across. Now, my friend who was helping me is moving to another town, and she won’t be able to help me with pronunciation like she used to. I’m on my own. However, I’ll be okay. I’ll keep to the methods I’ve learned, and make sure to always get more input before outputting.
Because your blog encouraged me to learn Japanese, I am set free from needing a college that teaches it. When searching for colleges, my major disappointment was not being able to go to the college of my dreams, because it doesn’t have Japanese as a major. Now I am able to go to that college, because I am learning the language on my own! Your blog has made a major impact on my life. Thank you so much (^-^). I hope my long email hasn’t been tiring for you to read.
That’s her story 🙂 . If you’ve had success with the methods discussed on this website, please email me about it! I can put it up here and it’ll inspire other people, and you’ll save me some writing!