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The Inverse Relationship Between AJATT Pwnage and Classroom Winnage

“Human intelligence is among the most fragile things in nature. It doesn’t take much to distract it, suppress it, or even annihilate it.”
~ Neil Postman

Jack shares his perspective, reached through bitter experience, on what he quite elegantly calls “The Inverse Relationship Between AJATT Pwnage and Classroom Winnage”:

Hey Khatz,

I’ve just finished semester at uni, it’s been a rainy and gloomy week here in Brisbane, Australia, and it’s as if a single ray of sunshine has just broken through the thick clouds, shining right into my brain.

This is a bit of a story, and I’d like the message to reach a lot of people (so please post the good bits to the regular ajatt blog!)

So my name is Jack, and I started learning Japanese as a little kid in primary school (grade 5). I was so excited to start learning as I had just entirely skipped the fourth grade (after taking some IQ tests) due to being a wee bit older than the other students, and Japanese started in the 5th grade.

I soaked it in like a sponge. I learnt the hiragana very quickly, and in the following years I surpassed the other students by taking optional proficiency tests and learning katakana (not typically taught in primary school). I started high school in a special group of students that had already learnt the katakana.

I progressed through high-school with the same teacher for 5 years, and started scratching kanji by the end of it (I probably knew about 100-150 kanji).

I then continued it in university, hoping to do a study abroad to Japan. I changed universities, and had to start the classes from beginning again. It wasn’t until the end of my first semester at my new home university (The University of Queensland), that I found your blog. I found it because I basically had an epiphany – the subject being how badly I still sucked at Japanese. I was doing perfectly well at university, getting very high grades, but I realised I still couldn’t produce the language impromptu.

So here it is: The Inverse Relationship Between Classroom Winnage, and AJATT Pwnage.

I thus started AJATT, and found it incredibly liberating. I referred hundreds of people to your site *fist bump*. I was learning kanji some 4000 times faster than I was in High School. I was starting to understand things I had never even come across before. I was enjoying it.

I started classes again in semester 2, and the contrast of enjoyment I could see really bummed me out. I went on though, this time hoping that my new found learning method would pull me through.

I failed the course.

I simply didn’t score high enough. I hadn’t studied for each test individually because I didn’t really feel the need. I was learning so fast! Why dedicate 2 hours of study to a written piece when I could just do some sentence reps everyday?

I knew what it was though. I hadn’t finished the kanji, and a large portion of the grade was focused on Kanji. THAT was the problem. So with re-newed vigor, I promptly did a 2k Kanji crash course (well not really a crash course, but I did dedicate my whole summer to just Kanji and immersion). I emerged victorious, with over 2000 kanji under my belt and hundreds of hours of immersion. Ready to start another semester of Japanese.

I felt very confident with my Japanese this semester. I didn’t need to prepare for a test for more than 45 minutes. I was preparing all the time, after all. The other students in the class looked to me for help with Kanji, and the small pieces of the language that we studied in class were very easy to understand. I had racked up over 2000 sentences in the time as well. The result?

I passed the course.

A mere pass. Some assessment items I almost failed (despite having no trouble with them at all). I blamed it on the teacher, and a latent bias towards the understood attitude towards classes that I have. The teacher knew that I had failed the last semester, and knew me personally as someone who wasn’t overly excited about the course (which she had designed). I had dedicated hundreds, almost over 1000 hours to Japanese this semester, and I had to watch as all my classmates scored better than I did. The difference between them and I? They worried about tests, I didn’t. I DID prepare, but I didn’t explicitly feel the need to. They used the resources we learnt from in class, I used natural Japanese.

Yes, I made plenty of errors in my assessment items, however these errors were not scripted like the errors other students would have made. I could have made those errors all day long (haha) but the other students could only keep up the charade for 60 minutes.

My cumulative total was very close to a ‘credit’ grade, which is a bit more modest, so I submitted some pieces for a re-appraisal. (I only needed 1.29 marks). This is the response from my lecturer:

“For the Opinion Piece: On the basis of this reappraisal and in comparison to other students in the 9 to 11 range of marks, we will raise your mark to 10.5 out of 20. Many sentences in the writing cannot be understood at face value and there are gaps in the logic.

One example of this is your translated explanation of why children don’t read is: ‘it is impossible for time to exist’. To the question of why children don’t like reading, your response was: ‘on top of that children don’t read’. The linking word ‘而も=しかも’, which means ‘in addition to this’, was not followed by a related point as was ‘他に=ほかに’.

It is not clear what the referential terms ‘こんな事=こんなこと’ and ‘そうすると’ refer to in the text. The structure of your piece was in dot points instead of paragraph format. Students who received 11 points for this exercise used the grammar forms introduced in the course for defining ‘と言う事=ということ’ and used evidence such as anecdotes to elaborate their opinions.

Although these are all the negative elements that you have asked for an explanation on, there are signs of development in your writing such as your use of predicates such as ‘べき’ and ‘verb-来た=きた’ and two relative clauses. These are not used accurately, but the appearance of these in yor work is noted as development.”

To me, it sounds like a piece with perfectly structured grammar would have given her an orgasm.

Everything I wrote was literally translated back into English and checked for logic. A lot of it seems to be taken out of context. I understand what I wrote, but she doesn’t; that’s fair enough. However, no mention of my almost perfect use of Kanji? I could rant about this all day, but the fact of the matter is that classrooms and AJATT aren’t compatible. They can’t be friends. They’re like The Roadrunner and the Coyote; Christianity and Atheism. The more powerful one is, the less powerful the other. I used to be good at classroom Japanese, but I have since lost that ability.

Yet my natural understanding is at an all time high. I’ve started learning new words without using a dictionary. I have a more intuitive understanding of kanji, and how the primitive elements shape the meaning, for example: 睫 has the primitive for “eye” on the left, so I can guess it has something to do with the eye (睫=まつげ:eyelashes, not covered in RTK 1).

So, after I received my grades for Japanese, I’ve lost all motivation to do anything relating to Japanese. I’m a little depresso actually. After 10 years of taking classes, nothing seems to be in my favour. Classes won’t make me fluent, and AJATT will kill my classroom ability.

I feel like I have seriously wasted my life. That’s thousands of hours, and thousands of dollars I’ll never get back. And the only reason I continued my classes was for a chance to study in Japan, and score some real immersion. All of it was a flipping waste of time, the only good thing was AJATT, which is just an idea, for a different way of doing things.

I’ve decided that I will not finish my diploma in languages. I will leave it unfinished when I return from Japan, because on the off chance that I do become fluent while I’m there, I don’t want my success to be attributed to classes. I seriously want language classes to be a thing of the past. A fable written in childrens books. Almost a myth, that such an absurd thing once existed.

~ Jack

The point isn’t that Jack’s Japanese is already perfect and flawless. The point is not the point his Japanese is at 1 — its position. The point is the clear path, the line of progress, it’s on: its direction. Jack has found a path to natural, native-like Japanese and school is getting in the way of that. School is, to put it rather bluntly, c##kblocking vigorously impeding his Japanese awesomeness. And for what? In exchange for what? For nothing, really. Nothing but gold stars and awkward gaijinese (=gaijin-sounding Japanese).

That, as I understand it, is what he’s frustrated about. As Japanese class lameness goes, what Jack experienced is, arguably, on the mild side. But knowledge, intelligence, learning, these are fragile things, and all it takes is a tiny bit of bureaucratic behavior to suppress or even destroy them 2. As someone who went to that idiot-making house called school once long ago, I sympathize with Jack completely. Also, he’s really handsome and has amazing taste in websites.

Maybe you have a story about school getting between you and real Japanese? Rant about right here 😉 . Right down there in comments. It’s a rantfest, people 😉 .


  1. I thought this was clever phrasing…really, it’s just confusing, isn’t it?
  2. (look at me blithely stealing from Postman)

  26 comments for “The Inverse Relationship Between AJATT Pwnage and Classroom Winnage

  1. Saran96
    July 13, 2012 at 20:26

    I’m glad that I discovered AJATT. Since AJATT my Japanese is much better and I feel the language more and more in me and not beside me. I have the Asperger-Syndrom and avoid new acquaintanceship. Therefore I set the focus on the literary language. But I try to meet new people. Also Japanese People. That’s why I also concentrate on the Japanese slang. I like to reading Manga. I know sentence like “打っ殺してアイツ!” aren’t very useful in a everyday conversation. But every sentence give me structures, words and a view in the language. I play games, read newspaper , watch films, try to read Manga and books (At the beginning it was a little difficult, but it become slowly easier) and chatting. If I feel like to watch a film, I watch a Film. if I want read  指輪物語, I read a some pages. The AJATT methode makes fun. In a gifted education I get a course of Chinese. It was boring and the course was very slowly. I don’t want 1 day pro week  a course and “learn” 20 words without a sentence! I know my English is bad. But this is becaue it isn’t my native language. (I’m Swiss) I have the best English test marks but my English is a crap. THIS IS THE CLASS IN THE SCHOOL ! If I want to learn using English like Japanese with the AJATT method. I would become quickyl better. If I have finished my journey in Japanese, I would to go a Journey with English!
     I wish everyone a good journey in his language. And don’t give up. It will be more and more easier.

  2. Raphael
    July 14, 2012 at 00:53

    Well, I actually do know some people who achieved Japanese fluency after attending university. However, these people were immersing themselves in Japanese outside of school in addition to doing their homework and attending classes. So when I see them, I think a combination of AJATT (for the immersion) and school is not so bad.

    • Jack Cotton-Brown
      July 14, 2012 at 12:00

      I’m not so sure about that. AJATT = icecream, and school = mouldy vegetables. Put them together and you get icecream with mouldy vegetables mixed together. The mouldy vegetables taste gross on their own, and no better when you mix in the icecream. In fact, the icecream brings rise to the contrasting deliciousness of the two different flavours, and makes you realise that mouldy vegetables are just not your thing, now that you can eat icecream by itself.
      I have no problem with people learning languages in classrooms. That is to say, I have no problem with people learning. What I do have a problem with is the limitation of the methods. They even limit you psychologically. School makes failure a scolding element of the learning process, when really, failure is a necessity. Failure should be sort after. Mistakes NEED to be made if you truly want to understand a language. When you make errors in a class, the teacher corrects them for you and expects you not to make them again. Heck, I will be happy to fail a sentence card in my anki deck 100 times if I feel like I’m not yet ready to understand it. In a class, you get very few chances to fail and not feel bad about it. Very few.
      So in summary, I really think people are better off without classes. If classes didn’t exist it would give rise to a plethora of much more interesting learning techniques anyway.

      • Nick
        July 15, 2012 at 04:59

        It boggles my mind that people like you insist on praising AJATT as the be-all, end-all method of language learning; it is a concept meant to be applied in practice. Why is it that when someone claims that AJATT + classes actually worked for some people, you insist on shooting it down as fallacy. Truth is, all classes are different, so it would do you a lot of good to realize that. A Japanese language class at my university was 4 days a week for 50 minutes– and despite the fact they the professor used traditional classroom tactics (hw, oh no!), she was a native Japanese speaker from Kobe, and she insisted that we all practice writing and listening comprehension as much as possible outside of the classroom (sound familiar?). Classes impose a structure, whether you choose to abide by it or not– but that structure is only in place for 50 minutes a day, 4 days a week– that leaves you with roughly 165 hours in the week to do whatever you want with your Japanese. Just because classes attempt to guide you in a direction (that direction is based on the teacher) which may not have worked for you, doesn’t give you the right to dismiss their success with others.

        I understand that the success deemed appropriate in the classroom is not necessarily akin to fluency, but seriously, you shouldn’t blame your failures in the classroom on the class itself. It’s not hard to adhere to the structure of the class for the very limited amount of time requested. When people take language classes, they seem to think that they just need to do the work requested and nothing on their own time, then when they aren’t fluent after 4 years they are angry and confused. Time to wake up buddy, class doesn’t own your life, and it certainly doesn’t follow you home and babysit you for 24 hours a day. Take the initiative.

        • Kure
          July 15, 2012 at 11:23

          I have to agree with you Nick that I don’t understand why so many people are so adamant about flaming classroom style teaching. Like you my teachers and TAs were all native speakers who never used English in class. MWF we had 1 hour conversation class and TTh were 1 and 1/2 hour grammar days. We had quizzes every day which meant that you would study for them outside of class. And yes, homework every day, and personally I found the homework very useful. Then we would have exams every 3 or 4 chapters and we had to write an essay that used a certain amount of learned grammar.

          I don’t know. Maybe I just excel at classroom learning. Teachers loved me, I was always number 1 in my classes getting 100% on every assignment, with few errors, and I was nominated the best student out of all the sections at my particular level. 

          How did I do this? Yeah, by listening to directions. Instead of doodling in other classes I would write kanji over and over again. Vocab I would learn on the drive to school. And yeah, after college was over, I could live in Japan with no problem so I guess you could call me fluent. 

          Am I just a good student? Maybe.
          But, not everyone has a bad experience with classrooms. In fact, I would love to go back and have a teacher guide me to improvement again.  

          Now, it’s 6 years later and when I got my masters in another subject I had to put aside my Japanese for fours years. Two years ago I started up again, this time studying on my own. I had to teach myself a whole new method of learning Japanese outside of the classroom. And neither one to me feels “superior”. They both feel right.  

        • Jack Cotton-Brown
          July 15, 2012 at 16:55

          Hey Nick, I didn’t mean to come off as ‘flaming’ classes per se. To be honest I wrote this email to Khatz in a rather angered state because I couldn’t get the grade that I wanted. The anger came from a ‘hating the bureaucratic system’ standpoint, where policy got in the way of kindness and leniency. I highlighted my strong points, and the teacher focused on my weaknesses, ignoring most things considered as ‘development in my ability’. My teacher wasn’t native Japanese. In fact, she was Australian and made consistent use of English in the classroom when she couldn’t explain something in Japanese.
          I’m not claiming that classes + AJATT doesn’t work, I’m claiming that classes don’t work. I myself have done classes + AJATT and my natural language abilities have increased ten fold. I just think my progress was halted by classes, and that I could have done without them. I’ve been in many different classrooms, with many different teachers, and not a single one of them has given me the right direction to improve my natural abilities. I’m also not claiming that AJATT is the be all end all. I’m just grateful for this cluster of ideas to be packaged up neatly into one resource.
          From an economic standpoint, un-barred immersion is a much cheaper way to become fluent in a language than are classes. Classes also don’t encourage you to change your life-style. Being fluent in multiple languages and maintaining the fluency requires rather large lifestyle changes, but that never seems to happen with school. School IS the lifestyle. Classes become your life.
          I’ve never had a teacher tell me to listen to Japanese music in my spare time.
          I’ve never had a teacher recommend a drama/anime or other T.V. show to me.
          I’ve never had a teacher who knew what an srs was.
          I’ve never had a teacher recommend I do something I would have done myself in my spare time anyway.
          How can you say that the success in classes is not necessarily akin to fluency and then shoot down the AJATT immersion method? It is easy to blame failures on the class itself, but that’s not exactly what I’m doing. I’m blaming my failures on the shallowness and limitedness of that study that I did do. It just so happens that the shallow/limited material was prescribed by the classes.

          • July 15, 2012 at 19:17

            I’m not really sure what all the hub-bub is about… I think maybe some people are not taking it for what it is: an opinion piece based on your own experiences. Either way, I found your rage moments funny, witty, and quite entertaining. 🙂 Thanks for sharing Jack. Your story was an interesting read!

          • Nikolai
            August 6, 2012 at 16:42

            I like that you said “I’m not claiming that classes + AJATT doesn’t work, I’m claiming that classes don’t work.” I’d have to agree with you man. Before I discovered AJATT, I took an “Elementary Japanese I” course at a school here in Yokosuka. All I really took away was how to read and write Hiragana and a handfull vocabulary words. It was just too fast-paced to be able to learn. Since I discovered AJATT (and SRS; had no idea what that was till AFTER the class), I think my personal study time has greatly improved. I am always listening to music and watching Japanese TV; it’s a great addition. I am going to take Japanese II here this fall (Class starts the 20th) and I will keep try to you guys up to date on how it goes this time.
            Thanks again for sharing your story with us!

  3. ライトニング
    July 14, 2012 at 03:28

    I don’t really like language classes. In my highschool, we need 3 years of foreign language to be able to graduate, and I really hate it. And what’s worse is I have 2 more years left of it. I don’t like language classes because you are forced to do what they want. I don’t want to learn about some crap that I don’t care about. Also, in a language class (At least for me) what goes in one ear comes out the other, and I still max out that class somehow.
    I’m in German, and last year (First year of highschool for me) We didn’t go over any tense other than present, not even once! What is that!?!? And the board of education thinks we are going to get fluent with that?
    Exactly why I love AJATT. Khatz gives us his wisdom, which most of it doesn’t have to be language specific, it can last for a life time. With doing AJATT, you do what you want, when you want, how you want to. No stupid grammar drills or never ending vocabulary lists. And yet, I learn more Japanese in a day (around 40 sentences) than I learn from a week of those stupid german classes.
    Classes teach you to not be fluent. What is doing hours of conjugations going to do for you? What will memorizing a chart do? Absolutely nothing! I mean, let’s cut all that crap with conjugating and memorizing a chart, and let’s just have a conversation, using natural language.

  4. July 14, 2012 at 10:02

    This post is really generalizable to school in general. I’ve lost all taste for school…except when it’s preparing people for a very specific occupation, which is more than a lot of departments at universities can say. What’s the point of paying other people to

    read to you
    test you

    unless it is VERY important that society is sure of your abilities (e.g. people who work in nuclear plants)? The answer is that there is no point.
    It’s more than just foreign language. Go to a Big Ten University in the US and enroll in literature or social science courses, and you’ll pay for tuition and books separately, even though most of your lecture material is derived directly from the books anyway. And you have to PAY for books that are hundreds of years old and available online for free. WTF? All one has to do is take a trip over to Khan Academy and see that preparation even for highly technical occupations can be done at home or the local library. 
    Also, anyone see Leo Babauta’s recent post on Zenhabits about learning foreign languages in 90 days? He mentions Anki and spaced repetition software, but he’s very output/speaking focused. Maybe useful if you’re going to a foreign country in 3 months, but other than that probably not too useful. I don’t even think he considers near-native or native-like fluency an option or worthy goal. I like that he’s getting people to think about these kinds of things outside of a classroom context though.

  5. July 14, 2012 at 15:40

    I studied Spanish for two years in high school. I couldn’t understand a single native sentence from a movie, but boy could I memorize a word list.

    I studied Latin for two years in college. I couldn’t understand an original sentence without a dictionary and lots of time, but boy could I fill out a verb chart.

    I’ve watched all of my TV, played all of my video games, read all of my books, and listened to all* of my music in French for for nearly two years now. I probably can’t fill out a verb chart, but boy can I function almost as well as a French adult where media is concerned!

    *well, most anyway 😀

  6. Zhukan
    July 15, 2012 at 08:59

    To Jack:

    Leave language classes alone.

    It’s not classes your problem. They haven’t done anything to you. Even if they did, nobody forced you to take them.

    You wanted to learn a language, so you went to a language university and got yourself into a language course and did exams and all that. That’s just reasonable.

    You followed the methods that you were given. Reasonable, but that’s what screwed you.

    That’s right! Because classes suck and their method sucks!

    Yeah, right. No.

    It’s because you *followed* their methods. That’s why you didn’t learn.

    You don’t learn by following. You learn by leading. You learn by making choices.

    That’s kinda the point of AJATT. SRSing sentences is nothing more than another way to say: “Write your own textbooks.”

    I learned english AJATT-style long before AJATT even existed. Khazt, as we say in Italy, “invented hot water” with his method.

    I’m glad you had a blast learning all the japanese all the time.

    And I agree, classes suck. They really do.

    But they are not your problem. It’s following that held you back this whole time. That’s what makes you feel like you wasted your time.

    It’s not school, your old master, the problem.
    And your new master “AJATT” is not the way.

    The Way is no-master.
    Best of luck

    • Jack Cotton-Brown
      July 15, 2012 at 17:05

      I didn’t want to simply ‘learn’ a language, I wanted to become fluent.
      If following their methods ultimately led to my failure, doesn’t that say something about the classes themselves? If a doctor prescribed pain killers for an allergic reaction I was having and I died, could you not say I was treated by a bad doctor? If following the recommendations of others is my problem, then couldn’t you say I should never ask for help or advice?

      • Zhukan
        July 15, 2012 at 21:19

        Classes do suck. Often really really bad.
        I’m just saying they are not you problem right now. I know that because they are nobody’s problem.
        You are not responsible for them of for the million of people that still trust them and place their hope in them.
        Following advice is no problem at all. As long as you never stop questioning it, as long as you don’t stop questioning everything around you.
        That’s how you immunize yourself against classes of all kind, that’s how your learn despite classes.
        Maybe you are already doing that. You ARE on your way to fluency after all and you did find the solution to your problem, didn’t you?
        If that’s the case rejoice, ’cause you haven’t wasted a second of your life.

  7. ebutler
    July 15, 2012 at 12:47

    I thought the purpose of classrooms for adults was so you could get used to things like grammar.  My understanding, from the critical period hypothesis for L2 learning, is that adults have lost the ability to get the grammar of a different language and need to have it explained to us, and even then we won’t fully get it.  I have noticed an increasing number of people on the Internet denying this, however.

    • ebutler
      July 17, 2012 at 01:39

      For the people who thumbed me down, here is a piece of research: 

      • マルク
        July 19, 2012 at 20:03

        Okay, I just read that whole article. First off, this is mostly speculative. I do understand and perhaps even agree with the idea that adults probably will have a rougher time learning a language than a child, considering it’s not something they’ll need to survive. But that’s why we make the environment and do our best to use English and immerse in English as -little- as possible while immersing as -fully- as possible in L2.

        We create a new sense of necessity and somewhere in our subconscious is probably like “Oh shiat, I really need to understand this Japanese otherwise I’m going to be basking in nonsense and seem like an idiot and such.” Furthermore, on a conscious level, we’re enjoying the language and wanting to be part of it.

        The study claims that we’ll never be able to achieve true native-level fluency, which is bull. One of the star points they brought up was accent, which is merely a parroting act. Sure, some are a lot worse at mimicry than others, but those individuals just need to work harder at it (I’m probably one of those guys).

        And then, slightly besides the main point, they say it’s not natural and that it’s all hard work. Well, like Khatz/Antimoon/lots of people say, you’re an adult with some sort of life and you’re probably putting too much English or L1 into that life as opposed to L2. I’d read the Momoko kid article. It’s basically the point. Yes, a four year old doesn’t have the “disadvantage” of knowing a language already, so there’s the heightened survival aspect, but at the same time, a four year old doesn’t know persistence and isn’t very intelligent, either. Adults may have that “disadvantage”, but there’s certainly an advantage in already knowing a language.

        The other advantage is AJATT-style (or whatever precedes AJATT in this style) learning. You do what’s fun and you do a -lot- of it. Repetition is the mother of learning, as the Russians say; but not rote memorization as the study-author seems to interpret it. Read any of the articles where it mentions doing small tasks frequently (and being immersed 100%) and doing those tasks consistently instead of assuming cram sessions will allow you to learn.

        We’re living in the greatest instant gratification period ever. So it’s natural to assume with all the tools at our disposal we can learn anything quickly. But really, we just learn about things quickly. There’s a veil that covers our eyes, hiding the true hard work it takes to accomplish anything great. (Read any of the posts that have Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, the 1000m Kenyan runner [sorry, forgot his name])

        Anyway, the study’s perhaps not complete bollocks, but it’d do you a wealth of good to take it with a grain of salt. 

  8. Pierre Emerald
    July 15, 2012 at 20:38

    I experienced the same. BUT like speaking tests i got full score, whereas in writing tests i got like 4/20. It was just like vomit the lessons. Boring lessons, i didn’t go after some, because, really you know it, really really boring and useless.
    It was the same, and it’s still the same in all the majors i’m doing in Uni. I don’t have best score in lessons tests, well each time the worst, but i have best score in “researches” and “dissertation” (dissertation as the french style exam, when you write what you think about a subject).
    Learning by heart some grammar rules, learning the pronunciation of kanji out of context, is not for me. I’m not a computer. Just give me a real Japanese text and i will read it to you. But more difficult are the tests, i mean like reading tests, better score i got when others just crammed for exams, and wasn’t used to speak and listen real japanese. During my undergraduate, i chose always as speaking teacher a Japanese one (yeah in French Uni, you can choose your teacher), and the same for writing, i got really better scores with them as i spoke and wrote as (or approximately) a japanese guy. When I chose a French teacher, it was like i was a monkey, who can’t even learn a single sentence by heart. Speaking is not learning by heart, it’s filling heart by something. 
    AJATT, or self-study is bad for undergraduate schools, but it’s the best to really speak, write and in fact being good in any field. And the best when you will be in graduate school, if some wanna go there, well at least in French graduate schools.
    Guys keep doing AJATT, and you will get the Grail!
    Well sorry for my bad English.

  9. OObey
    July 19, 2012 at 05:46

    I really love this post. I went to a class for about a month and a half when I first starting learning Japanese. I even has a Japanese tutor for 2 months. I quit the class because I didn’t like where they put me(Although I was new at it, I watched and listen to whole lot of Japanese that I could’nt bear listening to the many ways of saying “hello” and also I didnt like my class mates…seriously! One guy was married to a Japanese women ans went to Japanese on the reg, and still couldn’t pronouce hajimemashite or sayonara…DORK!)

    But the reason why tried getting a Japanese tutor was so that I could feel like I went to school; I wanted to prove through a diploma or certificate that I could speak and read Japanese. So I got a tutor and something strange happened. We were speak in STRAIGHT JAPANESE THE WHOLE TIME! I did’nt need the tutor, sure I learned what “you ni” means and how to use it in a sentance but everything else I knew already because I listened Japanese music and watched SANTAKU all day(Sanma and Kimura Takuya are HE-LAIR-E-US together!) My point is naturally Japanese is the better way to go when going for natural fluency. It has worked for me and it still is working. SRSing(when I am not lazy about it) has an interesting effect. Just like Jack, when you immerse your self and srs your self and really have FUN doing it, your brain is able to decipher kanji in a way that is shocking. I can read Japanese a figure out what is being said and what the context is. I think what is even more shocking is that this process gets better the more I read and listen to and watch and enjoy Japanese.

    Thanks for the post Jack, get your Japanese ON MAN. And Khatz, thanks for the site, it really helps.

  10. Andy
    July 25, 2012 at 04:24

    Old time AJATTer here, started in 2009. I had several issues as well at first but i was able to own the class in a little time. I enrolled the japanese course in october 2009 and by december 2009 even without having taken the exam yet i’ve been moved by my teacher to the advanced japanese course. I just graduated and I’ve been taken as the personal assistant of my mother tongue japanese teacher and right now I am about to begin teaching to first and second year students attending the undergraduate courses. That’s a story of success, success that I’d have never achieved without discovering AJATT.
    Thanks to Khatz and everyone out there that kept my motivation high during these years. I am still learning tho!

  11. Jacinda
    August 14, 2012 at 08:19

    I was quite fortunate with my uni – University of the Sunshine Coast also in Queensland, Australia. It was a really good starting block for my Japanese. Back in 2004 when I started learning Japanese I hadn’t become aware of the AJATT menthod although in regards to kanji and hiragana I had started self teaching and using kanji whenever I could throughout high school.

    My uni however has an awesome sensei who – while teaching us from a textbook, could also see flaws and explain how it would be used naturally. Some of the other teachers were actually qualified to teach computers but because they were native Japanese speakers they taught us without really having spent time studying “How to teach Japanese”. As a result our lessons often fell off the textbook rails and we would instead spend 60 mins discussing how sake was made. Classes really did nothing for my listening abilities because aside from some stilted practice speaking we mostly ended up falling back into English. However in our own time one of our assessments was to keep a journal – we could do whatever we wanted to show the teacher how we’d been attempting to learn Japanese outside of class hours. Of course we were recommended to try and expand on what we were doing in classes although it really wasnt a requirement. The requirement was effort. Our sensei encouraged our interest outside of the textbook. For me it was always kanji – never grammar. Also part of the course was a 10 month exchange in Japan. That’s were I still contribute ALL my language skills to…. and not to the university over there either.

    It was my host family who taught me Japanese.

    I can track it to them because for the first 5 months I was in Japan I was failing exams, I couldn’t order a freakin cheeseburger from maccas (Has anyone ever seen in ANY textbook the phrase “ここでお召し上がりますか” Honestly!? Try and go into a maccas and get the person behind the counter to speak in 普通形 … 無理だよ! They’ll try bad English – but not plain textbook Japanese…. and you can hardly whip out your genki textbook and say – “No … you’re now meant to say xxxx”. But when I started living with my host family I could ask them what they actually were saying (even getting the sentence repeated is nigh impossible – they see gaijin and assume you cant speak Japanese). On top of that my host dad was the only member of the family who could speak any English and he refrained as I requested. I also started picking up Manga and with my trusty denshi jisho I started to improve. I still barely passed my Japanese uni exams – but fortunately my favourite sensei could see how much I was improving compared to the other girls (who kept speaking English with each other) and kept giving me multiple chances.

    True immersion is the only way to learn.

  12. November 11, 2012 at 20:36

    While I do believe that AJATT is vastly more powerful than class methods, because its success relies on intrinsic motivation rather than the application of sterile classroom approaches, I have had the opposite experience from Jack. I’m studying abroad now, so Japanese immersion for me is higher than ever. Doing AJATT both in America and here in Japan has made Japanese class seem like a breeze. Students ask me for help, the teacher and I have nice conversations, and I find that almost everything we’re tested on is something I’ve already taught myself. RTK also makes kanji tests seem bogusly easy. I go to class knowing I have a secret advantage that few in this study abroad program, if anyone, understand. Win!

  13. Mark
    November 12, 2012 at 11:12

    I just signed up for an Elementary Japanese class in college (because if given the choice to study Japanese or take a communications course, Japanese is way more fun for me) and I am now feeling pretty sh**y about it after hearing all these stories about how class is basically going to set my progress back. I really hope it’s not as bad as it appears to be. My main motivation to finish Heisig soon is because I don’t want class to halt my kanji learning progress. I guess I’ll just try to make the most of it!

  14. ニコライ
    November 22, 2012 at 14:33

    You should be ok; as it’s a real college course. I am in the Navy, taking courses at a college on my base in Yokosuka. The Japanese classes are not standard length, they are only right weeks long! WAY to short for a language course, and especially short for Japanese. Just keep doing life the AJATT way and you should be cool. And it’s hard to balance still doing RTK reps, but I just mix it in for three minute sessions when I can. Good luck and keep up posted on how it’s going!!

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