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Turn Yourself Into A Monster: What To Do When People Around You Are Not Encouraging Or Supportive

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Social Resistance

So, I’m there on the Internet, minding my own business, when BAM! The series of tubes conspires to hit me with this:

Hey Khatz, your website has really inspired me. I’m 15 years old, and I love Japanese culture. I’ve always wanted to be fluent in Japanese, but felt that it was impossible. However, one day I came across your site. At first I was like, “Whoa, this guy must be some kind of genius! Fluency in 18 months? Wow!” But then I got to thinking. I realized that you are just a normal guy who found a great (wait no, the only) way to achieve fluency, which is by the immersion process.

So I thought, “What the heck, I’ll buy Heisig’s books and try my best to live the life of a Japanese child.” I hadn’t gotten far when people began to notice what I was doing. My friends told me I was “crazy”, my teacher’s said this method had never been “scientifically tested”, and even my own parents said that what I was doing was “absolutely worthless”. I need some encouragement, Khatz. How did you overcome what other people thought about “all japanese all the time?” Can you give me any tips?

WARNING: I am about to go all New Agey on you. I will snap out of it. Actually, I’m not really going New Agey,at all, it’s just going to sound like I am.

The words people say and things people do to you…could be thought of as having a numerically quantifiable emotional content. Just to sound New Age, let’s call this quantity “energy” (said in my best Southern California accent: “ENerrrgy”).

Keep in mind that I am not saying any of this actually exists. It doesn’t. Not to my knowledge. It’s just a thought model…a way of representing an idea. It has no real physical existence (except, I guess, at the level of electrochemical action in the brain, but…anyway, whatever…)

So let’s call this “energy” (*cringe*), E for short, to give this essay the appearance of mathematical rigor. Pseudoscience for the win, baby!

  • E = emotional “energy”.
  • -E = Resistance
  • +E = Encouragement.
  • 0E = Indifference

Now, it would seem that the answer is to shut out all the -E and overwhelm it with +E. Or, even force people who are giving you -E to change sign. Unfortunately, contemporary society as a whole is unlikely to start actively giving you positive encouragement, because it’s far too cool for that. As it happens, though, it’s cheaper and easier to change yourself than to wait for the whole society to change for you. Thus, rather than go all Transformers, expending oodles of priceless time and effort on the acquisition of +E (energon cubes!), we need only realize that:

All that matters is the absolute value of E, |E|.

So let’s say “you’re crazy and you suck and it’ll never work” is -100 E, and “you were born to be Japanese; you have preternaturally large reproductive organs; Japanese is your destiny“, is +100 E. Either way, |E| = 100.

So you need to turn into a monster; a monster that only gets stronger the more it is attacked. Become an omnivore. Even if you eat a plant-based diet :D. Eat all forms of “energy” (say it with me: “ENerrrgy”).

Let resistance fuel you — funnel that rage and despair into the productive accumulation of more Japanese knowledge. Let encouragement fuel you — grow yourself into the positive vision people have of you.

Either way, it’s all good. It’s all usable. You’re like a plant. People give you B.S., you use it as fertilizer; people give you sunshine, you photosynthesize. All you care about is |E|, and in fact, you may even get to the point where the only thing that bothers you is |E|=0. This point is called “being an attention whore, like Khatzumoto”.

Whatever you do, don’t argue. You will not win. And even if you do win, you won’t win. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” and all that. Besides, what honor is there in out-talking a retard? Yes, I said it: “women and minorities”! Every moment spent arguing with some schmuck, is a moment that would be far better spent on Japanese.

To be fair to your detractors, you are not exactly a shining example of success in your chosen language acquisition method…yet. But then again, how could you be — you’re just a “baby”. Unable to directly demonstrate the validity of what you’re saying, the typical instinct might be to go pull up some articles and shove them in everyone’s face with a triumphant “SEE?!!”. Resist the urge. You will still lose the argument. And your time. The same people who now bait with: “there’s no research to support your claims”, when shown good research, will then switch to: “So what? That research is bogus anyway! If this crap works so well, why isn’t everyone doing it?” [because they’re too busy arguing?…痴線!] . This arguing thing is not a winnable game.

Let your Japanese skill do all the talking, which it eventually will, thank you very much, because you’re doing some Japanese right now, right? Whatever trouble you may be facing now, it’s all just fuel. Any obstacles you face exist only to add dramatic flavor to a legend that has already been written — The Legend of How You Learned Japanese To Native-Level Fluency On Your Own.

One day your friends will be begging you to translate Japanese for them. Until that day, shut them out with your headphones 🙂 and drown them out with Japanese music, if and when they get too rowdy. Besides, it’s not like you understand English anyway.

Anyway, that’s all from me.

How do you other AJATTeers deal with social resistance? Share!

Energy…now that I think about it, “intensity” would probably have been far more appropriate. Oh, well.

Series Navigation<< Flame Less + Journal More = WinDon’t Be A Hero >>

  97 comments for “Turn Yourself Into A Monster: What To Do When People Around You Are Not Encouraging Or Supportive

  1. igordesu
    July 7, 2009 at 05:57

    Social Resistance? I think that in itself is one of the most motivating reasons that I keep pushing myself with Japanese.

  2. Grophrane
    July 7, 2009 at 06:35

    Hey mate.

    “How do you other AJATTeers deal with social resistance? Share!”.

    As you’ve requested, I shall pursue the goal of enlightening you on my way of, to phrase it brutally, ‘dealing with social resistance’.

    First off, to be hurt by something, you have to have an image of yourself.
    This image of yourself is what is being hurt, or appeased. Go see it for yourself, the image you’ve built from the moment you were born: I am this, I am that. All that quite nonsensical activity. But it is there, and it’s the very reason for being offended or feeling ‘high’ when being praised. Hence it is a double-edged sword.
    You seek for praise and try to avoid being offended. Can you observe this self-image as it is and know that when you’re offended, it’s simply an idea in your head being contradicted by what someone else is saying. And isn’t the idea kinda weak if you are swayed by something different. Can you say this weak idea is reality? How can the reality be so easily swayed, it can’t be influenced at all, it is as it is. Thus, on basis of logical analysis, we are able to see that whatever you think you are, is not who you are. If it was who you are, you’d simply be a thought. Other thoughts create conflict, since you have a closed-mind. You’ve got to have an open mind and see the fact of this two-faced superficial game. Once you see that exchanging different thoughts:”You stinkin piece of shit, your method sucks monkey-****” (Hehe censure!) vs the idea I have of myself as being a “Not stinkin piece of ****, my method is good!”. Conflict arises. But if you haven’t got this identification with this idea, it simply doesn’t affect you at all!

    So my approach to dealing with it? Understand the functioning of the self-image one as built up throughout ones whole life. DEEPLY, not superficially, go into it yourself, understand it yourself.

    Sry khatz, I think I just went new age on you, you be the judge :p

  3. Grophrane
    July 7, 2009 at 06:38

    Damn, forgot to thank you for your post, honorable sire. I humbly ask for your pardon. (I’m feeling funky today!)

    Anyways, keep it up bro, I really appreciate all your posts and the effort you put into it.

  4. Lokideviluk
    July 7, 2009 at 06:48

    I quite literally lust your musings, one might consider it an unhealthy obsession.

    I think its worth noting that thought process should be prevalent in all forms of a persons life not just japanese learning.

    I’d like to question just how many people now they know your releasing the “Book of Khatz” (As it will no doubt be called in future Bibles), have stalled their learning of Japanese with the idea that its worth waiting for the book so they get “the perfect informational start”… im betting more than a handful.

    Great stuff though!

  5. July 7, 2009 at 07:22

    In the UK, there seems to be a lot of negativity towards people who have chosen (or have spiritually ‘been chosen’ to do something different or aspire to do something that isn’t considered the ‘norm’.

    I find the best way to get past that is to ignore them, because the society as a whole is very stifling of people who want success. Headphones are good too 😀

  6. Jonathan
    July 7, 2009 at 09:12

    To be perfectly honest, this is one of the many reasons I’m studying Japanese (as opposed to some other language) in the first place: just to prove that I can. If I (a white kid from California) were to study Spanish with the goal of becoming native-like, no one I know would doubt my ability to do so.

    Why? Because Spanish is an Indo-European language; it’s written with most of the same symbols as English; its grammar is usually considered to be relatively simple; it’s spoken in many countries around the world (and is therefore not as closely tied to a specific culture as Japanese is); it has many cognates with English; and it’s fairly commonplace to see and hear it in most parts of the US on a daily basis.

    But if I say that I’m working to become a native-like speaker of Japanese, I get the usual barrage of horse-hockey that we’re all familiar with here. “You’re too old.” “It’s too different.” “It’s too nuanced.” “There’s too many kanji.” “You’ll never understand the culture.” “Japanese is the hardest language in the world.” “You need to take classes and/or you need to live in Japan.” Not to mention the thinly-veiled racist undertones which are still unsettlingly common.

    So anyway, yeah. I would actually love to get really good at Spanish someday (as well as like a dozen other languages), but the above is a small part of why I’m doing Japanese first.

  7. Shea
    July 7, 2009 at 09:30

    I see it as, think of all that negative feedback you’re getting as an opportunity to make one big giant “HA! I TOLD YOU SO!” Sort of thing…BUT without having to actually say it to them. Within a year or two (keep going, don’t ever quit really) show how far you’ve come and they’ll be like “Woa….”

    Seriously, I’ve only been at this 10 months (and only about 8 of it has been like a daily thing) and while I couldn’t see progress at first. I find myself being able to fully read/understand a lot of ads/billboards/fliers/pamphlets/magazins/manga etc. that I find on the daily here in Japan. It’ll happen, you’ll get there.

  8. captal
    July 7, 2009 at 11:45

    If you can turn the negative into positive energy, you’ll get farther, faster. I eat this cow-fertilizer for breakfast (you eat $*!% for breakfast!?!) and it’s my fuel. Everytime someone tells me how jyozu my Japanese is I knows it’s bullshit and it just makes me more determined. (though when they tell me how good I am with chopsticks, I just let that one go) Even if you’re lazy, if you just continue to do Japanese every day you’ll get better, no questions asked. Really. You will. As Khatz said before- it will take longer than you hope but shorter than you think.

    The most important thing is to stop telling YOURSELF you can’t do it. It’s a lot harder to turn your own negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones than to say “that jerk thinks I can’t learn Japanese” and trying to prove them wrong.

  9. Forrest
    July 7, 2009 at 12:36

    I used to try to explain when people gave me a hard time about learning Japanese. But I gave up a while ago. People always end up at “stop trying to be Japanese” Now I just brush off the naysayers. People don’t really ask me why anymore so much as they ask me to stop bothering them with neat little things I learned that day.

    I reached the halfway mark in RTK today. (1021) It took me entirely too long. I was maintaining my first 600 or so for months and months without adding anything new. It took getting laid off in March to get me back to looking at what I really wanted to accomplish in life and get back on track. If I keep up the pace I’ve been doing, I’ll be finished with the first 2042 in mid-August. Then the real fun begins!

    Wish me luck! lol

  10. Chiro-kun
    July 7, 2009 at 13:57

    Surprisingly I don’t receive all that much resistance to my Japanese project. My parents were incredibly receptive about it as long as it didn’t get in the way of my “studies”. Or perhaps a better way of phrasing it would be that my parents believed that I…wasting my time in a productive way.

    Most of the “resistance” I’ve received are from people who find my constant bickering about Japanese irritating (other than my ハヤテのごとく and アリア loving friends of course!). Apparently I “should” talk about something more interesting, I should pay attention to more “serious, real-life issues” and should spend my time more productively getting a gilfriend (who’ll probably last a few months and leech all your money which I suppose is a very productive use of my time which I could have otherwise spent “wasting” by reading Japanese Wikipedia or playing/reading/watching 名探偵コナン).

    People will always be unnerved when you do something different and you will be outcasted. I kind of accepted that would happen before I revealed to everyone about my rather grandiose language acquisition project.

    I guess the reason most people are so close-minded because they’re scared. I say this because I’ve seen this attitude towards anyone who pursues anything seriously – be it studies, be it Japanese. Such people are always ridiculed for their “seriousness” and for turning a blind eye to the “real world”. It’s because seeing such people are a constant reminder (for them) how they’re wasting their time. It’s because they believe that they should be doing something better. That’s why they start feeling all angry and all…you know, 苛々!

    Knowing this, it has become easier for me to ignore such social “resistance”. Frankly, I simply shake my in disbelief when I see people whining about how Japanese is getting on their nerves and stuff. If it hurts you THAT badly…..find some way to use your time productively. It’ll help you become slightly more optimistic, if nothing else.

  11. July 7, 2009 at 15:35

    Yeah I’ve been waiting for you to write something on this topic. It really is interesting to see everyone’s reaction to what you’re doing. Most of the time I receive support but then there’s others who are just the opposite. And really just like you said, you just can’t win in an argument.

    Initially everyone completely doubts you will get anywhere. Most think you’ll quit relatively quickly. Just like what Johnathon had said – You’re too 古ld.” “It’s too different.” “It’s too nuanced.” “There’s too 多any kanji.” yada yada. then after doing this for 10 months or so, then you might get some real annoying people. They’ll say “read this”, “what’s this say?”, “what are they saying?” now no doubt my japanese has improved tremendously, but I’m not fluent y’know? still got a ways to go. So of course I can’t always give a great answer..But you get these people who try to discourage you… and in a way it is discouraging, but I didn’t spend 10 months doing this just so I could give up midway..まったく・・ しょうがないさ・・・ And lastly you might get someone who thinks you’re wasting your time… what will this lead into they ask? How will this get you a good job?

    I say you only live once, if you’ve got any kind of goal or even just an interest in something, go after it! **** thinking about it, wishing, fantasizing… just do it. Don’t be that 50 year old guy who just starts to have regrets about not doing things when he/she was younger… I think accomplishing goals requires a sort of sasuke like mind set. y’know cast everything aside (people included if nescessary) and concentrate only on your 目的. And that’s one of the main points that I got from reading the articles on this site… maybe sasuke read it..? いつもありがとうよ カツモトさん ところで・・・あんたの名はどうやって書き方のか?漢字で

  12. July 7, 2009 at 15:40

    scratch that last question there haha…

  13. July 7, 2009 at 16:47

    Eff ’em.

    Err, that’S Forget them, with an F. As Khatz said, ignore them and just keep doing your ‘stupid way’ of doing things. It won’t matter in a few months when you’re reading actual manga, in Japanese, and understanding a truckload of it.

    I’m a big science guy. I’m all about double-blind studies and proving stuff. Your teacher is fool (or simply ignorant) is he/she actually believes this method hasn’t been proven. Stephen Krashen has written tons of really boring articles on proving it. Hundreds+ of folks have used the same method for learning English like those smart fellas at Antimoon. I won’t waste any more pixels on it.

    The best advice is to just keep on doing it every day and don’t ask any more questions and don’t doubt it. As soon as you start asking questions and doubting it and sending emails to Khatz about ‘What should I do?! Someone said the Japanese have no swear words! What happens when I stub my toe and I curse in English?’ You’ll find you would have been better off spending that time just sticking it out and studying it.

    Khatz’s overall best stuff of all time was on the old FAQ page… it might even still be there, I’m too lazy to check, it said something to the degree of: ‘I don’t care what method you use, as long as you get there; so stop worrying/arguing about it and just go effin do it! ;)’

  14. July 7, 2009 at 16:58

    Khatz, I love this article, I love your plant metaphor, I’m going to put it on my wall, plug my ears with my L2 and keep on rocking 😀

  15. Macca
    July 7, 2009 at 17:01

    I’m arrogant enough that no one has ever questioned any of my methods (ha.) That’s not true, I’ve just turned 16 and did Japanese tutoring outside of school for a few years, which enabled me to become ‘pretty okay’ at Japanese. Only now do I see how slow and stupid that tutoring was. Therefore, now that I’m following AJATT and have practically become Japanese, no one questions me. Act arrogant enough, believe in yourself and no one will say a thing. You are Japanese.
    PS: Why the hell am I here? This is English!

  16. BA
    July 7, 2009 at 17:21

    They say that the best revenge is a life lived well, but I say that’s only true if it comes with the smug satisfaction of knowing you’ve proven every single one of your detractors wrong.

  17. July 7, 2009 at 17:27

    There is something to be said for your ‘Just Do it’ mentality. Whilst I have a very supportive family on these things, dealing with certain non-family can be difficult. I have two solutions to these people: 1. Don’t talk to them about any aspect of it and just get on with it (a la Fight Club rules). and/or 2. As they don’t take me seriously, why should I take their comments seriously?

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I am personally quite appalled that some kids parents would be against him/her in this way. Heck the kid isn’t doing drugs or stealing.
    Just my ¥2

  18. Squintox
    July 7, 2009 at 17:34

    I think if you go on about as if learning Japanese is a good thing, you’ll get similar reactions. If you’re totally positive about learning Japanese and feel like telling the whole town, then people will be supportive. When I told people I’m learning Japanese without embarrassment, they were very supportive: “You must be very smart!”, “Good luck!”

    But when I was more shy, in a more “Oh my god, I hope he doesn’t think I’m a nerd” and try to hide the fact that learning Japanese is pretty much what I do 24/7 (like a true shut-in 8)), the reactions are usually “Are you doing it because of anime?” or “It’s the hardest language in the world, you’ll never do it”.

    If you assume Japanese is embarrassing, you’ll attract the sort of people that agree with you. And if you assume language-learning is always praised, you will meet those sort of people that think the same.

    But like @igordesu, I always took negative comments as somewhat motivational xD, my brothers were all meh at the idea of learning Japanese. Their eyes were wide open when I got to 1000 in Heisig and were convinced I was lying when I finished the whole book. It’s a really wonderful “In your face!” feeling ^^

  19. Daniel
    July 7, 2009 at 18:54

    Good stuff. To the kid who sent Khatz the original message: don’t get discouraged. Whenever you have a good idea that benefits you and/or the people you care about, as long as it’s not hurting anyone go through with it 110%. There’s always gonna be mediocre people that are going to try to tell you anything and everything from how misguided you are to how downright ridiculous you’re being, and they rarely even have a reason to back up what they’re saying. That’s just the knee-jerk reaction of mediocrity to anything above it. You gotta learn how to deal with it and move forward.

    A thing I like to do is dig up old excerpts from textbooks in like the 50’s and 60’s, even the 70’s and 80’s…stuff that was taught to kids in the past as the absolute god’s truth, undeniable and apparent to any enlightened rational person…that we now look down on as completely absurd.

    People are gonna be doing the same exact thing to our textbooks 20, 30, 40 years down the line…just take comfort in the fact that you’re getting a big head start in breaking away from all the nonsense 🙂

  20. Nessarose
    July 7, 2009 at 21:25

    My mum’s the same as your parents. When I told her she was like “No way you can do it, it’s too hard, what’s the point etc” and “Go on then, let’s hear it, say X!”. which, of course, being a beginner, I couldn’t. (My dad on the other hand is proud of me. They’re divorced, in case you wondered.)

    I know it’s very hurtful to get this type of reaction from your own parents, the people who are supposed to believe in you and encourage you. They ought to be grateful you’re not doing drugs or spending your days at the mall harassing old people or whatever. My mum’s reaction annoyed the hell out of me, and I blamed myself for even telling her, because she made me look stupid in front of half the family, on Christmas Eve, no less.

    But then I came to realise that it wasn’t my fault at all. I mean, of course it wasn’t, and if it had been some random person making fun of me, I might have realised sooner, but that’s what the situation is like with parents, you want them to approve of you and the things you do and be encouraging, which, being their parents, they ought to be and anyway they should know better than to make fun of their children for studying.

    It’s harder to dismiss you parents as stupid than friends and teachers, at least it was for me. But you just have to. They may be your parents/my mother, but in this case, we just know better than them and we’re going to show them and tell them I told you so 🙂 Don’t let other people tell you what to do. It’s stupid and it’ll only lead to regrets later on. It’s your life and you need to do the things YOU want.

  21. MonteCristo73
    July 7, 2009 at 23:20

    Me? When resistance comes I do like the Japanese do when they don’t understand English… I just smile.

  22. Ampharos64
    July 8, 2009 at 02:02

    Hmm, I guess I probably deal with it by actively enjoying the discouragement. Maybe that sounds weird, but the perceived difficulty is very much part of the appeal, so being told that Japanese is the hardest language in the universe only makes it more fun. It possibly helps that everyone thinks I’m crazy anyway. This is not one likely to help others, but being forced to learn another language (Latin, as part of a Medieval Studies MA), come September actually helps, since having to do that like-it-or-not removes the ‘Ah, I don’t think I can learn any foreign language!’ anxiety, leaving me in a ‘might as well what have I got to lose anyway’ kind of frame of mind (guess this is Motivation for Cynical People…).

    I’ve usually found it quite easy to convince people I know what I’m doing, anyway. Throw around phrases like ‘(Professor Krashen’s) input hypothesis’, and people figure you know what you’re on about, even if what you mean is that you’re going to listen to J-Pop all day. Mentions of that mysterious beast the ‘SRS’ and covering every surface with the pages of the odd squiggles that result from Kanji practice also helps (people really like for you to write their name in Katakana, even if you had to guess the best way). Subtly hinting that people may one day pay you for being able to understand Japanese is also good (feel free to exaggerate if necessary).

    A little compromise might be worthwhile, too. I’m not going to Japan any time soon, so don’t need to eat with chopsticks.

    Hadn’t realised it before, but I’m not sure I know how to stop at this point, anyway. Eeep.

  23. Savara
    July 8, 2009 at 04:20

    My parents luckily have always been supportive, although they do at times think that I’m ‘wasting’/spending too much time on the whole ‘learning’ thing. Oh well, it could be much worse right?

    Sometimes I get discouraged, after 2 years I’m still very much at an intermediate level – I finished Heisig but the reviewing keeps being a problem – at about 60~70 retention rate it’s not… good. But I’m slowly improving it now by adding more and more sentences (over 3500 now :3). My reading is much stronger than speaking (I did a test with a teacher, who was amazing because his method was basically “forget Genki and the likes, the only way you improve is by doing Japanese, reading, listening, watching etc. etc.!” but… with a teacher to correct your mistakes. In the end I didn’t have enough money, and figured if I had come this far on my own I could do it without a teacher… But reading at that time was at JPLT 2 level, speaking ehm… I just couldn’t put a sentence together.

    Now I’m writing journal entries in Japanese (lang-8 is amazing :)), and am slowly able to say more precisely what I want to say. Yes I make (a lot of) small grammar mistakes, but as long as I get them corrected and can put the corrected sentences in Anki … I’ll be fine eventually.
    Watching anime is still difficult at times though x_X (depending on the series), I’m just not all that comfortable with the spoken language. People think that’s funny for Japanese, but really, for me reading (in any language) is always easier. I’m just a very written-language-person… Even my thoughts are in text (really, it’s arial or comic).

    Anyway, long story short… It might take longer than 18 months for you, but as long as you keep going (and I have to say, I never stopped reviewing but I did take some breaks in adding new material and watching/reading stuff – which is… very important.) SOMETIME you have to just reach the level when you’re comfortable with the language 🙂

  24. mjaynec
    July 8, 2009 at 06:29

    It seems like everyone has given advice on what to do about people who flat out tell you that you won’t succeed. I agree, just ignore them. Say “that’s nice”, and put your headphones back on.
    The people that I’ve noticed I really have to look out for are the people who claim to be supportive but don’t act that way. My entire family claims to be supportive, but they are constantly pulling me out of my immersion environment. My friends are the same way. They all theoretically support what I’m doing, but in reality they still bug me about hanging out with them, watching not-so-funny youtube videos, and the like. These are the people you really have to watch out for, because it is too easy to fall into the trap of spending time doing things in English with these people because you care about them and they’ve been “supportive”.

  25. ナルキッソス
    July 8, 2009 at 07:44

    Narcissism works particularly well, I’ve never particularly cared much about other people or their opinions.
    And when you make even a small mistake or fail to live up to your own self image, it’s an incredible motivator.

  26. captal
    July 8, 2009 at 17:13

    “Now I’m writing journal entries in Japanese (lang-8 is amazing :)), and am slowly able to say more precisely what I want to say. Yes I make (a lot of) small grammar mistakes, but as long as I get them corrected and can put the corrected sentences in Anki … I’ll be fine eventually.”

    I do the exact same thing. How great to have a native speaker tell you how you should have said what you wanted to say 😀 (translate THAT into Japanese 😉 ) And Anki helps you make sure it sticks.

  27. Jes
    July 8, 2009 at 23:18

    As for social resistance, I just trust that I’m on the right track when I feel good. Also, I don’t really favor praise or criticism. They’re there and they’re just fuel, like Kaz was expressing.

    I hadn’t thought about it much but it feels like the biggest source of resistance is me; when I think about having a goal or some quantity of result in my desired area…that’s not there yet. Ya, that’s a lovely tripwire. I’ve noticed that when I just hop interests and stay in touch with that through different areas it all works out good, though. Thank you Kaz for another timely and excellent post.


  28. ナルキッソス
    July 9, 2009 at 00:20

    How great to have a native speaker tell you how you should have said what you wanted to say 😀 (translate THAT into Japanese 😉 )



  29. July 9, 2009 at 07:50

    Damn you censorship! *shakes fist* I don’t like childrenz!

    How do I deal with them social resistance peeps?

    I take considerable joy in people telling me I can’t do things, it makes me want to turn around and do it more, harder, faster and GET IT DONE! Tell them they’re wrong by gettin’ it done, I say.

    I think it comes from having my dearest mumsies telling me everyday for years that “you can’t graduate HS, you suck you’ll never get into college” basically and despite going to 3 HS and doing two senior projects (2 10 pg papers, 20 min presentation, all the volunteering and all the busy crap babysitting I had to go through in a span of 3 months) I did graduate with honors and I am in college and I WILL GO TO JAPAN and most importantly I WILL GAIN FLUENCY!!!


    Anyways, either you sink in the negative and believe it and give up or you start swimming using the negative as floaties to swim to the holy land that is fluency.

    Although some days suck so when I feel like believing it I just turn on my favorite Japanese show and have some cocoa and recharge to take on the world tomorrow.

    Tata Khatzu till next time~

    (the following is brought to you by procrastination)
    Sakatsu: Today FF7 in Japanese, Tomorrow the rest of Japan’s video games.
    Pinkie: Isn’t it suppost to be taking over the world?
    Sakatsu: Ah, yes, Pinkie taking over the world with my BORG-LIKE super powas

    [Insert dramatic music and thunder ‘n lightning]

    Sakatsu: …after games.
    Pinkie: YAY! GAME TIME!


  30. Ernesto
    July 9, 2009 at 08:20

    I already feel like a monster with my Japanese learning :). Here’s my schedule everyday:

    100 kanji a day
    100 new sentences
    Watch one movie
    Watch one anime episode
    Add 20 songs to my iTunes
    Translate one song
    Listening 24/7
    Only visit Japanese websites; If there’s an English one, use Kanji-lish Firefox add-on, which, by the way, takes FOREVER to load on text heavy websites such as Khatz’s, which I guess is sometimes a good thing.

    Is this too much? Lol, who cares it’s fun.
    Anyways, to the guy who emailed Khatz, keep going! I’m still surprised by how much I learn everyday from constant listening. Like the other day, I was listening to 爆笑問題, when I suddenly hear, “じゃん拳セックス!”, and I couldn’t stop laughing! Trust me, the input and work will amount to something eventually. 以上です。

  31. igordesu
    July 9, 2009 at 23:42

    Haha, or you could just spend like 8 hours a day at the library so people don’t bother you 🙂

  32. Harry
    July 10, 2009 at 01:30

    I deal with the foolish resistance basically the same way you said. Pwn them by results.
    The “Oh yeah, watch this then” way.

  33. theasianpleaser
    July 10, 2009 at 11:13


  34. Daniel
    July 11, 2009 at 09:14

    @Ernesto – If you’re worrying about whether you’re doing too much, you’re probably doing it right. I’m always fretting that I’m not doing enough in Japanese and I’m probably right, pretty much the only thing I do in Japanese is listen to music and play 250万人の漢検 (and reading pages with Kanjilish, and Japanese class, and SRS stuff, so I guess I’m not that bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement). But then again, I’m doing Japanese in high school, and as long as I’m fluent by 2013 (the year I graduate) it doesn’t really matter how long I take to learn it (although it would be awesome to get it over with quickly so I can spend more of my life knowing Japanese), which I probably will given how enthusiastic I am. And even if I don’t, I plan to spend my gap year (gap year = optional 1 year between end of high school and start of university/college) in Japan only doing Japanese and I’m definitely going to be fluent then, so my attitude is to just chill out, keep doing stuff in Japanese and know that I’m going in the right direction. By the way, I’m going to Japan for a month and right now my buying list is:
    -Kids’ J-J dictionary
    -Kids’ book (probably J translation of The Little Prince)
    -Big motivational/interesting book (probably 海辺のカフカ)
    -As much Death Note manga as I can afford

    Does anyone else have any suggestions? And I’m sorry for this not being too relevant to the post.

  35. Daniel
    July 11, 2009 at 09:24

    Oh, to add something that is sort of relevant: I’m still in the RTK stage, and lots of people (my Japanese teacher included) ask me: “Why do you love kanji so much?” “What’s so good about kanji?” etc. Can anyone think of a really good response?

  36. Ryan Layman
    July 11, 2009 at 11:45


    How about this:

    Being literate.

    That alone would do it. The interesting thing studying Japanese is that you get to experience what it`s like being illiterate. And it will grate on you after a while (hopefully it grates on you sooner, so you get over it faster).

    Nail the kanji and you won`t have to worry about that problem. Your vocabulary will also shoot through the roof.

    By the way, to the best of my knowledge, I`ve got all the Death Note novels (12 plus a bonus one explaining the Death Note). All told it should cost you a little less than ¥6000 in Japan.

    Happy hunting.

  37. axxman
    July 11, 2009 at 16:04

    I finished RTK1 a few months ago, and when I look at some Japanese text at least I can find out what the kanji mean most of the time. When I run across a sentence in all hiragana, a lot of times I can’t figure out what’s going on even with multiple dictionaries. Right now I’m working on addicting myself to manga, so I’m seeing that a lot.

    No one really acts like I can’t learn Japanese, but they do think it’s wierd that I don’t practice saying things.

  38. Jonathan
    July 12, 2009 at 06:16


    Asking a person who’s learning Japanese “What’s so good about kanji?” is exactly as absurd as asking a person who’s learning English “What’s so good about the alphabet?” No offense to anyone you know (even your Japanese teacher (!!!)), but that’s a question that’s so stupid it borders on unanswerable. Kanji are the MOST important part of written Japanese, unless you only want to read children’s books and grammatical function words. It’s simply not possible to be literate without them.

    The only reason I can think of not to learn kanji right away is if you’re trying to follow a “natural” approach, i.e. learn to speak and listen first, and then only learn to read and write after you have a strong command of the spoken language, the way children do. I can’t say for sure if this approach is a good idea, although it sounds reasonable enough; but it also sounds like it would take a LONG time, much longer than if you just work on both listening/speaking and reading/writing in parallel. Not to mention that it might be less fun for a longer time: no Death Note manga until you can follow the anime version 😉 And in any case, you still have to learn kanji eventually; there’s definitely no avoiding it if you ever hope to function as an adult in a Japanese-speaking and -writing society.

    But hey, you knew that already 😛

  39. Daniel
    July 12, 2009 at 11:00

    @the other Daniel

    I can’t believe your Japanese teacher asked you that. That class must be a total grind.

    Aside from the necessity of it, does it ever occur to anyone anymore that people actually enjoy and have a real interest in things they are learning?

    I mean, if someone is like “dude I love soccer” who would be lame enough to ask “why? what’s so good about it?” That’s like some elementary school recess drama.

  40. Brent
    July 12, 2009 at 23:21

    In the Japanese teacher’s defense, the question was probably more along the lines of “why do you want to study kanji and nothing else?” rather than “why do you like kanji?” in general. I think that’s a question anyone doing RTK would have to face, time and time again.

  41. Dave
    July 13, 2009 at 02:59

    As Jes says:

    “I hadn’t thought about it much but it feels like the biggest source of resistance is me…”

    This is really about life, right? One of the reasons I love this site is not just because it gives great advice about learning Japanese, but it gives great advice about how to approach your life. Now, I don’t feel like Khatz is necessarily trying to do that: he states very humbly a lot of the time how he is just a normal guy, and his approach is quite obvious and basic in a way, and do whatever works, etc. etc., but the overall message of this site is this: you can do it. You are able to do this. Replace “Japanese” with “Chinese” or “math” or “jump-rope” and the message would really be about the same.

    That’s not to dismiss the oodles of great, Japanese-specific advice that Khatz gives us–but just to point out that in general, the message Khatz gives us about Japanese is one that is applicable to general life goals.

    Forget the haters and don’t be one yourself. Work hard and believe in yourself, and let go of your assumptions that you are not capable of something because anyone tells you so.

    This is not new age-y or pop-self-help-book-y or life-coach-y (all of these sorts of things co-opt this message though) but just basic, really. It’s how life works.

    Alright, I have to get back to RTK, I’m stuck at around 500 and my SRS activity has been slacking.


  42. The Other Daniel
    July 13, 2009 at 08:41

    Good point about basic literacy, it’s just that no-one seems to believe me. I think our learning method in school is “learn the pronunciation of words and a couple of years later be surprised by kanji”. Besides, my Japanese teacher apparently only knows ~300 kanji, although I think (hope) that might not be true. The funny thing is that I enjoy Japanese class more than any other – I actually get to practice Japanese and learn some new stuff, and I keep on doing well in it, so it’s good for me academically. And at least there are people there who appreciate my wish to learn Japanese (well, some people…).

  43. Thanatos
    July 13, 2009 at 11:56

    I’m reminded of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who basically crushed everyone at Mr. Universe a couple times, retired, filmed Conan the Barbarian, then came out of retirement and only with three months of training crushed everyone again. He explained (albeit with an added tall tale of how he didn’t attend his dad’s funeral – he did) that he won Mr. Universe because he systematically tuned out all people who said he couldn’t win and focused all of his energy as positive energy on training. He eliminated the possibility of failure mentally.

    I sometimes get strange looks from people who tell me that SRS and reading manga is my “weird”, “untested”, “bad” way of learning Japanese. Well, here I am, in Japan, talking to Japanese friends, dealing with the government in Japanese, watching Japanese movies, reading Japanese books, while my naysayers can’t go into a McDonald’s and order food or say a grammatically correct sentence longer than three words. So there. Conversely, all the Japanese people I’ve met who speak English to any degree of compentancy say they learned English from English movies and literature, whereas all the people who suck at English keep saying they need to take more classes and read more textbooks.

  44. Maya
    July 14, 2009 at 00:12

    “Supersize Me” in Japanese:

    The dubbing sucks, though :/

  45. Jonathan
    July 14, 2009 at 01:04

    Just a note, the link in Maya’s post is marginally NSFW at the moment. Scroll down a bit for the movie.

    Awesome find! ありがとう 🙂

  46. captal
    July 14, 2009 at 11:27

    “By the way, to the best of my knowledge, I`ve got all the Death Note novels (12 plus a bonus one explaining the Death Note). All told it should cost you a little less than ¥6000 in Japan.”

    Go to Book Off!!! You can get the Death Note Mangas for 100 yen each (or 250 if they’re rare at that Book Off). I’ve bought the first 4 for a total of 400 yen. I also bought the first two books of Harry Potter for 100 yen each. Book Off is definiteliy FTW.

  47. Rochella
    July 15, 2009 at 12:02

    I noticed very early on in my walk to learning JP (even long before this site came to my loving attention) there were many people who like to sit around and *talk talk talk* about JP. They don’t do anything. They just argue. At first, I was a stupid language newb and thought that us hashing out methods was a good thing, so none of us would waste time later on with “i wish i did this or that” kind of thinking. Soon I realized that people just wanna freaking argue about Anything and Everything they possibly can.

    Its like drama is a Drug to them! You tell someone, I like this pretty blue sky, and most people now a days wanna either “inform” you of the truth, or argue with you about how you aren’t identifying the right color, or whatever!

    Don’t get sucked into this all. Don’t get sucked into wasteful time arguing about whatever about Anything anymore! That’s what I do. Just today someone told me I was “effin outta my mind” for only doing things I enjoy and not calling JP learning “homework”. I just shook my head and was like, I just do what I enjoy and you do what you do, and we’ll all be fine, even if its wasting time, its my time to waste ^^!

    Anyhow, on a side note, a good portion of my friends see my fluency changing and they’re more impressed than ever (even though I know its still CRAP! :D) just wait, when you don’t even get a quarter towards your goals, they’ll already be changing their minds on your willpower, though they might make up excuses like : “oh they’re so extra smart” or “they’re so young, that’s why” or “god blessed them with good hearing” ect. Don’t buy into it, YOU can do it! Just Do it rather than wasting time arguing about it, and all that jazz that everyone is already saying 😀

    In the great words of my Man “Don’t argue, change the subject, agree if you have to get em to shut up, or just purely ignore them. Trust me, its okay. Just walk away.”

  48. Ryan Layman
    July 15, 2009 at 15:19


    I would, but I`m a bit of a bizarre purist about my capitalism, and so didn`t mind paying full price. Weird, right?

  49. Jonathan
    July 16, 2009 at 03:39

    @Ryan Layman

    I know this isn’t an economics blog, but what do you perceive as being non-capitalistic about Book Off? Aren’t used books every bit as subject to free-market competition as any other good?

  50. Jes
    July 16, 2009 at 09:21

    This seems like the best place to reply to tweets from the side bar so, here goes. And this comment is still in the vein of the post.

    I noticed the past few tweets focus on the sound idea of letting ‘the environment do the work’. I remember Kaz’s post about letting the inertia ( when in motion… ) of the environment do the work for you. This is a brilliant observation and I totally agree. I’m finding though…there’s a connection in here that many (me included) may be missing [or in the process of fathoming]. getting right to it with a familiar phrase…

    There’s a disturbance in the force…

    The connection I think I’m finding is that the ‘environment’ has it’s whole basis in my mood or disposition. If I’m irritated, annoyed, upset, confused, murky, dopey, bascialy anything like or similar to those states…I’m working against my environment. (which consequently seems like it becomes myself…). What works seems to be doing nothing till it clears, or doing something that doesn’t involve my left brain…and if it’s clear, then all’s well.

    So, I’ve been spending more time taking care of that ‘environment’ before I take any action. And every time a ‘right’ action pops into my head and I feel like I must go do it, I usually feel good and my life goes on. Learning a language is just an effect/affect of the environment. Though of course, first time readers, you must have made the decisions to include what it is you want as often as you can too.

    Also, thank you for that tweet link to the tao te ching. Thank you Kaz.

  51. irongoddess
    July 16, 2009 at 10:32

    When some people were questioning why I started to “bother with learning Japanese”, it really got me boiling under the collar. “You aren’t even Japanese,” they would say.

    Instead of venting, I sat down at my computer. And then, instead of reviewing 15 or 25 kanji a day as had been the norm for months, I channeled all that frustration and bumped the rate up to 100 a day. That “social resistance” just fed my stubborn nature and saw me to the finish of RtK1 within a few weeks.

    By the way, thanks for another interesting post. Your blog kick-started my Japanese studies and still motivates me to continue learning. 🙂

  52. Madamada
    July 16, 2009 at 15:49

    Next time someone protests that your method has not been scientifically proven, just ask them to suggest one that has.

    If they have any sense they’ll shut up right there and then.

  53. efeilliaid
    July 16, 2009 at 22:21

    Some time ago I gave up trying to change my environment. If I wanted to stay in the relationship with my girlfriend and keep my job which is the only way to fund my travelling to Japan, I had to let go. And you know what? That was the best thing I could do. I can now focus entirely on my girlfriend when she needs me, do my job faster (which at least allows me to do some reps at the office, when all vile tasks are completed) and devote the rest of my time – when I’m not disturbed – to learning Japanese using some wise bits from AJATT. It doesn’t have to be so hardcore for me, 18/24 hrs, listening to Japanese in the swimming pool or while letting the bombs away. No no. As these periods of learning occur repeatedly just like SRS reps, I don’t feel I’m losing anything and I even see that I acquire more than when I was obsessed with doing Japanese all the time, all the time and all the time. I’m relaxed now. I’ve been progressing at a satisfactory pace since I stopped pondering over the methods. I’m using SRS, native audio/video and textbooks, dictionaries and all that stuff. And yes, grammar too, because it never hurts. I completed 5 years of linguistic studies (English & theoretical linguistics, ha ha!) at a university and it never caused any damage. In fact, I’m quite puzzled when I read the advice not to memorize grammar rules. I never even suspected that anyone using grammar books would want to memorize the rules… During my English studies I never met anyone as dumb as to actually try and memorize them… Reading about grammar never hurts, people! It’s just a matter of choice and it won’t impede your progress. In my case, it facilitates my learning, because I don’t trust my inference too much. I don’t like to be lead by the hand but reading about grammar does help me.
    Khatzumoto – thank you so much for this website, the SRS hints, bringing my attention to sentence picking and emphasizing the importance of native audio/video. And first of all – thanks for telling us all to learn the kanji first. I don’t know why I resisted so long, this really is the first thing to be done when starting Japanese.

  54. Yaltafa
    July 17, 2009 at 03:40

    Hi Kathz I have a question,

    I am looking for a dictionary that give me the exact kanji pronunciation.

    sth like that -> 今年 (こ・とし)

    but I know only dictionary that gives the general pronunciation of the word. (ことし)。
    (wakan, denshi jisho)。

    If you can help me it would be nice. ( or anyone else that reads this).

  55. efeilliaid
    July 17, 2009 at 06:54



    try Tagaini Jisho and see if you like it. It has brilliant animations for 6000+ kanji. The stroke order is wrong in a few cases, but well…
    It came with the following for your query:

    今年 (ことし, こんねん)

  56. Ryan Layman
    July 17, 2009 at 09:37


    Not a huge deal. I just prefer new books and gladly would pay full price for a work I really like. I did use a bit of hyperbole in the capitalism thing, so I`m sorry if you took my comment at the wrong degree of seriousness that was required.

  57. Jonathan
    July 17, 2009 at 14:21

    No prob. Just curious, was all 😉

  58. Brent
    July 17, 2009 at 16:25

    I guess someone didn’t pay attention to all the “reduce, reuse, recycle” propaganda being thrown at us in elementary school… 😛

  59. July 18, 2009 at 10:48

    I found this quote the other day and thought this would be a good place to share it!

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
    – Aristotle

  60. axxman
    July 18, 2009 at 14:33

    Tagaini Jisho is open source too so you can hack stuff onto it to make it work better for what you are doing too.


  61. July 18, 2009 at 15:02

    I’ve already lost one family member, who’s written me off because I’m weird. Oh well, I’ll be weird in Japanese rather than bored and indifferent in English. 🙂

  62. July 19, 2009 at 04:12

    I have actually not ran into any resistance, everyone who I have mentioned it to has been envious if not supportive. Although in truth I preemptively shoot down any resistance by dissing English’s lack of rules. Now if only I hadn’t fallen off the SRS band wagon I would be “done” kanji by now.

  63. Victor
    July 19, 2009 at 19:32

    Hey guys, I think this question has been asked before but anyway: do you think I could learn German and at the same time work on Heisig’s RTK?

  64. K
    July 21, 2009 at 02:36

    Yes, I said it: “women and minorities”!

    i dont understand this part O_o

  65. kevin
    July 26, 2009 at 16:31

    hey katz,i was wondering could u use this strategy with two languages at the same time?well not exactly the same but maybe one month japanese and another spanish?

  66. Rance
    July 29, 2009 at 21:59

    Thank you so much for this post Khatz. It really helped me. When I sent this email to you, I felt like crap. I cared way more about everyone else’s opinions than my own. Then I actually got the chance to go to Japan for two weeks.vNow I have a much different look on Japanese (and life, for that matter). As long as I’m doing what I love, not any other opinion in the world matters!

  67. goshinbi
    August 30, 2009 at 03:08

    that was a great post. In my case my friends thought I was weird for learning it, and it was impossible to learn; Until about 3 weeks ago where we got an exchange student from japan, who was quite lost when our principal tried to tell him where his class was. I spoke to him in japanese to the amazement of our principal. I was in the same class as he was and I found out that he was from kansai, and thanks to my learning of anything I can get my hands on I was able to use some kansai ben, and he was quite happy to be able to stop using 標準語. my friends were just watching this in amazement. Their doubts were gone
    その話はめっちゃおもろいやった。 :P.

  68. September 3, 2009 at 12:04

    “One day your friends will be begging you to translate Japanese for them.”

    AGREED. And this shall be the goal you ought to work towards.
    The delight you’ll get (smugness? XD) when their jaws drop and their faces reflect OoO” is wonderful. But never stop studying! Always be as humble as the Japanese (or at least, that’s what the books claim. 「いえいえ。私の日本語まだまだです!」) and strive to be better! Don’t worry what they say.

    Although, I can’t quite say much as I haven’t really been shown much resistance to studying Japanese. Well then again, I think I have immuni-fied myself. Because behind me, I remember them shaking their heads and making up random words that sound Japanese (“Toyota! Honda!” is their favourite way of communicating with my sister and I) and generally laughing. But that only propells me to show them that I can do it better!

    Besides, you can always swear under your breath in Japanese. It’s not like they understand anyway, right? The best ‘revenge’ (if you’re hell bent on doing so) is to offer to teach them some Japanese phrases. Then proceed to say that “Watashi wa baka desu” means that he/she is pretty. ;D

  69. Musume!
    October 21, 2009 at 19:34

    My friends are pretty horrible when it comes to me learning Jap. They say stuff like “You aren’t Japanese”. Then I say, I’m no longer foreign because I don’t believe I’m foreign. Then they say “That’s a load of bull, if you were meant to learn Japanese you would have been born on Japanese soil”. Then I say that’s a load of bull.

    Any tips for getting past this?

  70. HiddenSincerity
    October 22, 2009 at 06:40

    If your friends are anything like mine where when I first started, they’re just feeling a little insecure that they’re going to loose you to Japan, that you prefer Japanese people over them and that you no longer appreciate the culture they share with you. I know, lame. Once I understood that, it became much easier to deal with them.
    Anyway, here’s a paraphrased from memory and PG-ised version of an e-mail I sent to a friend who was the last one to come around to the idea:
    “I have to do this. This is no longer a choice for me any more. I have to get fluent, not for anyone else, but me. I want to know what it’s like to speak to [Japanese friends’ names] without fumbling my way through. I mean, I want to speak to them like I speak to you. If I met you and I didn’t speak your native language, I probably would be doing the same thing.
    And I know it might be scary that I’m not going to be around. And I might not be here for your 21st, or your wedding, but I’ll do my best. Worst comes to worse, I’ll use skype and you can stick me on a chair in the back. But this isn’t something I’m going to quit for you, any more than you’d quit drumming if I asked you to.
    I hope you can understand.”

  71. AD
    November 14, 2009 at 05:08

    genius article. you say you aren’t smart but you don’t fool me 😉 haha.

  72. Koneko
    April 28, 2010 at 00:31

    I acctually have a similar issue. My mom hates that I want to ‘waste’ so much time on a language I will not ‘need’ until I am an adult and my dream of living in japan can acctually happen. Her comment was: “24/7?? You need to acctually have a life and friends.” I refuse to argue with her because its pointless and time consuming, but it still bothers me… My real reasons for learning japanese NOW is so that I can watch anime and read manga with no english translation XD Wonderful reasoning, right? She acctually wants me to learn spanish, and endlessly claims it will be more useful, only because here in Southern California we are so close to Mexico that many people around us speak spanish. (I personally dislike spanish. Not spanish /people/ but the language itself. Japanese is so much prettier)

    Also, my entire family hates japanese music with a passion (but I love it to peices~ been listening to in almost non-stop for a month before I even found this site) so I can only play it in my room or through headphones. Either way they tell me Im too shut in. Plus, the TV is almost always on, and of course its english. That alone is hard to ignore.

    So yeah, thats all I have to complain about, and now that I read this article I can happily ignore them and just keep going. I know one day I’ll show them how much good it did. So, yeah, thanks~

    Koneko (my self given nickname/pen name)

    P.S. In southern California do we really say energy that differently? XD If we do, I guess I never noticed.

  73. Pyro-Fire
    July 4, 2010 at 00:06

    “How do you other AJATTeers deal with social resistance? Share!”

    I just deleted a long message in favor of a shorter summed-up version:

    I harvest support wherever i can find it. If people don’t want to support me with it, thats fine, theres still room to be friends if we share common ground (like games :3).
    If people want to have a negative effect on me (like if they go “zomg why you studying japanese, f*g”) i’ll just tell them to f*k off and leave me alone. If someone isn’t even willing to atleast accept what i do, they aren’t worth talking to.

    Oh and i’ll note here for all those people who don’t really have any support at all, Look on the internet. Trust me, a LOT of gamers are interested in japanese (if not at least enjoy watching anime). Me being one of said gamers.
    Or if you’re not into games, sites like this one (ajatt) can easily provide the support you’re looking for.

    Heres one site i recommend that has an active shoutbox (kinda like a live-chat type thing) with many people who will happily chat with you and support you.

    This is my $0.02.
    Have fun guys!


  74. July 19, 2010 at 18:00

    After sucking at German years ago in high school, I started back on German again last year, using a lot of the AJATT concepts. I watched Star Trek: Deep Space 9 in german, CSI in german, read the whole series of Harry Potter in German while listening to the German audiobooks simultaneously….lots of things, all in German, all the time. Lots of people didn’t believe it would work, but it did.

    Now that I speak pretty decent German however, there are still naysayers. As soon as I mention that my grandparents spoke German, people dismiss all of the work that I had to do and say that I was predestined to speak German (even though they lived 2000km away from me my whole life).

    One thing you can do, however, is surround yourself by people who do similar things and have similar goals and values. Everyone naturally bends themselves to their surroundings, so if you surround yourself by cool supportive people then you’ll feel much happier and have more ability to ignore the other people who are getting you down.

  75. khatzumoto
    July 19, 2010 at 18:12

    >Now that I speak pretty decent German however, there are still naysayers. As soon as I mention that my grandparents spoke German, people dismiss all of the work that I had to do and say that I was predestined to speak German (even though they lived 2000km away from me my whole life).

    Oh my gosh…I HATE that. I bet Asian-American kids get it all the time 😀

    It’s just bait-and switch tactics. Whatever evidence they are shown, they will use it to protect their theories. Say you wanna do it? They tell you you can’t. You get it done? They tell you it was easy for you…It’s like it’s a deliberate prank on a massive scale. Maybe everyone is punking us, man…I dunno 😛

    Excellent work on the Deutsch, though! 😀
    Do you have a specific blog post/series of posts on it you can link us to?

  76. Elaine
    August 12, 2010 at 16:03
  77. Kane
    October 18, 2010 at 06:33

    “Let your Japanese skills do the talking.”

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head with that sentence alone. I learned two languages on my own, one to near-perfect fluency, the other to very good. (German and Chinese) Now if I tell anyone I’m learning a new language using so and so method, I don’t really care whether or not they think it’s a scientifically proven method. (Science can’t keep up with the faculties and complexities of the mind anyway) After all, I’ve done it before. I speak German all the time since I live in Germany now, and I speak Chinese every day with my fiancée who is Chinese. Who’s going to argue with me Oo? Someone who only speaks one language? Pah.

    Don’t let anyone talk down any method you read up or invent yourself to learn a language or do anything really. The mind is a flexible being that will use ANY method to learn a language or anything else if you are interested. (I learned German by reading novels with zero fluency and checking every word in the dictionary and writing down the English translation, and I learned Chinese by watching Chinese medieval fantasy series, chatting, and talking…)

    So in short, do whatever works, above all, do whatever you want!

  78. 星空
    November 17, 2010 at 10:23

    @musume! and all teh rest of you people

    all of us gaijin外人 learning Japanesse are not Nihonjin by blood, but by SOUL 魂, if you catch my drift. 日本の魂を持ってると信じて。
    shut all negativity in a cold dark place where it can shrivel & die, 例えばthe ‘fridge, and down that ramune!
    don’t go for the cola unless it says コーラ on the label.

    on another note, a wise person, whose name i forget, said that 9X% of all statistics are bogus. pure garbage .

  79. December 23, 2010 at 18:35

    Hey Khatz, just noticed your tweet linking here to my comment above. I talked a lot about my various methods for learning languages on my blog that was linked in my username on the comment:

    This past year I’ve been working on Swedish and Esperanto as well as German, all using whatever TV, movies, books, audiobooks, etc that I could find. For Swedish lately, I’ve been using “Avatar: the last airbender”, which has a swedish dub.

    Next project is Dutch. I’ve created some parallel texts in Dutch/English for the Harry Potter books (using ebooks and a program called “hunalign” that matches up the sentences automagically). In one month, I’m going to try to read all the Harry Potter books (all 1.1 million words) while listening to the audiobooks, and following along with the translation in my sentence-by-sentence parallel text.

    • December 24, 2010 at 01:34

      That should be epic. And probably one of the best ideas I’ve seen. I might join you.

  80. May 23, 2011 at 12:14

    Once again, an amazing post Khatz.

    How do *I* deal with social resistance? In a nutshell:

    1. If the person is not supportive, and deals more bad than good stuff onto me, I ditch him/her out of my life. Plain and simple.

    2. If that person does much more good than harm to me but it’s just not supportive with X idea, I tell him/her that as weird as it seems, I know what I’m doing, and would also tell her/him something like: “Come on dude/gal, have some faith in me! :D”

    3. If the person is a complete biatch to me, but it happens to be the person that maintains me economically (thus he/she can’t be ditched):
    I do something even better than not arguing. I tell them they are absolutely right (even when they are not), tell them exactly what they want to hear, and then just go work on what I wish, either the journey of becoming fluent in English/Japanese through immersion, or becoming successful in Internet Marketing.

    BTW, I can’t find the post called “Are You The World’s B*tch?”!! I even searched in Google and nothing! Do you guys know where it went? I love that post, it’s almost the best of all AJATT in my opinion… D:

    • khatzumoto
      June 16, 2011 at 10:38

      The Language Learner’s Prayer | AJATT | All Japanese All The Time

  81. Akatsuki
    June 28, 2011 at 22:33

    Any advice for when (on an unrelated matter to Japanese) your Mom is irrationally angry at you and you just can’t bring yourself to do your reps/watch TV/read Japanese?

    I sure could benefit from that right now…

    • June 29, 2011 at 12:22

      Leave something on, even if it’s on mute. Leave a Japanese book open.. leave a DVD with the Japanese subs turned on.

  82. Caren
    December 29, 2011 at 08:14

    I started learning Japanese many years ago, but my methods weren’t conducive to my learning. Lack of immersion, large focus on grammar, extensive 3-day monking after months and months of nothing were but a few of my problems. There was another problem: perception. When my parents realized I was learning Japanese, they did not approve – or rather, they didn’t not approve of it until I learned another language. See, my parents are portuguese but failed to fully get my brother and I to learn it, while all of my 20+ cousins can speak it fluently. This is embarrassing for them and so when they found out I was learning Japanese, they got mad about how I’m not learning the language of their country first.

    So I stopped studying Japanese at home (where I spent 99% of my non-school time) and only studied it at school during lunch and afterschool sessions. My classmates mostly approved, so it wasn’t an issue. However, I didn’t have much access to study material. It’s not like our school library had anything in Japanese and I didn’t feel comfortable buying anything as I didn’t want my parents to find material in japanese. It was depressing.

    Then, MANY years (9 years) later I grew up and realized: I don’t give a ****. It’s not my fault their language isn’t as interesting and I’ll learn what I want to learn. If I feel like it, I might learn portuguese AFTER I master japanese and that’s that.

    I went back to learning japanese and my parents once again showed their dislike so I told them that I liked the japanese language and I’ll learn it because I want to. That was the end of that and they haven’t complained since. Actually, they started being more encouraging. My study habits have improved since and I honestly feel that in a year, I’ll be relatively fluent. In the past 6 months since I came back, I’ve accomplished more than in the 9 years before then.

    Sometimes, the best thing is to just tell those people you’re gonna do what you want to do, and then do it. 

  83. Kimchi
    August 4, 2012 at 02:58

    Socail resistace would be good for me at this point. . .it’s all so much smooth sailing I’m slacking off -__-

  84. Insiya
    September 23, 2012 at 08:01

    You said to share so…
    My parents are actually against me learning Japanese Instead, they want me to learn their native language, which I have no intention of learning.I’m not sure about how to deal with that. I don’t have any Japanese friends at school (I’m looking for some, though) so I normally learn the majority of my kanji at home. I can’t get the books you suggested either because of my parents. Any tips?

    • 695daymonk
      September 25, 2012 at 03:08

      Yes, I do have some tips. Pirate them. Pirate the books. Google the titles and “pdf” after, like “RTK 1 pdf” for example.

      Do you have an mp3 player? If so, load it up with (also pirated) music and audio rips and perhaps some (legitimate) podcasts and listen to it all the time. Your parents don’t have to know what you’re listening to. In fact, keep it secret. Like a game. If you get discovered, you lose. If you don’t have one, get one however you can. You can get a really decent one with tons of storage for under $50. Hell nearly any cell phone can store and play audio as well.

      Watch Japanese shows and movies and anime when you’re at the computer.

      Develop a hidden stash of Japanese stuff that you come to for motivation. Learn Japanese like a ninja: stealthy and unseen and completely fictional.

      Plunder, pillage, rape, and steal. Guerrilla warfare. That’s the name of the game. Do you understand? ಠ⌣ಠ

      • Insiya
        January 21, 2013 at 05:59

        Haha, I like the game idea… idk if I can get an MP3 player, but Youtube is my music source for now. No cellphone either, but my b-day’s coming up (fingers crossed! :D)
        Plunder, pillage, and steal, sure. But rape, that’s too far. I’m FEMALE.

        • metoob
          January 23, 2013 at 14:08

          female? pshh. guys can get raped too. be a man and rape anyway!
          but seriously, hidden stash of japanese stuff. like he said, its a game, let that idea, the fear of getting caught, frustration at your parents motivate you. Down with the Communists!

  85. Daikoru
    December 11, 2012 at 11:36

    People around are really supportive. I impress my teachers with what little I already know of Japanese. In fact, I have once impressed a random old man while waiting for the bus. Around me, simply attempting to learn Japanese is seen as impressive. That motivates me to keep going at it.

  86. aspiring
    June 30, 2013 at 05:51

    to retard: Delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment

    • aspiring
      June 30, 2013 at 05:58

      Lol, I was reading a book and someone told me “you should take classes”. I was reminded of this article and “Classes Suck”. I felt discouraged. I’m like, you’re f***** retarded.

      *Continued reading*

      Thanks for the encouragement

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