Unclean! Why would AJATT do a tie-in with other people’s stuff? Isn’t AJATT the Supreme Truth?
Well, of course it is. That’s beyond question. Of course no truth can ever compare to the sublime beauty of AJATT. Wait, is that throw-up in your mouth? Are you OK?
Even though AJATT is the Supreme Truth, it’s important to come into contact with Other Truths. Even AJATT has blindspots (gasp?). John and Benny give you rich detail in areas that AJATT skips over — for example, John’s guide really holds your hand and takes you through the latest digital resources; it’s comprehensive in an area where I just “pull a Linux” and blow people off.
John and Benny think thoughts that I never done thunk. They see things that I never done seen. This can only help you.
John and Benny are also clear, cut-to-the-chase and…sane. ← Yeah…I’m not so into that side of things.
Dependency on one source — even when that source is the Supreme Truth that is AJATT — is a form information tyranny. It’s also the source of a lot of unnecessary pain: it tends to produce dogmatic behavior. People take a minor piece of AJATT, view that piece as gospel, and proceed to hurt themselves with it.
Case in point: people thinking that they have to do 50 sentences a day just because that number comes up in AJATT. The truth is, I just threw that number out there as an example of what’s possible, not as something that’s “required”, necessary or even probable. I didn’t really give it much thought. But who knows how many Na’vi my innocent, off-the-cuff metric has killed!?
In school, I never depended solely on the assigned textbook; I always bought, brought along and used one or two extra references of my own. The different books complemented each other. They compensated for each other’s weaknesses and multiplied each other’s strengths. Often, all you need to get the most out of an idea is to hear two different explanations of it.
When you can view AJATT — and indeed any other set of ideas — as just one bright star in a constellation, then AJATT can take its proper place. You can more clearly see where the common threads are; you can more easily see what’s necessary versus what’s optional and open to interpretation. You see that there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat, and this helps you skin your cats better 1. This democracy of ideas enables you to pick, choose and customize your learning process with more success and confidence.
The world of language learning is plagued by dogma. People cling to other people’s ideas with religious zeal. That would be fine were it not for the fact that it doesn’t help. It just creates unnecessary acrimony over what are ultimately minutiae.
Since language acquisition is not a religion, we can be agnostic about it; we can be open-minded and relativistic about it. We can pick and choose. We can use whatever works no matter where it comes from. There is beauty and value in contradicting and contrasting ideas. In language learning, there is no set of ideas so perfect that it can’t benefit from another set of ideas.
Electic, Syncretic, Intergalactic
AJATT is very eclectic. Eclectic and syncretic. And intergalactic. Krashen, AntiMoon, Heisig, Wozniak, Bandura, Hawk, Koch, Lao Zi (!), to name but a few — all are combined here. AJATT is made up of pieces that no one else had ever put together, pieces that many people didn’t think belonged together. And that’s where its power lies — in its flexibility. Anything that works can be AJATT. No matter where it comes from.
Why? Because output-based methods have an urgency and an economy about them that I feel is very valuable. “Quick and dirty” output-based methods:
- Teach you to be efficient, effective and decisive.
- Teach you to prioritize, to worry less, to first learn the parts of the language that give you quickest, biggest returns.
- Give you strategies for maximizing your minimal language abilities
- How to have fun conversations with native speakers while you still suck
- How to communicate with a very limited vocabulary
- Bootstrap you, giving you traction and providing workable, enjoyable intermediate goals on your way to a more comprehensive, native-like fluency.
In broad terms, output is very Western (“opine!”) where input is more Eastern (“observe!”). Stereotypically, the West is results-oriented while the East is process-oriented. Both sets of ideas have their strengths. And both have massive weaknesses when taken to a pathological level — which is often inevitable when there’s no crossover. But you can combine them. You can get the best of both worlds.
That, I feel, is the way forward. Not drawing a line between uz at Khatzumoto’s dojo and those dirty rotten scoundrels, but by walking through the paper walls. Whenever you see a contradiction, see opportunity instead. See it as a chance to give birth to a third way — your way. Contradiction means freedom to choose, mix and match.
Ironically enough, most stuff that seems different is actually 90% the same anyhow. We’re all autodidacts; we all focus on having fun; we all just want to do well. That’s a lot of similarity. I say, don’t split hairs — weave them together instead. Use multiple, independent sources. See the bigger picture. See that there is room for dissent and difference of opinion — especially when that dissent is your own. Go from dogma to pragma.
Difference of religious views is good reason to burn people and books. But when it comes to language learning, it’s just a terrible waste of potential. Also, being pragmatic is way more profitable. Screw believing in stuff. Believe in these dollars, be arch. Oh…crap. Inner monologue. Dangit. Cancel. Cancel. Maybe if I make this color lighter, you’ll have trouble seeing it.
- What the animal cruelty?! ↩