Unrealistic Expectations That You Need To Stop Having

I get it all the time now.

“Hey Khatsumodo! Love teh method! Your righting iz rully motuvashonul! I’ve been running my Japanese OS for 4 hours now, but i don’t feel much change! Hehe. Lolz!”

“Hey! I really love all your talk about immersion! I don’t know kanji yet but I picked up a Japanese dictionary today but I couldn’t understand anything!!! Is this normal??? It’s too hard! Maybe I’m just not good at languages!!! Do I have to do Heisig? But how will I learn readings and grammar?”

I’ve been working with your method for almost six months now, and although I’m doing the things you talk about on your website, and putting a lot of time into stud*ying, it still seems like something’s not quite right.*

OK. Now’s it’s time for a little section of AJATT that I like to call “REALLY? With Khatzumoto”.

Really. What the heck did you think was really going to happen within hours of you changing your OS to Japanese? I mean, really!? Really! Did you think your hitherto dormant Japanese midichlorians would instantly fire up at the sight of kanji and you’d start having friggin’ Russel Crowe Beautiful Mind moments in Japanese with equations and primitives and radicals spinning through the air? Really!

And really. Did you really think that you were going to open up a dictionary on day 1, read that 何 means ある代表的な物・事をあげ、その他のいろいろな物・事を省略して一まとめにしてさす語, and then be nodding your head in satisfied comprehension? Really?!

Really?! Did you really think that just because in The Thirteenth Warrior Antonio Banderas learned Old Norse in five minutes one night while sitting around a campfire with red-headed guys called Sven, that you could simply put in a couple of hours more effort than him, watch a Miyazaki movie or two and BAM! next morning you’re writing the following year’s effen Naoki Prize winner and Kadokawa is on the phone talking about $50,000,000 advance for the sequel and Toho want distribution rights for the live action movie starring Ken Watanabe? I mean, really? REALLY? You realize Tom Cruise’s Japanese in Last Samurai sucked, right? Even after a multi-million dollar five-minute Hollywood crash course!

What were you thinking? What was going through your mind? Where did you expect to be, and who told you to expect to be there, and what gave you the impression that that was a reasonable expectation to have?

REALLY?!

I’ll tell you what you were thinking. I’ll tell you what was going through your mind. I’ll tell you where you’re going so horribly, catastrophically wrong. Let me tell you about the left turn you missed at Albuquerque.

There is a fallacy lodged in most people’s minds that tells them that “performance on the first trial is a good predictor of performance on the 10,000th”. Well, bollocks. It isn’t. If nothing else, at a purely mathematical level, depending on the definition of points, a single data point is an unacceptably small statistical sample on which to base any judgment about anything.

I’m not saying not to do sampling — we do it all the time; perhaps we even need it survive — when you take a sip from a cup to determine how hot the entire drink is, you are sampling. But this assumes that heat is evenly distributed throughout the liquid. When the cup is the size of a language, and every learning method is like a non-turntable microwave, then expect that a sip after two seconds of heating, generally, tells you jack squat. And this, by the way, is why the US has a 50%+ divorce rate, because most people in the US use a marvelously intricate, painstakingly delicate and utterly useless mate-sampling system called “dating”, to select partners for a completely different system called “life” (‡taken from my forthcoming book: Baseless Remarks About Complex Social Phenomena II)

But when we see a baby fall do we tell her to quit this walking thing while she’s ahead and let the “more athletic” Afro-Carribean babies do it? When we hear our baby ga-ga-goo-goo unintelligbly, do we have her euthanized because she sounds like a retard? When she drools, do we beat her senseless because that’s just gross?

Well, that’s what you would be doing to yourself if you were to give up at this point. You would be euthanizing the nascent Japanese version of yourself because he sucked the first time.

But adults “euthanize” themselves and each other all the time. If that new, magic Solution To The Problem they paid $200 for doesn’t work, adults will mercifully “kill” the nascent Japanese child inside them, with soothing appeals to “I’m too old for this” and “I just lack talent” and the all-time favorite — “I don’t have the time” — never having given her a real chance to grow. We adults are quick to accuse small children of impatience, when in fact we are the impatient ones and the children simply lack a sense of time altogether.

You could suck at tennis right now; you could be the worst kid there on your first day. But if you simply racked up enough trials to form a sufficient statistical sample, you could get really good, and if you went even further, you could go on to surpass Pete Sampras. Realistically, though, you won’t surpass Sampras because you’re a whiner who finds excuses for not following her dreams, but barring severe physical disabilities, if you really wanted to, if it mattered enough to you, you could do it. Remember: most people drastically overestimate what they can get done in 2 days and drastically underestimate what they can get done in 2 years.

But who wants to go that far? Screw it. Go on. Give up. Give in. Kill babies. You might as well. They’re ugly and hairless and useless anyway.

What’s that? You don’t want to be a baby-killer any more? OK, let’s help you work with that. Remember how Michael Jordan missed over 9000 shots in NBA games alone? Think about what that means — it means that this man missed more shots than most people take in their entire lives. This is the arithmetic of success: conduct so many trials that the number of errors you experience exceeds most people’s lifetime trialcounts. This is  the meaning of aiming to fail.

I read a great quote the other day:

If at first you don’t succeed, you’re about average.

No one in all of human history has been born comprehending the real text of any language on their first try. Why were you supposed to be the first? But at the same time, all who have continued, and put thousands and thousands of hours into it, have gone on not only to comprehend text but in many cases to create text themselves. I bet if I’d thrown you an English newspaper when you were two years old — after two solid years of constant exposure to English — you’d have been hard-pressed to even hold it the right way up.

All of which is a very longwinded way of saying: Push the continue button and play another round. The absolute worst thing you could do is not to fail, not to look stupid, but to run away from real Japanese. Stay. Stay. Stay. The Japanese Fairy does not visit those who flee. The Mastery Fairy hates baby-killers. The longer you stay, the more certain your victory; it’s that simple.

And this is why this thing has to be fun, because it will be relatively long and because it will be constant “failure”, of a sort. You can’t push your way through it, you have to find a way of making it pull you along. I leave you with the sage words of a young man named Ryan:

if your study of Japanese [hurts], YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!

*Sincerest apologies to T-star for singling him out like this and lumping his very legitimate question with the other two — which aren’t real, in the sense of actually having been written by other people, but are very realistic in terms of reflecting a composite of actual emails I have received and I kid you not about the spelling — and sincerest thanks to him for being such a good sport about it! You, sir, are a gentleman and an AJATT hero!

  53 comments for “Unrealistic Expectations That You Need To Stop Having

  1. rmntc
    May 25, 2009 at 00:55

    LOL at first I thought those quotes were fake…are they real? Can’t believe it…how people can be so stupid?? I’m still rotfling at them =D

  2. 勝海
    May 25, 2009 at 02:25

    Eh, heck, it’s been 5 months since I opened up a monolingual dictionary, and I still can’t understand the definition of 何. But, I don’t really care, because I’ve grown rather comfortable with this character and a number of its uses from my immersion environment. So, maybe that’s better than the definition. I’m sure when I get to the point in reading that definition effortlessly, I’ll have a nice “Aha!” moment.

    As for the Japanese OS. I’ve had mine fired up ever since that Twitter update you made about the Vistalizator. I actually installed Traditional and Simplified Chinese, along with Japanese. You know, just in case..

    And, I must say, I’ve learned a lot from it. Since I usually say commands in my head “File > Save” has turned into 「ファイル > 保存する」. And, I didn’t need a dictionary to tell me what it meant or anything because.. I knew already what it meant, and the Kanji just confirm it. Or, one of my favorites is 「ごみ箱を空にする」. But, again, even though I’ve had it for a while, I still can’t read all the error messages and notices and license agreements, but it’s only a matter of time.

    I guess it’s really about finding happiness in the little things you do, and just giving yourself a pat on the back for learning only 5 sentences even though you spent all day reading Wikipedia articles.

  3. Jonathan
    May 25, 2009 at 03:55

    I think you nailed it with the coffee example. People tend to assume that learning rates are constant with respect to time; that if you want to read novels and tech documents without stumbling at the time you reach sentence #10000 (or so), you’d best be able to read the beginner-book 私は田中です stuff at the same rate from sentence #1, or you’ll just be hopelessly behind forever. Doesn’t work that way, obviously. The distance from crawl to walk is MUCH longer than the distance from walk to run.

  4. May 25, 2009 at 03:56

    Hey, T-star here.

    Khatz, I really appreciated your response to the e-mail I sent you recently. I gave me, and I hope, some other people, some new perspectives on self-doubt and other mental issues facing people who read and hopefully do the stuff on your blog. This article, however, which seems to another response to the same issue, is obviously more critical, and there’s a few things I wanted to bring up.

    First, I think your point about the perils of overly high expectations of yourself is a good one. Setting the bar impossibly high for myself has been a bad mental habit I’ve had since… well forever. To boil it down, I guess my issue is that I’m hearing that I can get fluent– know more kanji than Japanese people, understand jokes, the news, and can get a job, live and work in Japan–in less than two years, and naturally my expectations are high. If some one had told me they did that, before telling me what you did to do it, I would have laughed in their faces and told them to go enjoy their Snake Oil, inc. Japanese-o-matic along with their new hollywood 30 second diet pills. I used to believe, after having studied Japanese in for many years in college and high school, to a level that I could speak somewhate fluently what you did was impossible. NOT. POSSIBLE. 不可能. 無理. I would have told You that acheiveing what You achieved was an unrealistic expectation for anyone but a “genius.” But, then I read what you did, and my beliefs began to change, and I started to get down to business and do it.

    You’re right, six months is a short period of time, but it’s not insignificant. I study a lot but I’m comfortable with my own shortcomings in my Japanese ability because I know knowing my limitations is knowing what I can learn next, but it’s still tough when all the work I’m doing seems to fail me in the real world. I should know that word, I should know that Kanji–these potatoes should be tastier. And because I live and work here in Japan, it’s practically a daily occurance–pretty demotivating. Failing every day, and hope some day it stops. But I know it will If I don’t stop.

    Maybe i’m a bad judge of my own progress, because every day is just a tiny little step, but can’t help but wonder if I am getting out of my studying as much as I am putting in. Is what I’m doing really effective? Could I be doing this better? Is something missing? the 不気味の谷. I guess one big unavoidable difference between what I am doing and what you did/are doing is that your main benchmark was “what worked” –what was effective for you. Did you ever even set a date to get fluent in a year and a half? I and other AJATTers, however, have the benchmark “what worked for Khatzumoto” which in my mind remains a pretty high bar to aim for-I guess I need to ween myself off that kind of thinking and focus more on troubleshooting my own problems myself.

    I guess that’s what I was thinking.

    Second, Albuquerque.

    Tommy

  5. Harry
    May 25, 2009 at 04:49

    Very nice post Khatz,
    Thanks again for this.

  6. Rasaak
    May 25, 2009 at 06:41

    So I’ve finally decided I want to start learning Japanese. I’m a total beginner, where do I start?

  7. QuantumSquirrel
    May 25, 2009 at 06:47

    I’f you ever publish your “Baseless Remarks”, I’ll buy the whole series. Really.

  8. Alistair
    May 25, 2009 at 11:00

    Hey Tommy,

    A few points.

    1. Check your process for learning. If it isn’t working or working as fast as you expect, maybe there are areas you can improve upon. More exposure, less English. Or perhaps more importantly, more fun!

    2. Anxiety about failure is one of the biggest hinderances of progress and conversely confidence is one of the biggest boosters. Firstly if you are anxious “I’m failing. DAMN IT. NOT AGAIN. ARGH, I didn’t understand that word!” you are not enjoying yourself. If you are not enjoying yourself then your brain is less likely to go “oh this is a positive experience, I need to work on being able to do this better”. Secondly, you can’t form sentences or listen well if you are freaking out about screwing up. Relaxation is the best state to use or interpret Japanese from.

    3. Have a goal that isn’t “become awesome at Japanese”. It is hard to track your progress on this and you fail until the very end. Plus it isn’t even a goal. There is no point being awesome at Japanese just for the sake of it. It’s because you want to use your Japanese to do things. These things should be your goals. Some of my goals “be funny in Japanese” “learn about cooking in Japanese” “be able to have a conversation about politics in Japanese”

    The great thing is they don’t require super awesome Japanese but are really satisfying when you achieve them. I used to choose whether to learn a word or not (and often still do) exclusively on the humour potential. I had so much fun doing this. I achieved being funny in Japanese long before my Japanese became decent which was a huge motivator.

    4. Remember, unless you have some learning disability (dyslexia) you can undoubtably become very good at Japanese so relax and enjoy the ride.

    Anyway, I would be interested in hearing where you are at and how you study.

    Cheers
    Alistair

  9. vgambit
    May 25, 2009 at 11:57

    Thanks for the post. I had almost forgotten my decision to begin do 50 kanji a day in RtK. I’m up to 650 now.

  10. May 25, 2009 at 12:06

    本当にありがとう。

    不可能じゃない!

  11. kanjis\rocks
    May 25, 2009 at 13:45

    I think one of the reasons to believe that one could “crack the code of Japanese” (or any other L2 for that matter) in a short time comes from the seemingly exponential learning curve in the beginning of language study. We start by learning 10 words, then 20, then 40. This way one can think “if I keep pushing for a few more weeks I will understand many things.”

    But as you also mentioned in one of the earlier posts, knowledge acquisition is linear so that quick comprehension won’t happen, and one will feel the difference after a couple of hundred words. (Mathematically speaking the linear and exponential curves are quite close at the beginning but diverge quickly.)

  12. triplej
    May 25, 2009 at 15:29

    I think one problem is that maybe some people have different ideas about fun. For example for one kind of person dictionaries and computer stuff are interesting(Khatz), where for another kind of person, they’re super duper uber boring (me). I think readers forget/haven’t read the parts about being creative with your studies. I’m always getting bored with studying, I’m pretty ADD to begin with. For example, 35 kanji a day plus review kanji had me wanting to stab my eyes out of my face, ( I learned the first 1400 plus the 1000 kyoiku from wikipedia separately using two different SRSs — thats how ADD I am). I stopped pure kanji studies because I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to do but my desire to learn hadn’t changed a bit. Maybe I’ll pick it up again some day. Right now I’m sentence mining band profiles on wikipedia, blogs, ALC, WWWJDIC and of course One Piece (巻十五 biyatch). What I’m saying is that I think the problem here is with people taking the exact things you/Khatz did and are confusing it with what the method really is. The real method, is to spend a lot of time with Japanese, get some ideas from other people, but do the things that you think are fun (although I guess you gotta bite the bullet and learn a large quantity of kanji’s English meanings).

    BTW this is my first time posting, so I want to mention that I remember someone asking about good Japanese fantasy novels. I was recommended Kotaro Isaka by a hard core Japanese fantasy fan. Supposedly really good and deep and original… Bugging Japanese people for おすすめ is great for new material(笑).

  13. May 25, 2009 at 17:00

    Well, then I am doing it wrong because reading Japanese, listening to Japanese and watching Japanese hurts like hell.

  14. TSS_Killer
    May 25, 2009 at 17:53

    I believe that people’s minds hurt when they force and rush themselves too quickly through certain stages of language learning. I’ve noticed that many people want to rush through RTK or force themselves to understand the words too quickly. Language learning isn’t a race. Take your time and your brain will just start absorbing and putting various words and phrases into place. It isn’t rocket science people. Just do it to a point where you feel is comfortable.

    Of course, the brain will strain itself because the internal neuron networks haven’t formed yet. Eventually, this “pain” will disappear once these networks have formed, along with having to piggyback off of your native language to understand the target language.

    My two cents on the issue

  15. May 26, 2009 at 12:44

    Awesome post there. Insightful, truthful and funny.

  16. Sponge Ascendant
    May 26, 2009 at 19:05

    @Eric

    I suggest you stop it, then and concentrate on something more worthwhile. Pain is not the answer.

  17. May 26, 2009 at 22:38

    Eric, relax and just have fun with the language. Try something easier and shorter. If you’re just starting out the anime ‘Chii’s Sweet Home’ is very short and easy to understand and will builld your confidence like crazy. Also try watching something once with subs and then twice without subs – only do this for series you like or you’ll be sick of them before long. Listen to lots of music with the lyrics on screen, it really helps build listening comprehension, and you can copy and paste strange kanji into an online dictionary. I knew “munasawagi” long before I ever knew “mune” or “sawagu”, thanks to Southern All Stars. In other words, mix it up and have more fun!

    So, where do I go to pre-order my copy of Baseless Remarks About Complex Social Phenomena II? 😀

  18. フランス人
    May 27, 2009 at 12:11

    Why does it hurt, Eric? Do you not like Japanese, or just not like what you are reading?

  19. Ninku
    May 27, 2009 at 12:33

    A question ..
    i usually read jp manga’s and while i read em.. i am assuming that i should read it aloud ?? I have been doing so but sometimes i feel as if i am not pronouncing the words right. Is it okay to continue reading it aloud even if you are unsure about your pronunciation ?
    I usually get stuck when i see all hiragana .. then i am unsure when the word starts and ends.
    Although when i see kanji with kana readings, i am fine with those.

    I am almost done reading Yotsubato.. its funny and slice of life type of genre.. Does anyone know any similar manga’s ?

  20. PB
    May 27, 2009 at 16:21

    LOL at first I thought those quotes were fake…are they real? Can’t believe it…how people can be so stupid?? I’m still rotfling at them =D

  21. dancc
    May 27, 2009 at 21:49

    Hey I would just like to say 2 things,

    1) I’ve been studying japanese for a little over 1 year, and I just learned my second word!!! Well kinda. Literally until last week the only words I could mumble were, 日本語がわかりません。 It all started last week, when a Japanese recruitment company decided to test my Japanese over the phone, and up until then I had never talked to anyone in Japanese. Anyways this company transfers me to Sakura san and she starts asking me questions. Very basic questions but I was amazed I could understand and respond. Since then I’ve been trying to find some japanese skype friends to talk to, because I feel its finally time to actually talk a bit. So I went a year without knowing anything, people would ask me to say something and I couldn’t. And I would freak out at our local sushi restuarant when they would try to get me to talk to the manager in Japanese. p.s. I still suck at japanese but I can finally say the word I know,… if that makes any sense.

    2) WTF.. since I was a kid, I would see people in movies learn a language so easily.. like “the 13th warrior” and it would amaze me and piss me off. Hollywood!!!!

  22. May 28, 2009 at 13:45

    excellent post khatz, always a wizard with words that you are 😉 anyways i donated you 10 bucks, thx for everything, really.

  23. Jes
    May 28, 2009 at 14:35

    I see a lot of energy being lost (ie. baby clubbin’) due to something pretty insidious, and yet completely trivial once known. It’s this. We …well most folks, went through an ‘education system’ where you either pass or fail. Me, I failed, that system; in more than one way. But what that system did, and it took me a long time to see. Maybe you all already knew this and I’m just the new guy; is this.

    A pass/fail system where what you do, think, feel inside yourself don’t mean anything. Only what you do outside, pass, to be exact; matters. And even then, they only have to believe you passed. Lots of generalizations, but they’re sound enough. I know lots more could be said too. But you see, it’s that system what causes half your mind to turn off or worse, turn against it’s other half…usually….though, maybe it was just me. if the right mind shuts down everything is linear, a sine wave. Gotta get A to get B to get…etc. if the left shuts down, everything is relative and meaningless.

    The system only works properly when both sides are on. Like what good is a half a hockey puck. You’d want a whole puck to really play right, ya? Otherwise it’d just bounce weird. You’d have a hard time controlling it. Hell, I know I’d like a whole puck, half a puck just isn’t worth the energy.

    I think most everyone would notice something was funny if they had half a puck, or saw someone else with half a puck. They’d notice that right away. but it seems like daily there’s a plentiful amount of examples of ‘half pucks’ all around. And yet if you call one on it and they don’t see it, they’ll think you’re just ‘pucking’ with them, pardon the pun. One would think that feeling good would be at the forefront of every endeavor. So obvious and natural. I mean you’d notice if you were eating backwards. Man, even if you were asleep you’d probably notice that.

    So, Solution? just like Khaz and many others are saying, FEEL GOOD! Put the emotion at the forefront of every endeavor. Emotion IS everything. And no amount of a positive feeling in it is anything but GOOD. As for that other half of the mind…what’s the counterpart to linear? It’s Lateral. What’s that mean? It means put your eggs in lots of baskets. Move around. Work in parallel. Don’t wait for X when you can do something that resembles X’s emotional result fifteen other/ more ways. Think your ADD has merit? No Wonder Watson, It’s because the sequence/ detail doesn’t matter, only the emotion. Your brain, no your entire psycho-physical mechanism KNOWS this! It will distract you, because parallel inputs are fundamental to it. Sight, sound, touch taste, smell, imagination; usually two or more of these are on at any moment ya? The details are merely for staging the emotion, the energy. And it’s our emotions that connect us with both halves working together. So, go read manga, use an SRS for kanji, hunt down sentences, use a dictionary, draw kana in the sand, make treasure maps, create a website…do it all or as little as you can feel good doing so. Only the emotion matters, if you think that’s too scattering, then pick one or a few things and go to town. If it’s not enough or those are bad examples…be creative. Because it sure as hell won’t come unless you feel more like heaven.

    Originally this was about not giving up with T-Star and understanding the nature of progress with the “wherz my japnese skilz, lol” post. But it’s bigger than that.

    So why both sides working together? simple, it beats the pants off pitting them against each other. And who doesn’t like seeing someone without pants…er, oops how do I strikeout text…anyway. One aspect of things being linear is elitism & poverty, not that the appearance of either goes away just because I feel good. But if you feel good about where you are, if you want to feel good about where you are. Especially if you want to get to a ‘better’ place. I’ve found I have to include more things that feel good. And that means reaching out, past what I know. Reaching past appearances. Beyond what I know . Communicating, including, playing…failing, succeeding. Sometimes it’s reverse of that, listening, providing space for others…finding a place for myself. Bridging that gap that’s inherent in ‘space’.

    Because really it’s just details. And all this practice and diligence is simply about feeling good. Why am I learning Japanese or some other subject or even how to live? Because it feels good, because in the gaining of some skill I think there’ll be a benefit to me beyond what I presently have…or so I think. Really though it’s just about well, you probably all already have a name for it…or have a tough time, like me; giving it one, a name that truly expresses it.

    I merely want to have some fun and make some noise about what I think is the pivotal aspect here as well as point out something overlooked to help bolster understanding about how to further establish a greater connection with whatever you all want… plus, I want people to say nice things to me and about me. Thank you Khaz and AJATT posters. Let’s keep playing with our whole pucks. Woo Hoo! \ (^.^)/ がんばれ

  24. Chiro-kun
    May 31, 2009 at 23:23

    @triplej

    えっ?十五巻だけ?フザケンなアホ!それでも立派な海賊か!? 😀

  25. June 1, 2009 at 20:17

    I love Japanese and what I’m reading and I’m reading things that I understand well enough or with a little bit of help. That has nothing to do with it. It’s just something in the brain going “Nooooo stoooop” when I’m consuming Japanese. Like I’ve got another person inside fighting my learning. It’s frustrating and I’m sure I can’t be the only one to experience this.

  26. Clocks
    June 2, 2009 at 10:56

    What kills my interest in most things is trying to read things waaaay above my level. I mean if I’m trying to read a novel and I have to spend an hour on each page… well it feels equivalent to banging my head against a wall repeatedly… Finding that “just right” level is hard… seems like its either too hard or too easy.

    Someone should make a list of Manga/Anime/Novels/etc. for Beginner… Beginner/Intermediate… Intermediate… and so on. Would probably take a lot to compile though.

    Also thanks for the Trick recommendation. I saw that actor in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko and really liked it. Probably the only jdrama I’ve REALLY enjoyed. There’s WAY too much garbage in Japanese live action… either that or I’m not looking hard enough.

  27. John Winston
    June 2, 2009 at 15:47

    This is John Winston from the Random House Publishing embassy. I received your manuscript for “Baseless Remarks About Complex Social Phenomena II” and my employers and I both agree that there is a tender market for this kind of material. Your trenchant insight combined with your baseless claims is pure gold. GOLD! We will keep in touch.

  28. Scuba
    June 4, 2009 at 00:20

    @clocks

    I think that’s kinda the idea behind building up a Japanese library… I started building my library long before I went AJATT, but I set a goal date for myself for completing RTK, and once I completed that I started into AJATT with a massive library of manga, books, DVD’s, and TV series on my computer.

    I don’t know where you are, but in California there are a few book-off stores that sell used Japanese books and manga for about a dollar a piece. I’d just buy anything that looked like it might someday be interesting, so now I’ve got a big library and if somethings to easy or hard I’ll move on to something else.

    beginner/intermediate/advanced are kind of subjective terms, so it would be really difficult to classify much of anything in my opinion. But flipping through a book I can tell about what level it is in relation to what I know now.

  29. Marshall
    December 4, 2009 at 10:48

    I’ve been doing the AJATT method for 4 months now. However, I don’t understand a thing in Japanese except for what I learned in a japanese-learning video game. Most ppl who have been doing it that long can…Anyone got any tips?

  30. アメド
    December 4, 2009 at 12:36

    good site for buying manga raw, and if you’re a student like me and doesn’t like using a visa card lol

    www.sasugabooks.com/

    they accept paypal!!!!(which expects bank transcations yea yea!)

    Also @Marshall I’ve been doing this for around same amount as you. 6 months(3 months of kanji+3.5 months of sentences+immersion)
    -For me, my understanding has improved greatly+readings, but as for ouput(speaking+writing all those sentences filled with kanji, not much). But what i’ve found out for myself is that, you need massive amounts of input, and i mean massive to produce some good quality output(writing+speaking). I’ve noticed that so far. For example i;’ve been trying to let’s say write sentences that i’ve seen in my SRS anki for a while but obviously sometimes i cannot really write it all down due to memory. But after I kept seeing it over again in SRS anki+japanese sites+drama;s,etc,etc. It’ll connect with you’re mind and you’ll be able to write it down and say it properly. So i’m pretty sure if you keep at it and do heavy input, sentences wise, listening wise, and immersing yourself alot in japanese, output will come. Can’t really give it a date as I haven’t gotten there as well lol. But alot of people say 1 years a good point for some crazy unimaginable improvement in you’re japanese ability(all forms) Hope this helps!

  31. Drewskie
    December 7, 2009 at 14:13

    Marshall,

    Forget ‘other people’ fast. Real fast.

    If you’re talking about other AJATTers, there’s a very wide range of speed here. I was astonished to read that one of the commenters here does 1000 sentences per month! I spent 5 months on Kanji and 2 months on sentences, and I’m at 500 sentences. Granted, I got off to a way-slow start where I was a little too picky about collecting sentences (garbage in, garbage out is totally the way to go), but it’s still disappointingly slow. I have a laundry-list of excuses, but they’re all beside the point. I don’t let it get me down. I’m annoyed at my situation (and partly wondering how Khatz did so much in an arguably worse situation), but it’s far more useful to revise and look forward.

    If you’re talking about ‘other people’ in general, like your typical class-room learner, they’re learning on a completely different path than AJATT. They rush to (bad) output and (bad) grammar, we take it slow and build from the foundation. Yes, they can have a “Hello, how are you” conversation after a semester, but after two years, the difference between an AJATT learner and a classroom learner is like night and day (or so I hear–I’ve never met an AJATT learner right at the 2 year mark).

    Of course, there’s always reason to examine your version of the process. Nobody does it just like Khatz, so if something isn’t working for you, change it. Or maybe you already changed something and it was a change for the worse (I do this often). The nature of experiments is that you don’t know exactly how it’ll turn out, so if it turned out poorly, change it. Nothing says you have to do it blindly.

  32. アメド
    December 8, 2009 at 14:55

    @drewiske

    I average around 500-700 sentences per week lol. Although I’ve been really busy with school lately, haven’t gotten much time to finish my reviews or even add new cards to begin with. Yea it’s a good thing to collect sentences you enjoy very much. At first i massively added 100 per day sentences method for a while lol It got really boring after a while .So i decided i might as well go with music,dramas,games, anything that interests me in japanese and just get the sentences for them. That way i can learn really fast and enjoy it. As of now i’m around 4300 sentences. 6.2 months or so of the method. (those months include kanji 3.0 months, and rest is immersion+sentences). I think that matter is that, yea we shouldn’t really worry too much about what other ppl think, cuz in due time you’re skills will show all that!!!!. As for getting those skills sooner, you need some pretty heavy input, not just sentence wise but immersion to music+everything japanese. I’ve noticed that the mind links all these things without much effort. I remeber watching a drama that had all these kanji i didn’t really recognize the readings. But the meanings made me understand it all, it was only confusing cuz it was some medical kanji that i haven’t seen. Also yea i agree with you do you’re own thing, you don’t necessarily need to copy everything khatz did, everyone is there own person. So everybody does things differently. But as long as ppl keep the foundation solid then the rest will come. What what i’ve heard is that. It should take around a year or so to start noticing some major, major, major results depending on how much exposure, input you did to gain those major changes unconsciously too. So it’s better to find ways of enjoyment through this and once you have that, doing the method itself should be a piece of cake. All it takes is that motivation inside to continue on and not to care what other people think. Just let the skills do the rest once you’ve gain a high level of japanese!!

  33. Drewskie
    December 9, 2009 at 07:47

    @amedo (school computer, no IME, boo)

    I WISH. That’s all I can say. I wish I could do that much, or more accurately, I wish I knew what I could change to be able to do that much. Even in a sentence-rich environment where I have a ton of un-answered questions sort of waiting in the queue, if I go beyond 30 new ones, they just start falling out of my head as soon as I put them in. How frequently do you have to redo cards when you first put them in? And where did you get your time-expander that let’s you have time for a million billion reviews?

    Lemme tell ya, my best source of sentences outside MFSP has been the Japanese version of Chrono Trigger. It’s all natural sounding Japanese dialog, and it’s a game I’ve played so much that there’s almost no place where I don’t know what’s going on. Even then, my rate of sentence pulling from there is about 25 an hour, and even then, by the end of that hour I’m about spent, just skipping past dialog to get to the fighting. “Yeah yeah, this is the part where he’s like ‘four people end of time blabhlabhlabhalbh.” How you do 100 AND reviews for 100 per day, I have no idea.

  34. アメド
    December 9, 2009 at 15:09

    @drewkie
    It all depends on which types of sentences you you collect. At first i was thinking maybe larger sentences? more info? things like that. I soon found out that’s not effective for retention purposes. So i initially did around the amount you did 30-50 maximum per day. I could remember 85% of the sentences as they were not really high-caliber or difficult in any way. My srs of choice is anki. There are many sites, such as smart.fm where i collected songs from animes, dialogue from mangas+games all from that site. I had a tendency to go find pre-mind sentences, but after a while i decided i’d mix it up and add my it manually if i couldn’t find pre-mined sentences. As for the reviews. (I have currently 13 decks of cards, ok not what you think lol obviously 1 of them is kanji deck, 1 of them is 10,000 AJATT deck-I call it that, and rest are other new kanji+new sentences(ranging from greetings, to dates, to numbers, to names, to basic speech, to anything interesting,etc) those are my decks. For doing 100 per day isn’t all that bad or hard, but yea i must agree it can be time-consuming at first+i have school so you’re thinking “How does this guy do it? is his crazy or something?” lol exact opposite, time-management majority of the time. I listen to japanese as much as i can, obviously expect while sleeping, cuz honestly i need to get goodnight sleep otherwise going to be having a hard-time doing daily activities such as work,school,SRS,japanese learning,etc. First off i have designed my decks to DO ALL REVIEWS FIRST, no adding sentences first. This is obviously so i can spend decent amount of time doing reviews+writing senteces+kanji that i’m having difficulties with. Writing sentences+kanji alot is good for rentention+writing skills, although i do not write it all the time, cuz my hand would be strained to the maxxxx lol. I’d honestly have pages and pages full of japanese kanji+sentences. Although i do plain on buying a large notebook(500-1000 pages just so i can write it in and keep track of my writing skills-i.e. is it getting neater? easier to strokes? things like this). Anyhow i do all reviews first. Then i tend to add from fun sources or sources i find interesting. Sometimes i do take pleasure in all those kanji-fied sentences, even if the info is not of my level(yet) because initially when i started this my level was medium at best. So i decided i’ll go monolingual around 1000, i jumped into it, and it was pretty annoying+longgggg to do. I mean dictionary look-ups? when i don’t understand all of what’s being written+even read?. But since all of the sentences are now kanji-fied+monolingual my general understanding of japanese has gotten better in the few I’ve been doing this. So once i have all the 100 cards i want to. I take some time trying to write them down+read them, then redo them(ok i mean like just reading it again, this is sort of a double-exposure to the sentence for me, i use anki SRS so i just exposure the answer, and then i just go back and forth, then i proceed to other sentences i have collected.) Recently i haven’t gotten past 4300 as i am behind in my reps due to all my exams+courses+essays, but i’m the type of person who actually enjoys(not all the time, but since i enjoy this i can easily do all my reps within 1 hour). Taking time to do SRS is essential, then massive input for enjoyment will lead to some pretty happy results in the future). So once i’m done i continue onto more sentences, i’d admit that once i get to around 75 sentences or so i tend to get lazy, so what i do is take a break, eat some food, use the washroom, walk-around my house for abit, then go back onto my computer in my basement and continue SRSing by that time i’ll be able to finish it and be restored back to my previous level of enjoyment. So it’s vital to take breaks if you want to do my “100 per day” method. The reason i do this is because i want to speed up the process, but i believe the input will do more good than massive sentences. I can do maybe around 200+ but i don’t think this would help, so i decided 100 per day would be the maximum amount to do daily so i can keep a steady flow and yet keep a steady amount of progress in my Japanese. Anyhow sorry for the long post, and my grammer(urghhh english why do i still suck at that? ironically i’ve been in canada for majority of my life and my grammer still sucks!!!! jks lol i’m just lazy to improve it, there’s nothing you can’t fix for language learning, or re-learning some stuff). So keep up the 30 per day, no rush, or pressure. I just like to do more that’s all. (I’m abit of a drawer as well but since the Christmas season is coming i can spend more time on japanese+drawings!!!)

  35. アメド
    December 9, 2009 at 15:15

    @drewskie
    I shouldn’t have said 85% retention. Since these are sentences i haven’t encountered yet(Majority of SRS sentences are like this initially of course, majority of srs sentences are there as a reminder for alot of things you do not know yet, but after a while you’ll get the majority of the sentences pretty easily, well for me that’s what i’ve found, i’m sure that already, anyways enough of my ramblings), i mean i could understand the general meaning+writings of them. The only thing i wouldn’t know are the readings(SRS corrects this over time without much effort).

  36. Drewskie
    December 9, 2009 at 17:27

    Ah, a chatterbox! Perfect! Khatz is so tight-lipped on specifics.

    I want to jump on “The only thing i wouldn’t know are the readings(SRS corrects this over time without much effort).”

    I’m finding I might have a tendency to over-learn sentences when I first meet them. What do you count as ‘added’ ? I use Anki as well, and I increment ‘New cards per day’ by 5 or 10 or so at a time as I do my reviews, or after I do my reviews (Haven’t decided which I like better). There’s such a delay for my queue that I’m basically seeing that sentence for the first time again, so I get a good look at it, write it out, and hit ‘again.’ And I keep hitting ‘again’ every time it comes up that session until I get the reading and meaning down. After that initial encounter (of which I really can’t do more than 30 per day), I’m more lenient on the readings, putting down a ‘hard’ if I mess it up, ‘good’ if I get it with some thought/delay, ‘easy’ if it comes straight up in my mind.

    What do you think? Too rigid? It was worse before. o.o

    I appreciate you taking the time to help out. This is a pretty big area of concern for me right now.

  37. アメド
    December 10, 2009 at 04:44

    In the beginning i was focusing on sentences to learn it to the fullest(obviously this will take a large amount of time and inevitably time-consuming). In anki i tend to rate myself a hard rating almost always, even if i know it lol (I’m just the type of person who’s always hard on myself, b/c i want to see how good i can get if i go really far into this). Depending on the sentence(how long, how much kanji) this like this. If it’s a basic-type sentence such as: 私はアメドです。お元気ですか then i’d say just let the SRS do the work for you. Larger SRS sentence that contain kanji, then do those more than the smaller+easier type of sentences at hand. I’ll give you example of my long+so much kanji srs sentences vs small-type ones. 仕事の後、映画を見た(this i found hard intially, cuz yea this had quite alot of kanji in this beginning, now i consider this a joke). This is what i consider long+hard now.

    次世代の高容量携帯電池を使えば、充電(補給)しなくても、何週間ももつかも知れない。
    [じ][せ][だい] の [こう][よう][りょう][けい][たい][でん][ち] を [つか]えば 、 [じゅう][でん] ( [ほ][きゅう] ) しなくて も 、 [なん][しゅう][かん] も もつ かも [し]れない 。

    I know what you’re thinking “Why do a long one? and is it possible to retain majority of it the first day?” from my personal experience i tend to do these ones more than my usual regular sentences, but i do let the SRS do the work for the readings. So for this one i did a few times, and the rest (for shorter sentences, the srs anki will do the rest). I do like to long sentences rather than short ones, but by no means this doesn’t mean it’s better than the shorter ones, i’m just the type of person who likes to do massive amounts of kanji, but i do enjoy the smaller sentences. So my advice would be shorter, rank it hard, longer ones do it more!. 30/day isn’t too hard, but all depends on the person who’s doing it too. You’re probably a busy person with school,etc,etc cuz i’m sure everyone does have there own lives to continue while doing this of course. For me i’m finish this semester of post-secondary school(how come university can get annoying at the end? cuz they always mash everything near the end and i tend to get lazy!) lol. Also if you’re wondering about the output thing, i’ve found out that if you do massive+correct input, the output will work itself pretty good. It;s just that easy, i’d admit in the beginning i found doing the SRS sentences hard, but overtime i’ve gotten usec to it and the immersion thing as a whole, so all you can do now is to fix the small stuff in anki+do you’re own amount of sentences(i don’t do 100 per day always, well as of now at least cuz of school and all). Also by giving it time, i’d say around a year you’ll be pretty happy with the results(this is what i’ve heard from most ppl who’ve done this for a year)

  38. Drewskie
    December 10, 2009 at 06:11

    アメド (laptop, yay),

    Thank you so much for describing your process for me. Khatz is probably right not to have forums here, but I feel like this sort of thing is too difficult to find because of it. Insight into someone else’s process, especially someone who seems to be on top of things, is pretty valuable.

    Good luck with your end-of-semester (mine’s kicking my ass), and of course, good luck with your Japanese. 🙂

  39. アメド
    December 10, 2009 at 08:16

    @drewskie

    lol forums, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. But i guess it was create so much debates, but as well useful info on other people’s progress. I’ve always wanted to know, in a year or so someone else progress in detail. Like how is there output level, input level, reading level, writing level. Can they write+reply to majority of a Japanese conversation. Little specifics on what they noticed in a few months of doing AJATT and 6, 8, 12, 14, 18 months things like that. Step-Step on what they noticed on each of the skills needed for proficiency in Japanese. That is hard to find, and not everyone willing to share that info(for some reason). But that would help me alot. I’ve gotten used to SRS+immersion right now. Yea i can’t wait till this semester over, just want to relax and do SRS+immersion+ work so i can get some electronics(yea ipod classic 160gb!!! fill that up with all japanese stuff, and some manga on the side-which is already coming haha). I think in a years time (by september 2010 i’ll consider that 1 year mark-for SRS sentences+immersion, kanji i started around end of june 2009). I’ll write some specific details on my SRS+sentences+how i did the things in detail(if possible). I would love to know these details, especially for someone starting out in the method. Since it’s hard to find i’ll just make my own thing, once i get to 1 year mark of doing AJATT.

    Also it’s no problem, I’m willing to help anytime(if possible lol-refering to school taking majority of my time and all).

  40. Drewskie
    December 10, 2009 at 11:04

    I think I can understand peoples’ hesitance when sharing information. It’s difficult to hear someone criticize something you’re so invested in. Even if you’re in the middle of a failed experiment and have no idea yet, everything you do, you do because you think it’s the best thing for your Japanese. To have someone criticize the process just because it’s a forum might be a little difficult.

    Additionally, forums would inevitably lead to group think, and a sort of ‘best method’ being agreed upon by the entire community. When you adjust the method right now, you’re disagreeing with Khatzumoto and only Khatzumoto, and even then, he’s often left things so vague that you have to just guess on how to do them, so you’re not disagreeing with ANYBODY. Imagine if you walk into a forum and say “I’m going to forgo X to do Y,” and an entire thread full of posts tell you you’re full of crap, and that nobody does Y and you should feel bad for even suggesting X, which THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY loves, is possibly flawed-let alone so wrong you’d do Y. Of all things, Y! Y is the worst idea to come out of a person’s head since W. W was so dumb, once all the people who do it get on the forums and find out about X, they all drop W and cling to X with the cling of a young monkey on his mother’s back. And now you suggest Y? Y? YYY? GET OUT. GET THE F*CK OUT.

    —you get the idea

    (may’ve spent a little too much time on forums)

  41. 亜波愛留 /アメド
    December 10, 2009 at 12:33

    Yea i know what you mean. Almost all forums do that. Everyone criticizes one another and not much people tend to get to the same conclusion unless they have visible proof. So that’s probably why we don’t see much people giving info in detail about there steps to fluency in japanese via AJATT method. But i believe if you’re a beginner, you’d love to know how step by step increases in you’re japanese ability from the initial kanji+kana stages all the way up to 1 year stage of full immersion japanese+sentences+full of kanji SRS strategies. I’d love that personally but not everyone will give that info. Yea i understand you fully on the forum chats lol, so much swearing+debating it’s just funny but all at the same time cruel lol. I do agree with khatz on the method, i’ve seen people+talked to ppl(via internet of course about the method). They have said they got good in the method, but all at the same time, no one ever shares details of the specifics. I don’t mean to doubt them but sometimes people would like this for learning purposes not criticizing purposes i mean where all hear to learn Japanese right? or at least languages in general.

  42. アメド
    December 11, 2009 at 11:43

    i can understand about the forums things. Those sites are filled with debates and cursing at people, sometimes for no reason too lol. Anyhow yea i get that people do tend to criticize other peoples workings. And if these workings are criticize, well not much people want to be criticized for their work. But i guess since the process takes a while to notice, and what exactly is or should i say when we people notice their progress?. I think this all depends on the time and enjoyment as well as effort for wanting the results to improve. Enjoyment does go along way, for anything.

  43. アメド
    December 13, 2009 at 05:00

    haha, this is getting interesting. Although I’m far from fluent, I’ve noticed some things. My mind seems to be able to make connections in Japanese without much thinking towards it. My readings are going up(this is pretty normal for me as well as the understanding part). But unconsciously I’m able to make connections of words in Japanese so much easier now then compared to 4 months ago. That’s not the only part, recently I’ve had a dream that for some reason i was speaking in Japanese but in reality I’m not speaking much lol. I guess this could be decoded as, unconsciously I can actually speak, but in reality i choose not to b/c I still think i’m at a low level still. I guess i’ll just have to wait and see in the coming months of continuing the SRS+Immersion.

  44. Drewskie
    December 13, 2009 at 11:26

    Maybe it’s time you started practicing output, eh? Start some conversations, the internet is full of Japanese people. Even in my super-novice state, I was able to hold several lines of conversation in an MMO before going ‘uh, the jig’s up, 日本語を知らない.’ I bet you’d surprise yourself. 😉

    Oh-dude, could you tell me if that’s right? I’ve never heard confirmation on that sentence. Dunno if it should be 解らない or what.

  45. アメド
    December 13, 2009 at 13:49

    @Drewskie
    Yea i want to start practicing output, with some Japanese people around where i live, if possible. Well the sentence 解らない and 日本語を知らない.’ (Don’t understand and don’t understand Japanese , they both are correct, but when to use them that’s the key). 日本語を知らない. seems alright to me. You could be saying 私は日本語を知らない or 私は日本語の知らないそれとも分からないです。There’s so much different ways of saying the same thing in Japanese(i’m not sure 100% if that’s the right thing to say lol, i’m still at a low-level of output, but i think it’s better i practice the basics then onto random conversations in Japanese so i can get some active advice and learn about speaking in the basics, then proceeding onwards to some other levels of speech). 分からない I’m sure that is the correct to say for that one (解らない).

    Yea for conversations if we keep up the SRSing you’ll be able to read almost anything in Japanese, but replying to it in the proper manner, that’s another story. But i think that will all come into play if you keep the immersion and try speaking with Japanese ppl, even if you’re levels are low. But one thing i noticed is that, I myself think i’m at a low level still, not where i want to be. But when i tell some of my Japanese friends about my progress, they are like nooo way!!!!. But since there always busy i never get the time to practice lol. So i’m thinking, i’m still at a low-level but there’s nothing wrong with practicing output in basic terms and getting massive input at home,etc,etc.

  46. chad
    December 18, 2009 at 07:00

    thanks for sharing your experiences アメド, i enjoyed reading about your methods

  47. アメド
    December 18, 2009 at 08:42

    @chad
    No problem. I’ve started making some observational notes on my progress. Although doing it everyday would be great, it’s best to do it at least every week or month. So then it’s at least some noticeable changes in people’s progresses. There’s one thing I’ve noticed recently. Let’s say you;ve been SRSing for a few months, just like me. It’s reaching 4 months of doing SRSing+immersion via sentences. 3 months before that were kanji. So as i was saying, let’s say you worrying about writing from memory for certain sentences. You shouldn’t be lol. It’ll correct itself overtime, this is due to massive exposure of Japanese+immersion factor. This creates that memory easily of those kanji. Writing kanji occasional that you have difficulty remembering or writing. Write those down, as you want those to go into you’re memory than compared to the other easier ones that you know. I’m still far from fluent, but gradually I’m pretty confident reading+understanding will be come fluent or even native-level. As for speaking+writing. Writing should correct itself via heavy immersion to japanese sites, anything you like via games, anything in Japanese-text form. You should be able to unconsciously to do it. But this of course takes time. As for speaking, the immersion will make it easier to form the connections of Japanese words+sentences+kanji filled sentences plus when and not to use certain kanji and sayings. But this of course takes time. A lot of immersion will do this. When those connections are made, speaking will become easier. But as well, try to practice with native-speakers if you can. The internet is key here lol if Japanese ppl aren’t around where you live. So you can work on output via ppl+internet+by yourself. The rest will come into play, it’s just that easy or is it? lol Of course it. Initially i had my doubts that this method would work. Anyone would it’s only natural. But now i do believe you can become fluent via this method. SRS+immersion is a powerful thing!

  48. September 24, 2010 at 08:08

    Three things…

    1. Your writing is meandering, hard to follow and freakin’ hysterical.

    2. I’m learning Spanish in Peru and the last couple of weeks have been frustrating because I’m not where I want to be. Your little rant here helped with the perspective, so thanks.

    3. I can’t remember what I was going to write here. Screw it. I should be out practicing my Spanish anyway.

  49. ライトニング
    August 21, 2011 at 16:26

    The definition I got of 何 is actually a lot simpler but I think it still get’s the job done, right?
    (1) 名前や正体のわからないもの. (2) はっきり言えないもの.

  50. August 22, 2011 at 00:59

    Obviously, hoping that you’ll become fluent in a matter of weeks equals setting yourself up for failure. Having fun should be your number one priority, like Khatz said.

  51. Daikoru
    December 10, 2012 at 12:56

    Japanese Fairy, huh. I like that picture. I’m gonna surround myself with a bunch of fairies that keep me motivated!

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