As mentioned in the title, this is an archive of a post I wrote in 2018 on this blog service website, the post was answering these questions I got from a friend who was currently living in Japan and studying there and had some questions for an assignment with regards to language learning or language acquisition. These were my answers back then.
Sorry I haven’t made a post in a while I’ve been pretty busy with school and exams and trying to balance that with Japanese and….blah blah blah, anyways o’l pal Michael had some interview questions for his homework and I figured it’d be cool to share them because maybe some of you guys might be wondering the same sort of things, and I think I answered them fairly well(?). You guys can let me know what you think. (NOTE: I probably made a few spelling/grammatical mistakes, beware)
How long have you been studying Japanese using this method?
I have been studying Japanese for about 1 year and a few months give or take through
an “immersion-based method” known as AJATT/MIA. Although I did know a decent amount of Japanese before I started AJATT I pretty much knew nothing in that I was unable to comprehend even basic dialogue from TV shows or movies, So I was basically starting from scratch.
Did you study Japanese before with other methods? If so please explain (how long, did you use textbooks, take classes in school etc.)
I did study Japanese with other methods before discovering AJATT for around the span of about one year. Albeit still through self-study and not formally utilizing any textbooks or classes (mainly because there weren’t very many opportunities at the time). I was diligently studying exhausting multiple different resources during that time, I used to use websites like “Memrise”, “Imabi”, “YesJapan” and a few others. I remember really stressing grammar because I had read a lot on the internet saying that grammar was extremely important and without it you would not be able to understand Native Japanese. Most of the process consisted of me finding a new resource, exhausting it, then moving on to the next, I also attempted to output a lot because that was another thing that I heard was very crucial, In fact to the average language learner practicing is generally considered speaking or “outputting” the language, and so I would use apps like Hello Talk in order to talk to Japanese people despite not really being able to speak or effectively communicate with them, Long story short I think, I definitely DID make progress however most, if not all of that progress did not translate to actual ability in Japanese. (still couldn’t comprehend much of anything without subtitles)
How do you go about learning Japanese?
To put it simply, I basically live my life doing everything I would do normally in English, in Japanese (or at least as much as I possibly can). Of course, I still do “formal study” or I guess what could be considered “conventional study”, Although that is mainly just reviewing things that I already know so that I can keep them in my memory for longer and expand my conscious knowledge of Japanese. I won’t get too much into it but that whole process involves a “SRS” or “Spaced Repetition System”, Basically a app that uses our knowledge of how memory works and utilizes an algorithm to try to predict when you might forget X piece of information so that you can review it that day (right before you would’ve forgot) and by seeing that information it refreshes your memory therefor letting you retain it for a longer period of time. So, I use an SRS called “Anki” to learn/retain information such as: Vocabulary which I learn through sentences, Kanji (meaning&writing) through trying to recall a kanji by memory with nothing but a keyword, and a bunch of other stuff related to Japanese or Japan itself. Now I could go more into detail about what Anki is or how I use it, but in all practicality Anki is maybe 10% if not less of what I do, The main thing is Immersion, like I said earlier I try to just live my life in Japanese, So for me often times it can be as simple as just watching anime without subtitles in Japanese, Reading the Japanese Wikipedia instead of the English one, talking to Japanese friends, etc. The approach that I follow emphasizes doing things that are fun and enjoyable so that I don’t feel as if its “work”. So I guess to simplify the process, I wake up, do my reps (Anki), and throughout the day I try to immerse in as much Japanese as possible and occasionally I will find sentences that seem comprehensible to me except one or two words, take those and put them in a text document, then at around 18:00 I take all of the sentences that I found throughout the day through immersion and I put them into Anki so that I can learn them formally. Here is a very comprehensible picture of what the process might look like. Now, this is isn’t entirely how it looks and is more of just a broad outline but the key thing to take is the “Immersion Environment” at the top. Meaning everything is in all Japanese all the time (or as much as possible), and this depicts what I try to emulate quite accurately.
How many hours a day do you listen to or read native Japanese material actively?
On a good day most likely at least 8 hours, Of course this depends on the day and can change depending on the situation at times, but on average it’s usually 8+ hours. Most of this time is spent watching/listening to native Japanese media as opposed to reading, but I plan on adding more reading into my schedule soon to balance that out.
How many hours a day do you listen to native Japanese material passively?
Before I used to passively listen much more than I do nowadays, although, because I feel like it can be distracting at times especially if I am trying to get something done I have stopped passively listening to media that I have already watched actively almost entirely. I still passively listen to native media, but it is usually things like Music, Podcasts, YouTube videos etc. I guess if I had to put a number on it I would say around 2~3 hours per/day. At what level would you say you are currently at?
I would say I’ve reached an intermediate level of fluency, meaning I have no problem understanding most things like Anime, TV, Manga, Everyday conversation, etc. I can also understand some more advanced thing’s recently such as Novels, Wikipedia articles, and so on. I still think that in the big picture of things I know close to nothing, there is still so much more to be learned and I can sense that. Although I think that I am decent, and most definitely better than most other foreigners who have been studying for around the same time that I’ve been, I still feel as if I could be so much better, and the idea of greatening my knowledge and getting good is what really keeps me going/motivated.
At what level do you expect to be in 2 years?
Well because I am currently a high school student I intend on going abroad and studying as an exchange student in Japan next year, I think that by the time I get back and definitely after that I will have reached a really high level of fluency, Probably still not “Native”, and maybe not even close, but I think I will have filled a lot of holes and gaps in my knowledge. It’s insane to even think I’ve made it this far in just 2 years, So I can only imagine that in 2 more years (4 years in total of study), I will have gotten extremely good. Of course this is just my conjecture, but I feel like that’s where I am heading.
Here is the file for anyone who might wanna check it out, The format on the blog is ok but I personally think it looks better when viewed in Word.