AJATT is not a method!

Yeah. I’ll say it again for those of you not listening.
AJATT is NOT a method.

Period. End of story. In fact, the only reason AJATT exists is because Khatz decided he wanted to share his story. Of what worked for him. I’m tired of people bashing him, even though I do sometimes agree with those learning grammar (I just like grammar…>_> I make my own languages just ’cause sometimes. None of them have been too fleshed out, but y’know…)

Anyway. Back to what I was saying…It’s not. Antimoon isn’t either. So this whole “OMG, I have to get 10,000 sentences so that I can become fluent in Japanese!!” needs to stop. In fact, by his own admission (Hehe…Court shows…) he’d only done closer to 7,000. 18 months, and he had 7,000 sentences. That, in my opinion (I don’t know about Khatz. I have always been curious how he felt about this.), shows that he was much more focused on actually being in Japanese. Not about the sentences.

In fact, his success came from just being in Japanese. Over and over. Until it became a habit. Now, I think that’s the most difficult thing. I know I was trying to grab sentences from everywhere before. I’ve tried this several times. I don’t do well with it.

However, I know plenty of people who learned English by simply being there. Showing up. Maybe you’ve heard that before. They played games, watched movies, and copied everyone. And you know what happened? They spoke English.

The same thing goes for one of my friends. He learned Spanish by just listening to Spanish music, and talking with the cooks at Denny’s (Who are Spanish.) I actually almost wish I wanted to learn Spanish. Would be tons easier just because of our community. I might still do it at some point…

But I digress. I don’t know what it is that makes everybody upset about Khatz. He’s not lying. He really has no reason to. He’s not smarter than any of us. (Well, not all of us anyway…:P) But he immersed himself in Japanese, until all he could think was Japanese. He used it. (He had Japanese friends.) And, he improved. I don’t think it’s crazy that he learned Japanese in 18 months. I think the biggest problem we all face with this is that he claimed “fluency”.

No one (save a few brave souls…) used to claim fluency in a foriegn language. Because we never really described what it was. I don’t think there is a true answer. I know that personally, I think fluency is being able to do the things I do in my L1 (English, of course) in my L2. So am I fluent in Japanese? Absolutely not. I can talk a little bit, and I feel I’ve improved a lot simply by being immersed in Japanese. I can’t really imagine it any other way now.

I’ll be able to really kick it off once I get all of my English Books and Movies gone, and have all of my Japanese stuff set up, but I’m excited. I’m actually excited, even though I know I won’t understand everything. Just playing the games is fun. Just reading is fun. Just listening to Japanese Rap is fun. I’m doing my damnedest to try and learn this language. But the hardest thing for me has been to have fun.

I want to watch a movie and enjoy it. That’s what I’ve been doing. Yeah, there were subs. But I think subs are definitely a great learning tool (But that’s for another post.)

Anyway, all of this was trying to get you guys to see it isn’t a method. It’s more…It’s more than that. It’s a way of thinking, and a way of living. You have to put all of yourself in this. Forget the sentences. They’re a way of tracking your success. You’ll learn it whether you have your SRS reps or not. And sometimes, they even hurt you. They’ll hurt your enthusiasm for this game that you’re playing. For the book you’re reading. For the song your listening to. But if you really want to know what something means, put it in the SRS. Learn it, and enjoy it, however, don’t let the tool control you.

Well, this went on longer than I thought it was gonna. I guess that’s what I get for writing from the top of my head. I just really wanted to put this out.

Anyway, thanks for reading!

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21 Comments

  1. Actually AJATT is a method. It is called total immersion learning. A method by which you live the language. It is used in schools. I went to one so I know how it works. However when I went I was already in Middle school, so I didn’t get the total immersion.

    Basically the method works exactly like he speaks of it. It is basically akin to jumping in the deep end of the pool with cement shoes. Either you become the water or you drown.

    However as he said it rarely works on people unless done when they are really young. It basically works the same way anyone learns there FIRST language. You just absorb it by being fully immersed in it.

    So it is true that you don’t have to be smarter than someone to use that system. Your brain just has to work in the right way. Normally it works on people who have the ability to learn languages easily.

    However for it to work you have to be fully immersed some 80-90% of your day. Which basically forces your brain to think in that language. Much like we think in our native language.

    This is also why it is hard to learn a new language after a certain age. It is hard for our brains to think in any other language than our native one.

    This I think is what it means to be fluent in a language. It is something where you can think in that language. Where your mind works and you can speak without thinking in that language. Without this you aren’t truly fluent you are just translating in your brain as best you know how.

    The only way I do think to be come truly fluent in a language is to live in the country in which it is primarily spoken. Thus to have total immersion in that language. Then your brain can learn to think and act in that language.

    AJATT is not a method it is simply something he and others can do without there brains melting from the stress of life plus that. It is a hardcore commitment and something I would not recommend to anyone new to a language.

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    • I didn’t mean it in a bad way ^^

      There was a post he wrote about how he likened AJATT to Jeet kun Do. It’s not actually a method, and by giving it a name, he’s made it to where people focus more on the how than actually doing it. Therefore, thinking of it as a method, instead of a bunch of ideas (Which it is) hurts the people using it though.

      Because then they talk about this awesome method to other people. In their L1, usually. And it continues like that. They then place the people who have done this “method” above everyone else, and don’t do it themselves because they don’t have the “willpower”.

      This “method” is the epitome of laziness. And that’s what makes it awesome! You don’t need to worry about anything else, just procrastinate, and do it in your L2. If there’s something you really wanna know, then put it in an SRS, but do it quickly and get back to your L2. Surf the web and do stupid stuff, as long as it’s in your L2.

      I love this idea, and I’m so glad that I’ve been exposed to it, but I do feel it shouldn’t be considered a method. I think that will only hurt people…

      But, that’s just me. I don’t know what Khatz thinks. I might ask him, actually…Scratch that, will definately ask. Or at least try and dig up that post again.

      Anyway, thank you for your comment. ^^ I’m glad you’re reading, and I’ve gotta get back to mah Japanese. (A few more books and DVDs and I won’t have a choice but to be in Japanese all the time. The only reason I’ve been slipping at this point is just because I don’t have enough Japanese DVDs to put in instead of my English ones.)

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  2. “So it is true that you don’t have to be smarter than someone to use that system. Your brain just has to work in the right way. Normally it works on people who have the ability to learn languages easily. ”

    I can’t disagree more. Pretty much everybody has the ability to learn languages easily. What gets in the way of learning an L2 is not our ‘brain’ but our L1. We fall back on it. Remove yourself from that environment and watch things change.

    I’ve ‘studied’ Japanese for seven years, and frankly I suck, and I’m tired of sucking. I’ve improved more in the last two months since finding AJATT than I have in the last two years.

    And no, AJATT is not a set method. It’s about getting you to rethink what a language is.

    A language is not a subject of academic study, and people who treat it that way (like friends I know, real, real hard working friends) just don’t make it. They burn up and drop out.

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  3. I agree with the showing up part. My biggest advances in Japanese really started to happen when I started watching jdramas daily and reading as much as possible. Even if I didn’t understand everything, just watch and read. And listen. I add mp3 files to my ipod and listen to it whenever I get a free minute.

    Disagree about subtitles though. Turn them off! :)

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  4. I claim to be fluent in English (my “L2” if you will, my native language is Swedish. Though despite using English as basis for studying Japanese, I consider that to be an “L2”.)
    To me fluency is when you can exists wholly in that language. This doesn’t mean that you have to have a complete vocabulary or even “perfect” grammar. But it does mean that when you can’t find the words you won’t fall back on your native language, instead your would try to describe whatever it is in another way, just like a native speaker forgetting the words.

    To me a fluent speaker can think in the language without feeling a need to fall back on their native language and doesn’t feel a need to translate, neither on input nor output.

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  5. “This is also why it is hard to learn a new language after a certain age. It is hard for our brains to think in any other language than our native one.”

    I disagree. Sure you’ve gotten used to thinking in one language, but it doesn’t mean you can’t change. After living in Japan for 2 years I was half way through the process. I often caught myself dreaming or thinking in Japanese.

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  6. @ Tim R.
    Your first sentence: “Actually AJATT is a method”
    Your second to last sentence: “AJATT is not a method”
    o.O
    I’m 21 and I started this AJATT thing 2 years ago. The reason I wanted to learn Japanese was to read manga and watch anime (non-filler-anime). Now, I’d say I have decent fluency in this language. I can understand all of the anime I watch, the music I listen to, and the manga I read. Occasionally, I can’t understand a word, but I understand enough of the Japanese language to use context clues, so I understand the whole sentence.

    I live in America, I was in college (still in college), and Japanese was hardly in 80% of my life. It was probably like 50% of my life.

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  7. Pingback: Getting Back On The Horse: How To Make A Comeback from a Japanese Hiatus | All Japanese All The Time Dot Com: How to learn Japanese. On your own, having fun and to fluency.

  8. I have to admit, living and studying in Taiwan (target goal of Chinese) further proves the self-immersion theory. Even though I live here, it is very, VERY, easy to create a foreign English bubble around your life. Sometimes living IN the country is actually the perpretraiter (did I even spell that right?). Anyway, if you take nothing else from AJATT, it’s all about what YOU build around YOURSELF.

    I meant to ask you, you said “But the hardest thing for me has been to have fun.” I have that too, sort of like a ‘stress to learn’ (which, lately, I’ve been ‘cheating’ and doing things in Japanese :x). Have you found a way to overcome this? Put the “fun” back in?

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    • A little bit. I actually took a long break…-_-;;

      However, I’m back, and hopefully I’ll be able to make some fun games out of this. The hardest part for me is just making it through RTK.

      I mean, I love how well it works, it’s just hard for me to sit through, y’know? I think once my kanji are finished, the games and manga and books will get more fun, causing me to learn more.

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      • Well, I did RTK for Chinese (before they had a book) which meant going through an entire dictionary. It took me about 8-12 months. Once I got through though, I really noticed the results. It’s the most time consuming part, but it’s definitely worth it, so keep with it :)

        But yeah it’s boring as hell to get through. Well, maybe RTK is better but the dictionary. Wow.

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      • Yeah….Your way sounds much less awesome…Not that it wouldn’t work, but because it does sound pretty damn boring lol.

        I’m definitely gonna push through it though, just have to make it more interesting. Shultzzz’s Kanji Damage is really cool, but I think it should probably be used more for a dictionary and cool resource for words and Jugoku than a way to learn Kanji. He just has way too much to go through.

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  9. Pingback: Hardline Educational Rhetoric Versus Fun « En Route To Fluency

  10. Brent: I agree with what you say. What Khatz describes in ajatt is MORE than just a method: It’s almost like a way of living. And I know what he talks about because I’ve been there. You see, my native language is not English; I’m from Colombia and we all speak spanish in here. We are all supposed to ‘learn’ english through classes, which to be honest just doesn’t work (even after 4+ years studying in a language institute!). It was when I went to the U.S. as an exchange student for a year that I truly acquired the language. How? Not thanks to the English subject you guys have to take (well… I HAD to read a lot, so that counts for something! xD), but by doing only stuff in English. I played a lot of different videogames in english, I browsed websites and fourms in english. I read webcomics in english. I listened music in english. My host family barely knew any spanish. When we went out we always spoke in English and almost all people I met spoke only in english…

    … and it became a habit already. It’s been like 4 years from that experience, and I still only read sites in English! I don’t remember the last time I read a document in Spanish…

    … so yeah. It can be done. I didn’t need an SRS, and althought it is very handy and it might give you an edge, it is not that tool what defines your success. It is just immersion.

    Thanks for reading my tl;dr!! :D

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    • Yeah, I know a lot of people that learned from just straight immersion, and I’m definitely gonna use the SRS a lot less, however, I still feel that it increases motivation, because it’s just a bunch of small, winnable games, which definitely helps with continuing goals.

      And it’s awesome to hear your story man. I might just have to make a post with everyone’s success stories, because they’re so interesting. Thanks for commenting.

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