3-Day Monks Revisited

I was reading a newer post on AJATT, here if you wanna read it, it’s short but good. As I read the comments though, I found a really good one, by Areckx. Here it is:

“But what if we are dedicated(non-3-day) monks? We are the kind of people who will sit under a strong waterfall for 8 hours a day, we are the kind of people who will eat the rice only if we’ve drank the wash-water for 3 days. We are the kind of people who will sit down and write a kanji a thousand times before pushing it back into our permanent memory(i.e. rare or long SRS)

If you are this kind of person, then easy is still the best, because something easy will mean you are doing it for pure enjoyment.

But we still do our intense monk exercises…

If you put in a lot of intense work at the beginning(for long enough for it to remain in long-term memory, not 3-day monks) then you can eventually do less work in the long run.

Also, the more you do something, the easier it becomes. So if you do “hard” tasks long enough, they become “easy” tasks, and you will have new “hard” tasks to conquer.

What is “hard” for me right now? Writing a journal in Japanese.

What is “easy” for me right now? Listening to keyholeTV radio stations and tv stations, reading Naruto manga and watching its anime as a review tool, watching videos in Japanese on youtube, and looking up new kanji I can’t figure out through context and radicals in my dictionaries.

As long as you keep doing something, it doesn’t matter whether it is “easy” or “hard.””

And, while I do say that AJATT is totally about laziness, just in your L2, he makes a very valid point. One of the articles I remember the most is about the 3-Day Monks. Now, it seems like he’s taking that a bit out of context, because the original post (Here, read it if you haven’t!) is more about keeping your L2 constant, like boiling water, however, Areckx makes a very different comparison, but just as vivid. Instead, he invokes the image of a monk, actually pushing himself to beyond his limits everyday, until even the difficult tasks become easy. If you keep doing difficult things, they become progressively easier. Now, am I saying we should revise the AJATT method?


Remember? AJATT is NOT a method.

However, Areckx’s comment is something I think we should definitely consider. Just, whenever you can, so something that makes you uncomfortable in Japanese. I don’t mean embarassing yourself, but if you have problems with writing, then try to write a journal in Japanese. (Lang-8 is a great place for that. The native speakers there are really nice and helpful.) If you have problems understanding native Japanese speech, just listen to more Japanese. Music is good, because it’s slower, or you can just watch Keyhole TV, and get some good exposure. Asahi TV is a really good channel usually.

Well, I figure I’ll get going before I bore you to death. Just remember, keep the exposure high, and don’t worry about anything else. Even your SRS is unnecessary. In the comments here, I’ve had a lot of people tell their stories, and they’ve learned English really well without an SRS. It’s just a tool, not the way you’re gonna learn.



  1. Unfortunately, I still feel like I’m not doing enough, even when I have my L2 music playing as often as possible. I know I’m being lazy, no way about it. I could be reading the news or lyrics to the current song, instead I’m reading English-language blogs and commenting in English…


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