How to use Free Software to learn Japanese, and more.

This page lists articles in chronological order. You may want to read Table of Contents instead.

Is it a good idea to read mostly manga in the beginning?

August 07, 2023 — Tatsumoto

Immersion is immersion. Consuming any native content is almost always the best strategy. There are some pitfalls associated with reading manga, but they're not too significant. Still, I would rather immerse in anime as a beginner, with manga taking a secondary role.

Firstly, it's important to note that manga is not voiced, unlike anime. Consequently, often when reading you may get lost because you won't know how to say certain words correctly and with the right pitch accent. If you read something incorrectly, you may accidentally create a bad habit.

Since reading manga is reading immersion, it is crucial to balance reading with listening. Only through listening we can get exposure to native speech, get used to the sounds of the language and learn to understand speech without relying on textual cues.

You may not have access to high resolution scans. Reading text on low-resolution images can be frustrating, particularly when dealing with small text and complex kanji containing many strokes.

Lastly, setting up a sentence mining workflow for manga requires more steps compared to anime. You need to learn how to use OCR software, and how to connect it with Japanese dictionaries and Anki, which may be tedious for some people. OCR software often makes mistakes when recognizing text from images, and it can hinder your ability to quickly look up words. In contrast, when reading books or watching anime with TL subtitles you don't have to rely on OCR.

Tags: faq

Do I have to use an SRS?

July 29, 2023 — Tatsumoto

Immersion is the cornerstone of AJATT, with the SRS serving as an optional supplement. While Anki or other SRS applications can be useful for helping learn vocabulary faster, it is possible to become fluent without using them. If using an SRS reduces your motivation or enjoyment, it may be in your best interest to forgo using any SRS and instead focus on the core of the method.

To improve learning speed and efficiency, it is recommended to incorporate some form of repetition, provided you can tolerate it. We eventually forget everything that we don't review. While total, mass immersion can partially counteract the forgetting curve, it can't help when trying to memorize more uncommon words.

In the case of Japanese, the SRS proves especially useful because it helps you learn how to read words written in kanji and ensures that you don't forget kanji readings. It is particularly helpul when dealing with rare kanji.

Personally, I have observed that the majority of my failed Anki reviews stem from forgotten kanji readings. I may recall the meaning of a word, but struggle to recall its pronunciation. Therefore, if your target language does not utilize kanji or hanzi characters, it is totally fine to omit the use of Anki.

Tags: faq

Can I speak early?

July 25, 2023 — Tatsumoto

Generally, AJATT does not recommend speaking (or outputting) early. Typically, this means avoiding speaking in the first 1 to 2 years, or until your comprehension reaches fluency. AJATT's core philosophy is based on learning to understand your target language before you start outputting. We have found that waiting until you have accumulated 10,000 hours of input yields better results when you start learning to speak.

Speaking early is associated with long-term negative effects which require time and deliberate practice to fix later.

We highly recommend immersing yourself in the language for 10,000 hours and then starting practicing speaking by imitating native speakers, a technique known as "shadowing."

Alternative approaches, such as trying to find native speakers to talk to, often result in frustration. When you're still a beginner, you will be making a ton of mistakes. Native speakers are not motivated to notice, point out, and correct your mistakes. They just want to speak English with you. Natives will be annoyed by you and will try to speak to you as if you were a baby, using very simple language. You won't learn much from such conversations. That's why your time during the beginner stage is better spent immersing.

Furthermore, for Japanese learners it is extremely challenging to find someone who understands the pitch accent theory, knows pitch accent rules, and can assist in developing a native-like accent. Self-study has proven to be the most effective method for achieving this objective.

Tags: faq


July 13, 2023 — Tatsumoto

Managing time effectively is crucial to accomplish tasks and maintain productivity. Timeboxing is a popular technique that helps people organize their time. In this article, we will explore the concept of timeboxing, how timeboxing can help with language learning, and discuss timeboxing software that AJATTers use.


If you're almost done with Tango N5, is it worth switching to the KanjiTransition deck?

July 04, 2023 — Tatsumoto

No. The JP1K method was invented so that people can skip RTK (or any other isolated kanji study deck). For a lot of people learning kanji out of context is boring and difficult. The benefit of the JP1K method is that you can start learning from authentic Japanese sentences almost from the start instead of spending time on memorizing individual characters. If you've basically finished the Tango N5 deck, it's safe to assume that you've already got enough kanji reading ability to continue learning vocabulary from native content. Moreover, the KanjiTransition deck is largely based on Tango N5. The only thing that's different is the card template. So there's no point in studying the same material twice.

Tags: faq

Why shouldn't I just keep using an app instead?

June 25, 2023 — Tatsumoto

We do not recommend "language learning" apps like Duolingo, Lingodeer, Babbel, and others due to the fact that their methodology conflicts with AJATT's principles of immersion learning. Such apps do not actually help you with anything. There are no success stories. On the other hand, AJATTers typically reach fluency in just 18 months. The apps prevent you from reading interesting content in your target language, such as manga. And they make you more miserable in the end.


Does playing Japanese audio on repeat while I sleep count as immersion?

June 11, 2023 — Tatsumoto

It doesn't. And, generally, it is not recommended. But if you understand the mechanics behind this idea, you may consider doing it and get some, although little, benefit.

It is important to note that humans cannot learn anything while sleeping. There is no research that suggests that we can. As far as I know, the idea was popularized by the old AJATT website. AJATT is about mass immersion, doing Japanese all the time. The reason why some AJATTers have Japanese audio playing when they sleep is not because you can learn something while you sleep, but because you will be hearing Japanese speech just before falling asleep and just after waking up. You can be exposed to the language more by doing this trick. If you pause Japanese before going to bed, there will be some time, maybe just a few minutes, when you are not immersing.

The other side is that any additional learning progress that could be made by the extra listening time will be canceled out by low-quality sleep. Playing audio while you're trying to sleep can disrupt you. If you're constantly being jolted awake by the audio, you're not going to get the restorative sleep you need to function at your best. Sleeping properly is an essential aspect of the language acquisition process and should not be compromised. A solution would be to use some technology to pause the audio after falling asleep and resuming it just before it's time to wake up. For example, an alarm clock app that has a feature to trigger a podcast app or a music app instead of playing a preset alarm sound by itself.

Tags: faq

How strict do you recommend being about 1T?

May 20, 2023 — Tatsumoto

In Is it OK to make cards for sentences I don't fully understand I said that ideally you need to be strict about making only 1T sentences. I think being strict definitely helps because it removes unnecessary ambiguity from the SRS reps. If there's no other way, making MT cards occasionally won't do too much harm though.

Try to avoid MT cards where there are two or more words you don't know. They may slow you down, and they may be too difficult to review. Trying to learn two things on one card uses a lot of mental energy, and it can be boring and frustrating. Learning 1T sentences is more fun, they are quicker to grasp. If everything is easy, you'll enjoy studying more.

You can make MT cards once in a while, but it's smoother when you don't. Once you get more advanced, you will not need to make MT cards because there will be already enough 1T cards you can find just by continuing to immerse.

If you are in a situation where you want to create a TSC to learn a word, but the sentence contains two or more unknown words, first create and learn a 1T card where the other unknown word is the target. By doing so, the original sentence will transform into being 1T. Then you can learn the original sentence as a normal 1T card.

In summary, it is best to primarily create 1T flashcards and only occasionally make MT cards. By following this strategy, you will optimize your time and energy while making consistent progress towards fluency.

Tags: faq

How do I change an environment variable?

May 10, 2023 — Tatsumoto

In the guide I sometimes instruct to set or change environment variables. Environment variables provide a way to store simple settings that can be accessed and used by various programs and scripts running on the system. Changing environment variables is a common task for users, and it can be done in different ways. I'm going to present you the easiest way, and you can read about other ways on Arch Wiki.


I have a deck I haven't reviewed for a whole year. Should I reset it?

May 07, 2023 — Tatsumoto

It can be tempting to reset a deck that hasn't been reviewed in a while, but I do not recommend doing so if a large number of cards have graduated and have a review history. Despite feeling like you may have forgotten everything, you likely remember more than you realize. Instead, I suggest reviewing the overdue cards.

If you select the deck and review the overdue cards, the cards you still remember will increase their intervals significantly, while the forgotten cards will not lose their intervals completely, as long as you have new interval set to a value greater than 0. In the end, this approach will require you to review fewer cards than if you started from scratch.

By contrast, If you reset the deck, you'll have to relearn each card again, with each card graduating with an interval of 1 day (or the value you set in settings). You'll lose any progress you have made on cards that you still remember.

If you find yourself struggling with a backlog of cards, consider reading Fighting backlogs. The most important tip is to store overdue cards in a filtered deck and take small chunks for review. With this approach, you avoid overwhelming yourself with hundreds or thousands of cards at once.

Tags: faq