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Mass immersion

August 31, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

AJATT targets people who want to reach a high level in the language and truly become fluent. One of the most important parts of AJATT is immersing yourself in Japanese as close to 24 hours a day as possible, combining that with spaced repetition and other technology.

Immersion is quite important, we already know that. Let's figure out how much immersion is necessary.

Listening, listening, listening. Lots and lots of listening. Like, hundreds and thousands of hours of listening.

— Khatz

Traditional language learners think of Japanese as an activity that you do separate from the rest of your life. You have your life which is done in your native language and then you study Japanese for a certain amount of time. Once you're done, you go back to the world of your native language to do something else.

But All Japanese All The Time says that Japanese is the ground. That is your life. You live your life in Japanese. You might take a break from that to do something in English or another language for a little, but as soon as you finish that, you go back to Japanese. Khatzumoto said that language is not a hotel, it's a home. You move into it. You don't just chill there for a week and go back to your old home.

The mindset of taking any crack in your life and seeing that as an opportunity to study Japanese is at the core. If you adopt this mindset, almost all your time can be spent immersing. This is what leads to the most progress. People learn their native language because it's there. It's the only reason. They live in the language and absorb it. You don't have to choose what to do in Japanese and what to do in another language. There is only one option.

There are countless opportunities to immerse throughout a day. If you lead a busy life, you can still find plenty of time when you're idling or waiting for something. Just take that to the extreme. You can do Japanese in the shower, as you're getting ready, while taking a walk, driving, going somewhere, cooking meals, on the bus, on the subway, while exercising, etc. No matter what type of lifestyle you have, you should be able to fit in multiple hours a day of immersion, mainly through listening. Fill every single crack in your life with Japanese. Every waking moment counts. Put your computer's operating system into Japanese. Only watch Japanese movies. Get the Japanese dubs of western shows you plan to watch. If you are learning about something, get a book about it in Japanese. Just do whatever you would be doing anyway, but do it in Japanese.

Some people are averse to immersion because they don't understand Japanese yet. They decide to study more grammar and vocabulary to strengthen their understanding and some day finally be ready to start immersing. If you are considering putting aside immersion for later, think about the following. No one says, "I'm going to stop using training wheels once I can ride without them". You first take them off. But you often hear, "I'm going to watch an anime without subtitles once I'm fluent." This makes no sense because the only way you're going to get fluent is through watching anime without subtitles. Start watching anime in Japanese from day one. Keep doing that, and you will get fluent. You don't learn a language, you acquire it, absorb it, get used to it. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

Building a foundation in grammar and vocabulary through traditional study is extremely helpful, and this is what we are going to be doing a lot in the beginning, but study and immersion have to be done together.

We all have jobs, go to school, or have something else we just can't do in Japanese. I believe these things are not obstacles to learning a foreign language. I started AJATT when I was in university, and my degree had nothing to do with Japanese. In fact, Japanese was kind of my way of taking a break from the studies. I just watched anime to chill after university, and I learned Japanese that way. Every day finish what you have to do, and come back to your Japanese home.

Of course, there are people who just can't find the time. They say, "Your method is wrong because I don't have enough time to do it". No one claims that you should be able to master another language in a relatively short amount of time while working on it as a side project. Fluency is something you have to invest in.

Getting fluent in Japanese takes around 10,000 hours. Most people don't put in even a fraction of that time or use very inefficient methods, that's why they never get good. Therefore, how many hours you immerse each day determines how fast you accomplish the goal. If you immerse 18 hours a day, it's going to take you 1.5 years to amass those 10,000 hours. Sometimes we call the first 10,000 hours "hardcore phase" because you are supposed to be cramming as much immersion as possible every day during that time. The more you expose yourself to the language, the better. It really just comes down to a matter of time.

Immerse actively when you can. Immerse passively to compensate for those times when you are busy. Assuming you lead a normal lifestyle, spend maybe 3 to 6 hours a day actively doing something in Japanese whether that is reading a book, watching anime or a Japanese TV show, without subtitles or with Japanese subtitles. Of course you should do more if you have the time. Spend another hour or so reviewing flashcards. Keep Japanese playing in the background as much as possible while you are doing chores, homework, etc. Just do whatever you can to get to the ideal of 18 hours a day.

The bottom line is that If you don't spend thousands of hours with the language, you're not going to get fluent in it.

Tags: guide