In my life there's been a few deep seated ideas that have always just been there. I'm not exactly sure when I got them or where they came from, but they're a part of me - they're a part of who I am. For example I always knew I wanted to live in Seattle WA. Maybe that's just because I grew up in Phoenix and I got sick of the sun and heat? But I think it's more than that - Seattle has always felt like home to me. I can't explain it. Another example is I always knew I wanted to get married and have three kids (but God laughed and gave us twins for our third pregnancy). Where I'm going with this is that I have also had this deep desire to learn Japanese. I can't fully explain why, but I've always been fascinated with Japan. Recently something finally flipped in me and I'm fully dedicated to learning Japanese.
This is going to be a long'ish series of posts, but it lays the foundation of why I'm doing what I'm doing. If that doesn't interest you then the TL;DR is: I was doing what most everyone on the tubes said I should, but wasn't making progress. Then I found AJATT and now I'm doing that.
I didn't want to spend a ton of money on this, and the internet (especially youtube) is my go-to for learning new things, it's also it's free'ish. If you spend more than 30 seconds perusing youtube on the subject of learning Japanese, you will quickly find out about the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test or JLPT, which at the time of writing this has 5 levels, N5 being the most basic and N1 being the most challenging. It's the gold standard of fluency. When you reach N1 then you've done it, you're a superstar, you're fluent, you're basically a Japanese native... (which apparently is a steaming pile of)
So I naturally started down the path toward JLPT. I found a flashcard app on my phone with the JLPT vocabulary and jumped right into grinding through it. I also subscribed to japanesepod101.com to listen to on my commute to work.
At one point I had grinded through close to 1000 words, learned hiragana and katakana, and I had listened to about 50 hours of japanesepod101.com's absolute beginner series. I also read somewhere that only 20% of a language is used 80% of the time and that 20% percent is somewhere around 2000 words (this is probably wrong by the way). So doing the math, if I knew 1000 words than I should be picking up close to half of what I hear. But in reality I felt like I was picking up maybe 1 or 2 percent - what gives? It finally tipped when I was listening to a podcast which started with a sample conversation in Japanese. I listened intently but couldn't recognize anything they said. After it was done, they broke it down and explained everything about the conversation - apparently I knew all of the vocab. So why couldn't I hear it??!!!
I hit the tubes again and found this:
The first time I listened to it I didn't know what AJATT was, and I got pretty depressed about it. I felt like I was making many of the same mistakes. To summarize, this guy Jeremy spent a ton of time and effort learning Japanese the traditional way by studying for the N1 and learning in school. When he wasn't making the progress he thought he should, he just doubled down on what he was doing and worked harder. In the end he passed the N1 in the 85th percentile but still wasn't really fluent.
I slept on it, and the next morning looked into AJATT (all Japanese all the time). Everything just clicked. The whole philosophy made complete sense to me. I no longer felt dejected, but energized!
Over the next few entries I'll explain some of the aspects of AJATT and where I'm at with the process. I'll also hopefully keep somewhat regular entries on this blog to document my journey. So stay tuned!