I wanted to drop this one in, because lately i’ve hit a good hurdle in my learning where i feel like i am coasting. I think once I reach a 1,000 Kanji I will feel even better. An observation i’ve made about AJATT is what i call the “In Out Paradigm“. Basically, on the website, the founder of AJATT, Khatzumoto was forcing Japanese “In”. He was shutting out the English around him and creating his immersive enviroment when he was at school in the states. This takes a lot of mental fortitude because at every opportunity there are places to see English and things to read in English.
However, the “Out Paradigm” is from my perspective, living in Japan and restarting the learning process at this level. Often, the inundation of all things Japan around foreigners gets to them after awhile, no matter how Otaku they are, or how much time they spend in the Gaijin bars. The buildings with letters you don’t recognize a language you don’t speak and different cultural codes can really get to you. SO.. for me, when I was learning Japanese I was learning while trying to force it Out. My brain was naturally rejecting what I saw around me because I couldn’t process it, so I was existing in an Out paradigm. So forcing even MORE Japanese in at high levels became very stressful, which I noted at the start of this blog. But this might just be me…. as i’ve said before I do a lot of creative work and my mind gets overwhelmed with too many things sometimes. But I see there would have been a difference if I was living in Jamaica and creating an immersive environment there. My motivation would be different, and probably my energy. I would pyschologically be surrounded by the things and people that I am comfortable with (including English) but I would have the choice to ignore it. Here there isn’t much of a choice really. The Japanese never stops, it never turns off and sometimes your brain here is operating on an “Out Paradigm” to cope.
Eventually though, it will all become an “In Paradigm” when you are mentally ready for it. So for the first time in a while I listened to some Japanese hip-hop this morning. Just a few songs, but it was NOT easy for me to do this a few months ago. I live in a homogenous society where I hear/read/see Japanese each day. Turning up the volume on that without many support systems is not easy, and i applaud people who grind through it… even though technically that’s what I’m doing.
But the point of this post is to say I guess that at some point a person will hit a nice medium where it doesn’t feel like a chore and then you start feeling like you are learning. I don’t think I’Ve hit that perfect medium yet, but I think I’m getting there… now I’m starting to really go back and study my grammar and do excercises during the day to improve my vocabulary and speech patterns. I still can’t listen to 100% Japanese all the time yet… there is too much cultural noise around me, which is funny, because what appealed to me about AJATT in the first place was the fact that:
If I had come to Japan speaking fluently and been able to read, my initial experience would have been 1000% different.
I’m sure I would have experienced some form of culture shock, but I have no idea to what extent it would have affected me. People get isolated because they can’t speak, people get frazzled because they can’t read, and because they are effectively illiterate children again. If I came here just like regular old me, speaking the language, my life would have been completely different for my first year. So I’m not knocking anything by talking about these two Paradigms, I’m merely saying that starting out, it is mentally different depending on you level, and how the “noise” affects you. Whether its In or Out I don’t think its easy, but it does make a difference.
After breaking past a few hurdles, and creating my “milestone” system of achievement, I can look forward to each 50 Kanji instead of the entire 2,045. I can smile when I do 100 and look forward to hitting my major milestone, which is the next 500 which will put me at 1,000 Kanji. I’m doing the same things with word practices and other excercises…. just doing simple, palatable goals while mixing in enough exposure and other devices to keep stuff going. I will write more on this as I see my Japanese getting better outputwise.
I have no doubts about Input versus Output on the AJATT site, because my Japanese got at a good level very quickly just spending time around Japanese people and speaking with them my first three months here. It was when culture shock hit me that I didn’t feel like speaking Japanese much, and it slowed things down a bit.
Either way, happy trails to all those trying to do the same thing.