I’ve been writing about having a mixed approach to the idea of AJATT, because many aspects of the system are very “open” to interpretation. I guess the meat of the system is what you believe you can get from it, by loosely following the guides. I’ve reached a point now where I am feeling like studying RTK1 and learning 2,045 Kanji while being able to speak “okay” conversational Japanese is causing a sort of dissonance for me. I’ve gone back to the basics.
Eseentially, in any language you need to learn a few grammatical rules and structure to get by. In AJATT people argue back and forth about this, as learning “rules” or just “increasing input and exposure” make you understand it anyway. Regardless, I do not have the joyful attention span of a baby fresh into the world, and i’d rather know something than nothing. Meaning, if i hear a conversation and it says…
shinbun wo yomimasen deshita. (I didn’t read the newspaper).
If I listen to it 100 times without knowing what “shinbun” or “yomimasen deshita” means, if I don’t have a situation to attach it to… then I can’t learn. Obviously, I can grab a dictionary, learn about the -masu stem forms and figure it out from there and then listen to more audios and start picking up when people use -masen deshita to describe the past negative… but i think I need a base before I pattern pick. What i’ve found is that when you learn the basics through study, you will pickup more of it when you increase your exposure…
so right now I’m studying some of the stem forms and irregular verbs to get a sense of them. When I speak, I realize that I cannot always say the right conjugation, or understand certain negative/positive responses. So I started studying some of the JLPT study materials to get more serious wtih the basics. Language is a study after all, and this is where some of the AJATT stuff can get fuzzy for people.
You definitely need a mix of listening, study and speaking to get ahead. Right now I’m turning up the study bit and trying to do a bunch of particle/verb/conjugation excercises today. I mean today I was doing a practice exercise that asked me to write the following sentence in hiragana and katakana.
“Ashita garufurendo to Roppongi no resutoran ni ikimasu.” (Tomorrow my girlfriend and i go to a restaurant in Roppongi).
But I know some Kanji so i dropped that in there as well.
あした ガルフレンドと 六本木のレストランにいきます。
So not only was I able to practice the Katakana, hiragana and Kanji, but i could feel my mind buzzing as I started to write smoothly in all three character sets. So on top of the RTK1, i’m going to do more grammar excercises to get more of a “feel” for things, while I ease into more immersion.
When you do dozens and dozens and dozens of excercises, you start to get some of the rules in your head, at least I do, and I like that. So this blog post is a bit of a rant I think, but that’s what I’m doing now. Pumping excercises to master the basics of Japanese grammar, so that when I start pumpin the listening immersion, I have a stronger foundation to draw from.