Mass Immersion Approach
MIA – Optimizing the Path to Fluency
My name is Matt, and I started learning Japanese around the middle of 2011. I used an immersion-based method called “All Japanese All the Time” (AJATT), as presented by a man named Khatzumoto on the AJATT website. I did literally everything in my life in Japanese: my computer and phone were set to Japanese, I constantly kept headphones in and listened to Japanese podcasts all day, I watched copious amounts of raw anime, J-drama, and J-movies, and read heaps of manga and Japanese novels. I combined this with James Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji,” and the spaced repetition software “Anki.” Around 3 years and 10,000 flashcards later, I was fluent in Japanese, by anyone’s definition of the word.
After achieving fluency, I continued to study Japanese “hardcore” for an additional three years, at which point I found that I would often get confused for a native speaker on the phone and had a larger Japanese vocabulary than most natives my age. I did spend six months in Japan around the middle of 2012, but besides that, I was in the United States the entire time. I wouldn’t say that my Japanese is “native level,” and I still have plenty of room to improve, but I would be lying if I said I am not proud of what I have achieved. If you are curious how good I really am, I suggest showing a video of me speaking Japanese to a native speaker and asking for their opinion.
What AJATT Should Have Been
The AJATT method does work; it provided me with all the tools I needed to reach an unusually high level of Japanese ability. But AJATT also suffers from a host of problems which limit its potential to reach a large audience. The website is off-putting, chaotic and disorganized, scaring away most people before they have read a single article. Broader principles are redundantly emphasized, while the practical details of how to take action are left unexplained. Pushing for unhealthy extremes is encouraged, rendering the method inflexible and, in some cases, psychologically harmful. Worst of all, Khatzumoto has shown zero intention to revamp the site or update the method.
After benefiting so greatly from the ideas contained within AJATT, I naturally became inspired to spread those ideas to a broader audience. This is what led me to create the “Mass Immersion Approach” (MIA), a systematic approach to immersion-based language learning which aims to preserve the core ideas of AJATT while remedying the flaws. The name is a play on words, as when one fully immerses themselves in their target language, they temporarily become “missing in action” from the world of their mother tongue. The word “approach” was chosen over “method,” as the broader, more flexible connotation better represents what I am hoping to create: something that can be easily customized to allow language learners to reach a wide range of different goals, from basic fluency to native level.
This website will go on to contain a series of self-contained articles that, when consumed chronologically, will systematically equip learners with everything they need to understand and apply the most efficient language acquisition techniques. Topics ranging from language acquisition theory to psychology and motivation, to the nitty-gritty of obtaining media and creating flashcards, will all be explained in clear and straightforward language, empowering learners to take charge of their learning with the confidence that they will be able to reach their goal.
The website is still new, and it’s going to take me some time to fill it with content, but I am going to try to put up the most important stuff first. Check the updates page for a list of the most recent content, and the table of contents for an organized list of all the current content. My YouTube channel and Patreon Discord Server are also great places to learn more about MIA.
I Need Your Help!
The unfortunate reality is that a majority of people who set out to learn a foreign language don’t get very far. I want to change that, but I’m not going to be able to do it alone. I may be the creator and leader of MIA, but ultimately, MIA is a community effort. When it comes to language acquisition, we still don’t have all the answers; in order to create the most optimal method possible, experimentation and feedback from community members is of utmost importance. Of course, financial support through Patreon is greatly appreciated (and ultimately is what allows me to continue working on MIA), but simply by using MIA to master a foreign language, you are putting yourself in a position to provide valuable feedback about how to improve the method. Not to mention that, once you succeed, you will serve as living advertisement for the method simply by honestly answering the question, “how did you become so fluent?” 😉
Come join the team and become part of the movement to reinvent what it means to “learn a language”!