Mass Immersion Approach
To Those Disillusioned With MIA
A lot of people seem to have become disillusioned with me after I came out saying that I changed my recommendation when it comes to kanji. Hey, honestly I don’t blame you. But I also want to share my side of things.
When I initially got serious about my YouTube channel, outside of an extremely small niche of people, AJATT was considered to be a worthless joke by the entire greater community. As someone who had used AJATT to reach a level of Japanese that I didn’t see very many people reaching, I felt that I had to defend it. I felt like the underdog that could never let his guard down. That’s why I took such a strong, definitive attitude. That strong attitude won over a lot of people, but simultaneously lead to me being demonized by many others.
With regards to kanji. I took Khatz’s advice and did lazy kanji, and it didn’t work. It didn’t work in the sense that I didn’t become able to write the characters, and I started to fail more than half of my kanji cards. Khatz presented lazy kanji as if it was a total replacement for traditional RTK, and in that sense, it was complete bullshit. Of course I wasn’t going to recommend people that! So naturally, the fall back was to recommend traditional RTK. That’s what Khatz did, and it was what other AJATTers I knew had done as well. They were all successful. Not to mention that when I went back and did traditional RTK later on, it worked great for me. There was no way for me to realize at the time that the main reason it had worked so well for me was that I already knew Japanese.
Traditional RTK from the start does work. It may be extremely painful and difficult, but it does work. It’s a staple of Khatz’s original AJATT method. On its own, lazy kanji doesn’t work; I knew that from my own experience. So what else was I supposed to do besides recommend traditional RTK from the start? It was only many months after getting serious about YouTube that I even had the idea for the “lazy kanji first, traditional RTK later” approach. There was literally no way for me to have recommended that from the beginning, because no one had thought of the idea yet. Originally, I had thought of my experience with kanji as a failure. I mean, I had to redo all of the kanji all over again. It took quite a bit of contemplation to realize that purposely doing two rounds of kanji might actually be a good option.
I am sincerely sorry for all the suffering I put people through by recommending traditional RTK from the start. But hopefully you can understand that, from my point of view, that was the best option I knew of at the time. I knew that updating my opinion would greatly damage my reputation, but I choose to do so anyway for the sake of improving the method.
I seem to have earned a reputation for “regularly changing my mind”, but in reality, that is the one and only thing I have “changed my mind” about. I started recommending that people simply read through Tae Kim, and mine the JLPT Tango N5 book instead, simply because previously I didn’t know about the JLPT Tango books. There was no way for me to recommend something I didn’t know about; I learned about a new, superior resource, and updated my recommendation to match that. This isn’t actually a change to the method: it’s still using a source made for learners in order to gain a foundation in grammar and vocab. Tae Kim still works just fine. I used it, and if you use it, it will work. Again, it’s not as if I was giving “bad” advice before.
The criticism, “don’t recommend things that you didn’t personally do” is extremely limiting, as surely the exact way that I went about learning Japanese is far from what is the most optimal. My goal is to create the best method possible, and that means experimentation. If you vote against experimentation, you are voting for stagnation. On the other hand, if I am recommending something that I didn’t personally do myself, I am doing so because the model of language acquisition that I have built up through years of engaging with the process says that it should work. It’s different than someone with no experience making up stuff that sounds nice. That is what I have always cautioned people to avoid. When I am not confident that something will work, I give a disclaimer that the idea is still experiemental, and you should only try it at your own risk.
Traditional RTK does work, and its the best thing I knew of at the time. Khatz’s lazy kanji doesn’t work, so I wasn’t going to recommend that. Doing “lazy kanji first, traditional RTK later” on purpose is a new idea, which I am confident will work better than either “traditional from the start” or “Khatz’s lazy kanji”. I understand the frustration of people who, because of me, struggled with traditional RTK from the start, and I truly am sorry, but I sincerely hope that you will be able to overlook that frustration and see the bigger picture.