A review of AJATT

Hello again, everyone!

First of all, I apologize for the lack of posts. I’ve been preoccupied with other website-related ventures and school. I have been studying lots of Japanese lately! Anyway, I felt as though I had to express my opinions on AJATT (All Japanese All The Time) in a quick review rant.

First of all, let me explain what “AJATT” is. Some people use the term AJATT as though it’s a whole studying method. In a way, it is. AJATT is an acronym meaning All Japanese All The Time. The concept became popular though the blog alljapaneseallthetime.com. Many Japanese users swear by it, and consider it the solution to learning Japanese. I have some very strong opinions on this :)

All Japanese All The Time is what the name suggests, making all your surroundings Japanese in order to create a synthetic immersion environment. It’s a good concept, but the blog takes it to the extreme (in my opinion). Khatzumoto, the blogger behind AJATT, believes in little to none textbook usage. This, in my opinion, is absolutely ridiculous.

If you’re like me and you’ve watched Japanese movies, you don’t understand a lot of it. And probably, by watching it over and over, will begin to pick up a few things. I don’t understand how someone could watch a movie or “read a Japanese book” and just instantly pick up how to pronounce Kanji. It’s impossible.

Most of the posts on the blog are long and winded. Each post could easily be condensed into five or six brief bullet points, as opposed to five or six paragraphs, and a lot of the information is repeated with each post. Khatzumoto is also a hypocrite when it comes to Japanese. He studied before he began to immerse himself. Also, he says that everyone should read Remembering the Kanji. Over the past month or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that RTK is far from the best method to learning Kanji. In fact, I don’t use it at all. I think that someone who progresses through RTK will come out with a extremely vague understanding of Kanji and no practical uses of it. In my opinion, Kanji shouldn’t be studied, vocabulary words should be studied with Kanji in them. But that’s a post for another day 😉

Khatzumoto had lots of time on his hands when he learned Japanese. And I mean a lot. I’m pretty sure when he started studying, that’s all he did. If someone had the time to spend all day sitting at their computer or TV watching J-Drama, they’d definitely learn Japanese.

Although you can learn Japanese through this synthetic immersion, you aren’t really learning the roots of the language, as you would with a formal textbook. In my opinion, Japanese study should be learning all the grammar basics and basic vocabulary (everything from Genki 1) and then they should start to watch movies and read books. This is what I’m doing at least.

Why do I care? Why does this blog even matter?

Because so many really smart Japanese learners I know love it. They promote in on their blogs.

Now, there are some good things to be said about AJATT. It motivates people to have fun with learning and it does have some good content. And I really don’t mean for this post to be aggressive or mean towards Khatzumoto. He obviously knows more Japanese than me and has a very popular blog. Also, I very much respect everyone that uses his method. Most of my favorite learners love it, but everyone I’ve talked to uses an “altered version of AJATT” to fit their needs.

Is AJATT worth the hype that it gets? No. Is it somewhat useful? Maybe.

I’ve read a lot of the posts there. I love the fact that there’s a side to the learning spectrum that doesn’t involve intense studying. Also, I think SRS is a great study method, and I use Anki myself. The main conflict I have with AJATT is how extreme the methods are. Overall, the idea of having an immersion environment is only beneficial. Even though I don’t agree with some of his methods, I’m going to continue to read AJATT every now and then.

I’m sure this post is going to get some very *ahem* interesting feedback, and I’m open to all opinions! Please leave a comment below. じゃあね。

-Travis

After reading some of the feedback, I’d just like to reiterate that these are just my opinions. If you love AJATT, that’s great. If it works for you, that’s great, too. Regardless, this is how I feel.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Insomniacgamer

    in your article you said: “Also, he says that everyone should read Remembering the Kanji. Over the past month or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that RTK is far from the best method to learning Kanji. In fact, I don’t use it at all. I think that someone who progresses through RTK will come out with a extremely vague understanding of Kanji and no practical uses of it. In my opinion, Kanji shouldn’t be studied, vocabulary words should be studied with Kanji in them.”

    You clearly misunderstand RtK altogether. You use it to learn how to “write” kanji and to become “familiar” with them. Once you complete the book, it makes learning new vocabulary a hell of a lot easier. Learning by brute force can be a real pain in the butt for a lot of people. And yes, of course you have to know vocabulary and each vocabulary’s reading and meaning. It just serves as a way to ease you into learning them. I believe it isn’t necessary to use RtK either. But it certainly seems to be benefiting a lot of people.

    • Insomniacgamer

      btw, Genki is a POS… I studied through AJATT for a little over a year 1/2 and just transferred to a college that offered Japanese as a major. I can understand 99% of the material in the 4th year class already. Japan Times can kiss my azz. 😀

      • http://v10japan.com/ V10 Japan

        I’m glad AJATT worked for you. Thanks for supporting your opinions on why you dislike Genki.

        • Anonymous

          Personally I liked Genki (it was very level appropriate and easy to use when I was just starting)…haven’t met many people who used it and disliked it.

    • http://v10japan.com/ V10 Japan

      I understand it’s purpose, and just because it’s purpose in volume 1 is only for writing and becoming familiar with them doesn’t mean I consider it my favorite method to learn.

      “Learning by brute force can be a real pain in the butt for a lot of people.”
      That doesn’t change the fact that it’s potentially a less efficient way of learning. If it’s a pain for some people then they shouldn’t do it, by any means. Japanese should be fun and when it isn’t, one wont have motivation to learn.

      “But it certainly seems to be benefiting a lot of people.”
      Of course it benefits people. It’s not like it hurts anyone to read it. RTK is good, just not my personal preference.

      thanks for the comment,
      -Travis

  • Ropsta

    Call me crazy, but it seems like you’ve deleted my comment. Care to tell why?

  • MoreExperiencedJLearner

    Do yourself a favor and have a complete understanding of what you are viewing before you submit it to the internet. Nice traffic bait though.

  • at4

    “I think that someone who progresses through RTK will come out with a extremely vague understanding of Kanji and no practical uses of it.”

    Couldn’t disagree more. After the first volume of RTK you can look at most any Japanese document and have an intuitive understanding the basic content. More often than not you can guess the gist of what a new word means the first time you see it. Certainly my life in Japan improved immensely just from being able to understand what all the signs, menus and bills around me meant. After the second volume, Japanese is just like learning Spanish for a native English speaker. You already know all the characters and the different ways to say them so they’re more like letters with meaning attached.

    I definitely can see RTK not being for everyone but for those that devote a solid year to each book it more than pays off down the road.

    • http://v10japan.com/ V10 Japan

      As you know, Kanji have many readings and simplifying it to one just doesn’t work.

      You’re right, it does help you identify Kanji easier, but I still do not feel as though it’s the best way to learn Kanji. In the end, you’re just going to have to end up restudying the Kanji you’ve “already learned.”

      Also, I don’t see how the second volume of the book is any help what-so-ever. It’s simply one or two readings of the Kanji without a paragraph or so explaining how to remember it. It’s just like every other Kanji book, and leads to rot memorization, which is what RTK V1 tries to eliminate.

  • http://twitter.com/e_dub_kendo Eric West

    It’s nice to see that anyone who puts forward a rational, well-reasoned arguement against your ridiculous and poorly thought through claims will be censored. Yeah, your blog, do what you want, but don’t expect readers to keep coming back when you make strong claims and then sidestep any serious debate. And like another commenter said, who you also deleted, I think a lot of this is just traffic bait. I mean, tagging it with “AJATT sucks”? And then you claim to respect khatzumoto…

  • http://twitter.com/e_dub_kendo Eric West

    you suck. really. eat a booger.

  • http://chokochoko.wordpress.com Squire Starsquid

    Actually I agree with your post! I’ve never understood the use of RTK. I mean, what’s the use of first learning how to character looks like (by some dumb story) and not know its reading and meaning (or a vague meaning) and than when finished, you still need to actually learn the character. Waste of time. Now about AJATT, I also think it’s not all that. The concept is interesting, but by no means it can sustitute as a way to learn Japanese. Even Japanese people who are surrounded by All Japanese All The Time, need to learn Japanese from a book just like how you and I learned English (and not by countless reruns of Friends). In my opinion it should be used to a certain degree and just to spice up your Japanese studies. Ofcourse, the more you pick up the better, but believe me, nobody will learn a complete language by watching Naruto 24/7 and living on instant Ramen (puliez). And yes, I do believe Khaz (no offence thous) is a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to studying Japanese. Cus he DID in fact study before(and during) that whole AJATT thing. That being said, I do respect that whole idea and the level of Japanese he achieved. But AJATT should definitely not be put up a pedestal because it is not all that.

  • Aelia

    As someone who was once VERY good at Japanese (I’ve shifted my focus to Chinese in the past 5 years and haven’t been using my Japanese), I can honestly say that AJATT works. Why? Because my Japanese was once good enough to go to school in Japan and had almost NO problems both understanding the teachers, my classmates, the news, etc.

    Textbooks and classrooms are only 40% of learning a language. The rest is immersion in daily life things that YOU do. For example, if you never read the news, then why force yourself to read a newspaper? It’s not something you’re interested in. Likewise, if you barely enjoy textbooks, then textbooks alone are not enough.

    My Japanese got really good for the following reasons: I was in a class with a good teacher, I worked in a Japanese grocery store and spoke Japanese every single day both to my co-workers and the Japanese customers, I started reading Japanese manga, and then I ‘graduated’ from anime and moved onto dramas. I ‘graduated’ from manga and moved onto books.

    How much of that was in the classroom with a book? Very little. Books alone are the building steps, and the rest comes from reinforcement using REAL things that YOU enjoy.

    Source: My Chinese is awesome (I’m getting my master’s here in China) and I can still carry a conversation in Japanese 5 years later, even if it’s not nearly as good as it used to be I can hold my own. My Spanish I never used outside of textbooks? I forgot all of it. Take that, textbooks. Take that.

    • http://v10japan.com/ V10 Japan

      “Textbooks and classrooms are only 40% of learning a language.”

      Ahh 40%! Compare that to the 0% that AJATT proposes, and rethink your opinions 😉

      • ナヲ

        AJATT does not tell anyone to not use textbooks. He has a one or two articles on how textbooks are actually helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/curryisyummy @curryisyummy

    > “I don’t understand how someone could watch a movie or ‘read a Japanese book’ and just instantly pick up how to pronounce Kanji. It’s impossible.”

    I don’t remember where the author said anything about anything being instant. The entire blog is littered with the idea of putting in the time. In fact, it’s all about putting in the time to learn the language starting from its title “all Japanese all the time”.

    > “Most of the posts on the blog are long and winded. Each post could easily be condensed into five or six brief bullet points, as opposed to five or six paragraphs, and a lot of the information is repeated with each post.”

    His posts are indeed long at times, but does this even make a difference when you’re talking about the “method” itself? This sounds more like jealousy than a any kind of critique about the “AJATT method”.

    > “Khatzumoto is also a hypocrite when it comes to Japanese. He studied before he began to immerse himself.”

    Studying is part of immersing. Immersing is about being exposed to your L2, and studying is part of that.

    > “Also, he says that everyone should read Remembering the Kanji. Over the past month or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that RTK is far from the best method to learning Kanji. In fact, I don’t use it at all. I think that someone who progresses through RTK will come out with a extremely vague understanding of Kanji and no practical uses of it. In my opinion, Kanji shouldn’t be studied, vocabulary words should be studied with Kanji in them.”

    If you don’t use Remembering the Kanji, then how do you know what kind of understanding a student who has completed the book has? I finished the book a while ago, and what I learned from it still helps me today. Besides, it’s just a way to begin your study of kanji, not an end. A primer, not the paint. The rest comes later when you can predict word meanings with less effort because you’re familiar with the character’s fundamental meanings. (i.e. 声門閉鎖音 (glottal stop) = voice, gate, close, chain, sound. If you know what a glottal stop is (and even if you don’t), this makes perfect sense (voice+gate = glottis, close+chain = closing/closure, and sound = sound)).

    > “Khatzumoto had lots of time on his hands when he learned Japanese. And I mean a lot. I’m pretty sure when he started studying, that’s all he did. If someone had the time to spend all day sitting at their computer or TV watching J-Drama, they’d definitely learn Japanese.”

    Khatz actually described what a typical day was like for him when he was learning Japanese in one of his recent posts. I don’t know if you’ve been to University or not, but school+three jobs+social life is already quite a load, so, this “loads of time” thing is, again, not something I ever remember Khatz claiming that he had. Besides, time isn’t something to have to spend on things, you simply make time for things if they’re important enough to you.

    > “Although you can learn Japanese through this synthetic immersion, you aren’t really learning the roots of the language, as you would with a formal textbook.”

    Roots of the language? When does Genki ever mention 万葉仮名 (man’yougana) and classical Japanese?

    > “In my opinion, Japanese study should be learning all the grammar basics and basic vocabulary (everything from Genki 1) and then they should start to watch movies and read books. This is what I’m doing at least.”

    If that’s what you think is best, i.e. the most fun for you, then it’s still AJATT. :)

    > “Most of my favorite learners love it, but everyone I’ve talked to uses an ‘altered version of AJATT’ to fit their needs.”

    That’s the whole idea. AJATT isn’t a method. It’s more just a bunch of bunch of advice, tips, tools, and such to help readers get a handle on learning Japanese. Sure, the “method” of using an SRS to learn sentences or whatever is there, but even that has been pretty much discarded (pun intended) in favor of what is essentially just active reading in the form of MCD (Massive-context Cloze-Deletion) cards. (Though, you have to have an AJATT+ subscription to read about them). In short, it’s just “do what’s fun for you and what will give you the results you want in learning Japanese.”

    > “The main conflict I have with AJATT is how extreme the methods are.”

    What’s wrong with extreme? I mean, if you really want something, then Khatzmoto’s advice doesn’t seem extreme at all. It seems more like common sense. Want to be good at something? Put in the time. Spend every waking moment (and sleeping moment) moving forward toward your goal. If you don’t want it as much, then you can afford to have English (or whatever your L1 is) here and there. In the end, you’re responsible for your own results.

    And, remember: Have fun.

    • http://v10japan.com/ V10 Japan

      2 can play at your long, winded game

      > “His posts are indeed long at times, but does this even make a difference when you’re talking about the “method” itself? This sounds more like jealousy than a any kind of critique about the “AJATT method”. ”

      Clearly I am jealous that he cannot simplify his ideas.

      > “Studying is part of immersing. Immersing is about being exposed to your L2, and studying is part of that. ”

      Noope

      > “If you don’t use Remembering the Kanji, then how do you know what kind of understanding a student who has completed the book has?”

      I have used it. Just because you haven’t done something completely doesn’t mean you don’t know anything about it. You don’t have to jump off a cliff to know you are going to die.

      > “Roots of the language? When does Genki ever mention 万葉仮名 (man’yougana) and classical Japanese?”

      Yes, because clearly by roots I meant the origin of the language. >.>

      > “If that’s what you think is best, i.e. the most fun for you, then it’s still AJATT. :)”

      “:)” No it’s not

      > “AJATT isn’t a method.”

      LOL

      > “It seems more like common sense.”

      Yes, it is common sense. Which is why I am mad at the idea that immersion is often referred to as the AJATT method.

      > “And, remember: Have fun. ”

      Oh, thank you! Forgot.

Tag Cloud

eXTReMe Tracker