Before learning just from self-immersion, it’s good to have a firm grammar and vocabulary basis to work with. As for my learning, I feel as though I should get through all of Genki I and some of Genki II before starting to rely solely on books and movies for learning. If you’re like me and have work or school that keeps you busy, it’s hard to find time each day to sit down and study Japanese. This is why a plan is essential to progressing at all because without some form of structure, I don’t think I’d ever be efficient when I study. So, I’ve made this post to outline a study method so I (and you all of course :) ) can study efficiently!

I’ve found that trying to create a method that involves “30-minutes a day” or “one lesson per day” don’t actually work for me. With homework, I never know home much time each day I’ll have or how tired I’ll be. So the guide below is only going to be on a “study when you want to” basis.

Step 1: Read over the vocab

Step 1 when starting off a new lesson is reading over and getting familiarized with the vocabulary.

Step 2: Read over the grammar

The most important part of every unit is without a doubt the grammar. Read over it once or twice.

Step 3: Complete all the practice activities

This is great for practice with the grammar and the vocab. Definitely a must.

Step 4: Identify your weak areas

This step involves finding out what you struggle with the most in that lesson. Let’s say you don’t know the vocabulary all that well. In that case, you could get creative and create flashcards for the vocab you don’t know, do lessons from the last chapter, but replace the provided words with the vocab from your current unit, etc. If you’re struggling with the grammar or don’t think you’ve mastered it, try working through the practice activities a few more times or continue to step 5…

Step 5: Create sentences

Using the new vocab and grammar, make as many sentences as you possibly can. Open up Microsoft Word or Notepad and just start typing away. Try to include as many aspects to each sentence as you can. That is to say, “I ate” doesn’t help you as much as “I ate an apple yesterday in the park with my friend Sue.” This is probably the second most important step with each unit because it actually proves mastery of the content: actually being able to use what you’ve learned.

(Optional) Step 6: Review

Step 6 is optional depending on how much you feel it’s necessary. Ideally, each lesson you should go back and do the practice from the previous lessons, but I understand that it’s probably more fun to just go onto the next unit. Step 6 can be done whenever.

If you have any other suggestions, please please please post them in the comments!

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.

Hi guys! So I was searching around the web for some Kanji wallpaper because I thought it would be a great way to get a few Kanji down without any real studying.

Well, I didn’t find any, so I decided to make some of my own and share ’em with you guys!

This works exceptionally well with Windows 7 because you can automatically shuffle between wallpaper after a certain amount of time. Also, you will probably want to set Picture position to Center and the background color as white.

Another use could be a photo screensaver and have it rotate to a folder with only the Kanji wallpaper! (:

I hope you guys like them! I’ll make whatever words you want by request– just shoot me an email!

Thanks, -Travis

Just save each one of them to a folder:

Hello everyone!  I’ve been working on a new project recently and I thought I’d sorta announce part of it.

I’m planning on providing some Kanji flashcards and I wanted to let you guys try the first batch!  Now, I know this isn’t a hugeee Kanji list but but it should help you with your basic numbers (:

It’s a PDF file and printing instructions are on the page.  If you have ANY questions let me know!

Please report any questions or comments you have.  If you have any trouble opening or printing or if fonts aren’t the way they look on the example above, let me know! I have a contact image in the right sidebar for lotsss of contact mediums (:

Download Free Kanji Number Flashcards

Thanks, -Travis.

If you ever plan on reading Japanese, you have to know your Kana.  Kana are sort of the Japanese alphabet.  Kana is a term that groups together two syllabaries: Hiragana and Katakana.  Hiragana are used for grammatical aspects of Japanese, such as verb conjugations and particles, and are also used for some words.  Katakana are primarily used to write out loan words from other languages and brand names and such.

Kana is not hard to learn.  And, after a while, it will be second nature.  Here are some methods to learning:

Method #1: Buy iKana for your iPod, iPhone, or iPod touch

I’m not really gonna go in depth a whole lot on this post because I’ve already written a full review of iKana.  Read the review here: Best iPhone / iPod touch / iPad Application for Learning Kana (Hiragana / Katakana). Summary: iKana is an app that shows you all the Kana and gives you multiple choice as to the definitions.  It’s great and it’s how I learned all my Kana!  Okay, Okay, I’ll admit my Katakana isn’t perfect, but I can read it just fine (:  I know Hiragana like the back of my hand though.  Highly recommend this app!

Method #2: Get a study book, mnemonic book, or workbook

Books can be insanely helpful with anything Japanese related because you get advice from the learners first hand.  I recommend a few books:

Remembering the Kana: A Guide to Reading and Writing the Japanese Syllabaries in 3 Hours Each (Manoa) (Japanese Edition) (part 1)
Let’s Learn Hiragana: First Book of Basic Japanese Writing (Kodansha’s Children’s Classics)
Let’s Learn Katakana: Second Book of Basic Japanese Writing

If you do not know Kana at all and are looking for a textbook, I HIGHLY recommend getting Japanese from Zero! 1: Proven Techniques to Learn Japanese for Students and Professionals.  It slowly introduces Hiragana in the first book and gives you a workbook-like practice.  It’s amazing!  The stoke order may surprise you and, after a while, you’ll find it imperative to writing!  Stroke order really does help with the speed of writing and helps produce a proper looking symbol.  I highly highly highly recommend this to someone who knows somewhat basic Japanese or has had a little experience listening to the language and does not know their Kana!

Method #3: Just writing it

Probably the most efficient way of learning is just to write it over and over again.  It may not be as fun, but you’ll get it quicker.  If you’re a self learner like me, try writing words in Kana when you’re bored in class!

If you plan on writing it, here are some Hiragana and Katakana charts I pulled up.

Dakuon & Handakuon / Youon

Do not stress over Dakuon & Handakuon / Youon!  When I first started learning, I was overwhelmed with these two sets.  Well, if you pay close enough attention, you’ll realize that it hardly involves any new knowledge and just some simple memorization to get it.  Dakuon AKA the little quotation-like marks in the corner of a Kana (“) mean to make it a deeper sound.  For example, all Kana beginning with T would be replaced with D.  Handakuon AKA the little circle in the corner means to replace the first letter with a P.  These are just some really quick and rough tips to Dakuon & Handakuon!

As for Youon, it’s simply combining the two Kana.  Nothing worth memorizing a whole another syllabary for!

Summary

To learn your Kana, use all methods you can and just try to surround yourself with it.  Keep writing and reading Kana whenever you can.  Memorize the methods to Dakuon & Handakuon / Youon so you don’t have to waste time learning lots more than you need to.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our RSS feed or bookmark us for later! Thanks for reading, -Travis

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