An argument for AJATT

Disclaimer: I realize this topic is very controversial, so I would like to start by saying that I do not propose this as the fastest or the best way to learn Japanese, and everything I give are suggestions that you could consider. Ultimately all our schedules and goals are different and that calls for different study methods. I respect that. If this is your first time hearing about it and become interested, google it, it’s a pretty cool concept.

Firstly, I want to explain the basis behind AJATT, or at least how I see it. The more times a word is encountered, the better you can understand the meaning, nuance, usage, etc. Based on this fact, AJATT tries to get you to encounter as many words as much as possible in the time you have. Consider a word that you encountered once after looking it up in the dictionary. Compare this to another word that you have encountered six times in the wild. Of course, a word encountered six times (which basically means you’ve seen the word used in six different examples) would give you a much better sense of the nuance/meaning of the word. Your vocabulary is constantly building, and AJATT tries to get you to encounter as much as possible.

So what do you actually do? Listen to as much Japanese as possible. For me, I put podcasts on my phone and computer dock. Whenever I have free time (pretty much whenever I am not in class for me as a college student), listen to something. Sometimes I’m feeling music, that’s fine too but perhaps not as good because its always the same words/lyrics, it’s harder to understand and you get more distracted with the rhythm. On a plane and watching movies you’ve watched before? Watch them in Japanese (they have language options in a lot of airlines). If you feel confident enough, watch movies you haven’t watched in Japanese. Need something to read? Read some articles in Japanese. Try your best to create an environment similar to what it would be like if you were actually living in Japan. = Maximum exposure (side note: the type of exposure matters too, if you constantly surround yourself with words you already know and easy grammar, it’s not going to improve your ability much, is it? Too difficult and you’ve got the problem with burnout, which I will explain later)

How does Anki come in? Most AJATTers use anki to write down these examples of wild encounters. And try to memorize them. What good does that do? Well the more deep in your memory an example is, the better it is for recall. In short, you need fewer encounters to know a word better. I mean, there’s no way that you will remember that word just from seeing it once right? How much you use Anki is up to your schedule and rate of burnout. More is definitely better, but you’ve got to balance it in so that you continue doing it and not just give up.

What about burnout? This I think is a big misconception. The only enemy that we are constantly fighting while doing AJATT is burnout. That’s why we choose to listen to things we are interested about, easy enough to understand without wanting to hang yourself, and minimize the difficult of task as much as possible. The only goal is to encounter as much as possible, what source material you choose should be what burns you out the least. If you find yourself burning out, think of ways to overcome it: should I change what I am reading/watching/listening to, or is there something else I can do?

Is AJATT for everyone? This is where some people trip up: AJATT is not for all stages, at least I don’t think it is. A foundation is necessary to be able to at least understand the word in its context. If you can’t even understand the context, then AJATT is not for you, because you are not gaining anything from seeing that word in the wild at that time. Some AJATTers say you don’t need to formally learn grammar, or even go as far as to avoid grammar books like the plague. I don’t support that, I believe you should learn grammar and on top of that, solidify every thing you learn with a ton of exposure to Japanese.

Should I look things up in the dictionary? YES, whenever you can. However, keep in mind that there is burnout and constantly going to the dictionary for everything you don’t understand will definitely burn you out. If you can deduce what the word means from context (with high certainty) then you are also gaining the benefits of AJATT and you don’t need to look it up.

Can I use other things with AJATT? Heck yeah, I use wanikani, italki and dictionary of __ grammar. How much time you devote to AJATT depends on you, your burnout rate, your level, etc.

In conclusion, even if you don’t end up filling each day with 15 hours of Japanese listening, AJATT has a lot to teach in terms of a way of looking at language learning in general. In the end of the day, each word’s meaning is just derived from our experiences with that word. Since we encounter some words in English so much, we have so much experience to draw from, the process happens subconsciously. AJATT is just a mindset. 頑張ろう!

I know there’s usually a lot of toxicity around AJATT and a lot of pompous gloaters out there too, but I would really like to know how it went if you gave it a shot. Let’s make this discussion insightful, what are you tips/tricks? Do you agree with this way of looking at things?


Could you expand on the acronym AJATT? Then we might no what you are talking about.


If I remember correctly, it means All Japanese All The Time.


You remember correctly.

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I agree with the version you give.
I didn’t give a shot to the AJATT that I’ve seen online, but I did go to the full exposure you talk about. I’ve been doing it much less since I (re)started using WK, as it’s mostly in English, with an English forum, though.
The main thing I’d say is that learning is important. There are tons of grammar text books and the like aimed at people learning Japanese that are 100% in Japanese, so there’s no break in exposure.
One of the main problem I had was that for a long time I was only consuming media (manga, books, YouTube, etc), and you get to a point where you can understand basically anything that’s thrown at you, but you don’t understand the rules behind it. I especially noticed the first time I attempted N1 and had to choose between four grammatical structure which one was correct to complete a sentence. 3 of those meant the same thing, but one could one be used after a noun, which was not the case, and the third one had the wrong nuance. I somehow picked the nuance, but it was still a toss up between the other two as I never really learned about that noun business.
I guess it would have been different if I had done more output, with people correcting me (like we do for kids). Then I would have gotten a sense of what sounds right or not. But in my case, both words could be equivalently parsed in that situation. If someone had used the wrong one while talking to me, I would have been unable to notice.

So, yeah, knowing all that one would think I would have put more emphasis on grammar and/or output, but nah. I just double-down on reading and brute-forced my way through N1 (20/60 in vocab/grammar, with a C in grammar, 51/60 in reading :stuck_out_tongue: )

(And now i’m putting all my energy in a kanji learning website, hm)


At least you read pretty damn well? :rofl:


I know americans love their acronyms, but I think it’s rather unnecessary to call language immersion by any other name.

If your search AJATT you get lots of discussions over the net on how it’s the ultimate “method” or some nut’s take on language learning.

I think anyone learning any language reach a point where it’s pretty logic that languages are a use it or loose it deal. So if you have been only studying about the language for let’s say… years … but actually using it only sparely… well… you’re doom… :hugs: … or maybe not… maybe you got really good at answering questions on an exam or some particular parlor trick ralated to that language… but communication skills with such language elude you still, in spite of the efforts.

So AJATT, which is putting the actual use of the language as a goal from day one, in japanese looks like a HUGE task… but then you’re constantly keeping an eye on the goal, so dissapointment it’s not the issue… only endurement :face_with_hand_over_mouth: … for which you can do several thing to deal with it… prepare yourself better from the start … choosing very appealing material so you realy… really want to go back every day and get that shit!!! or also meditate and just suck it ( part of the new MIA version of AJATT :upside_down_face: )

for japanese I think in the end you’ll immerse yourself in the language and progress a lot or just move on to learn something else… cause after all, who REALLY need japanese?? :roll_eyes:


Are you sure about that? Sounds like blasphemy against the sacred prescripts of AJATT.


Actually, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask about AJATT, so I hope it’s okay if I ask it now that the topic got brought up… what sets it apart from the normal immersion anyone does when learning a language? Why does it have its own name when, as far as I’m aware, people do similar things for other languages without it being considered a special method?

(and this isn’t me trying to disparage the method or anything. I’m legitimately curious! Is there an actual difference? Or is it basically just a fancier name for the more general concept of “immersion/exposure is good”?)


Exactly this. The point about the AJATT is that some supporters seem to believe exposure is the only thing that actually matters, and that you can’t/need to use anything else. However if you do this, AJATT ceases to be a fancy acronym and turns into just exposure… so you can’t put it that way or the glorious ideals of AJATT stop being special.

Exactly this. Nuances are real, and they’re as useful as anything else. Skip them and you’re missing out.

But if you just mention exposure: yes or no? Then I :100: agree with you. It’s not by chance that the whole world somehow handles English. The language is everywhere :slight_smile:


If you aren’t following the strict rules about not using outside resources, you’re just doing immersion, and not doing AJATT. And you won’t be able to join the cult.


I would say is the “immersion from day one” mentality. Where more traditionally you would hear it mentioned when you already have “paid your dues” … in the classroom :sweat_smile: … except for japanese you can be paying your dues for a long time before you realize you should have been using what you were learning… :man_shrugging:

Sadly a lot of the time feels like that when talking with the people supporting MattvsJapan on Patreon… Any mention of something not in the “gospel”, the “high priest” might frown upon at me :disappointed_relieved:


Well, OP disagrees with you, at least :stuck_out_tongue: But yeah, I don’t think they have an orthodox definition of AJATT.


Haha, ignore me as I browse Reddit for an hour on the train to Tokyo.

Seriously though, it’s really what you make of it. Even if you live in Japan you’ve got to go out of your way to change your habits to consuming more local material. Yeah, it’s more easily available, but Netflix still exists.


Isn’t this thought a bit scary? You could be using something for a very long time (let’s say, there’s just a small difference in nuance), maybe it doesn’t really make a difference until one day, you realize how you’ve been wrong the entire time.

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Well, it’s still better than not understanding at all, right? xD

But yeah, everything in language learning as its place. One thing we should understand is that technology didn’t change what we study for language learning (aka, u can SRS all you want but exposure is still a thing). Technology made it easy for us to do more in less and in an easier way.

Same argument for AJATT: grammar and all the other basics are still a thing.


commenting on such profane forums you can clearly notice he’s not a “true believer” … :wink:


I think AJATT gets unncessary flak as a result of the behavior of some of it’s supporters, which I don’t think is particularly fair. The website itself is fine. I used to read it back in the day and his articles were useful for pumping me up. The guy overemphasizes some ideas, but whatever.

At the end of the day it really is just proposing heavy immersion. Which is easy to take for granted, but when I started out, I actually never really saw anyone else talk about immersion much. Everything was about textbooks and classes. Everyone I knew who studied (and failed to learn) languages had studied in a very, well, ‘studying’ capacity. Actually interacting with native material was almost a foreign concept.

It’s worth noting here that I’m American raised among only white Americans, though. Obviously there are a lot of Americans here on this forum and a lot of us do great, but in general (white) America has had a terrible attitude toward foreign languages. Most of us only speak one and view learning a second as some impossible herculean task. (I remember in the White Wolf pnp roleplaying games, it used to require 3 points [a lot] to add a new language to your character at varying skill. In the online eratta, it said: “we’ve received a lot of mail about this. Nevermind. Just use one point for fluency. Apparently Americans are stupid”). Now that I’m a working adult a decade later, things have changed some and I also interact with a lot of immigrants and second-generationals who take the ability to learn as a given, but that’s where my original outlook came from.

So I think it could be viewed with a kinder lense.


It is. Also people won’t correct you because “they know what you mean”.
That’s part of why I’ve been scared of actually talking for the longest time.
Basically, even at N1, I was still unable to carry out a normal conversation.
Well, to be fair, I had the same problem with English. Even with a TOEIC score of 985 (max is 990), I was basically unable to say anything…


That I agree. That’s also why I recommend Hellotalk right away to beginners (not enough times though). Even if you’re not looking for a language partner right away, you get exposure to the language a lot… and due to the nature of the app, some posts from natives are pretty straightforward. So you get to gradually improve your understanding as you go along with your other studies.

Books, manga, etc don’t give this gradual increase, as they usually make people take a too big of a jump. For example, よつばと!is recommended all the time, but I remember seeing N3 grammar there.