Beware of Matt vs Japan

I’m making this post for those not aware of what has been happening behind the scenes with Matt vs Japan. If you like Matt and disagree with this post that’s fine. However, I feel people should at least visit the links I have provided to reach your own conclusion.

Matt doesn’t give a damn about your Japanese. He only cares about profiting as much as he can through his so called “secret”. You don’t need perfect pitch accent to be able to speak and understand Japanese. Want prove? Take a look at George from YouTube. He has never studied pitch accent and does just fine.

But Matt shoves pitch accent down your throat and keeps telling you that you will forever be mediocre unless you get rid of your “infection”. Here’s what people like him does to lure in the gullible:

  • Keeps repeating about having the secret to your success for several weeks without telling you what it is.

  • Reveals product with “hooks” such as “if you received this email consider yourself lucky. You are among the 100 carefully chosen users out of 200,000 that we picked for our product”

  • Still doesn’t list a price. Instead, they end the video with “to be continued with part 2 tomorrow around the same time. Unless you want it an hour earlier. If you do, enter your email.” They do this to keep track of how many whales they’ll be able to hook.

There are many others things to list. You can just visit the links and see for yourself. These types of people target the wealthy and/or gullible to gain a significant amount of money. After that, they don’t care what happens. They won’t care about posts such as this one. They won’t care about negative comments. They made money. Mission accomplished.

Want to learn pitch accent? Do so from someone who actually studied Japanese linguistics and often cites authors and papers when he explains concepts through his videos. Do I have prove Dogen actually studied Japanese linguistics? No. But at least he doesn’t do or say shady things, he doesn’t shove a product for weeks without telling you what it is nor listing a price, he doesn’t say that unless you use his product you will be mediocre in Japanese, and he cites multiple sources in his high quality videos.

First link

Second link

Ps- I used to like Matt until he started talking about refold and now this uproot nonsense of his.

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I’ve seen a post about it on reddit yesterday. The poster linked stuff about Matt’s partner in this new enterprise, Ken Cannon, and his previous shady behavior as well:

The messaging is definitely shady and it raises a lot of red flags. I too would advise people to be cautious of this.

As for Dogen, he’s never once advertised his phonetics lessons in such a way, it’s usually just a brief frame at the end of his videos, and he does offer quite a number of those lessons for free so you know what you’re gonna get if you do subscribe. He has indeed studied Japanese linguistics at a Japanese university (at least according to him, but as he does often cite academic sources, and even takes out the books in question and gives citations, I’m willing to believe he’s not lying about it). I’m sure it can be proven or disproven easily for people who are good at looking into people’s backgrounds.

Edit: Dogen discusses his Japanese learning background in this video: Japanese Phonetics #2: How I Studied Japanese / Series Philosophy - YouTube

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Khatzumoto 2.0 go figure.

You don’t need pitch accent, but chances are that you don’t need japanese either. It’s a want, like many other things in life and if people want something chances are that someone will profit from it. It’s not a big deal really.

Pitch accent is important, but it’s importance might be somewhat overblown. If you’re struggling with your studies at all, pitch accent is the least of your worries though.

But if you want to go from good in japanese to great, pitch accent is one of the avenues.

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To be fair (and let me just say that I don’t particularly like Matt vs Japan, so I have no reason to defend him), some of the ideas on Refold are sound, at least based on my experience. Immersion is helpful, and organising it around given areas of interest should help increase one’s proficiency when it comes to communicating in those areas. I did it for French with news articles, and TV programmes and articles with a focus on science, and it really took me very far pretty fast. My decision to start ‘sentence mining’ (though I never called it that myself) with monolingual dictionaries early also helped me surpass my peers in French class, and these were some of the best French students in my country, who had been miles ahead of me just a year or so prior. I don’t like how he seems to suggest that only basic grammar is necessary, however. More advanced grammar study is probably going to be helpful even after you start immersion. It’s just that it doesn’t have to be done in isolation as a prelude to learning other things. That’s what some people do, and that’s probably not the best approach.

I have no idea what Uproot is about though, and if it’s just a ton of rubbish, I’m perfectly happy not knowing.

Yeah, this is kinda sensationalist to say the least. I think pitch accent is somewhat important to being easy to understand, and using the wrong pitch accent can cause confusion for some words (I think 病院 – mostly flat – vs 美容院 – pitch drop after second mora – is a classic example), but it’s not absolutely necessary. I guess it’s worth studying if you really want to sound native? I do, but not everyone wants or needs to. Out of curiosity though…

Could I ask who this is? The only George I can think of is Japanese. :sweat_smile:

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George Trombley of Japanese From Zero: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxuZNRnlprC70l1bnI0n-XQ

Popular textbook series and YouTube channel. Also created one of the oldest Japanese learning community on yesjapan.com before YouTube was as big as it is today.

(Some people don’t like him or his textbooks, and some people feel very strongly about that)

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I used to quite admite Matt after watching some of his videos on YouTube, especially his video on how he learned Japanese. His initial attitude was fairly humble and it never seemed to me like he’s posing or trying to sell “apple-bearing orange trees”. If indeed he is directly involved in some shady business, it disappoints me a bit :frowning: .

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Lol yeah. This is ジョージ.

He doesn’t actually think pitch accent is stupid but he doesn’t like it when people push it as a necessity. It is not a necessity. You can be understood by Japanese people just fine simply by learning through immersion and imitating others. He actually acknowledges that it is not stupid but it is NOT necessary to become fluent in Japanese.

Edit: by the way, Matt did a video where he says that George is wrong for saying that pitch accent is stupid since he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I agreed with Matt on that but after refold and uproot, my views on Matt went to shit. It’s a shame because as I’ve mentioned before, I did like Matt.

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And in true youtube fashion there is a re-reaction by george here. Haven’t watched it yet but it seems he knows and likes Matt and whatever “drama” there is it’s all very light-hearted. But that is more for the discussion of pitch-accent and has less to do with Matt’s current shenanigans.

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Same here. I have read many comments on his somewhat older videos where people commended him for how he had changed. Matt apparently used to be a Mr. know-it-all and he was arrogant towards people. He seemed to change and you can see that in his latest videos.

He always respects peoples’ opinions and the way he presents himself is actually quite good. He is well spoken and very well articulate. We can see that in his video where he calls out on George for saying that pitch accent is stupid. He begins the video by saying that he admires George and his attack is only towards his comments; not his character.

I have just been immensely disappointed with everything I started to notice about refold and now his latest work— uproot. Because of this I have lost all respect about Matt.

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I freaking hated that video. I like George and his videos but he is absolutely infuriating. He acts the same way as Neil Degrasse Tyson does during interviews. He can’t help it and feels like he has to interrupt at every turn every single second. He never lets the other person finish a thought.

I could not finish the video for that reason.

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Mind if I ask what it is about refold you don’t like? You’ve mentioned it twice now.

I’m not looking for an argument, just genuinely curious about your perspective on it. From the outside looking at this, uproot does indeed sound like they’re at least marketing it in shady ways – but I was never interested to begin with so I haven’t looked too closely. But refold, the same way jonapedia mentioned, seems like more or less sound methodology to me (but I haven’t yet gotten to fluency so I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in my opinion tbh). I don’t adhere to it slavishly or anything; I have my own deviations and I think everyone should from any singular method, but I’ve certainly used its ideas as general guiding principles for how I structure my learning. A lot of which, to be perfectly honest, I think you can find a lot of other places, but I do think Refold is laid out well and in a lot of detail.

I’ve never liked Matt, but I must say, I’m constantly amazed by how undervalued pitch accent is on this forum. Can you imagine if someone used the wrong pitch accent constantly in English? They’d be perceived pretty poorly, and rightly so.
Drama is DrAma, not DramA.
Computer is CompUter, not COmputer.
Demonstrate is DEmonstrate, not DemOnstrate.
This is critically important.

Yes, yes, Japanese is not English, yadah, yadah, yadah. But it is a spoken language and spoken languages are heard by natives who expect aural patterns.

This is true, but I don’t think you need Refold to reach that conclusion. The proof in your case was that you did it yourself for French, and I’d wager Refold had nothing to do with you immersing. Immersion is, after all, perhaps the oldest form of language learning that has ever existed.

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Ah… I see. I mostly just remember the name of the channel, not the creator. Thanks.

I don’t really watch anything on that channel, so I don’t know what he’s like. I vaguely remember that his wife is Japanese? Either way though, this is just my opinion, but I guess it’s a little hard to compare him to a typical learner because he actually has a Japanese social circle. Most of us don’t have that, at least when we start out. It’s the same thing as people who push using speaking as the fastest way to learn a language when some people don’t have the environment or the money to engage with native speakers in oral communication.

I agree on all counts, but not everyone picks up the same things through immersion and imitation. I’ve managed to acquire a French accent – most of my French friends say I sound native, and one of my maths teachers thought I grew up in France – but I used things like IPA symbols and articles on how one’s tone changes within a French sentence to do it, plus some careful listening and practice. And even when I explain everything I’ve noticed to friends and family, they don’t quite get it, at least within the limited time we’ve spent on French pronunciation.

Once again though… yeah, not necessary for fluency. Nonetheless, as the top comment on George’s video shows, native speakers of pitch accent languages may still be conscious of needing to put in extra effort to understand people who don’t have typical pitch accents. I guess it’s what we all experience with people who speak languages we know with accents that are very different from what we’re used to.

I see from the link that you’ve posted that it seems to be some sort of programme that’s supposed to be a scam, but as far as content or goals in terms of learner progress are concerned, are you able to sum up what it’s about? It’s hard for me to appreciate exactly how good or bad this is without that knowledge.

Honestly though, I’ve only heard stories about how Matt behaved about how people should learn Japanese in the beginning, and because of how extreme it sounded, I had a horrible impression of him. He seems much more agreeable in recent videos, but because of my first impression, I don’t watch his content, generally, particularly since I believe I will manage without his advice. I mean, I know I have a lot of funky ideas about language learning based on what I’ve done to learn six languages to varying degrees up to this point, so perhaps my advice sounds a lot like Matt’s at times, but I feel that imposing certain approaches on other people, especially when they seem too demanding or would inconvenience other people greatly, is not right.

Yes, yes, it had nothing to do with it because I came up with all that on my own, but what I’m saying is that what he details in Refold lines up with my experience to an extent, and it’s true that some people would not come up with the same approach on their own even if they are sufficiently motivated for immersion. Just as one example, absolutely no one else in my French class moved to monolingual dictionaries other than me, and many of us were highly proficient, even if it wasn’t to the same degree. It wasn’t a secret that I was using French dictionaries, because I used them in class all the time, and people could see the results, but I don’t know of anyone else who made an attempt to do so. Refold is not bad as a sort of roadmap for people who don’t have much experience with immersion study, even if I don’t like all of the specifics.

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Haha, apt comparison! I like both only when they’re calm and collected, monologuing about stuff they’re passionate about. In debates and interviews … yeah, not so much. But don’t wanna spam about George in a thread about Matt - I just know nothing about the guy but still sad to see someone prolific choosing to employ what also to me looks very much like scammy tactics.

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FIFY.

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Aye, agreed. It’s too often presented as something that will deliver 100,but I suspected it won’t deliver much more than 60. That’s my main problem with Refold. The idea that you can get away with the bear minimum of study seems unlikely to me.

Sounds more like a lack of willingness and motivation than anything else.

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I visited it once when he launched it but I don’t know much about it. It’s not so much about the content as it is about how he advertises it. Then I started to see videos about the “secret” but he would never say what it was— just that it was going to be revolutionary. I did not receive that email about uproot. That was posted by OP on that reddit post.

My whole point is that what he has done is shady. If you actually take the time to watch the videos from the links I posted, you’ll see that his behavior goes way beyond what I have mentioned. He actually had conversations with someone on discord about how he wanted to take down a popular youtuber because the latter was exposing Matt. After 3 copyright strikes, he was able to do it. Then there are videos where he talks about how he wants to profit from the gullible and the rich with his suppose “secret” technique.

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No, I did mean it as in “relating to a scam”. “Scummy” works well too though I guess.

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T’was a joke :eyes:.

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I don’t find it critically important because I can understand these people perfectly well. I live in a very multicultural part of the world, many people have accents and pronounce words in non-standard ways. I worked with many at my previous company. These people are not perceived poorly around here and that’s a good thing.

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