What do you guys think of Dogen?

While I like his contents, Dogen does scare Japanese learners though haha. He make it sounds like pitch accent is the most important aspect in Japanese and you should do it as soon as possible. Actually it depends on learners’ goal.

He did that because he knows his content is really niche and many people might not want to subscribe to him unless they are quiet competent in Japanese.

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Exactly. The way he phrases himself has probably gotten some people to drop what they’re doing and study phonetics. Which is what alarmed me a little bit.

If you are an English native speaker, really pay attention to keep use clear vowel あいうえお, pay attention to short and long vowel and remove your English stress and you are like 80% there. That’s my only small complain with Dogen, he goes straight to advanced topic like pitch accent and skip all the basic phonetic, the one that is actually important to be understood ! (Not always though, his devoicing video is very good) But I guess it make perfect commercial sense, teaching advanced phonetic is a very unique asset.

Btw I call it the こわい/かわいい test, If you are a English speaker and native speakers can 100% tell which one you said under any circumstance, you are probably out of the woods. It seems easy, but I saw many English speakers slip sometimes. I remember a guy he could speak fairly fluently, and 100x better than me, but sometimes when he was excited about something and talking too fast he would revert to his English accent and we were back to square one trying to figure out if he said こわい or かわいい :grinning:

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I don’t have much trouble with 怖い and かわいい. I’m not a native English speaker though. I’m Norwegian, so I’m very used to hearing different accents. We have accents that differ from each other like crazy here.
Norwegians have an easy time understanding Swedish and Danish because of that. They often just sound like accents to us, especially Swedish.

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I’m far from an expert, but I think focusing on pitch accent early on in your studies is a kinda weird way to spend your time. Like, I think it’s something to be aware of as you move on from the beginner stage, but it also differs depending on where in Japan you live. I don’t particularly care if I sound like I have a perfect Tokyo accent either lol.

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Really love his comedy skits.

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His Patreon series covers both pitch accent and general pronunciation, and does so quite well. He’s passionate about the field and qualified. Not a “cash grab” nor scare tactic, nor does it come off that way to me.

If your learning objective is just say reading manga or watching anime then working on pronunciation may not be a value-added exercise, and there may be some opportunity cost there.

For me, I wanted to use the language while traveling in Japan, and I put some priority on pronunciation. In my experience with a couple different foreign languages as well as exposure to a volume of non-native speakers of English, I think pronunciation and overall confidence go a long way in how you’re perceived. That perception can impact whether or not you are replied to in the target language or something else.

Personal anecdotes:

On the rare occasion I managed to schedule a video tutoring with a native speaker, one of the first questions I got was, “Well your pronunciation is good, how long did you live in Japan?”

Later on, traveling in Japan itself I had a lot more confidence that I was actually saying something reasonably close to correct, as opposed to just “making Japanese sounds.” As a result I found that if I engaged someone in Japanese, I got Japanese back rather than English… at least until a point where I ran out of vocabulary and stared at them with a blank face :slight_smile:

So. Could you study and work on pronunciation yourself? Of course. Might people converse with you in Japanese even if your pronunciation is awkward? Sure. But, I found Dogen’s material to be very well put together, insightful, and of benefit to me in improving my accent. Even if you don’t take a deep dive into it, I found that general awareness of things at an early stage helped me identify and avoid making and repeating mistakes. Certainly harder to unlearn bad habits once they’re ingrained.

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There are so many aspects of learning a language, especially the Japanese language, and Dogen is targeting a very specific audience. It’s not for everyone. Same as most of the learners never study handwriting, much less mastering calligraphy that’s always been a characteristic part of Japanese.

I can’t really blame him for putting so much pressure on pronunciation. When I was attending to the English language classes at school, pretty much all the teachers had a horrible pronunciation and the only way for me to improve it was to self study. If it wasn’t for that and if I tried to copy my teachers’ way of speaking, I’m certain that some native speakers wouldn’t be able to understand me. And my goal is to blend in, just as if I wasn’t 外人 (and eventually acquire 関西弁, but that’s a long-term goal). That being said, people like Dogen and their content are exactly what I need and I’m thankful for their dedication. He has a great deal of knowledge to share and imho the pricing is fairly good as well. He is exceptionally passionate about the topic.

I haven’t subscribed to his Patreon yet. I don’t know if I will, but for now I can enjoy his free YT content. Obviously this isn’t a necessity. Same as I don’t have to buy Genki or any other book/course/subscription to study the language. All these are merely the tools that make the process easier and more effective.

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Right. I suspect the “learn pitch accent right away” thing largely comes from this. It’s not really “pitch accent is most important”. It’s “pitch accent is hard to fix if you’ve been doing it wrong for years”.

Personally, I find pitch accent really interesting, but I also haven’t prioritized speaking at all. So for me, I’ve gone with the “general awareness” approach, plus looking things up as I get curious. I would like to subscribe to Dogen’s Patreon series eventually, but now’s not the right time for me. I definitely think he’s qualified and knows what he’s talking about.

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By the way, did Dogen indicate how much his one patron paid to make the devoicing lesson publicly available on YouTube? I’m curious what the going rate is for a single video.

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I don’t remember him saying any specific number.

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I subscribed to his Patreon for a month for his lessons and although the content on Pitch Accent is pretty interesting, it’s not something that I find personally worth dedicating more than Grammar, Vocabulary etc.

Even if I wanted to delve further into pitch accent, I would just be practising with a teacher to get immediate feedback. I actually practised my pitch accent with my Japanese teacher once during a lesson, and even among the Japanese teaching community, they would refer to Dogen for pitch accent training. But I personally find immediate feedback more effective instead of watching his videos, practising talking to myself and asking myself in a 3 hour dilemma if the pitch was perfect like Dogen’s.

I respect the hustle though, if someone really wants to sound like a native his content on pitch accent is the best place to do it.

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Why do people always shame others that want to make a living/be paid for a lot of work they’ve done? Not everyone can/wants or should work for free.

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right? This is his full-time job.

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Fun fact: I’ve actually been doing one of Dogen’s suggestions to improve pitch accent if you want to do so but don’t have the means to subscribe to his Patreon, which is to watch the same movie or the same episode of a drama repeatedly.

It really worked, not only did I improve on my accent, I also managed to quickly improve my listening skill as well. I watched a certain episode of 古畑任三郎(ふるはたにんざぶろ) about 10 times over the past few weeks to the point that I can completely shadow their way of talking in some parts of dialogue. Sounds boring, but the more you replay the same movie or episode, the more you will be able to understand and the more words you can pick up on as well.

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I know it certainly works, but I just can’t put myself to do it…

Watching the same movie over and over again sounds too boring.

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Yeah a movie certainly feels too long, that’s why I picked a show which has episodes that last 30-40 minutes long and is a genre of something that I really enjoy.

I also thought it would be a bore, but being able to comprehend more and more of what they are saying + being able to catch more words with each replay didn’t make it feel that way

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I’m not shaming him for making it paid. I was referring to how he made it seem somewhat urgent, then suddenly pointed you to his Patreon. I actually just subscribed to his Patreon.
I was looking for opinions on what people thought about him/his content. He was ultimately giving me a sales pitch with his videos; it’s only natural for me to want some opinions on him to make an informed purchase.

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I’ve never looked at Dogen, or if I have, I don’t remember doing so.

What I do know is that, in my experience, there is a huge difference in how people interact with you when they don’t think you can handle the complexity of what they might say. The most extreme version of this, of course, is when people yell words at you while flailing their arms, in the hopes that higher volume will suddenly endow you with divine translation abilities. And the way that a lot of people judge whether they need to gesticulate violently at you is through your accent.

I’ve noticed that accent is even used at times as a proxy for intelligence: if you sound like you’re “not smart” people will treat you that way. If conversely you sound native, people are far more comfortable with getting to the substantive content rather than worrying about the transmission of the content. And they are also far more forgiving of small errors because they are willing to assume it’s due to a carefully deliberated choice of words to show a certain nuance rather than an outright mistake. This has been my experience wrt to English (as a native observing interactions between natives and non-natives), French (same), Spanish, and a couple more languages.

Being able to hold deep conversations of the quality I’ve noticed natives hold amongst themselves is the main reason I would place a lot of emphasis on pronunciation and pitch.

Obviously, people will have equally anecdotal counter-examples, but having been on the butt end of such interactions even once was enough for me to realize that accent is critically important if you want to be taken seriously by more people than otherwise would have paid attention to the content of your speech.

As for the argument about starting out with accent and pitch: absolutely agree it’s a good idea for any language. Bad habits are very hard to fix. Might as well get a head start.

As someone who has fought the battle early in his childhood to not let his accent get influenced by his environment, I can assure you that the way I am perceived when I speak is very different to the way other English speakers who have been influenced by my (typically non-English-speaking) environment are perceived. Same for French, to an even larger degree.

@Jonapedia, I suspect, will have some good insights on this front too.

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George Trombley brought this up, understandably, after pitch accent became a trendy topic for Japanese YouTubers. Then he and Matt debated the topic, like a week ago.

I like Dogen’s videos, especially his short sketches about certain aspects of Japanese culture (like banking) that those of us who live in Japan find odd/amusing.

I’ve tried to talk to my wife about pitch accent, and I’m a little mystified as to why Dogen’s entire focus is pitch accent… I’ve also wondered if he’s gotten into discussing dialects and regional differences at all, and to what extent. I would think that that regional differences AND how STANDARD Japanese vs. REGIONAL Japanese is viewed by locals is more important than pitch accent itself. I mean, I’m busy enough asking my wife how she’d say something vs. what the textbook says. Also, Dogen sounds more nasally than lots of the Japanese people I know here in Kyushu.

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