What is the most recent thing you realized was bad advice for learning Japanese?

Fantastic observation.

People hate studying, and they’ll do anything to find a way around it. And there you have it, a vulnerable audience that influencers in the language learning community will ruthlessly make use of. All you need is a thumbnail with a crossed out textbook, or a title “I became fluent in Japanese only watching anime”, and you’ll get clicks, because it’s exactly what people want to hear. Then you give them some vague explanation like, “we never had to study our own native language”, that really only needs to sound like it makes sense and completely ignores the scientific evidence stating that adults can physically not learn a language like a toddler does because their brain is already in a developed state.

Although as for Matt vs. Japan specifically, there’s something I’ll have to say in his defense: In a video I saw about him explaining his Japanese learning journey, he clearly stated you need to study the fundamentals as the first step. I don’t know how consistent he is with that statement because I don’t really watch his videos, nor did I pay for anything he’s selling, but in the one video I did watch, he did not advocate skipping the studying step.


Yeah, he and basically everyone else who’s an immersion learner of a respectable level suggest this.


I don’t want this to turn into a MattVsJapan = Bad thread. He has enough of those out there.


It was really going off the rails, but thanks to you i think we got it back on track

1 Like

What does ‘like a toddler’ mean here? Do you have a source?

I mean, I haven’t done any studying of Spanish and I’m still learning it by watching stuff like this:

Maybe you mean something else, and I don’t want to everyone start beating the horse again. That claim just felt a bit hyperbolic? I mean, you are not gonna develop similar native like skills as with your first language, but I don’t think it’s far-fetched it is possible to learn a language starting like this? Obviously you won’t learn anything if you watch anime that you don’t understand at all, instead of input for your level that you can comprehend.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with studying some fundamentals (and it can kickstart your understanding), but to say it’s impossible to acquire language skills without looking at textbook grammar and explanations feels weird.

FWIW, I don’t really have a strong opinion on the certain guy mentioned here. Probably more negative than positive.


The person quoted most is Krashen (I think thats how you spell it) and he states that we learn through comprehensible input that is i + 1. i = words you know and # = unknown words.


Almost :sweat_smile:. It’s Krashen.


I forgot to reply to the thread.

My ideas on japanese learning started getting pretty cemented around the 5000 hour mark probably so I don’t know if theres a whole lot of recent stuff…but one thing that pops out to me is audiobooks. I’ve been told not to use them before.

One thing to mention is I don’t actually disagree that audiobooks are subpar listening practice. I think they definitely are. However, in my specific case, I had nearly no active listening practice and a lot of reading experience. Audiobooks were better able to use my knowledge of reading as a way to start training my recognition of words in spoken japanese. That coupled with my general interest for books resulted in my listening improving faster listening to audiobooks in my opinion. I do listen to them on 120% speed now though, which solves the problem of slowness.

So overall, I guess I disagree with the advice that audiobooks are a worse choice for everyone. I think that while its subpar as a medium overall for listening practice, in very rare cases peoples individual situations can tip the scales.

My thoughts when i heard Kranshin

Well, not quite but close enough


I still haven’t tried audiobooks, since I’m scared of all the vocab that are only used in books :sweat_smile:. Well, actually did try listening to OREGAIRU, but that didn’t go so well. Admittedly, it wasn’t that easy to read, either. That must be some next level skill to recognize those words that are usually only in writing (and that would be obvious from kanji).

I have Konbini Ningen as an audiobook, so I should attempt that.


Audiobooks are still a level of impossible for me because it turns into gobblygook after about a minute or two with some instances of “I know this word and this word.” I need to get used to reading books first.


Well luckily I don’t think you’re missing a whole lot.

Honestly a lot of the harder writing words are a lot easier because they are just more memorable and unique I feel like.

Although the only reason I actually started listening to audio books is because I got my hands on like several hundred for free. Normally I feel like they are just not worth the price at all. Ahoy.

But yeah, just to be clear I don’t actually recommend people listen to audiobooks lol


I don’t have any interest in audiobooks, but could you elaborate on why this is the case? I have a friend who would always try to justify driving long commutes because podcasts exist. They seem more or less the same to be, but there are few learning specific podcasts I usually see people praising.


Audiobooks and podcasts are two totally different things.


There’s this French movie or documentary about an attempt to integrate a boy, who grew up in the woods without human interaction, into society. Turns out the boy could never actually manage to learn how to speak the language. Unfortunately I don’t remember the title of it, but if anyone here knows about it, I think if you look that one up you’ll find a lot of studies on this phenomenon.

But there’s been many more cases of children spending their early years isolated, and none of them ever managed to learn a language. This is because the brain of an infant is much more apt for learning than an adult’s.

The video is designed to be comprehensible for you as a beginner learner. If he says “hablar” while gesticulating a speaking motion, then this is basically the same as if you encountered the line “hablar=to speak” in a vocabulary list. Technically you could go from zero to fluent like that if you had the appropriate material for all stages, but even then, that’s what studying is. I can read you a list of vocabulary and explain a few points of grammar, or I can use gestures and pictures and sounds to convey the same - in the end, it’s the same information only with different presentation.

It’s good that you already know about Krashen’s comprehensible input theory. Key word I’m going to rely on here is “comprehensible”. Just any input won’t do the job, it has to be comprehensible. If it’s comprehensible, you have a context that you can use to make sense of and to learn what you normally wouldn’t be able to understand. And the video does that, which is why it should be helpful to you even if you haven’t learnt anything else yet.

The point I’m trying to make here is: You can try listening to an-hour-long Arab podcast without knowing a word. You can even do it twice, thrice, or however many times you want to. You’re not going to understand it, because your brain needs context. You’re not going to improve, because the input is not comprehensible.


Well, I intentionally didn’t try to justify it because I don’t want to have to get a rebuttal from Kakashifan72 who has been studying japanese for 6 months and never listened to an audiobook in japanese in his life but is very certain about their value. I just wanted to make it clear that while I am saying audiobooks helped me a lot I’m not trying to preach them or suggest other people do them as well and if anything its the opposite.

As morte said, podcasts and audiobooks are completely different. Podcasts are better.

Since you’re asking though, to quickly sum it up, if your goal is to listen to audiobooks then listen to audiobooks. Otherwise, your listening skill will be used for spoken japanese, right? This is where the problem comes in.

Audiobooks are not normal spoken japanese. They are slower, cleaner, clearer, and literally use different language. Its an artificial environment that makes the hard parts of spoken japanese easier and makes the easy parts of spoken japanese harder.

Easy parts of spoken japanese (low vocabulary and grammar requirements) → needlessly has required vocab and grammar increased

Hard parts of spoken japanese (speed, mumbling, inconsistency in thoughts and general quicks) → slow perfectly spoken and constructed sentences

You lose your chance to practice the hard parts of speaking and have that replaced with required effort towards things that won’t come in handy in spoken japanese. Whereas if you practice listening to spoken japanese…then 100% of your effort is directed towards things relevant to spoken japanese.

As a result, its subpar. Far from useless, but not the best. Like I said, I used it (and still do) as a way to index words and their audio in my mind. For example, I didn’t know 苦労 the first time I heard it. I have seen 苦労 a million times and would never mistake it, but I had literally no recollection of hearing it since I never practiced listening for 4.5 years, so I couldn’t make the connection. In my case, however, once I hear a word once and can associate the kanji with it in my head, I’m basically guaranteed to be able to recognize it from then on out. So its just a matter of hearing and recognizing every word once. Audiobooks slow pace and clear pronunciation and familiar usages of words in certain contexts gave me plenty of chances to hear a word and flip through all the kanji combinations with that reading I could think of in my head that fit what I expect in that context until I “saw” the right one. From then on out I would have it on faster recall. So for me, it was a nice controlled environment to expose myself to all these words so I could index them in my head with an auditory cue. After like…7 audiobooks I’m at the point where I’m listening to them on 120% speed and I’m going to be done with it after I finish the series I’m listening to because its already run its course honestly. I’m just liking this series and wanna finish it. Efficiency wise I should stop now imo. Don’t even get me started on nonfiction audiobooks, though, honestly. I listened to two of those and they don’t even count. Shit was a joke how easy it is compared to actual full speed native conversation. Those actually didn’t feel like they helped me really.*

*I’m sure you can find some harder nonfiction, but I certainly didn’t.


Could it be this film ? The Wild Child - Wikipedia

I watched it in a philosophy class ages ago (think on a VHS). I almost forgot about it.

Technically you could go from zero to fluent like that if you had the appropriate material for all stages, but even then, that’s what studying is.

I am making a site that attempts to teach Japanese like that :slight_smile: https://drdru.github.io/stories/intro.html

The point I’m trying to make here is: You can try listening to an-hour-long Arab podcast without knowing a word. You can even do it twice, thrice, or however many times you want to. You’re not going to understand it, because your brain needs context.

I have watched two seasons of a Finnish series lately and at the end of it I was thinking there is no way to learn Japanese by just watching animes. After the two seaons I can’t even tell you how to say yes/no/hello/ thank you in Finnish !


That sounds like a completely different case, though. These kids grew up not knowing any language. It’s a pretty big leap to make that kind of deduction from these events, in my opinion.

That’s not the same at all. Watching the video you are acquiring mannerism, rhythm, pronunciation, pitch among else and learning the word with hearing without spelling. I don’t translate it in my head to any other language, but imagine the ‘concept’. Furthermore, you are hearing it in a sentence and getting used to the grammar at the same time. Your brain is at work doing all kinds of pattern recognition instead of just brute memorizing a list.

I can’t agree with this at all. See above.

Maybe we just have a different definition of studying then, or you meant something else. Studying to me is a conscious effort (memorizing words, grammar, creating examples), but watching those videos you are basically doing nothing but taking it in and letting your brain handle it.

This we can agree with.


Oooh, I totally forgot about that kind of mismatch. Sorry for putting you through all that for something that should have been super obvious, but thank you very much for taking the time to explain it.


All good, if you were wondering it, chances plenty of other people are as well.


To be fair if you watched the episodes with the mindset of picking words and learning instead of focusing on subtitles, that would certainly be doable.


yes = kyllä/joo
no = ei
hello = moi/päivää/terve
thank you = kiitos :slight_smile:

1 Like