How to use Free Software to learn Japanese, and more.

Foreword

May 03, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Congratulations! You've taken your first step towards learning Japanese!

I'm Tatsumoto. I'm primarily known for a Telegram channel with focus on helping foreigners learn Japanese language.

This site is a quickstart guide for the subscribers and anyone who wants to build a solid understanding of the Japanese language. We focus on understanding before speaking, or input before output. We believe doing so is the shortest path to fluency, because you avoid whole groups of problems that come with premature output, such as foreign accent and grammar mistakes. This approach makes the journey easy and fun because from day one you are encouraged to learn from compelling content made for native speakers of your target language. Most people who persevered and reached fluency watched their favorite TV shows in Japanese and read lots of books and manga every day. No amount of brute force can get you there, so forget about traditional approaches such as taking classes or hiring a tutor.


Why classes suck:

  • They cost money.
  • They don't provide compelling content, they're boring.
  • In class, you get toxic input, you get to listen to speech produced by other foreigners which is ridden with mistakes.
  • Your teacher doesn't know Japanese, even if you think they do.
  • If you happen to get a native as your teacher, they have no idea how language acquisition works, and they don't remember how they learned Japanese.

The method explained here is widely known as AJATT, or All Japanese All the Time. It is directed at people who want to learn through self-study and get to fluency as fast as possible. The key component to succeeding with AJATT is engaging with the language all the time, going as hardcore as you can.

AJATT has very little formal structure. You learn the most common words, study some basic grammar, but after that you dive into authentic content. You learn new things as they come up in the content.

The emphasis is very strong on input and comprehension in the beginning. You try to get to understand Japanese perfectly before concerning with trying to produce Japanese yourself.

Some things you find on the AJATT site may differ with what I recommend here. The core principles and theory behind the method never change, but the way we practice AJATT tends to shift over time. Many tools simply didn't exist at the time the AJATT site was written, including giant ones like Yomichan, a browser add-on for looking up Japanese words that virtually everyone uses today.

We use a variety of software to help in the learning process. The tools introduced in this guide are free as in freedom. We don't endorse proprietary software and services that mistreat their users.

Money is a concern too. I learned Japanese without spending any money, and I encourage you to do so too. Everything you need to master Japanese can be found online, including anime, manga, light novels and visual novels. Dictionaries, grammar guides and software are also available in abundance.

Avoid blue-pilled resources. There are a myriad of methods out there. Some are effective, but many are not. No one has ever gotten good using JapanesePod101.

Examples of low quality resources:

  • Genki, Minna no Nihongo, Japanese From Zero or any textbook made for foreigners, except for a basic grammar guide in the beginning.
  • Wanikani, Duolingo, Busuu and most "apps", especially if they claim that you can learn to speak a language in 10 minutes a day. The only real app you need is a flashcard application to review what you've learned.
  • Any method that doesn't put immersion first or forces premature speaking.

The next article will provide you with an overview of the method, and the most important steps you need to take. The remaining articles address each step in detail.

Tags: guide