3 Signs You’re Getting The Japanese Immersion You Need

Reaching a high level in Japanese requires engaging with the language as it’s used in music, movies, books, tweets, posts, and conversations. It requires, in other words, a lot of immersion. But how do you know you’re getting the immersion that you need? It’s not as simple after all as just asking whether you are reading Japanese or can hear it being spoken right now.

What you need are some signals that reflect your habits over longer ranges of time.

There are three such signs that I have noticed. They are not perfectly accurate signals, but they do reflect the contact you’re having with Japanese online and they are each nearly omnipresent to boot.

1. Advertisements

As you no doubt already know, the internet is scarily good at figuring out what kind of person you are, what things you are interested in, and what you may consider buying. It is so good that after starting your Japanese adventure, you may in fact begin to notice that the ads are changing.

At first, these ads may be trying to sell you airline tickets to Japan or lessons at a Japanese language school. Later on, they may think you are a Japanese person wanting to learn “fruitful English.” And even further into your journey, the ads may think you’re a Japanese person interested in drawing or programming or whatever it is that you personally enjoy.

These advertisements are good signals of where you are spending your time online and whether you are immersing enough in Japanese. There will be exceptions of course, but if you notice something like the above progression, you’re on the right track.

2. Recommendations

Sites like YouTube and Twitter go to great lengths to increase user traffic. They have algorithms that look at what you liked or whom you followed, and they then make very educated guesses about what videos you will want to watch or what people you will want to follow.

twitter.recommendationsThe recommendations of sites like these are incredibly valuable when finding content you’ll love in Japanese, but they also reflect how you’ve been using them.

For example, at the start of your quest, YouTube will probably recommend videos for learning Japanese in English—and then learning English via Japanese (which is how I found Eigo Egg and thus one of my favorite resources for learning Japanese online).

Later still, it will begin to reflect more what you are learning or what you find entertaining in Japanese. Something similar will happen with Twitter, too.

In any case, if the recommendations from these sites do get to the point where they’re almost all in Japanese, this is a sign that you’re immersing right and should keep on doing what you’re doing.

3. Most Visited Sites

If you use Google Chrome, the tab showing your most visited sites is a powerful signal about where you are spending your time online.

Are those sites about Japanese? Good job. Are they in Japanese? Even better.

The eight sites listed in this tab don’t provide a perfectly accurate view of your online activity. For example, they don’t come with data about how much time you spend at each and the signal can thus be misleading.

But if some of those sites are in Japanese, and even the “grandfathered” sites like YouTube and Twitter start to be dominated by it, chances are you’re getting the immersion you need to reach the level of Japanese you want.

Do you know of any other signals that reflect the extent to which you are engaging with Japanese online—perhaps even better than these do? How about offline signals?

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I love reading books in Japanese and plan to start translating them into English in 2015.


3 Signs You’re Getting The Japanese Immersion You Need — 4 Comments

  1. This article really only applies to people who use software/web services that infringe on basic privacy.

    Youtube suggestions are normal, but ads reflecting your browsing history are not.

  2. Not only does it gauge your immersion, but it also assists it. If you are going to be subjected to ads, it’s always nice to know that your Japanese will benefit.

  3. Yeah, I guess for people who have changed their settings so that they never see ads (or only ads that aren’t as relevant because they don’t take into account their browser activity) the first sign won’t be that helpful.

    Still, I don’t know anyone personally who has done that and even for those who have, there are probably other options that are as useful.

    For example, if the first website that pops up when I type a letter “a” into the address bar is ajatt.com, I would see that as a sign that I was doing good. If it is amazon.co.jp, I’d take that as a sign that I’ve been doing even better.

    Also, forgetting about the internet world entirely, if I’m mumbling words in Japanese as I make my way to the cafe, that’s a good sign. If the song stuck in my head is a Japanese one, that’s good too. And if old friends ask me about my Japanese studies, that’s good. But if new friends ask me about my interests in Japanese, that’s really good.

    The same goes for anyone else of course. The point is not specific to ads; it’s to look for signs that reflect your taking this journey seriously (and in some cases to actually read the signs as they can be a great help to you on it).

  4. well, time to take a look at my frequented sites!
    1. WaniKani (mnemonics based Kanji)
    2. JALUP!!
    3. Complete guide to learning Japanese by Tae Kim
    4.Gmail :P
    6.GlowProducts (I put way too much time into which glowsticks I am going to buy for a Hatsune Miku concert XD)
    7.Learn Katakana: the Ultimate Guide
    8.Kasane Teto “Kasane Territory”- Zutto Teto No Turn
    9.Katakana Drag-and-Drop exercise
    10.Youtube to mp3 converter (for ripping vocaloid songs off of youtube)
    Well, I think its working.

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