Prevent Eternal Student Mode by Increasing Immersion

Learn forever? That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Learning a language doesn’t have an end. Not only is it so vast that it would take you a lifetime to learn everything (even if that were possible or desirable), but it is continuously evolving. Being constantly surprised and learning new things in Japanese is fun and refreshing, especially when you least expect it.

You will always be learning and this is great. But there is one thing you want to avoid:

Becoming an eternal student

Do Not Become An Eternal Student

The eternal student: Someone who only studies through textbooks and flashcards, practices conversations in a controlled environment, for the purpose of classes, tests and other measures of ability.

Who would want to stay in this world any longer than they have to? Surprisingly, many people. You get used to student-mode. You remain in that warm environment that your Japanese has grown up in. That comfort zone. You are improving, and that improvement feels good.

So you stay there: forever.

Those who never turn to immersion

The goal of studying is to enjoy what you can do with Japanese. Not for the studying itself. In the beginning, you are in student mode, and that is your appropriate focus. Anki and textbooks make up most of your studying. But as you move into intermediate level and beyond, immersion (touching the native Japanese world in every shape and form) will start to dominate your studying. Eventually immersion will overcome everything.

Do Not Become An Eternal Student 2

Beginning

99%: Study materials
1%: Immersion

End

99%: Immersion
1%: Study materials

When I tell people that I still study Japanese, they picture me working hard at textbooks and flashcards. My “study” is 99% immersion and 1% study materials. That 1% is probably the 30 minutes a week it takes to go through Anki reviews, occasional J-J dictionary searches, and working a bit on improving the smoothness of my speaking. I used to be all over study materials, all the time. But that time is long gone.

Even if you are not an eternal student, people have trouble making the adjustment from Anki being the center of their universe to realizing its increasingly minor role. There is a reason why my personal Anki deck grew to 12,000 cards in a few years, and for the many years after that increased only by the hundreds.

Remember: your goal is not to be a Japanese student. It’s to be a Japanese master.

Where are you at?

Do Not Become An Eternal Student 3

What does your study vs. immersion balance look like? In the comments, leave your level, immersion %, and study %.

Example:

Level: 25
Study: 70%
Immersion: 30%

I think seeing how everyone balances out their study vs immersion at their current level will be a useful statistic to reflect upon.



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Adam

Adam

Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.

Comments

Prevent Eternal Student Mode by Increasing Immersion — 37 Comments

  1. Level 35
    Study: 40%
    Immersion: 60%

    This is the best I could average those statistics out to. Realistically, on my days off from work it’s:

    Study: 20%
    Immersion 80%

    I honestly don’t understand everything I’m watching, but that’s ok! I’m watching material designed for natives and having fun while doing it!

    • Watching material designed for natives and having fun is the ultimate secret to success. As long as you can keep that up, you win.

  2. Level: 60
    Study: 10%
    Immersion: 90%

    Anki reviews are almost non-existent for me now. I get <10 minutes' worth per day, and often let them stack up for 2-3 days before clearing them out. I spend ~2-4 hours on weekends diving in the dictionary and making Anki cards, which accounts for the majority of my "study" hours at this point. Beyond that, as much immersion time as my schedule allows =)

    • I’m still waiting for the day when it says today I have 0 reviews due. Have gotten close (around 10-15 maybe?) but not quite there. Though maybe it’s not even possible considering how many cards are in the deck.

      Not that it matters. I do the same as you, and wait till they build up to bother with them.

      • You guys might really benefit from the review ahead feature in anki. You get to review how ever many days ahead and it reduces their interval to account for being reviewed early. I recently review’ed ahead a whole month worth of Jalup beginner reviews (which was like about ~200) you guys can probably do the same and just not have to worry about reviews for a month.

        • I occasionally use the feature if I specifically want to do Anki and don’t have enough reviews to last me. There really isn’t much worry though at this point whether I do them early or later.

          Thanks though for your input!

  3. Level: 17
    Study: 50%
    Immersion: 50%

    I am doggedly reading some manga I want to catch up on which is 90% of my immersion. However I think I’m going to dive into studying more as I really want to understand more of what I’m reading.

    • After level 25 I started tipping towards more immersion. At ~30, I’m probably 30/70 right now (30 being all anki) and I know I’ll tip farther into immersion as I go. And while I do like studying the JALUP decks from Anki, I really dislike textbook studying and whatnot.

      Immersion is so much more fun :) especially once I got over the mental block I had and started watching things.

  4. Level: 27
    Study: 40%
    Immersion: 60%

    Going full japanese immersion is my goal for june and so far it is going great.

  5. Level: ~40

    Study:10%
    Immersion: 90%

    During school
    Study:70%
    Immersion:30%

    Keep in mind I do an hour of anki everyday. The recent unlock of the gates of immersion and increase in freetime were the perfect combination for my immersion to take over most of my time. Now I’d rather watch some anime over doing anki which is better than last month with it being reverse. If passive immersion counts then it’s more like a 5:95 ratio

  6. Hahaha, I feel this post.

    Level: 25ish
    Study: 95%
    Immersion: 5%

    I’ve been doing this for eight years and I hate my life (okay, not really). The trouble is my health is rubbish and it’s difficult to do any kind of sustained study – half an hour of Anki a day exhausts me, I have to take regular breaks from studying that can last months, etc etc. But I started over recently with the Beginner 1000 and I’m coming to the end of that, so I’ll see how it goes with the Intermediate..?

    I tried branching but it just absolutely killed me. :/ Maybe I should go full immersion, but it feels like a whole bunch of stuff I barely understand, and there’s stuff obviously that I *have* to do in English which also drains a lot of my energy for study.

    I liked the post recently that was like “it’s okay to not do all of this stuff and to study however works for you”. I read reasonably well by now with dictionary assist (e.g. Rikaichan) which is not what I was hoping by now when I started this journey, rofl, but is still a huge accomplishment for me.

  7. Incoming first post

    Level: 25
    Study: 25%
    Immersion: 75%

    I’ve been studying Japanese for about fourteen years, yet never got the chance to experience proper immersion until now. I currently live in Japan right now, yet I can’t help but feel that I haven’t gotten used to immersion long enough. I’ve contemplated going back to studying Japanese via classes and taking notes, but I’ve done enough of that.

    Right now, I’m reading a couple of manga in Japanese, using a J-J dictionary, and watching Japanese TV shows and anime without subtitles. I’ve gotten used to doing this for a long time, which is paying off. Though sometimes I get lost trying to understand everything. Though I am very picky about some of the stuff that I watch (especially when it comes to manga and anime,) which can make things a little harder.

    • Welcome to the site.

      Any time to introduce immersion is a good time. Surprisingly, while living in Japan itself helps, it doesn’t introduce as much immersion as most people think (which is why people that live in Japan don’t just magically become fluent). So it takes effort to add natural Japanese to your daily life.

  8. Level: 40
    Study: 20
    Immersion: 80

    At around 12000 jj cards, 1000 je. Should probably stop studying so much but I’m addicted to anki haha, feel like I’m not moving as fast without it and using dictionary looks up. Though I do both.
    I think I’ll stop at 20000 probably. That was my original goal when I finished jalup series

    Wanna create more of my own cards too. Been sentence mining a fair bit lately. Need to find out a better way of doing it on mobile, only really works on Pc web browsing and kindle. Haven’t made enough of them into cards and keep falling back onto premades where i don’t need a pc. Self created cards pose me no problem (once made), just making them is a lot more tedious, though I recognise their benefits.

      • haha! I can’t compete with your immersion hours though! Try as I might. Gonna take you losing your eyes for me to catch up with you…

        yeah, the plan was 20000 jj, then switch to English and mine 20000 sentences, read a shit ton of books while maintaining Japanese. hit 20000 for english, back to Japanese for another 20000…. by the time I reach 40,000 in each I hope there’s an even better way of learning! Like uploading information straight to my brain. But I guess theoretically I could end up at 100,000, if Anki stays relevant until then.

        the 20,000 figure is only approximate though, I’m sure I’ll go a little over. Plan to finish your One deck, Manan’s 5000, whilst mining and creating my own cards from majority web articles/books (which I turn to cards every 100 I find). So I doubt it will be a 20,000 flat when I chuck 日本語 onto the backburner!

        I wanna be more like you when I come back though and focus on novels. Right now I’m really hammering my listening to get to fluency in that, so my novel reading is only a 1 hour or less most days (which is a little sad). I still read a shit ton of web articles (especially with e3 having happened most recently), and watch 30 min broadcast of news most days. So my reading still gets a lot of love. Though I appreciate -much like self created cards- the immeasurable, specific value that novels hold. Don’t think there’s a faster way to grow your comprehension!

        • That’s a lot of cards! Keep me updated on how/what you decide to do with it. I think I used to have lofty Anki goals, but I started to change directions to focusing on novels. I’m curious if you will also change, or you’ll stick with the full-force Anki route, and how that path will work for you.

          Novels are still my main focus, but I’ve been developing/testing a new study technique, which so far has been doing great things. I’m still new to it, but I’m hoping for a major power boost (I’ll definitely write about it here if it works).

          I’m looking forward to increasing our competition over the next months/years! I need some good adversaries to keep myself motivated haha.

  9. Level – around 45-50ish, I guess, although with the path I am taking, it is a little hard to work out how I fit into the level system here.

    As much as I can, I am trying to “grow myself up” in Japanese, so it is not easy to clearly distinguish between “study” and “immersion,” because a fair amount of my “study” time is working with 国語 textbooks for native Japanese children. I am mostly working at the 4th grade level now. I am also working with the N2 Kanzen Master series, which is also in Japanese.

    Anki: 15%
    Study using native Japanese 国語 material: 30%
    Study using N2 Kanzen Master material: 10%
    Recreational, unstructured immersion (listening, kaiwa, anime, reading, games, etc.): 45%

    • I think it’s fine to combine study time with immersion time, so this will change your percentages a bit.

  10. I’ve been trying to push myself to get back into Anki to expand my vocabulary recently. I’ve been at a plateau for way too long!

    Level: ~50

    During the week, about:
    – 2 hours of podcasts/TV
    – 45 minutes of reading
    – an hour of Anki reviews

    Weekends, about:
    – 2 hours of reading per day
    – 2 hours of podcasts/TV per day
    – an hour of Anki reviews per day
    – 2 hours of making Anki cards over the course of the weekend

    Which averages out to:

    Study: 30%
    Immersion: 70%

  11. Level : 24-ish, not quite 25 since I still haven’t jumped into J-J
    Study : 20% right now, way more a few weeks ago for uni
    Immersion : 80%

    I’ve finally found a drama that I can binge watch in Japanese ! It has subtitles, but since they’re so out of sync, I almost don’t pay attention to them, maybe sometimes when the characters speak in Osaka-ben or about a topic I’m not at all familiar about, but it’s so tedious to read the dialogue three sentences later that I often get rid of the subtitles by scrolling up just to cut the bottom part of the screen to hide them.

  12. Level: 57
    Study: 25% (slightly high because I’m taking the July N1)
    Immersion: 75%

    The other week I came across the quote 「習うより、慣れろ」. It was in a blog about literary Japanese, but I’ve found it motivational with the modern language too. My post-JLPT goal is getting my ratio to 10:90.

  13. Level 5
    Study: 95%
    Immersion: 5%

    I watch anime w/out subtitles, listen to songs and to a Japanese podcast. I am recognizing more and more vocab. Have begun labelling items in my home in Japanese. (Thanks, Daily Defender!)

  14. Level: 19
    Study: 83%
    Immersion: 17%

    I read some manga in Japanese, listen to songs, watch anime (though with subtitles).

  15. Level: 37ish(I only a vague idea since I want to try each test your might stage once or twice else it kinda feels like knowing it by heart rather than having the actual level)
    Study : 5%
    Immersion : 95%

    I usually read 2 or 3 novels with different contexts, usually around 1/10th of each one a day, to get sort of an SRS effect, rather than plowing through each one in 3 days.
    I don’t know if it makes sense but since a book use some of the same vocabulary throughout the text, I feel it’s better to stretch the reading to a week rather than seeing it for 2/3 days then not seeing it for a while since the other book doesn’t use it much (or at all), then I read multiple books to still get a lot of reading (altogether I read around 100+ pages a day). I also play some verbose RPGs (thanks 英雄伝説) to counteract the fact that the time to text read ratio is slower in videogames.

    As far as studying goes, now it’s pretty much Anki for words I feel like I won’t see in a while and looking up grammar in the 日本語文型辞典, but most of the books I read so far has mostly standard grammar so I don’t really have to look those up anymore, I still read a novel way harder than my level once in a while to better my grasp on the language, but reading a lot still makes me grow faster for now.

    I guess to sum it up in a word : 多読

  16. Level 15

    Study: 70%
    Immersion: 30%

    My studying is basically all sentence decks in Anki, and reading Tae Kim. I then try to spend as much of my remaining free time in immersion. Still trying to work out that balance and find more materials I can enjoy, but I found I’m starting to make alot more progress when I stop stressing about *how* to learn the language, or if my method is the right one and instead just doing it. It’s really hard for someone like me to do but this whole endeavour is really encouraging me to not be afraid of making mistakes in my studies :)

  17. I think my percentages so far average out to:

    3 hours a day Anki…
    3 hours a day immersion… 30 minutes of which is active listening/watching and 2 1/2 hours passive listening, alternating between foreground and background.

    So it is about 50/50, but the quality of my immersion varies so widely that I would say as far as quality time is concerned I am closer to

    70% Study
    30% Immersion.

    I am just about level 20. I’m 40 kanji away from 1000 and just finished the 1000 J-E Jalup deck. I’m going to take the Jalup Level test tomorrow to see where I stand.

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