How many of you have had this thought? Now I occasionally talk about immersion, and I know exactly what’s going through your mind (as mastering Japanese does indeed actually lead to developing telepathy).
This is you:
“How can there be any value in listening to something when I can only understand 1% of it?”
I want to break this down into the most simple answer imaginable (if you want more excruciating details, see the above linked article madness).
While you only “understand” 1%, you actually “know” closer to 10%
What lies! How could you possibly know that?!
Assuming you are starting immersion with at least the 500+ card mark I recommend, you already know a nice early chunk of basic language. Basic language, while well… basic, is ridiculously important (hence the J-E phase before going J-J), and makes up most of the whole of used language.
I’m sure the dictionary contains hundreds of thousands of words. But I know you’ve run across vocabulary frequency charts like:
● The 100 most common Japanese words
● You only need these 250 words to understand Japanese
● 500 words to Japanese fluency
● With these 1000 words, you may be crowned (?) emperor of Japan
Japanese, like all language, has a base set of words that get the most play time. Everything beyond this base expands the possibilities of the language. The basics should be able take your understanding far. However, there is a problem that keeps lovers “know” and “understand” apart. There is a major blockage jamming you up.
That blockage consists of grammar particles being dropped, word order changed, accents, mumbles, screams, high voices, low voices, fast talk, slow talk, slurred words, noise, and all the other things you find in the real and wild Japanese world.
The solution to remove that blockage?
Dark magic at work?
Here’s a simple challenge: Watch an episode of anime (you were about to anyway). Now immediately watch it a second time (you were about to anyway).
Did you understand anything new (regardless of how small) that you didn’t the first time around?
I don’t care if it was only one additional word in 20 minutes, but you did.
That’s one piece of blockage that was removed. And usually it is more than one piece.
By continually listening, your brain is making connections from what you know, and tying it to what you understand. And don’t forget that while you are removing blockage, you are also continuously improving your “know” through learning new words in J-E/J-J, which makes the removal of that blockage even easier.
That’s the power of immersion.
The major challenge to this all is to find material that you can enjoy while the blockage level is still high. That’s where finding level appropriate material, re-watching your favorites you originally saw in English, or watching what can be entertaining without much language comes in.
You are the 1%. But with a massive cleanup, you’ll eventually be the 99%. Guaranteed. How’s that for flipping numbers and playing on worn out economic catch phrases?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.