How Much does the Method Matter? — 9 Comments

  1. Hi Adam,

    Great article, and really timely for me, as I have recently had an opportunity to talk for a significant amount of time with a Japanese person on a regular basis.

    This is something that I may not have forever, and I want to make use of the time (as well as enjoy the experience). I noticed that due to my primary method (JALUP/J-J (mostly)) I was resisting learning new Japanese words/concepts from this person when they explained things to me in English. I came to realise that even though they are teaching me in English, I still keep the “fuzzy” ideas I have from my primary study.

    I’m curious if other Jalup/J-J learners have run into similar situations, and what you did/considered.

    • I have never really talked about this on here but I think I overdid the emphasis on J-J only. In short, take advantage of the opportunity and don’t worry about being so strict on J-J. That is just what worked for me and your results may differ. I stayed J-J for all of Jalup. After I finished Jalup I started letting myself cheat when needed and I am so glad I did.

      I still prefer J-J and see the value. When I make my cards I use J-J dictionaries. But I don’t sweat at all doing a quick google translate on a sentence or word. Just know the limitations.

      I am confident enough in my immersion that I know I can (finally) listen to Japanese without having to translate it in my head. My cheating on J-J didn’t hurt that at all from what I can tell. In fact I am speculating but I think there were times it held me back and I would have learned faster if I did mostly J-J but cheated and did J-E to clear up difficult concepts.

      Don’t be afraid to learn the way that feels right for you.

      • Oddly enough, lately I started wondering exact the same thing, whether I have been too strict on the J-J or not. I certainly have moments where accidentally seeing the English (or German) translation of a word suddenly made the J-J definition make sense. I am still unsure whether that is a good or bad thing though, but my gut feeling is that as soon as you have a strong J-J-foundation it at least does not hurt too much. Immersion is where the magic happens anyways (which directly relates to point 6 ;-) ).

      • Hi laddr,

        Can always count on you for great feedback :)

        I have come to the same conclusions pretty much. My main method of continuous study is Jalup, and I aim to continue through all 7000 cards (2/3 Expert ATM).

        I also feel, that since the majority (if not all atm) of my English interpretation is coming from Japanese natives, there is value here beyond a “x” = “y” from a book or dictionary.

        Also, as I note above, I do feel that even when given a single English word to explain a concept I still keep the fuzzy idea in my head so it’s an AND, not an OR.

        Finally, as I am now speaking with Japanese people regularly, this isn’t study, so much as talking with Natives, an end goal rather than a stepping stone :)

        And I am also confident that once I can get my ideas across in more and more accurate Japanese, natives will be more confident to explain a word back to me in Japanese, so that is a future goal too :)

  2. I have so many thoughts on this topic. This article is so on point. The further into my studies I get the more I have realized the most important thing is 5 & 6. I have always been a bit focused on #4. For me it was because I knew it was going to take years to learn and I love being efficient. So I would always search for “The best” #4. But really if you do 5 & 6 right, you will figure out #4 over time and I think it is hard to get it completely wrong lol. The further you get the easier figuring out #4 is anyways because you start to know what you are doing and what you need. And early on you need to learn so much it is hard to go wrong. Anything you learn early on is going to help.

    I would push back on the don’t get advice from learner groups though. I have done that again and again and learned about so many various methods and also firmed up my own thoughts. I think the danger is relying on them as fact. Just use them for what they are ‘one persons opinion’. If you get enough of them though and you put them through your personal ‘what works for me filter’ I think they have value.

  3. This is one of the great things about Jalup. Obviously I think the method itself (#4) is really good, effective, etc — but there’s also plenty of practical advice to help with #5 and, perhaps most important of all, inspiration as fuel for #6. The stuff that makes you _want_ to buckle down and study. For me, that made all the difference in the world.

  4. I tend to disagree. Depening on goals, you can pick the best method to learn up to intermediate. However, the only way to master a language is through immersion, bar none. We could argue what is the best method to get to intermediate levels, but from then on immersion is the most important. Even if you neglect learning words, you can still become fluent from intermediate just through immersion. If you need to take tests on language, then yes, you might need to make sure you understand the exercises, but just for language ability, that’s not that important.

  5. You can absolutly pick a bad method.
    Before I found out about anki, I started from the begining of the Genki text book once a year for about 6 years. I just felt stuck. I was too demoralized by doing the same lessons over again to put in the time.
    However, the reason why this was a bad method is because I didn’t spend enough time studying. The best way to study is to practice everyday. I’m really glad I looked into study methods and found this blog in 2020

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