Immersion. Watch TV, listen to music, read manga, and you’ll be fluent. Sounds like the ultimate fun shortcut that you’d be foolish not to pursue. People that aren’t fond of immersion, or those that outright shun it, don’t really grasp what it actually promises. They think that it is just some false ploy to make you think that listening to incomprehensible Japanese all day is going to magically make you a master.
Let’s make it clear.
Immersion is not easy.
It is not some miracle solution. It just appears easy. It is simple after all. You don’t have to do anything special except do what you normally do in your own language just this time in Japanese. How hard could that be?
Merely listening to a language long enough to “get used to it” and “acquire it naturally” is not what immersion is about.
Immersion has 2 factors and it doesn’t work unless you do both.
1. Study Japanese with language learning materials. Textbooks, flashcards, apps, classes, conversations, or anything where you are directly learning something.
2. Immerse in real native Japanese material
What happens here isn’t magic. It isn’t cheating. And it definitely isn’t a shortcut. Everything you learn from your study materials is what fuels immersion’s source of power.
By immersing, you:
1. Learn how to take the Japanese you acquired in learner materials, and then use/understand it in a natural context.
2. Reinforce what you know by seeing/hearing it in an infinite number of variations.
3. Pick up new things you didn’t learn with study materials through natural context.
Learning materials are what makes the immersion machine actually get moving. This is why in the walkthrough, immersion comes after you are already using study materials for a number of months. If your knowledge base is zero, immersion will produce minimal results.
Immersion is a big challenge camouflaged by its seemingly friendly appeal. People expect J-J to be a huge deal, but they often underestimate immersion. You will struggle.
So why do immersion then?
Your learning materials create the base. They will eventually get boring and can only take you so far. You can practice all you want but if you don’t actually ever have a match, how do you expect to be a pro?
Easy? No. Worthwhile? Yes. Yes. Yes.