It Only Takes one Key to Unlock the Gates of Immersion — 26 Comments

  1. For me, that gate was Doraemon. I was just watching it as usual, then after I finished it hit me. “I was able to get it! I didn’t worry about not understanding! Oh my god!” Granted, this took 53 episodes for this to happen, but it was well worth it.

    • Relapse, now I am frustrated with not being able to understand. I can still watch shows and whatnot but with minimal comprehension and it really bothers me because I almost done with JALUP intermediate and still haven’t achieved high enough level to understand shows.

      • lol, just relax man. You won’t understand for years even close to 100%. Hell, even I miss words, especially without subs, on shows like Pokemon. It takes thousands of hours in Japanese to get real comprehension, so just chill and enjoy what you can get/understand. You’re only going to get more and more frustrated with that attitude.

        I recommend rewatching things that you’ve seen in English (that doesn’t mean watching them in English first) if understanding what’s going on is really that important. Or things that are more visually stimulating.

        Anyway, anki cards aren’t some magic potion. You’re not going to hit 2000 cards and magically understand 1 star material. You need heaps and heaps of hours immersion too. My advice is to stop worrying, whatever is happening is completely normal, it happens to everyone.

        Not to brag but just as point of reference, i have done around 1200 hours REVIEW TIME in anki alone (including kanji, and with a review timer limit of 2 minutes). Now considering Anki is where I spend the least of my time in Japanese, and I still can’t ‘understand’ shows like you can do with your native tongue. It takes a long long long long time to get there. So the less you think about it the better. Be happy with what you can do today.

        Unfortunately people tend to drop immersion after frustrating moments like these, when anki is so much less important than it. I recommend a 4:1 ratio of immersion to anki personally (stolen from Tae Kim). You’ll just have to accept what’s happening is normal, and you’re not anywhere even in the realm close to what I think you desire. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy immersion today, you just need to look at different qualities to enjoy.

        PS. I think i read something a long time ago about it taking 90%+ comprehension of novels (I think it was high 90s too) to properly enjoy the plot of a novel. Just consider that next time you’re beating yourself over the head for not understanding, despite only just beginning!

        • 4:1 ratio dang.. 30 minutes on anki a day. So that would mean about two drama episodes a day too. Would it still count to watch those episodes all on the weekend for the week’s debt? Or does it have to be every single day?

          Thanks for the advice James. I have a combination of missing words and legitimately don’t know the word. And I still need to find a show where I want to click next episode. I can watch one episode but feel tired after. You are right about being a beginner; I completed roughly what it takes in 4 years of college Japanese classes (depending on the college) in 5 months thanks to Jalup. I guess I expect too much out of it and expect it to teach me everything, and it would be like this “learn the vocab I need from jalup -> watch/read/etc. media without trouble.”

          • Your ratio any single day probably doesn’t matter all that much… If you aim for a ratio of 4:1 on a weekly basis that is probably just fine. What James says is simply that learning words or sentences will never make you able to understand a conversation or read a manga or novel. Only by doing the actual thing you want to achieve you will get better.

            Doing language classes may suck at some points since most of them don’t recognize the power of Anki, but they do have some merits. Assignments on reading and writing really do help on those skills. Once you discover Anki it is easy to overestimate the power of it actually. Since doing endless Anki-reps suddenly becomes as easy as making it a habit to open up Anki every day. It is easy to come to expect too much from it :)

            I find that doing reading that is above my level is way easier than watching visual media (listening comprehension). That is because with written media I go at my own pace. I can take as long as I want with any one sentence and no one forces me to speed up. With listening you either understand a sentence or you miss it. Once it is said your chance has passed and even thinking about the sentence for a few seconds will just result in missing the next couple sentences too. I have a hard time working with that kind of pressure. Rewinding the video again and again is a pain, so that’s not really a viable solution. I had this same struggle with comprehending spoken English as well and still haven’t found a solution. For that reason I have decided to focus on reading immersion.

          • I dont know if my comment will help you but I try to explain how I see in a simplified example how I see why immersion is so important and understanding is tough before you did a lot of immersion.

            Immagine every word or everything in Japanese has comprehension lvl you are trying to lvl up over time, that looks something like this:

            lvl1: you need to concentrat to understand it even at a specific place like an anki card
            lvl2: you understand it without needing to concentrate much at a specific place
            lvl3: you understand it in immersion material but you need to concentrate a lot
            lvl4: you understand it in immersion material without concentrating much
            lvl5: you can produce it normaly if you conentrat
            lvl6: you can produce it without concentrating

            And those lvls exist seperatly for everything for reading and listening (so you can have something at lvl 4 reading but lvl 3 listening)

            I think Anki alone get most things only to lvl2 or lvl3 (some things you just have to see in immersion a few times before they click)

            And like most RPGs every lvl up takes longer than the last time (even though i am not sure if that is realy the case here but its at least possible i think)

            If you do a lot of anki cards its great you get many many things up to lvl2 and lvl3 which is a great base. But it takes a lot of immersion and time to lvl them up further.

            So please dont be frustrated if you have Problem understanding things most likely many of your knowledge is at lvl2 or lvl3 at the moment which makes it hard to understand stuff. That is even more true for listening stuff, because Anki is mostly Reading.

            But the great thing is by doing immersion (so listening and reading in japanese) you lvl up all your cards no matter what lvl they have! That is I think another reason why immersion gets more and more important compared to anki over time. While the number of anki cards stay the same you level up from zero, with immersion you lvl all the things you have learned at the same time and lvl them up further!

            I hope that helps you to see that you dont have to feel bad if you dont understand much, many of the things are just lvl2 and lvl3 at the moment I assume. But someday many cards will suddenly go from lvl3 to lvl4 and it can feel like your understanding went from bad to good in 1 day!

            Thats why balance of Anki and immersion is important, without anki it gets harder to get stuff to lvl3 and without immersion its harder to lvl up further.

            Of course keep in mind that this is just a simplified version how i see it and not a science fact.

            • You’ve collected all the clow cards, now you have to go back and turn them all into sakura cards. :3

          • Firstly, I think the most important thing is that you lower your unrealistic expecations. Don’t worry though, I was in the same boat, as were most people that are learning a second language for the first time to any real extent. Secondly, I’d increase your patience 1000%, otherwise be prepared for a lot of frustration and dissonance in regards to your perceived ‘lack’ of results.

            I wouldn’t read into it too much. 4:1 is ideal, but not necessary on any given day. Some days you aren’t going to be able to get as much immersion in, or japanese at all. All I’m trying to point out is you can’t expect results from anki without putting that immersion in. There isn’t an immmersion bank, but definitely doing more immersion on one day can help counter having less on another. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to smash all your immersion out in one day either, the brain works best with things spread out and with lots of sleep!

            The point I was trying to get across is you need balance. So just smashing out anki all day every day and then watching 30 minutes of anime is going to leave you pretty deflated. I can’t tell you what mix of what immersion will work for you. If all you do is Anki when you get round to immersion it’s going to seem like you’re barely getting results from the x amount of hours you put into active study of sentence cards.

            By the way, there’s nothing wrong with taking a focus on anki towards the beginning to get yourself a foundation, say around the 1000-3000 card mark or even further in my case. The problem therein lies with high expectations when reentering heavy immersion and you’re like; man I ‘know’ all these words yet I can’t get what’s going on in this anime, book, movie, etc.
            So keep working on anki at your pace if you like, but realise it takes a good long while for your immersion to level out with your anki if you’ve been neglecting it.

            The reason i say recommended 4:1 is because it has a much higher rate of enjoyment, less frustration, and subsequently, less chance of giving up. That’s the last thing you want to do. Don’t think “oh I’ve done all this anki and neglected immersion all this time I’m so screwed”. Those cards still retain their value, you just need to spend the time unlocking each of them in the real world now.

            In short, choose your balance, realize the benefits and downsides of either, and go from there. There is no right or wrong. Well, unless you quit! But you’re not going to do that, are you ;).

            • also, dude, read. You need to read a lot. Like read read read read read. And passive listening at all moments of the day where you can, and listen while you read. And listen to stuff you’ve seen actively before. 30 mins to an hour of raw (no subs)listening practice is plenty a day (this will change as you advance past 10000 cards). The rest should be divvied up between reading and anki. 4:1 being ideal, imo. But that’ll get less and less as you advance.

              I spend 20 minutes on anki a day. And a metric shit ton on reading and listening. So don’t think you’re going to be buried in the srs for the rest of your life. I could’ve quit it by now but I do it for fun because I’m a bit special.

            • Thanks everyone for your input. It’s all really appreciated! Thanks silwing for recommending readinget, Melanie for the amazing level analogy. And James for the nonstop honest comments. I just have one more question, I will start to read much more now, but do I read and ignore words I don’t know or read and lookup words I don’t know or what for my level atm?

          • Dang guys, this is some of the best advice I’ve seen in a long while :)

            While my level is much lower than everyone else, I can also attest to the power of immersion as it pertains to listening. It sucks in the beginning, but it really can hit you one day where it feels like you went from 0 understanding to 100 understanding (even though you need to put in tons of hours over a long period of time).

            Think of immersion like glue and anki like pieces of a puzzle. You can collect all the pieces you want, but without the glue you’ll never be able to put them all together.

      • “but do I read and ignore words I don’t know or read and lookup words I don’t know or what for my level atm?”

        It won’t allow that comment thread to nest any deeper, so I’ll reply from here. I do the minimal amount of lookups needed to enjoy whatever I’m trying to read. So I skip a lot, guess a lot from context and do a lookup here or there if I need the word to understand the sentence AND need to understand the sentence to continue enjoying what I’m reading. Or sometimes a word just looks cool and I want to know what it is.

        • This is good advice. Learning what you need to look up and what can be skipped is a valuable skill.

          Also, for reading at lower levels, I think it’s acceptable to use J-E lookups during immersion to facilitate the process. This is a habit you want to slowly work your way off of, but if it allows you to successfully dive into native material at an earlier level, it’s worthwhile to do in the short term.

          For example, I did probably 200+ J-E lookups while playing my first game in Japanese, even though I was otherwise well into Intermediate. Most of these were nouns and their JP meaning was heavily reinforced by the in-game context. There’s really no harm in starting off that way until you get more comfortable reading extensively and/or looking things up in J-J on the fly without breaking your flow too badly.

        • Agree with Edub, but to go into a little detail. People can often be a little vague when giving advice, to you know, be polite and courteous. In my country, we are frankly quite frank about being frank, yeah?

          Anywhom, I`ll contrast Matt and say that don`t really actively need to look up words in English (once you`ve made the transition to jj, which you have) unless it falls under Adam`s criteria. Additionally, there`ll be plenty of times where your dictionary will spout English at you, even in j-j. This is fine, don`t feel like you`re cheating. When you begin to pursue English it becomes a habit, remember that.

          I don`t know if you have an iphone or an android, but here`s my advice for ibooks and kindle. I used to use ibooks because, native dictionary app yo. If you`re going to use ibooks, uninstall j-e dictionary, or at least install j-j first so it sits on top. Only refer to the below j-j dictionary if it`s a crazy stupid definition like this 山形新幹線で運行されている特別急行列車の愛称。平成4年(1992)運行開始。通常、東京・福島間は東北新幹線「やまびこ」の下り側に連結されて走り、福島・新庄間は単独で走行する。 super long or incomprehensible
          While reading a book, I don`t recommend actively looking up anything on the web, takes too long, moving forward is more important. So you can either a) hit web search from within the inapp dictionary, or b) look at your english def in the second dictionary, c) move forward and forget about that word for now.

          At your level it would be ludicrous to look up everything, so try and look up things that either a)tickle your interest, b) you have that feeling like you keep seeing it over and over and over, for whatever reason. If you can`t control yourself with a), only use b).

          I used to use ibooks, but now I`ve switched to the Kindle app for a few reasons. Firstly, you can buy things with any credit card regardless of your residence. Secondly the dictionary automatically looks up when you highlight words. One of the downsides is it doesn`t automatically highlight the entire word, which can be difficult to figure out at lower levels.
          ibooks has some other advantages too, but mostly subjective.

          For website reading, download firefox and rikai sama. Get the J-E dictionary and Names dictionary from rikai
          We aren`t going to have J-E by default, but the kokugo daily concise dictionary from sanseido. In order to switch between the two you`ll need to have an active internet connection and tap O on your keyboard. You`ll know it`s working when you see *loading* before a definition. To switch to the names dictionary, click enter or space bar to cycle through the kanji, j-e and Names dictionary. Click O to get back to sanseido mode (king shit). You may want to have a separate tab open for branching on the spot (very good if not too long), but no reason to make cards at your level.

          • Shizenhower,forgot about the F function which often reads out difficult to pronounce words by native speaker! Sorry for all the comments.

  2. Is that samurai guy really scared or is his head an お握り? Is there some kind of pun happening? One of those weird Japanese puns you have to flip your mind upside-down to sort of get?

  3. Well I enjoyed a number of things without subtitles before it, but 魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) was a big turning point. Not only did I not care at all about the lack of subtitles, but the movie was IMMENSELY more enjoyable than it had ever been when I saw the dub before.

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