Every day you have a limited amount of time that you can distribute towards creating your future Japanese greatness. With this time, you have 3 choices what to do with it:
1. Study mode: use something like Anki or any kind of textbook.
2. Immersion mode: read, watch, or listen to native Japanese in some kind of media format.
3. Engagement mode: Have conversations with other people (spoken or written).
You would love to have all 3, daily.
However, you are busy with school or work. With all your schedule crafting mastery, you’ve managed to create a time frame of 2 hours total a day to put towards Japanese. The question is where to allocate it…
Everyone’s first impression is the following:
Studying is more important than immersion
This is 100% correct in the beginning. Immersion only works because you have built yourself a base of Japanese ability. This is why study time should be much higher on the ratio with immersion time through the early levels.
But what happens as several months pass?
Study mode still feels more important…
In study mode, when you learn new cards and review, you feel progression. You have concrete goals you see attained right before your eyes. When you set a “finish 1,000 cards in 3 months” goal, you can actually reach that, and be ready to move to the next level.
In immersion mode, you take in native Japanese in any format of media, and attempt to understand and enjoy it. Your understanding starts off with almost nothing, and grows in tiny increments. You set concrete goals like watch/read/listen to X amount of Y. You also set goals like “understand anime.” But it’s hard to measure your progress and what your gains actually are.
The result? Study mode feels like the real learning experience and immersion ancillary. Even if you are aware that this will eventually change, for now that’s the way it is. Study mode is serious. Immersion is motivating and fun and reinforces your study mode victories.
Most people will take that daily 2 hours, and put 1.5 hours into study mode, and the remaining 0.5 hours into immersion.
Immersion is not an afterthought
There’s a reason I put immersion in Walkthrough Stage 3, right after your finish all your beginner materials.
Immersion is a part of study mode.
Not only is it study mode, but it is the same type of studying as using Anki. While not in flash card format, it has the exact same features.
1. You learn new material, one piece at a time.
2. You review old material.
3. It is on a spaced repetition system
Yes, immersion is a spaced repetition system. It’s not built around an ordered computer algorithm, but it does the same thing. You learn something new. You review it again when it appears in a short while. And then again and again and again, over timed intervals. Just because you don’t know 80% of what you engaging in doesn’t change this. That 20% understanding is being fully utilized by your memory on spaced repetition.
This doesn’t even touch on the fact that immersion is the “expansion pack” for your regular study mode learning. People often wonder why sometimes they remember things easier when they are reviewing them in review mode. There is a good chance that you have experienced it in immersion (whether you realized it or not).
Give immersion the time it deserves
Immersion should not be something that you will work on in the future. It should not be something you do when/if you have time today. If you are intermediate level or higher, it should have a place for it somewhere in your study day.
Are you treating immersion mode as inferior to study mode?
Or have you realized that immersion is just as powerful and that it is actually a part of study mode time.