Learning Japanese Entry #3 Discovering AJATT

Lots of Kanji

こんにちは~!In this post I am going to discuss two entries from the early stages of my Japanese learning. The main focus is going to be on discovering the method known as All Japanese all the Time. In case you haven’t heard of this website, definitely take a look at it here. I am not lying when I say that this website will change your entire outlook on learning languages and will have a huge impact on your life. Thanks to this site I can say I am close to fluency in Japanese as of 22nd of March 2016 (as of November 2016 I can understand pretty much everything and can hold conversations quite easily) and my work efficiency (not just for language learning) has increased dramatically. Definitely check it out!

Click here for the previous post

Without further ado, here are the two entries I will be discussing.

“22nd of June 2015: Found out before I applied to University that my course offers a sandwich year and that I can work in any country that has a work visa with England for a year so I have decided to make my target country Japan and to attempt to get to a decent level of Japanese by that time (2.2 years) although it seems like too short of a period to do it in. Have began studying with Genki I and a Kanji Anki deck.

2nd of July 2015: Have been studying pretty much everyday for at least an hour but sometimes the conversations on HelloTalk become distracting and I end up usually talking in English making it seem like im working but am not. Getting more worried about fluency in 2 years so am researching speed methods of language learning and rewatching the TedxTalk videos to make use of any tips to get to fluency. Most sites and videos recommended finding a speaking partner so I have been trying to ask people on HelloTalk but most seem reluctant. After more research I discovered AJATT (All Japanese all the time), a blog written by a guy who learnt Japanese in 18 months. This seems rather reasonable and with the methods stated in the blog seemingly very doable, if a bit extreme. Luckily I don’t have too many obstacles preventing me from doing this method and have begun to use it while still being rather cautious about it.”

As I said before these two entries are from the earlier stages of learning Japanese. There are a few things in here that I want to point out that I don’t recommend doing yourself. In the first entry on the 22nd of June I had basically just started studying and wasn’t sure what to use. I’d heard that Genki 1 was a good textbook and that I should study Kanji with flashcards, so not knowing a thing about what I was doing I began using those two resources. Now, I didn’t actually buy genki, but managed to get a sentence deck on Anki which I started off with. I can’t remember much about it at this stage but I think I remember scrapping it in favour of another deck, either way it wasn’t that useful and I didn’t stick with it as it was really boring. The thing is, if it’s boring, don’t use it! Find something FUN in the target language! Starting a Kanji deck at this stage, unknown to me at the time, was a really good idea. I will discuss more on how to learn Kanji in a future post.

Here I talk about speaking with native speakers on an app called HelloTalk. Now, bare in mind I was only a few weeks in to the language. Was this a good idea though? Of course not! One of the main concepts over at All Japanese all the Time, is the idea of input before output. I had read very little Japanese and was by no means ready to output correct, natural Japanese, so how was I meant to converse with people?!. Input before output! Don’t speak/write until you are ready. Even though I am currently close to fluency I am still not speaking and writing as much as you would think, I am waiting to be able to understand the language as a whole before I start outputing like a native.

The input before output method has huge advantages, namely:

  • Easier, less stressful learning process
  • Not needing to convert from English (in your head) to Japanese with grammar rules (and most likely getting it wrong), it just comes naturally like you would speak in English.
  • Native-like fluency
  • No broken speech due to mistakes and habits caused by early output
  • A lot fewer mistakes in general!
  • The mistakes you do make will be the same as natives as you learn it the same was a they do! Making you more native like! How ironic?

Now, you can take my word for it or you can have a look at this guy’s website. It is a little fiddly to navigate but search for “ajatt overview” and “ajatt contents” and you will find all you need to know. Binge read this site, absorb it into your soul and you will acquire the best way to learn a language. Other than that these two entries were mainly the ‘not knowing what to do phase’ which appears to have taken ~1 month to get out of. If you take a look at ajatt you can save yourself this time and get into native material straight away. I do recommended researching language learning yourself as it is a very interesting topic. You also find that a lot of the successful people have similar methods and will realise that there is really only one way to do it. Classes won’t work, you need more than that. So use ajatt and do some research, then hit the road in to language glory!

Thank you for reading!

Click here for more information on learning Japanese


P.S. Working in Japan for my gap year is still my main goal, and at the moment I think I can do it, but it is hard to tell at this point. I will update this diary with more details on it in the future.


By Matthew Hawkins

5 Replies to “Learning Japanese Entry #3 Discovering AJATT”

  1. Hi Matt! I’m not sure if you’ve answered this question before, but when you started out learning the main 2000 kanji with anki, did you learn all the readings? Or did you just try to learn the meanings and the readings later? Thank you for writing such informative blog posts 🙂

    1. I just used the Heisig method to learn the meanings. I would recommend learning stroke order and writing each one out if you can at this stage or you will not be able to write by hand and have to essentially learn them all again later (like I am). Might as well do it in one hit :p If you don’t care about writing by hand then don’t worry.

      The readings will come later. I picked them up from reading manga and doing sentence flashcards. This is more efficient as you learn the readings of words that you need (as opposed to obscure vocabulary that you might not be interested in), it’s also 10x more fun, and will keep you interested. This also gets you into the habit of reading natural Japanese as soon as possible, which is essential as reading is one of the most important things in language learning.

      I hope this helps 🙂

      1. Thank you for the quick reply! I will definitely try to learn the stroke order for each one as I go through Heisig. I must say I’m pretty glad you didn’t tell me to learn all the readings, that’s what I started doing when I first began learning kanji and it really made me hate the whole process. Definitely helpful, thanks again Matt 🙂

        1. No worries! Jyouyou Kanji (常用漢字) can be easily learnt in 2-3 months with Heisig which is great as this means you can move on to native texts really quickly. It will save you time and effort this way, but learning to read it is still a long process so be patient and make sure you enjoy it 🙂

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