Why do you study Japanese?

Hey y’all, I’m a grad student currently working on a school project for creating a language learning toolset to facilitate immersion and enhance learnings from it. I’ve personally been using technology to enhance and facilitate immersion learnings for a while, but I wanted to get an unbiased perspective from other learners before just clacking away some code for the next couple of months.

I’m curious about a couple of things:

  1. Motivation. What made you start learning Japanese, and is that still your motivation? Are you learning mostly as a hobby, or is there something in your life that requires knowing Japanese?

No reason is too silly. If it was the thought of Japanese waifu, or if it was Gojo Satoru that has got you committed, I wanna hear about that! But just be real, tell me what motivating thoughts and images come to mind on days where you don’t feel like studying.

  1. Prior language learning experience. Do you know, or have you ever learned other languages? If so, how does it compare to your Japanese level? Did you study actively to learn the language?

  2. Attitudes toward immersion learning. Do you believe immersion is the most effective approach to acquiring a language? Do you feel uncomfortable when you immerse?

  3. Role of immersion in your daily studies. What role does immersion play in your language learning process? Is it your primary source of learning? How does the amount of time you spend immersing compare to the amount of time you spend on guided resources? Is the amount of time you spend immersing consistent with your attitudes toward immersion learning?

  4. Enjoyability. What makes learning enjoyable? Is there anything unenjoyable in your current study habits (and if so, why do you stick with them)? What parts of your study habits are enjoyable for you?

  5. Progress tracking. How do you track your progress in the language? Do you go by feel, or do you use tools to do this? Does your (conscious or unconscious) approach to progress tracking tie into motivation or enjoyability?

And feel free to add literally anything else. I’ll write my response to these later as I don’t want to bias the responses too much.

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  1. I started learning in 2019 a few months before a trip to Thailand and Japan. I thought I’d try it out for a few months, do the trip, and if I liked it I could stick with it! I got Genki 1 for the trip, and it went pretty well, language wise, actually! But I didn’t start seriously studying until the pandemic a few months later. The abundance of extra time gave me good grounds to go hard into not only learning the language, but also studying the various methods and philosophies around learning language, which was good to get me into the headspace. It, along with daily exercise, became catalysts for daily, gradual improvement in my life, and has helped me to basically continually make my daily routine and life better and better. At this point, I enjoy the process, and I don’t necessarily have hard goals like JLPT or moving to Japan or anything, but I will be going back next year.

  2. I studied French (very slowly) throughout middle and high school. In retrospect, I really didn’t understand the language, and it’s wild to me how slow school courses are at teaching languages.

  3. I think it’s of course necessary, but I often lament how many people do not understand an immersion-based approach, as if you aren’t supposed to be actively learning vocabulary or grammar. How do people expect to make literally any progress in the beginning then? So no offense to those few immersion hardcore, but a textbook is just simply going to help you advance far quicker than staring at completely incomprehensible language and hoping it sticks. It tells me they really haven’t taken things like n+1 vocab sentences to heart, for example.

  4. My study consists roughly of daily jpdb vocab, now daily bunpro study, watching an episode of anime, about 10 minutes of podcast audio, and 30 minutes of reading (or right now I’m playing a visual novel). Like I said, I think it’s easier to immerse because I have solidly studied for a while and gone through Genki 1/2 and Tobira. But yeah, there’s not going to be many immersion options early on besides graded readers and NHK Easy, etc…

  5. I love the feeling of improvement, as well as the sense of relief and satisfaction when I start something new that is actually, easier than I thought to interpret. Like the visual novel I was talking about (Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir), I was sweating starting it, but once I did I was like, oh my god this is so fun to just immerse in a story in Japanese.

  6. I wish that I tracked my total hours from the beginning because I’m a stats whore, but I kind of roughly estimate. The only tools I have that give me time stats are JPDB and Natively for reading/watching. I guess that’s another sense of enjoyment for me is seeing those progress bars go up. I think gamifying learning has made it a more enjoyable daily task that doesn’t really get old to me. I think Bunpro does this really well and is why it initially drew me in I think.

These are nice prompts! Good luck on your project.

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1.) I was introduced to manga and anime in middle school and have wanted to learn Japanese since around then or high school (don’t really remember), but I never got much further than teaching myself the kana and a handful of random, more common words/kanji. I discovered character songs in college and actually picked up a fair bit (at least vocab- and kanji-wise, if not exactly grammar-wise) from following along with the lyrics, since the series wiki would generally have them in kanji+kana, rōmaji, and English. After college, I downloaded some language-learning apps I saw mentioned to try out, and I even picked up a textbook (Japanese for Busy People) and some reference books, but I touched none of them. Later I also downloaded the JP>EN dictionary app imiwa? after seeing it mentioned on tumblr, and I would actually look stuff up in that sometimes, but that’s as far as my learning went until… Early 2021, I found the 2.43 清陰高校男子バレー部 anime when there were 3 eps out and immediately fell in love with it. I learned it was adapted from a novel/LN series (officially they’re regular novels, but apparently everyone considers them to be LNs anyway. Personally, I find the distinction a giant headache) and moreover that the chances of them getting translated into English are just about nil. In August 2021, I bought the novels that were out and started reading the side story collection with only imiwa? and trying to get Google Translate not to spit crap (yeah, didn’t go so well) to help me, though I still understood quite a bit more than I thought I would, and I quite enjoyed the experience of reading that first short story. In October 2021, I discovered WaniKani, and that plus 2.43 finally kicked my ass into gear and I started learning Japanese “properly.”

2.) I did two years of Spanish in high school and three semesters of Latin in college (was going to go the full four but unfortunately had to drop out before then). Considering I didn’t get very far with either of them (and I didn’t continue with either afterward), and that was structured classroom learning, then no, I’d say it didn’t help me with Japanese at all.

3.) I do think immersion is probably the most important. Actual studying is necessary (to me, “just immerse” doesn’t mean “immerse and do nothing else” but “just go for it, don’t be afraid to start!”), but immersing and actually using the language, in one way or another, is essential to it sticking in your brain.

4.) Immersion is… pretty much all I do. I know I should spend more time on actually studying, I’ve still got a long way to go, but it turns out I hate studying. Especially grammar. I don’t use textbooks because I am apparently allergic to them (even though I had fun reading my science textbooks in school and would sometimes accidentally read more than I needed to…), so the closest thing I have to structured learning is BP. I stopped using WK on desktop after the major change that made the UI gross… and then a while after that TsuruKame changed the font or did something that made the appearance seem off and suddenly made it uncomfortable to use, and I quit WK entirely. I still found it helpful though, so I’m waiting for Hakubun’s iOS release to try that out. I haven’t touched KameSame in forever despite my ever growing “add to KS” folder in Shirabe Jisho… I’m trying to be consistent about using BP though, to minor success. I can pretty much read, and even though I want to be able to smoothly read (and to translate), it’s easier, less energy-consuming, and generally less headache-inducing to just keep reading than it is to properly study. I think I haven’t quite given up the hope that I can just learn the language (grammar, mostly) via osmosis (reading extensively), either.

5.) I love reading. I always have—as my dad put it, I took to reading like a duck takes to water. I love being able to read a novel or manga in Japanese and be able to understand it, I love going back to “old” songs I learned mostly if not entirely phonetically before I started “properly” learning the language and realizing I can pretty much—if not entirely! —understand it now, even just from listening—sometimes even while the words are leaving my mouth as I sing it. I love when I read something I’d read before in English, and maybe my comprehension isn’t as high in Japanese, no, but I can still pick up on things that had been lost in translation. I love rereading something several months down the line and realizing I can understand more/better this time around.

6.) Really the only thing I actually track is what books I’ve read and when I finished them (I use both Bookmeter and Natively). Any other tracking seems like a pain, not to mention, I would almost certainly forget to do it. Hell, sometimes I forget to mark books finished! But I see my progress when early last year I suddenly found myself able to read a novel or LN in 3 weeks, then a week and a half, then 6 days, 4, 3; and when I fly through 50 pages and barely notice because it feels more like 15—when I started out, I could manage like 2-6 depending on the day; 10 was the absolute max, and that was as exhausting as that one time I pushed myself to read 120 pages in a day last May—and when I reread something and find I understand more now. And that now I can go for pages without having to look stuff up when I’m reading 2.43, and that there’s a lot more that I can translate as I go.

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  1. My motivation was that I got into watching anime, and for the first time, I found myself immersed in a foreign language enough to support trying to learn it (as both purpose and practice). I picked up some words without even trying, which was really encouraging (Killua taught me ばか、my first word 🥲 ).
  2. I took Spanish for six years in high school and never got comfortable with it. I passed my tests and that was about it. I did not know anyone who spoke Spanish at the time, and did not enjoy the soap operas, so I saw no application to my life and didn’t have any motivation to learn it for real.
  3. I think immersion is important. I am very intimidated by language practice, but I enjoy consuming media for obvious reasons.
  4. I spend way more time watching anime than actually doing lessons, but it would be hard to quantify how much immersion contributes to my learning. I don’t always learn new words directly from immersion. But, by the time I see something like そうですか、I recognize it from hearing it a million times and it’s practically insta-burned.
  5. I have adopted the mindset that my purpose for learning Japanese is to have fun and learn more than I did before about the language. My goal would be to be able to watch anime without subtitles, but I am not fixated on achieving fluency and take my studies very slow. My imperative is just that I keep going, so I don’t take on a ton of vocab every day, and I will reset my levels if I feel overwhelmed or want a refresher because the low pressure keeps me motivated to always come back.
  6. I don’t worry very much about tracking my progress. I like to see my levels in Wankkani and Bunpro go up, but I don’t take that too seriously since I know I forget stuff and will reset someday. The best indicator for me would be how many words I’m picking up from anime but my perception of recognition does not grow at a steady pace.
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  1. Short Answer: Because I can, and I want it. Long Answer: Because I can, and I want it. Also traduttore, traditore; I’m too pissed off about awaiting for people to translate manga I want to read, and tolerating horrible (and/or machine) translations; I’m tired of renaming music files from youtube because I can’t read moonrunes; being able to watch anime doing other stuff, since I don’t need to look subtitles the whole time; untranslated novels and games; navigating on a new sealed section of the internet; ability to be a one-man scanlator; keeping a active mind and reducing chances/speed of Alzheimer; developing discipline; bragging rights on social circles; prospects of going to Japan someday; overcoming the challenge of the infamous hardest language to learn (to english speakers).

  2. I’m Brazilian, so English is my second (and only new) language. Played a lot of english games when I kid, then learned a bunch on school, like grammar, irregular verbs and common vocab. But was never finally good with english, even entered a cram school for it, that only teached me what I already knew, and my grades where always high. Then someday I was too pissed and decided to view videos only available in english anyway, with english subtitles. 3 months later I turned off the subtitles. It has been 4 years since then, and my only area not equivalent to portuguese is speaking, because I’m a introvert and don’t actively engage with it.

  3. That’s what allowed my english to unlock at the end of the day. I already had a ton of grammar and vocab, but without immersion, it doesn’t matter.

  4. Japanese is far harder than English to go directly to immersion as a beginner, you can’t even read half a sentence sometimes. I spend too much time on Grammar and Vocab (and responding stuff in the forums ¯⁠\⁠_⁠(⁠ツ⁠)⁠_⁠/⁠¯), and end up unfortunately neglecting immersion. Immersion is the most mental taxing part, so it’s understandable why even unconsciously I tend to avoid it. It’s also harder to measure, and it’s hard to see immediate results, but I know it’s the most important.

  5. It’s fun to see the metrics increasing each day, the sheer amount of vocab “learned”, levels and stuff. But the most fulfilling is reading something not translated yet, and having the confidence that you understood it.

  6. The Bunpro and jpdb.io metrics tell a very good part, but it can’t give a idea of general knowledge. I can tell by feeling when I’m exposed to native material, and sometimes do JLPT mock tests to check if this feeling is relatively correct.

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  1. I originally wanted to play japanese games and understand them. I played 僕の夏休み3 in 2020 when I didn’t know any japanese and I knew I was really missing out on part of the game. I had always had an interest in the japanese language from watching anime, but now I figured “What the hell? I could learn japanese”. Now here I am.

  2. Nope (originally what I posted)
    (edited comments) Actually I forgot that when I was in public school there was a year that we learned some Spanish in gifted classes. None of that stuck with me. At the time I hated learning Spanish and thought it was boring. (ironically it’s a language I’d like to learn now) After I left public school to do home schooling my mother and I learned French for a while and eventually fell off of that as well.

  3. I think the lines between “immersion” and “passive studying” (aka being lazy imo) really get blurred for a lot of people. The only way to fully immerse is to be in Japan. The majority of us learners are not in Japan.

  4. I mean I read books in Japanese, but I don’t know if that’s what everyone else considers immersion to be. I don’t watch anime without subtitles and listen to podcasts in the background all day. Simply because I don’t believe it’s the most efficient way to learn for myself. My focus is also only reading. I do bunpro, anki, and reading every day. Sometimes I throw some Renshuu in there when I remember it exists.

  5. Learning Japanese has opened up other interests in my life. I started reading the Magic Treehouse books in English so I could re-read them in Japanese. This has let to an interest in children’s literature as a whole. The crossover between the two has been fun.

Seeing the improvement in my reading comprehension makes me happy. When I can’t understand something or it’s too hard to read I get the drive to work harder so that one day I can. The longer I’ve been learning the more fun it’s gotten. I’ve even made some friends through the Japanese learning communities.

  1. I’ve been keeping track of my books read each year and love watching those numbers go up. I’ve started setting goals each year for what I want to read or play and it’s been a big motivator. I also keep it up to date on LearnNatively.

My books read per year google sheet

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To be honest, I started to learn Japanese because I was bored at home in 2022.

I couldn’t decide on what language to learn, because I did not want to study an easy language like Spanish or French.
Then I thought about either Chinese, Korean or Japanese. I looked up each language and culture and found out that Japanese would suit me the best.
Furthermore, I did not have any connections to the Japanese Culture or Language before that, so I just threw myself into the cold water.

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  1. I started learning Japanese partly because I just really enjoy learning languages in general, and because it was the language I felt I had the greatest attachment to aside from the other languages I speak, since I’ve enjoyed manga, anime and video games since childhood.

  2. I speak Swedish and English fluently since childhood, both at a native level. I also studied Spanish to fluency as an adult, because my ex-wife is a native speaker and we want our daughter to speak it as well. My Spanish level is much higher than my Japanese level currently, but the gap is slowly closing. I did study Spanish actively for several years.

  3. Absolutely. In fact, I think it’s impossible to reach fluency without it. Immersion is definitely rather painful when you first start doing it in a new language and the discomfort slowly goes away as your level rises.

  4. I think when learning a language as an adult, it’s a good idea to use some kind of guided resource to learn basic grammar and vocabulary, then once you reach some kind of basic threshold move onto level-appropriate immersion content and work your way up from there. It’s not impossible to start with immersion immediately, but I personally find it unbearably frustrating. Compared to Spanish, I think Japanese benefits more from guided study in order to learn the writing system. Immersing with text is really hard until your written vocabulary reaches a certain level. I really like Bunpro’s sentence-based grammar and vocab SRS, it doubles as a kind of very simple reading immersion since it at least places every term and grammar point in a simple context and doesn’t just present it as is. I’ll probably move onto sentence mining once I’ve covered a sufficient fraction of Bunpro’s JLPT decks. Aside from Bunpro I also read web novels on kakuyomu.jp with the aid of Yomitan, watch anime on Netflix with the Language Reactor plugin and, as previously mentioned, listen to comprehensible input podcasts. Right now I probably spend more time on Bunpro than on immersion, but it depends a little on how much free time I have. On weekends I immerse more. I plan on shifting more and more into immersion the more I improve, since it’s more fun and also the end goal.

  5. It needs to be easy and not frustrating. Dealing with SRS review queues that are too long sucks, so I try to set up rules for when and how many new items I add, to ensure that I never have to spend too much time per day on clearing the queue. Sometimes it’s unavoidable that I just don’t feel like doing SRS, but in combination with the above I try to just power through, because I can see the results when I go to immerse, so it’s worth a little bit of pain. Immersion is definitely the most fun (I know this from Spanish as well), and especially when the content is something I’m interested in, but the counterweight is that immersion is extremely frustrating when the level of the content is too high, so I try to always seek the perfect balance between comprehensibility and enjoyability. The better you get, the more access you get to the fun content, so that’s sort of a carrot to keep me motivated to keep going. The nice thing about language study is that it’s hardest in the beginning and generally gets progressively easier as you go, even if the road is very long.

  6. I tend to make spreadsheets for fun to keep track of measurable statistics, but I also tend to get bored of them and abandon them, so I wouldn’t say I use any one method to measure progress. As long as it’s fun, it can help to keep me going just a bit longer, and language learning is all about endurance, so I grab whatever such opportunity that I can find, even if it won’t last me for the whole duration. Another method I use to measure progress more by feel is to go back to immersion content I’ve used before and go through it again (usually several months later at the very least), and see how much of an easier time I have with it. This is usually very satisfying, remembering how much I struggled before and how much faster and easier I get through it this time around.

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  1. Initially I started learning in Oct 2021, drilling the kana with Memrise and then with one of the 50000 kana learning available apps on Google Play.
    However, I then took a longer break until May 2022, when I was in the military and basically bored out of my mind, prompting me to continue my studies.
    The reason I started at all is because I’ve set myself a goal to be able to speak at least one Asian language - of which Japanese is IMO the most beautiful - and I want to be able to read/watch native material.

  2. In school I’ve learned French for around 7~ years, however today I’ve got nothing to show for it.
    As far as I remember, it was basically just vocab/grammar cram, accompanied by a textbook.
    Because I never used the language, I’ve pretty much forgotten it all.

  3. This goes back to my previous point; Because I’ve never used French, I forgot most of it.
    Once I’ve frontloaded a few thousand words with Anki, I’ve started immersing in Japanese.
    First with Satori Reader, then with dubiously sourced Manga/Novels/Anime and, after ~5 actual months of doing this, I feel my comprehension skyrocket.

  4. Today, immersion is my primary source of learning indeed.
    I never followed any textbooks, but I did follow a few of the 100 guides on learning Japanese on the internet.
    Together with Yomichan/Yomitan, reading becomes very accessible as unknown words can simply be looked up and loaded into Anki if so desired (mining).
    The only other resource I use is Bunpro and I am quite thankful for it, even if my retention is peepee poopoo at the moment.

  5. Enjoyable to me is the fact that I can feel my progress.
    Also the fact that I can actually understand a language spoken by people ~9’000km away from me.
    I’ve already been able to flex that fact in my social circle.

  6. I track, I’d say, 90% of my immersion activity.
    I do so using custom made, over engineered google sheets.
    For instance, when reading, I track the amount of characters read and the time required to read them.
    Using this, I can extrapolate reading speed and the progression of my reading speed over time.
    Being able to look back at such metrics can be a big motivational boost and proof that you are actually improving.

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I was just searching for my own name on the internet one day and came across a site called “Bunpro”, which was such a daring copy off my name that I vowed to defeat it. And the rest was history :rabbit:

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  1. I started learning Japanese mainly because I had a lot of spare time, and I wanted to do something productive with my life. I knew I had always wanted to eventually become fluent in a second language, and Japanese was something I already held interest in due to anime and me just enjoying how the language sounded. My motivation has continued to be the thought of being able to natively speak and understand the language.

  2. I don’t have any prior language learning experience. I wish I did though, because it would have helped a lot with my beginning stages of learning Japanese. I did a lot of trial and error, and found myself spending way too much time going through different methods of learning and technologies before finally figuring out I just needed to stick with what worked and not trying to find the latest and greatest thing to help me learn.

  3. I don’t think immersion is the MOST effective approach, that is, I don’t think watching 6+ hours of anime or reading 6+ hours a day is the “best” way to learn the language. I think ultimately going out and trying to speak it for 6+ hours a day while being immersed in it, and getting corrected, is likely the most effective approach. However, that just isn’t possible for most people. So that leads me to believe that something similar, that’s more accessible, is. Something like immersing (watching and reading) as much as possible, and mixing in output that can be corrected is likely one of the more effective ways to learn. It really depends though what your goals are. If you’re wanting to become fluent as fast as possible, and could care less about your accent, then simply outputting as much as possible would likely be the most effective approach. But if you’re wanting to reach fluency, keeping in mind how you sound, a mix of a lot of immersion with your outputting is going to be the route to go in my opinion.

  4. A while back, I shifted all my studying to immersion. However, this kind of led to me burning out, since I wasn’t at the point where I could fully enjoy what I was reading or watching. Additionally, I lost any tangible way to track how I was progressing. So it was hard to justify going and watching anime for 6 hours and not having any official studying. I like to have some sort of guided studying mixed in with my immersion, because it helps me gauge my progress a little bit better than doing only immersion. Ideally I’d like to have something around 80% immersion, 20% SRS.

  5. I love seeing progress. This is what makes my learning enjoyable. If I’m able to see a chart of some sort that shows how I’ve progressed over x amount of time, I’ll eat that up. I used morphman for some time, and me being able to see the number of morphs grow over time always gave me a nice hit of dopamine and pushed me forward to keep learning. That said, it did kind of cause me to overdo it some days because I started getting impatient and wanted to see the number grow as fast as possible. It’s also really enjoyable when I’m able to understand 95%+ of an anime without needing to read japanese subtitles. This is rare, but it does happen every so often - and then I immediately lose that enjoyment when I move onto a new episode where I understand next to nothing.

  6. I used to track progress through different technologies (like morphman and migaku) but now it’s mainly just on feel. I’ve learned to trust the process more and understand that it takes time to progress in comprehension, so really it’s more of a feel thing now when it comes to understanding I’ve made progress in my listening skills. I also just trust I’m making progress because there’s no way I’m not as long as I’m making an effort in my immersion to understand what’s going on. When it comes to reading, I am able to track progress through reading speed - but this is somewhat unreliable since different authors have different styles, which can affect how fast I’m able to read.

I also use a timer app to track all my time spent studying. It’s pretty cool to see how much time I’ve spent on each thing in my studies, and my overall time I’ve spent studying the language. I use this as some motivation as well because I’m curious to see how many hours I will have spent to become fluent in the language.

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Motivation: My love for Japanese culture and my dreams. Every time i imagine myself failing to visit the country and experience Japan for all it is, I feel a deep pain in chest. It’s no longer, I want to learn, it’s I need to.

Prior Language Learning Experience: Does Duolingo count? Apart from that, i attempted Spanish with a tutor from italki. Did not go well. And then i just for learning a language is only for those who are talented. But thanks to dr Krashen and refold, i do not believe that anymore. But i made like zero progress in both Spanish and German.

Immersion in studies: About 1/4 of my time is spent on immersion, the other is kanji study, grammar study and vocab study on anki. Trying to make it 50/50 tho. I do it coz I’m supposed to trust in the refold methodology and just immerse. So i do. But i do now focus on a grammar alot more then before.

Enjoyability: Nothing is enjoyable. Apart from maybe, immersion to some degree? That being said, there are things that make my life easier when it comes to learning, so i guess using them can make it a bit enjoyable, or maybe less painfull?

Progress tracking: I use toggle almost religiously. I keep track of every little thing i do and the app makes it easy to do so. “The numbers mason, what do they mean!” They like experience to me. The higher the number, the more the damage i do to the Japanese language. so more hours, more experience. In the words of asmondgold, “big d*** damage boys!”

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I moved to japan for a job was my initial motivation. but that has now shifted to better communicate with my fiance.

Language has always been by far my weakest skill. I’ve never passed a foriegn language class in my whole life. The closest I got was passing ASL (American sign language)

  1. Yeah immersion is important. I immerse every day by living here and studying via anime or whatever is on tv. Sometimes I listen to my fiance’s youtube videos as well. so it isn’t too hard.

  2. I suppose it is a primary source of study. While I do drill on bunpro or rote memorize kanji, most of my input comes from immersion.

  3. I genuinely do not like to study. I like learning, but I do not like studying. Unfortunately that makes even “reading for enjoyment in japanese” rather difficult.

  4. I track my progress by counting how many times i say “いたたきます” when leaving a room. But I also keep a few books staying about full of grammar and vocabulary I have studied. I do not have any formal tracking method.

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  1. Motivation: Originally because I was moving to Japan for the short to medium term so wanted to achieve some reasonable level of proficiency. After over a year here I am fully set on staying and making a career here for the medium to long term so my goals have shifted to wanting to be very very good and preferably in a shorter time span. I work (and want to continue to work) in English education and I believe a good language teacher should also be a good language learner.

  2. School Spanish. Some experience of living abroad for a few years without actively studying a language (so only knowing phrases essentially). What I know in both those languages could probably be learnt in 50-100 hours, which is to say it I know basically nothing.

  3. Immersion is essential to become anything beyond a lower intermediate, especially in terms of outputting. For languages as far apart as English and Japanese naturally some easy ramp into the language is needed (a textbook, grammar guide, youtube videos, core vocab deck, anything…) but even from the lower ends of N4 I was immersing. It helps massively with just about everything. I won’t go on as the benefits are well stated just about everywhere but I will say that immersion becomes more beneficial the higher your level is. Consider that now generally if I have a question about Japanese I will ask/search for an answer in Japanese and then learn about it in Japanese. My opinion as a learner and a teacher is that immersion is essential for learning to use the language properly.

  4. Most of my study time now is active immersion. I do SRS for about 10-30 minutes a day but that is about it. Some edge things which may or may not count are things like talking to people about grammar etc (when doing this in Japanese clearly it is active immersion but when doing this in English I don’t consider it studying at all and more like just talking about my hobby).

  5. Watching TV or reading books or whatever is enjoyable because…I don’t know that is a big question but I enjoy lots of things that are generally considered to be enjoyable by many people so no mystery there in itself. I will also say that even in English I am a slow and quite analytical reader which probably helps as I am not in a hurry.

  6. I try not to track progress explicitly as I find as soon as you use some tracking method you will sacrifice things to improve that statistic specifically. E.g., if you use the JLPT to track your progress (but your goal is not the JLPT itslef) then you will end up trying to cram vocab and grammar which you have had no real contact with in order to “complete N1” or whatever. Equally, if you use total flashcard numbers, totals hours spent, or anything then you will probably cram that stuff at the detriment of other things. I still end up falling into that trap but I try not to. Same for comparing oneself to others. I do it all the time but I try not to.


Comment on your project/this survery: If you want genuinely unbiased answers I think you need to survey (even if informally) in many different places, including approaching subjects who are not going out of their way to look at and write on Japanese language learning forums. If you can I think you should try and speak to non-English speaking learners as well. Many immigrants in Japan use immersion learning (more traditional, not AJATT-brained stuff) without all the fancy tech and they reach a level of practical proficiency in a way that is kind of contrary to the “anime domain knowledge” of lots of online English speaking learners. I guess you are also surveying so you can make a tool that many people would want to use.

Keep in mind most learners are N5-N3 and statistically an overwhelming amount of people won’t go past that level but immersion is most effective after that period so you have a question of whether to cater to more people or focus on the “main phase” of immersion learning. Any survey you do, even in a place with a very self-selecting audience like this forum, will probably represent that distrubution unless you go out of your way to find more advanced learners.

As far as toolsets go, be careful not to reinvent the wheel as there are a million tools out there now. And if you do reinvent the wheel then can you please make the UI/UX really smooth :sweat_smile:

Good luck in your studies!

7 Likes

Motivation:
I learn new languages to avoid boredom.
No true reason really, I thought it’d be fun.

Prior language learning:
I learned English as a kid, then I learned Portuguese enough to argue with angry brazilians gaming online, then I learned German up to professional proficiency, and now it’s been a few years with Japanese.

Immersion:
I go 100% immersion, I moved to switzerland to learn german, and now I am living in japan to studying japanese.

Role of immersion:
Well, since I live in a country where they speak my target language, I use it every day, I’ve worked in swiss, german and japanese companies, so I also use it daily at work.
Oh and there is flirting, which is also a fun part.

Enjoyability:
I find satisfaction when I manage to have a dialog in the target language, people really do react differently when you speak to them in their own language.

Progress tracking:
Mm, I did take the Sprachdiplom and the JLPT, but its mostly about how much I can communicate with natives.

5 Likes
  1. Motivation. I live here. I started learning Japanese at the start of 2022 when I got so fed up with my country of the UK I decided to apply for an English teaching program! The practicality of “I will need this language to live here” was the initial, and tbh main reason I study, but it has become something of a hobby too.

  2. Prior language learning experience. I had to study French in secondary school. Hated it so much and thought at the time I’d never learn another language again :B

  3. Attitudes toward immersion learning. やっぱり… I consider it very important. I don’t really need to study listening that much as I have so much passive input working in a school and hearing the meetings in the morning and listening to the students.

  4. Role of immersion in your daily studies. I wish I immersed more tbh. Most of my friends are English speaking and I struggle to make myself speak Japanese. I am immersed all the time, living in Japan, but when I finish my 9-5 I wish I could watch anime or terrace house non stop but I end up gravitating to English speaking shows half the time. I spend 2-3 days a week watching 2-3 hours of anime and once a week do 2-3 hours of speaking practice with my Japanese friend.

  5. Enjoyability. People will tell you that once you learn a word of a language, it suddenly feels like you can hear it everywhere. This is true! Despite my work environment it took me ages to learn blackboard 黒板 or after school 放課後 but once I knew them I heard it and could read it everywhere. These moments are when I am most happy that I’m learning.

  6. Progress tracking. I don’t track lol. That’s too much mental effort for me.

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  1. Motivation: Wanted to learn for over half my life but never did. I found WaniKani last year and that seemed like a good thing to start before a surgery with a longer recovery time. It’s 100% a hobby at the moment.

  2. Prior language experience: Studied German in high school, a variety of languages structures while studying linguistics in college, as well as American Sign Language and Hungarian. Was able to read elementary books in German and communicate in ASL. My Japanese level is still pretty low.

  3. Attitudes toward immersion learning: It’s definitely useful but can be overwhelming. Was 100% necessary when learning ASL. I don’t think it’s the most effective for everyone. It should be mindfully integrated into the overall learning process, not the only source of learning.

  4. Role of immersion in daily studies: Very low at the moment. I don’t feel my understanding of grammar & vocab is high enough to make it enjoyable.

  5. Enjoyability: I just like to learn. And the structure of bunpro & wanikani fit my learning style.

  6. Progress tracking: Nothing official, just by feel. Occasionally reading a very low level book or watching Comprehensible Japanese video helps with that. Attempting to read packaging of Japanese snacks or the Japanese warnings or instructions on new items is also fun when I can actually understand something.

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  1. I was extremely into anime and manga when I was younger and tried learning Japanese a bunch of times, but always quit about a month in for a bunch of reasons. I had 3 week trip to Japan last summer to meet up with a friend who moved back to Japan and also just because I’ve always wanted to visit, and I decided that year that it’d be a good idea to start to learn Japanese with the reason that it’d be useful during the trip. I also spent money on yearly subscriptions to learning apps immediately, so it’d feel like if I quit I’d have wasted a bunch of money. Now I mainly study with the goal of being able to understand Japanese media (music, anime, shows, etc) in their original form, and eventually achieving fluency.

  2. My prior language learning experiences would be Chinese with my family, somewhat irrelevantly French when I was much younger, and to a greater extent, Spanish through middle and highschool (7 years total). Both of my parents are Chinese, so naturally I “learned” a large amount of Chinese without the express intent of doing so. They never pushed me to become fluent or to learn how to read or write though, which leaves me in an awkward position where I can understand most spoken Chinese (depends on the dialect tbh) but not even form sentences in it. Spanish was my chosen foreign language in school before college, but I never put much work into it. I had pretty standard grades for the language, but only bothered learning it for school so it wasn’t like I cared about proper pronunciation or anything like that. Compared to Japanese, my Spanish speaking ability is probably on a similar technical level, but when it comes to aspects of fluency like pronunciation and what “sounds right”, my Spanish is definitely lagging behind heavily. As for my Chinese, definitely significantly worse than my Japanese. I can understand spoken Chinese much better than spoken Japanese from a lack of practice, but on all other fields my Japanese is miles ahead. Also, about that French, I lived in Canada until roughly 5. I was fluent in French, and somehow forgot every single morsel of it when I moved to the states. Don’t know how, but it’s a funny (kinda sad) story.

  3. Most effective approach? As someone who’d still consider themself a beginner (1.5yr), not even in the slightest. I find the idea of using immersion for anything that isn’t practice or improvement of preexisting skills ridiculous. You’re probably not gonna learn new grammar through some fancy subtitles on anime or anything like that. I don’t feel “uncomfortable” when I immerse, but since my proficiency isn’t that great it definitely takes me some more time to get through media like manga or shows. I still find it extremely practical though, particularly for reinforcing vocabulary through reading or recognizing certain manners of speech and grammar while listening to some music or watching a show, learning what is “proper” and how “correct” certain things are, like levels of politeness. Calling it “the most effective approach to acquiring” seems like false advertising though. Definitely one of the most effective ways to improve and reinforce knowledge, but you won’t be “acquiring” much new information through it without extensive googling, which at that point you’d probably be better off just studying more and learning things in a learning environment.

  4. I’m expecting to be an outlier here, but immersion currently isn’t a very daily thing for me. I’ll pick up Yotsuba and read some chapters or put on some Doraemon every week or so, but I mostly do it to see how I’ve improved whereas I spend anywhere from 1 to 2 hours a day studying through guided online resources. I’m heavily focusing on improving through guided resources right now because I don’t think my Japanese proficiency is at a high enough level where regular immersion would be of great use to me, there’s just too much unknown grammar.

  5. Seeing improvement is definitely my main source of enjoyment in this whole thing. Listening or watching something that I haven’t seen or heard in months or years, and being able to discern the meaning of a lyric or understanding a dialogue in a way besides how subtitle show them is always immensely satisfying to me. I wouldn’t say anything is “unenjoyable” (besides when my brain turns off and I can’t remember the same 7 vocabulary words or some random grammar point I’ve failed 20 times), but calling guided practice “enjoyable” is also a pretty big stretch. My attitude towards it all is pretty neutral, I just slightly enjoy it as it’s productive and the improvement is somewhat tangible. Sometimes I’ll get hit by a huge wave of motivation and productivity, but most of the time I just study out of discipline. This attitude is completely different when it comes to immersion learning, though. As previously mentioned, I don’t regularly use immersion for learning, but I treat immersion learning as though I was simply doing anything else for fun, and it makes it much more enjoyable, something I’d imagine remains consistent even as you improve and use immersion more regularly.

  6. Definitely a mix of the two. My main metrics of progress are mostly something like “Alright, finally got all of the N5 grammar to expert on Bunpro!” and “oh wow I understood that entire line in that song, neat.” Not really something I intently track regularly, mostly just progress checks here and there that make me feel like I’ve taken a step forward in my studies.

Hope some of this helps your project in any way! I don’t usually intend to post, but you had some interesting prompts and I couldn’t help myself.

3 Likes

1.Motivation
In 2009, I read Full Metal Alchemist. I signed up for forgien exchange in 2010 and 2012. In 2010 a Japanese student stayed at my house for a week and in 2012 I stayed in a Japanese house for two weeks. I studied from Japanese for Busy People and Genki during this time.
I stopped watching anime and studying Japanese in August 2015.
I brushed up my Japanese for the JLPT N5 in 2018 cause I had my first break up, I kept up with it cause I like watching anki’s numbers go up (most days) and I’m really proud! (good days!)

  1. learning experience: No prior language experience. I studied activly from 2010 to 2015 then 2018 until now.

  2. Attitudes toward immersion learning
    I think immersion is really important, and hard. It doesn’t “feel” as effective, no vocab list of words you know. To me it feels more uncomfortable than anki or Genki, and less than doing excersizes from an intermediate textbook. I want to get better at it.
    You need immersion to learn nuance that your textbook gets wrong. EX my textbook calls 黙って shut up and うるさい noisy, but in Japanese うるさい is more insulting.
    A japanese person asked me why her english teacher told her she says “so so” too much. I asked her to say OK like she is disapointed instead. (I actually said ‘a little sad’ cause I forgot japanese word for disappointed) Which is diffuclt to learn from a textbook.

  3. Role of immersion in your daily studies
    I am in Japan, and make an effort to try to speak Japanese, but someone often pulls out their phone to translate :(. I want to get better at immersing, I spend 1 hour a week immersing and 5 in anki. and I spend 10 hours a week reading about japanese online like this forum oops.

  4. Enjoyability: I like watching anki’s numbers go up! and when I can understand stuff I feel proud. I don’t do anything that isn’t fun.

  5. Progress tracking: I gauge my japanese ablity by the number of reviews done in anki. This means I spend more time in anki because “points” I started a thred on this forum where I record my immersion to hopefully capture that “points” feeling. I’ve previously tried a spread sheet where I record immersion

2 Likes
  1. Motivation. I live in Japan. I always wanted to return after studying here a few years ago. Life just gets so much more fun when you’re able to communicate properly with those around you!
  2. Prior language learning experience. I studied French at school and learned Polish and British sign language alongside my Japanese studies. I got bored of French in my later life and dropped it for the more fun Japanese :slight_smile:
  3. Attitudes toward immersion learning. I’m always looking for good ways to improve, I get to learn a lot living in Japan of course too.
  4. Role of immersion in your daily studies. I don’t do nearly as much as I should, I go to a couple language exchange events over the month and weeks which definitely helps.
  5. Enjoyability. Definitely feels good to see improvements, even if for me it’s not that quick.
  6. Progress tracking. I don’t really track what I do, I just always do the same amount of studying every day so I guess I could work it out but I don’t care about it enough.
4 Likes