The meaning of immersion or: 10k in a month?!?!

While Japan is sinking in chaos, following the media, the different opinions conveyed through different medias, normal (?) people like me are just doing their regular anki reviews. Skipping the forums and language learning communities i come across statements like this:

“I learnt 10.000 vocabs in 2 months.”

Did you? That’s not a lot. I would rather say that this is overkill-fast! That’s the point for me at least, how people get that immersed, organised and can recognise/remember such an amount of words in such a short time! I cannot believe that these people exist. People working like a computer, like just writing words in form of bits and bytes into empty space of a harddisk. There is a maximum, a capacity per hour, per day, that can not be exceeded. Not effectively at least. I suppose you know that feeling: you had been sitting the whole day in front of anki, for example a whole saturday, eating and drinking unhealthy stuff to keep yourself awake and more or less fit in order not to sleep onto the keyboard, and when you wake up in the next morning (in your bed.. I hope) and start again reviewing you cannot remember the bigger part of new cards you had.

To be honest I tried this. My personal maximum is 500 new cards per day. I cannot exceed this maximum per day, it would be total waste and loss of time! The famous Khatz says that you first have to understand a sentence coming up in the revision fully, entirely, before pressing the ‘good’ button in Anki. Yes, then you indeed learn more words, perhaps even 10.000, but.. this is.. cheating. Seen it like this it’s about 10.000 new words in fact, but not single cards (then the number of de facto-words would be something beyond 20.000!).

Actually the best thing to happen to you is the following. Just read.

1) Japanese penpals

  • As Khatz explained so perfectly, you want to learn Japanese and your ‘language exchange partner’ wants to learn English properly. You will soon recognise who has better basics and you will switch to the language which is easier to understand for both while communicating. (If your Japanese is still to limited, he/she will switch to English, knowing you can go better with it. Because of politeness and.. let’s call it ‘egoism’ – he/she wants to learn proper English, I mean ENGLISH!) And now the but comes: your exchange-partner does not care about English. He/She just wants to have someone to chat with. Bingo :)

2) Words – Everywhere. Words^13 == Language

  • So you just learned and revised your daily portion of cards in Anki. If you have such a penpal as described above try to remember, force yourself, the words you learned and try to put them somehow into context, telling your day, your hobbies, about anything, but just use these words you got to know from revising the sentences (now the sentences become essential. Provided that grammar is our weakpoint – it is mine, still – we will remember constructions the word we want to use was used in). Voilá. Write the sentences – your own now, naturally – and send off the mail. If you are on lang-8 and your partner, too, he or she can even correct you — or just paste the text, open up an account and you will find enough Japanese people commenting and correcting on it.
  • I must say that I learn speaking/talking through writing. There are different “learningtypes” of humans: one f.e. can learn better by hearing and listening to all the stuff all the time, another f.e. can learn more efficient by writing things down. In my case I learn using words actively by a) learning them (with anki) and b) putting/creating sentences on my own in order to communicate with my penpal (a non-egoistic one for god’s sake!).

3) Manga, Newspapers, Japanese websites

  • Or you simply come across all the words you newly learned in media (unlikely.. but happens sometimes!) – you will see them and think.. woah, I know you all!! Unfortunately you already need to know a whole bunch of words to get the gist (see also: Kanji) or to decipher their meanings.

Let me state that 3), this coincidal way, is what I personally call IMMERSION. Unfortunately it just happens to rarely (see the explanations above).

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