japan-220646_640Today, I revisited the Pimsleur Japanese audio lessons.

Listening once again to conversational Japanese, I feel like my brain’s being mercilessly reorganized, with all my present knowledge either consolidated or made obsolete. It’s a startling realization that my hasty jump to (and obsessive following of) flash-card-based learning has set me on a path that’s been all too linear and thus sorely inadequate.

Looking back at how much I knew when I started on iKnow and my current skill level, it’s painfully telling that my progress has been too systematic and thereby my rate of improvement very gradual, both due to old textbook-derivative methods of study, as well as to adhering to just one lesson portal with a very generalized curriculum and redundant practices.

Sure, I know many more words now and can recognize hundreds of Kanji, but if I were to keep this kind of progression up, would I survive another two weeks, a month, a year in Japan without the constant need for translation? Eh, most probably not. Not that an LLS like iKnow is bad — it’s the best of its kind I’ve ever come across. It’s simply much better with an auxiliary.

I can’t help but think of Matthew’s (the Babbel Voices polyglot’s) view on relative fluency: You can be a visiting professor who teaches mathematical theory in another language, or you can be a tourist who converses with the locals with ease and navigates the public transit as well as the residents do.

I much prefer the local aspect.