Updates for August 25, 2014:

+The site has MOVED. If you still see this page, please clear your web browser cache and go to

Jul 2, 2011

Ignore Everyone Else

In language learning, there are so many methods and ideas flying around that it is far too easy to get distracted. It seems like everyone you meet online has a magical learning method that guarantees you'll reach fluency in no time at all, and for each method there is also an inevitable counter-group that declares it to be complete and utter crap. The truth is that both sides are probably right. Most methods will probably get you to fluency eventually, but of course no method works for everyone. So how does an individual survive this learning method war? It's simple – ignore everyone else.

The first element of this issue is that no matter which method you learn with there will be a very vocal group of people that decry it as being absolute crap. These people aren't necessarily wrong in their statements, but their opinions also don't necessarily matter. So if you find yourself confronted with people telling you that your learning method is wrong, just smile, nod, and promptly ignore them. The only person whose opinion matters when it comes to your learning method is you, so just take the opinions of everyone else and throw them into the trash.

The second element, which results from the first, is the inevitable desire to help others. Once you begin finding success in your learning method, you'll want to share it with other learners. You might find yourself on a forum telling other people about your method and scoffing at other ideas because you've never done anything even remotely like what they are saying. Most likely the people you talk to will just ignore you and continue defending their own method, regardless of what you say. Sound familiar? It should, because at this point you have become the opinionated guy from the last paragraph.

If trying to help other people and share your ideas results in you sounding like “that guy” who pretends to know everything, then what should you do? The easiest thing is just to ignore the people you see online talking about learning Japanese. Forums are inevitably going to be filled with people of differing opinions, which means the majority of threads about learning Japanese will devolve into petty fights over methods. Save yourself some time and just ignore the thread. If you can't stop yourself from adding your opinion, then keep it short or just link to a website that describes your method. You've got better things to do with your time than argue with people you don't know.

Finally, a somewhat different issue that arises when dealing with other people and language learning is the need to compare progress. The problem here is that with so many methods and with the differing priorities of individuals, there is no real way to measure the knowledge of one person against the knowledge of another. Sure, you may know X number of kanji, but can you read? Can you speak? Or perhaps you have X number of sentences in your SRS, but can you watch Japanese TV and follow a story? It's essentially impossible to really compare yourself to another person, so don't even bother trying. Plus, if you could compare yourself, what do you stand to gain? Would it matter if someone else could speak with more ease than you or read faster than you? Of course not – so ignore everyone else and focus on yourself.

Related Articles:


  1. >ignore everyone else and focus on yourself
    Sound advice! Thank you.

  2. I always seem to be "that guy." I try not to, I just like to share with people =\

  3. I've seen many different methods mentioned and in turn ridiculed so I think you have a good point. I'm going to just stick to one and ignore what people say about it, create my own opinion and not bother sharing it with anyone.

  4. Yeah, it's funny going onto language forums and seeing wars. Really, different methods work for different people. If you're comfortable with it, stick with it. I always find it's best to not follow advice like it's some sort of bible. Take different methods and see what you like from them, make them your own. As long as you're making progress, go for it.

  5. I usually tell people to find their own method. Of course, they won't understand where you're coming from but they'll see what you mean when they start learning.

  6. >I always seem to be "that guy." I try not to, I just like to share with people

    I understand all too well. I've tried to be helpful to people in discussions before, but it's hard to state an opinion without ruffling someone's feathers.

    >create my own opinion and not bother sharing it with anyone.

    Or if you do share it, just state your ideas and leave it at that. Sharing ideas can be helpful, but arguing won't do good for anyone.

    >Yeah, it's funny going onto language forums and seeing wars.

    I like to think they result from a bunch of people wanting to save others from using the "wrong" method.

    >Of course, they won't understand where you're coming from but they'll see what you mean when they start learning.

    That's why I personally like to just link to something that explains my method (aka, this blog). They can read and follow if they want, or just close it out. About the only way to share ideas while avoiding an argument.

  7. This. 100% agreed. Not to mention that all that time spent arguing in forums could be spent, you know, learning Japanese. :-D

    1. Now that's how a language learner should think! =)