Life as a Reading Challenge, Chapter 18
There's more than one way TO CLEAR a TBR Pile. I realised that recently, when I started getting serious about my language learning and decided to commit to the "AJATT method," which lets you simulate L2 immersion in an L1 environment. The first step to creating your own personal L2 bubble is TO CLEAR your room of all your L1 stuff. Yes, CLEAR it . . .
So where do you put the artifacts of your pre-immersion life? Where do you put your English-language stuff? In a closet somewhere? No. You get rid of it. Mp3s? Delete them. DVDs? Scratch, sell or slice them apart. Posters? Post them to someone else. Get rid of it. Delete, destroy, dispose. Suggestions: Sell that stuff on ebay and reinvest the funds in Japanese-language materials. Or, trade it with a kid from Japan who wants to learn English. I know it's hard to give it up. I know you were or are a huge "Self" fan, and you've been in love with their music ever since you heard "Stay Home" on the closing credits of the first Shrek, and you loved their music even more when you found out they'd made an album using only toy instruments. I know, okay? I know! But dang it, son! (and I mean "son" in the unisex sense). This is about learning Japanese. Japanese is your life now. Japanese is your future. And you're not about to give it up--you're not about to let it go--in a moment of nostalgic weakness that leads to an all-night marathon of playing Michael Jackson music going all the way to back to when he was black--not that I would know. This is too important for that. You want Japanese too much. So let go. Get rid of the "Self" albums. Put down the ranger, and become who you were born to be. Become Japanese.
-- from the "The Immersion Environment" by Khatzumoto
The first time I read the above post, I didn't pay much attention because I was being really literal: it didn't seem to apply to me, because I didn't have big collections of music and movies, nor any posters on my walls at all. As crazy as this sounds, I really did overlook the fact that I share a space with literally hundreds of English-language books! One of which I'm currently
Now that I have made the connection, I also have a new challenge: finding the right balance of English, German, and Italian. And have I mentioned that I also have a Filipino novel in there somewhere, and that August is "National Language Month" over here? So many languages, so little time . . .
But did you notice that there is a deeper level to Khatz's advice? He's not just telling you how to learn Japanese, but really how to be Japanese. Or German. Or Italian. Or whatever foreign language you want to make yours. For he knows that when you master another language, you truly become another person. But while most people think language learning is the cause and the personality change is the effect, Khatz insists that they happen simultaneously. So he's really not kidding when he says, further on in his post, that people who want to master Japanese should eat all their food with chopsticks and should replace their Western mattresses with tatami mats. What do food and furniture have to do with words? EVERYTHING. Or to quote another language learner whom Khatz has linked to . . .
It is not really possible to speak a different language while maintaining the same mannerisms, in insisting upon the same attitudes or adopting the same social strategies. This does not, however, mean that one is abandoning one's personality. In time one develops what might be described as a parallel personality in the new language--something that is recognisably oneself. But this does not happen overnight and that "new" personality needs to be developed in a manner consistent with the language one is speaking and with the culture it reflects. Initially it is inevitable (and also necessary) that one should feel that one is acting a part to some extent, playing the role of a person (one's parallel self to be) that does not yet exist.
-- from "The 'Golden Rules' of Language Learning" by David Bond
This is so much more than I thought I was signing up for when I decided to learn German. I wanted to remain myself, with an extra language in my toolkit that would let me read certain writers without resorting to translations. I didn't care about going to Germany, making German friends, or appreciating anything else about German culture. (In sharp contrast, I wouldn't mind becoming Italian [ROFLMAO!]--but never mind that now. I'm not abandoning this L2!)
Having become fascinated by the concept, however, I had some fun wondering about my parallel personality. I came up with a few possibilities: a) a German Italophile; b) an Italian with my goal of reading German YA and MG authors in their original language; c) a German Il Volo fanatic; d) a half-German, half-Italian Dawn Schafer. (What?) But this isn't simply a case of being the same person in a different language or two. It's something closer to meeting the identical twin you were separated from at birth, who was raised in an entirely different country. (Identical twins raised apart are more similar than fraternal twins raised together.) If I had never learned English or Filipino, what music would I be listening to? Which movies and television shows would I be nostalgic for? Who would my favourite YA/MG authors be? What kind of blog would I be writing? The challenge is to find the answers to these questions--and this time it's not just a reading challenge. In fact, I suspect the questions related to reading will be answered last.
Maybe I should start a new series called "Life as a Language Learning Challenge" . . .