Long enough title for you? Okay, so after a bit of research, I noticed that there’s a lot of keywords out there for “Textfugu vs. AJATT” and the very fact that those two are together in a search query makes me want to facepalm (I also made the mistake of mentioning AJATT in my review post), so I’m going to explain the various ways to learn a langauge, as they’re all different, so maybe you’ll have an idea as to how you’d like to try learning. This stuff will all be compiled in a lengthier, much more detailed book I’m writing, but for now let’s just get a few things straight.
Firstly, there’s many different methods out there for learning a language, but they all basically can be simplified down to four categories: academic, input, output, or a mix of those three. That’s it, and while everyone can claim that their method is different or better than all the others out there, you can always guarantee it will fall predominately into one of the first three categories, even if it’s a mix. Now, TextFugu and AJATT come from two different camps: TextFugu is predominately academic, and AJATT is almost exclusively input. So, let’s take a look at how these methods break down.
This method involves enrolling in a school and taking classes to learn a language, hiring a private tutor, or self-teaching using text books or other material that would normally be found in a classroom. The textbook or instructor are going to be at the center of your journey towards whatever your goal is (it’s not always fluency, you know), and grammar and vocabulary are king. It’s very structured and takes everything step-by-step. Basically, if you did well in school, you’ll do well in this.
Unfortunately, it’s very expensive, even if you’re doing things the self-taught way, as textbooks can be pricey, and, yes, TextFugu is pricey as well. It also takes a long time to learn the language (in one video, Koichi even exclaimes, “Several years of work!”), as you usually don’t spend every day studying, especially if you’re enrolled in a college or university. Perfection in the language is stressed, making little room for mistakes, although that’s not to say it’s totally unforgiving.
All in all, if you like structure or did well in school, TextFugu is great for that, as it provides that nice, step-by-step feel that a classroom will give you, and Koichi is a great guy who spends a lot of time helping people acheive their goals.
This is a much less structured method, involving reading, watching, and listening to a lot of your target language. If you take this to the extreme, as Khatzumoto does, you should try and do something – anything – in Japanese or whatever your target language is as often as you can. The principle is to have fun, as that’s the biggest motivator you can have. The general idea is that you don’t have to study grammar that hard, but rather just a bit and reference it a lot as you build your vocabulary and general knowledge with an overdose of books, movies, games, etc. As you go, you grow accustomed to how the language works in real life rather than a sanitized text book, which doesn’t provide real life speech, and your own speech will sound much more natural.
Now, that description doesn’t do it justice, so I suggest you head on over to AJATT yourself.
Doing things this way is usually cheaper and much, much faster in the long run, but starting out can be a pain. Why? Because the complete lack of structure can leave one feeling overwhelmed. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it, but starting out, trying to piece together small sentences even, can be difficult. There’s a lot of websites that are good at helping people out in this regard, though, so this is becoming a slightly less daunting issue.
You’ll enjoy doing things this way if you didn’t care for school much, feel that a textbook or instructor is slowing you down, get bored easily with that kind of stuff, or want to be able to do the things you enjoy (like watch anime) as a form of learning.
This method advocates speaking from day one, and is great if your primary goal is to be able to visit a foreign country and still be able to speak with the natives. It’s largely advocated by the site Fluent in 3 Months, and it’s focus in on speaking and understanding. The idea is to learn often used words, phrases, etc. and by speaking with natives you get feedback and a chance to perfect your language skills. Perfection isn’t stressed, and while it typically has some structure, it also allows for a lot of freedom. To be perfectly honest, though, you’re better off visiting the site, as it explains it much better than I can, especially seeing that this isn’t my preferred method.
Now, there’s a few ways to go about this method, but it’s usually the most inexpensive of the three methods, and it’s also the fastest. You won’t be able to work in the country, or do anything formal, such as education, but it’s a great way to interact, especially if you’re an outgoing person who would rather be talking with people than curled up with a book by the fireplace.
So there you have it; great ways to learn languages, but also hopefully an eye-opener that you can never compare TextFugu and AJATT, as they both go about doing things in a very different way. Now you can compare TextFugu to Genki Japanese or AJATT’s design to Steve Kauffman’s (I probably spelled that wrong). Basically, you need to first figure out what your language goals are, and how you learn best, then you figure out which is right for you.