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The Language Dojo Goes To School

It’s happening

It’s been a while since my last update, and a lot has happened. I got a motorcycle license and decided what bike I’ll get. My neighbors saw a burglar on my roof. I bought my first gun. I started deadlifting. I’m becoming a decent Paleo chef. I got accepted to a Korean language program at one of Korea’s Big 10 Flagship Universities.

Waitaminute. Hold the phone… language classes?!

Yup. I know. Liar, sell out, sophist, etc.

Ramses and I, Khatzumoto, and nearly all reputable language acquisition hobbyists will tell you that language schools rank on the Effectiveness Spectrum somewhere between “The War on Drugs” and “Quantitative Easing.” Yet here I am, enlisting for duty in the academic meat grinder comme en quarante. Why?

I’ve got a business opportunity in Best Korea that I requires my presence for at least one year. Since I don’t want to leave the country every 90 days (tourist visa), my options were:

1. Become a language teacher again (HELL NO)
2. Transfer $300,000 into a Korean bank account to get a Business Visa (NO)
3. Get a Student Visa (OK)

Come September, I’ll spend four hours each morning, Monday through Friday, in a Korean classroom at a Korean university. I’m honestly going to go in without reservations. I’ll give it my all. I’ll continue using the TV Method, immersion, and Anki, but now I’ll finally get to see if four hours in a classroom can compete with four hours of TV, comics, video games, and SRS. I’m also planning on getting a tutor to do one-on-one Korean conversation practice in a normal atmosphere (coffee shops, walks, etc.). That’ll be cool to try.

In summary, I’ll be trying a bunch of new methods and comparing them to the tried and true methods we currently espouse. Stay tuned for updates!



p.s. After my last update I left the page to Ramses. I can only assume he’s smoked himself to death. R.I.P. hermano!


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Matt is an unorthodox teacher and, above all, an unorthodox writer. He taught himself French mostly by watching TV, and now lives in Korea where he is training for the International Bench-press/Bicep Biathlon.


Kristofer July 29, 2013 at 2:27 am

Honestly, it sounds like a great opportunity and it’s good that you’re planning on taking it seriously. I know Ramses said classes were a waste of time, but uh, didn’t the guy do a degree in Spanish (if I remember correctly didn’t the AJATT dude take a class in Japanese too?)? I’ve never taken language classes so I want to believe them, but sometimes I wonder…

Just out of curiosity, what happened to you learning French? How far did you get with that? Are you learning two languages now?

Anyway, R.I.P. Ramses. Looking forward to reading future posts from Ghost Ramses.


John July 29, 2013 at 4:10 am

3 things
1. Congrats
2. I plan on taking a couple language classes in college before I get out. Just to see how they are. I admit I’ve been slacking and have never really done what I’d call “full immersion” though.
3. WHY WEREN’T YOU DEADLIFTING BEFORE? That’s the best lift ever invented! Glad you’ve finally seen the light, but you’ve gotta step it up bro. Also, congrats on the bike and gun–I want a bike one day and guns are fun. On the topic of new toys, I got myself a new car and it’s fun as hell. Been wanting to do it for years and finally had enough $, now I have nothing to spend money on except books and booze, since, as I said before, I’m in college. Not that I blow a ton of money on that shit anyway.

Anyway, love the site and the idea behind it. As someone who has been messing around with languages with varying consistency for the past few years and have been lifting and doing taekwondo for about as long, it’s great to find more people who do the same.


Roman D. July 29, 2013 at 6:07 am

>I’m also planning on getting a tutor to do one-on-one Korean conversation practice in a normal atmosphere (coffee shops, walks, etc.). That’ll be cool to try.

Let us know how it goes! This is probably the brighter side of the classroom spectrum in my experience, and I’ve got lots of it when it comes to language learning.

Gotta tell you, it did wonders for my portuguese during the previous year. I’ve been meaning to dive into French this summer, but alas, I’ve chickened out of full immersion and signed up for a bit of one-on-one Spanish instead, to get some consistent and highly intense speaking practice. It’s fun as hell!


Keegan July 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Finally, a new post! Any way I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to O.D on weed, my friend is living proof of that.


Keegan July 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Oh, by the way., I dig the Simpsons reference, I’m glad I’m not the only one using Les Simpsons to learn French.


Matt P July 30, 2013 at 3:05 am

This is a great idea, I haven’t seen to much direct comparison of classroom vs self-directed learning. I think both can be highly effective when done correctly, and they certainly complement one another. For some good ideas on how to make the most of classroom learning, check out Olle at He’s a preternaturally dedicated student, though, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t got the willpower to do all that he does–I sure don’t.

Matt, I would also be very interested to see further posts on where you’re at in your French, preferably specifics on how many hours you’ve put into listening/reading/gaming and overall, and where you think you’re at in the CEF system (B2, C1 etc). I’ve put in about 125 hours so far and I’m feeling pretty good about things; gaming and reading comics without too many problems, and getting a good amount of TV like the Simpsons. I think I’m solidly B1 right now, and I”m hoping to put in another 600 hours this year, and I’m hoping that will bring me to C1 by 2014.

I’m also struggling with maintaining my L2 (Chinese) as I work on L3 (French), so I’d love to see future posts on how you’re approaching maintenance i.e. how many hours per month to French while you’re learning Korean, and how effective you think it has been for you. I’ve found, for example, that my reading/listening in Chinese are more or less unchanged after close to 9 months with almost no active study, but my production in conversation is terrible–I’m forgetting incredibly simple vocabulary like “university” and “house.” I also stopped doing Anki for Chinese, which probably has something to do with that, but it got too much at a certain point.

Also, if I recall correctly, weren’t you going to write a post about how you use Anki? I would really like to see that as there doesn’t seem to be much middle-ground between Khatzumoto-style sentence mining anki overdose (I had 300+ Chinese reviews per day by the end–way too much), and the equally reductive “no SRS at all” school of thought. I’m trying to come up with something in between–e.g. only adding stuff that I can’t figure out in context–and the reviews aren’t bad so far, but my deck’s still young, so that will change.

So, in short, I expect a lot of work from you! haha


Cameron August 3, 2013 at 6:56 am

This sounds so awesome! I’ve always wanted to go to take a German course just to up my confidence and maintain or raise motivation by being held accounted for by other classmates. Until then I will continue my acquisition through the T.V, YouTube, and Twitter methods.

I think Steve Kauffman learned mandarin in like 8 months from living in China while working and studying like a maniac. So, since its already been proven highly effective, I won’t say good luck(with your persistence & unwavering motivation, you don’t need luck), but have a blast and keep us posted!!!


Magallanes August 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm

yes indeed ¡¡¡Donde carajo estas, RAMSEES!!!
Man, good luck on your korean!!
Btw I remeber the “Real Deal” post;
Haven’t you been learning Korean before?

ABT bodybuilding, check out also my aboutlifting site man, that is if you want to get jacked I linked it from my site.
Bon voyage!


Igor August 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Power to the People! : Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American

Deadlift, Deadlift, Deadlift, Deadlift…


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