Matt Vs Japan.... Has Anybody had this Experience?

OK, so I saw a video where Matt Vs Japan (YouTuber) said that he did a ton of input and after around 2-3 years he tried to speak and realised he could speak fluently. He made this sound like it happened suddenly and that he didn’t even know he could.

So he obviously did a LOT of ‘input only’ activity for a long time, but I’m still kind of sceptical that this happened the way he describes it.

I’ve heard many people (including Steve) say that it can happen relatively quickly if you’ve spent time doing input first, but those people always clarify that you need LOTS of practice speaking to get good (meaning fluent).

I’m left wondering if Matt is either exaggerating, or whether he simply got waaaaaaay more input than those other people and so it just came easy/naturally/instantly to him?

The one thing that bugs me about his claim is that he said he realised it after he applied for a job guiding Japanese people around his area, and whilst guiding them he suddenly became aware that, “holy, s**t! I can speak Japanese.”

I’m left wondering what made him think he could do that job in the first place if he didn’t even know he was fluent in Japanese? I guess he could’ve been thinking that he’d wing it and do the best he can, but even to think you can do that would surely mean you knowing that you’re at least conversationally fluent?

Anyway, I’m not saying he definitely is exaggerating/lying about what happened, but I’m a little sceptical about it, to say the least, particularly for such a ‘hard’ language as Japanese. I guess he was in a unique situation in that he only did input for a number of years, and it was almost full time.

I know there are many videos of people who are following his methods, but I can’t find any where someone has made that same claim. In fact, most of them have either given up (not posted for months/years), or have uploaded videos saying how things are going slower than they expected (their reason usually being that they haven’t been able to put in the time required).

Have any of you tried something similar and had the same result Matt had? I only ask because I’ve kind of done the same thing (although not for even close to the number of hours Matt did) and I’m trying to figure out if output (if not fluent, in some form) will eventually come naturally with time without much deliberate practice, which I know would be frustrating/hard work to me.


Don’t take anything any YouTuber tells you at face value.


I don’t, but I think I agree with his ideas about language learning in general (very similar to Steve) so I’m just curious about what the end result of that has been for those who’ve done it.

instant output seems unlikely to me… but the ratio is likely completely different. If he invested 2k, 3k hours into japanese input, then 100 or 200 hours of practicing output might seems like nothing to him. I can believe that 100 hours of output would be sufficient.

Matt was also in Japan in high school for a year I believe. If he was able to build up up basic conversational abilities back then, then I do think the rest should come a lot quicker at more advanced levels.

I think he was also into AJATT and things like that from early on in his studies, so that was probably a driving force.

That’s interesting. Do you base that 100 hours as believable on some kind of experience in outputting?

I believe he was in Japan for 6 months (he cut it short because he wasn’t enjoying it), and he said he barely left his room and that his level was too low to join in with conversations, or to even understand them.


I have been following his methodology religiously. Exactly around the 18-month mark in a conversation with an old German lady, my subconscious mind came up with a few sentences fluently out of nowhere.
They just popped out of my mouth like water flows. I had no flipping idea about grammar tenses but the lady noticed my choice of word. In short, when I was standing up and going for my home she said I spoke well in German. The quality of the sentence impressed her maybe but I would not consider myself a true fluent at that point.

Around 2 0 month mark I got a job , I spoke a few sentences out of nowhere at work and my German bosses noticed them. Again the same issue they were grammatically correct sentences. There was no conscious effort involved in formulating those sentences. They just flew. Again they were kind of individual sentences. I will not still consider myself a true fluent speaker. But the quality of sentences I can not judge by myself but German bosses noticed it. I am feeling like I am getting better at speaking but I am not right there yet.

The funny thing about this is that I did not touch a single grammar book in German. Only input heavy. Matt started outputting at a 2-year mark according to him it was not that perfect initially and took another year of input before he felt comfortable speaking Japanese fluently.

My German boss told me a few days ago whatever I am doing to learn German I am on the right track.


Yes but I wonder if that is an exaggeration. He went to school there. A short conversation here and there, it quickly stacks up.

I don’t really base that 100 hours on much. I learned French when I was in school. At the end I could speak rather well but my knowledge of grammar was quite limited and my vocab even more so. Then I didn’t really speak any French again for 11 years.

Around the time I started lingq, I also took around thirty hours of Italki lessons over a period of +/- 3 months. After those 30 hours I was again able to speak comfortably. Although still with limited vocab, I was able to manage a conversation without too much thinking/struggling on any topic - not perfect and definitely with some mistakes but good enough that some people would likely say I was/am conversationally fluent.

So I would think that if someone had extensive input, had some output experience in the past and then did more than 3 times what I did as described above, that they would have a good level.


OK, that’s interesting. I’d like to see how you’re doing in another 20 months. I’m personally starting to believe that one possibly needs 3-4 years of constant input. I can see the method working the best of all the methods out there, but only for those who have the luxury to put their native language aside for long parts of their day during those 3-4 years. At least for things to start to become automatic. It seems like all input for an hour/day, spending the other 15 hours/day in your native language, would never really get you very far in terms of automaticity. I might be wrong.

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As a disclaimer to this, I do not watch Matt vs. Japan. I have probably seen some videos, but that type of content generally has not been very interesting to me. I am familiar with, but haven’t read through it all.

I do not think Matt is exaggerating at all. I think in fact the opposite, that people see some of the numbers being advocated and assume it is exaggerating or overstating how much input we really need. IIRC Matt advocates for 5-6 hours of input daily for 1,5 years before starting output. That is 2.500 - 3.000 hours! If I spent 2.500 doing something I would hope I was reasonably good at it. Saying one fluently speaks a language after 100 hours of speaking practice when that is less than 4% of their overall time is a very different claim than they spent 100 hours of speaking practice and nothing else.

I would read “holy, s**t! I can speak Japanese.” as an self affirmation more than anything else. After the early stages of language learning the improvement is so slow and unnoticeable that it is hard to recognize how much progress we are really making. Getting a job speaking Japanese to people from Japan is an objective marker that one might speak Japanese! We are all subject to cognitive biases, and this type of objectivity can do a lot of work to cut through those biases.


The oversall math of the input does workout. My guess he was listening to very specific information that provided a great deal of space repitition. Three or four hours a day of input spaced throughout the day would enable someone to understand and even speak a language after 2 years. Also he mostly lilky was internally repeating what he was listening to thus building an internal phrame work of the language.
My suggestion is be happy for his journey and don’t compare his work too the the work that you will do now or in the future. Two people can put in the same amount of time but the results will be different. Results are based upon how we as learners learn.

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If you spent years doing input, a 3-6 month transition to conversational fluency would be very possible, and would seem “sudden” in hindsight. I think he is saying he had a foundation based on input that made that transition relatively quick.

As a counterpoint to Matt’s experience, I read zero Manga, had never watched anime and didn’t use an input-“only” focused method when I learned Japanese. I learned all 4 modes (reading writing listening speaking) of the language in parallel through a combination of university classes, both in the US and Japan, an internship in Japan and taking my first job there after graduating. I was conversationally fluent in 2 years, could use workplace Japanese proficiently after 3 years (including my internship) and started my first job as an engineer communicating with my co-workers and with local engineers on a day to day basis in Japanese.

That whole process took 4 calendar years, but I wasn’t putting in nearly the hours Matt was. My major was engineering, not Japanese, and I had a full life outside of Japanese as well.

That said, I do think that speaking in our daily university conversation classes with teachers who would correct our language, including pronunciation, was an advantage. I do take Matt’s point that speaking in another environment without that corrective feedback before you have adequate input could lead to developing some bad habits that could be hard to correct later.

Also, I don’t have time to even to do the approach I did with Japanese (much less what Matt is recommending). So, I am trying a comprehensible input approach with Spanish, only for about 30-60 minutes per day. I do hope at some point I’ll look back in hindsight to think the transition to fluency was sudden, because at the moment it’s pretty rough lol.


I’ve kind of done the same thing (although not for even close to the number of hours Matt did) and I’m trying to figure out if output (if not fluent, in some form) will eventually come naturally with time without much deliberate practice, which I know would be frustrating/hard work to me.
Yes, output will come with enough input. Some practice will help, but listening is a hugely important foundation.
Using myself as an example: my Cantonese speaking has made great progress, in spite of almost never speaking it. But my listenng is still not great. I’m at the stage where I can understand nearly all daily conversations, but if I watch a youtube video about history I get a bit lost. I have zero doubt that when my listening gets as good as my Mandarin listening my output will be better. A bit of practice helps, but I honestly believe that if you spend the 1000 hours necessary to get to “fluent” listening then speaking will come easily with like 20 hours practice.


I don’t know how much he exaggerates this, at least a little bit, though I think it’s possible to some extent.
But I always concern about what a style of fluency comes with particular input. I really appreciate the ability to express myself in thr easy-going way in Russian and I want the same in English.
I’m afraid that literature, books, articles can build up such a type of fluency, that I would need to overcome with the additional effort in the end, that’s why I’m currently trying at least to shift my attention onto the conversational type of input. After all, this is exatcly how we acquire our native language.
In other words, I don’t want to start a sentence with “Once upon a time” instead of just “In past” or somethin like that. Sure you’ll understand me but I don’t want you to get the impression, that I’m your granny telling you the story of Goldilocks.
For example, in Russian there is a HUGE difference between how even our modern literature is written and how people really speak to each other. The 80% of complex grammar structures will confuse people in the speaking form. The same with too academical words. You can even отхватить по роже from the working-class if you seem too smart :smiley:

I don’t know about this video but my current experience with German is saying that listening and speaking improve automatically just by increasing a lot of input. That’s why I’m switching my learning experience using a lot more LingQ this year.

Even if I’ve learnt some German with bad mental focus, low energy and done not so well, I can understand basic conversations and I can formulate basic speaking sentences without having trained any of those. Which surprised me a lot.

So, I believe that doing a better job in increasing inputs in this “LingQ” way could give astonishing results. And reduced a lot the time needed in the target country. Increasing the initial inputs a lot before the output and then doing a short full immersion in the country could potentially have incredible results and being a lot cheaper.

One thing I don’t know about is the writing experience. For now I find it very difficult without training. But I’m going to change a lot the way I’ve tackled this language in this 2022 and LingQ is going to be the center of it.


I reached fluency in Spanish by reading Harry Potter for 10 days: Cuando aprendes español leyendo Harry Potter durante 10 días - YouTube

All jokes aside though, I have no idea how people can claim to reach fluency without lots of speaking practice, getting corrected and, at least half-hearted, grammar study. I have more than 5,000 hours of Czech input under my belt but my speaking has taken quite a hit since corona started. This even happens to Expats who (virtually) stop using their native language. Well, and then there´s receptive bilingualism.

Don´t get me wrong, input improves your speaking, both fluency and accuracy, but I feel like you hit a ceiling at some point and then you need speaking, corrections and some grammar.


At least you can learn old Norsk with heavy input :wink:

(one of my all time favourite language learning scenes, even though it is not realistic… :slight_smile:


Definitely, always loved that scene. :smiley:

Matt talks about having exclusively Japanese friends in college and taking tour groups of Japanese tourists, not to mention his infamous six month period in Japan. So he really did not just start speaking with only input. He would have had hundreds of hours practicing with native speakers. I guess to Matt this output time was so small compared to thousands of hours of input, so he is talking relative times.


What is the actual story of his idol Khatzumoto?

An Okinawan friend of mine moved to Argentina with her family when she was young. She didn’t speak a word for three years after she got there. Of course she spoke in Okinawan dialect with her family, but she didn’t speak a word in Spanish with her neighbors. She watched dramas for three years and only started speaking when she was sure she could already speak. She said that if you start speaking right after you start studying, your Spanish will be weird, so it’s better to start speaking when you can speak properly.