I see a lot of learning materials and lessons that, to anyone who has even seriously studied a language, are outright ridiculous. I’m not sure what the EFL material situation looks like in a lot of other countries, but here in Japan it seems like everyone has some sort of magic system that will turn you into a native speaker in six weeks. Most of them follow a basic format of: fill your ears with English, and somehow you’ll learn the language through osmosis. I see tons of people recommending AJATT for people wanting to learn Japanese, as though watching gobs of anime and listening to AKB48 will somehow improve a beginner’s Japanese.
These people really need to read some Stephen Krashen. He’s been working in language acquisition since the 80s, and his theory of Second Language Acquisition has been hugely influential. I know I personally started really questioning my own teaching style after being exposed to his five hypotheses. Although our methods of data collection have broadened considerably since the theory first came about, I think it still has a lot to tell us about what constitutes an effective form of instruction, and how people learn.
The top lesson that the osmosis crowd needs to get a hold on is the idea of comprehensible input. According to Krashen, only by understanding the content of an utterance in a foreign language can we ever hope to acquire that language. He refers to this as i+1; where i represents the learner’s current level, i+1 refers to material that is just slightly challenging, so that the student is acquiring new language. Hearing tons of language that you don’t understand will not somehow spur your brain to develop circuitry to understand the language. You have to start small and build your understanding bit by bit, until you can understand more and more complex language.
Everyone wants to hear that they can improve their language skills just by doing something they’re already doing, like playing video games and watching anime in AJATT. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s not likely to spur any improvement until you’re at a much higher level. I personally didn’t really get much out of playing games in Japanese until I’d been studying for a couple of years. Before that, my comprehension was so low that I had to spend 5 minutes with a dictionary for every 1 minute of game play. Not very efficient.
When learning a language, don’t focus on trying to do things native speakers do. You will never be a native speaker, and that’s okay. You’re building your own language, and you need to focus on the next step in that process, rather that some far-off endpoint.