April 20, 2021
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Disclosure: This site has affiliate links to language products including those on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Thank you.

Learn Japanese while you Sleep. Does it Work?

It sounds awesome, right? All you have to do is turn a Japanese audio lesson on.

You go to sleep. Easy!

And then Japanese words and phrases are drilled into your head. No hard work!

Does learning Japanese while you sleep work?

Yes and no.

The good news is, there’s a yes.

learn japanese while sleep

1. When does learning Japanese in your sleep work?

Learning Japanese in your sleep works when you are learning passively.

When you are reviewing old information.

Passive learning, by the way, means that you’re sitting back and reviewing things you already learned. You’re not actively trying to “figure things out.” It’s kind of like reviewing flashcards or re-listening to an audio lesson.

And, there’s science to back up this claim:

“If you’ve been learning vocabulary in a foreign language, it can be highly effective to hear these words played over again while you sleep.” Source: ScienceDaily

  • Takeaway: Yes, you should try and review what you learned in your sleep.

2. How can you learn Japanese in your sleep?

Audio is the best way.

You should play Japanese audio lessons while you snooze.

I suggest an audio program like JapanesePod101.com (click here to check them out.) They have 2,000+ audio and video lessons in total.  You can play their audio lessons from your computer, iPad or your smartphone. Below is a sample lesson that you can listen to and get a taste of their program.

Just click on the play button on the player below.

  • Audio Lesson: Say Hello in Japanese No Matter What the Time of Day

learn japanese in your sleep
Or, you can get some CD learning programs on Amazon.com (click here). Look for programs with “CD” in the title. Just click on the screenshot below to visit and look around.

3. When does learning Japanese in your sleep NOT work?

As you already know, it doesn’t work when you’re trying to learn new words and phrases.

In other words, it doesn’t work with active learning.

So, anything new. Why?

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 1.03.02 AM

#1. Passive learning doesn’t work with new information. That’s the conclusion from the Science Daily study and the “Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream” study above. You can put on a Japanese audio lesson that contains words you don’t know, let it play in the background as you go about your life. And you won’t learn anything. Your brain has no prior knowledge of  it. It’ll pass off as gibberish until you sit down and actively pick words apart.

Similarly, turn on the TV and go talk to your mom. Then, see if you remember anything that was said on the TV while you were in the conversation.

#2. You’re not saying the word. You’re not writing it down. So, how could you expect that “hearing” words alone while you sleep will teach you a language. To learn a language, you must speak (make mistakes) the language and put it to use. You must listen. Repeat. Write it down. …Can you do that in your sleep?

  • Takeaway: Don’t waste your time trying to learn new things in your sleep.

If you want to learn new things, you must learn actively.

4. Active Learning is the Best Way to Learn Japanese.

Just so you know the difference:

  • Passive Learning: Learning by sitting back and absorbing information and nothing else.
    • For example: Listening to audio lessons, reviewing through flashcards.
  • Active Learning: Learning by actively reading, memorizing and repeating words until they stick in your brain.
    • For example: Reading about a grammar rule and then answering questions in a workbook or writing out 10 examples.

You want to learn new Japanese words, phrases and grammar, right?

You want to speak Japanese right?

For this, you need active learning that can’t be done in your sleep.

  1. Active learning is the best way to introduce new information to your brain. Since you’re awake, you’ll make connections to what you already know – to make sense of new information. That’s how you actually learn.
  2. Multi-tasking doesn’t work… well. At least for anyone that wants to speak great Japanese.
  3. You need to actively say the words and phrases out loud to “practice” your speaking skills.
  4. You need to actively read to “practice” your reading skills. And so on.
  5. The best way to improve is to speak with a native speaker… Can’t do that asleep, bro.

So, what can you do? Don’t try to learn new things while you sleep. Or at least, please don’t spend money on things that promise to teach you new things in Japanese. To truly learn Japanese, you should get a tutor, a textbook or try out an online Japanese learning program.

If you’re a  fan of Audio & Video Lessons that teach you to speak Japanese – I suggest JapanesePod101.com. Below is a quick preview of how it works:

Click here to visit JapanesePod101 & ACTUALLY learn while you’re awake!

– The Main Junkie

P.S. I highly recommend this for Japanese learners. If you REALLY want to learn to Japanese with effective lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at JapanesePod101 (click here) and start learning!

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Shannon Tsukiyama

Sorry but I call BS on your theories. Sleep learning is actually something that WORKS. I figured this out around age 12, accidentally. I had just bought a new CD, and didn’t get the chance to listen to it until late that night. I put on my headphones and put the CD in the walkman (Yes, early 2000’s.), hit repeat and let it play. I only got maybe two songs into the CD before I passed out. I woke up the next morning with the batteries in my walkman dead and found when I replaced them and started listening to… Read more »