“Are you fluent?” is possibly the question most dreaded by all language learners. What degree of proficiency even counts as “fluent,” anyway?
Being able to have a conversation? Being able to write 2000+ kanji characters? Never having to use a dictionary? It’s terrifying to even contemplate describing oneself as “fluent” without looking obnoxious. Even worse is the nagging self-doubt—will I ever actually reach “fluency”?
The path to being fluent looks rocky and difficult from the outset, with so many obstacles that this shining goal may seem almost impossible to reach. I don’t know about getting you to one hundred percent native-like, but what I can do is help you get from elementary level to a level that you can be proud of, and one that won’t make you want to cry when people ask that dreaded fluency question.
Japanese is described as one of the most difficult languages to learn. Unlike arguably easier languages for native English speakers, such as French, German and Spanish, Japanese requires several years of constant dedication. Studying the traditional way—with textbooks, CDs, and perhaps a teacher—is only a small part of reaching beyond beginner and lower-elementary levels.
Here are six great ways that you can step up your Japanese ability every day and get closer to that goal, that magic word, “fluency. “ Living in the country of your target language is important, of course, but not necessary. If you’re not living in Japan right now, don’t despair. The first steps to fluency are possible if you know where to look.
Things to keep in mind
How hard is it to learn Japanese?
According to the US Department of State, Japanese is one of the hardest languages for English natives to learn. It doesn’t have many similarities in structure to English. They estimate it takes 88 weeks of learning, or 2200 hours, to reach fluency.
What skills do you want to focus on?
Learning Japanese is not only for learning Japanese newspapers, magazines, or anything else. But you have to learn a language so that you are able to speak the language fluently with Japanese speaking community.
Anyone can learn a language but quality learning will make you fluent in any language. You have to focus on the skills of fluency. By having regular conversations with native Japanese speakers.
You can focus on whatever you believe you’ll need more quickly.
How strong is your motivation?
Before you can answer how long it will take you to learn Japanese, ask yourself:
Why? Why Japanese and why now?
I disagree that you must have an urgent motivation to learn Japanese to keep yourself accountable, such as moving to a Japanese-speaking country, having family members who speak Japanese, or wanting to get a new job. Of course, these are all fantastic reasons to learn Japanese, don’t get me wrong! But I believe curiosity, interest, love for the language and the sheer pleasure of learning it can be enough.
With the right motivation and time management techniques, a motivated learner can achieve fluency at an intermediate level of Spanish in a matter of months.
What resources are you using?
Your resource quality can determine how long it takes to speak Japanese fluently.
Many of the best Japanese online courses offer plenty of options to grow your vocabulary, grammar awareness, and pronunciation skills while sticking to a method you enjoy. These can be amazing tools to get started, get a feel of the language, and start noticing some patterns, especially if you enjoy studying in general and like having that structure.
However, if your goal is to become fluent in Japanese soon and comfortably, you’ll have to get yourself out there and walk away from apps that only teach grammar.
How Long it Takes to Speak Japanese Depends on YOU
There are so many variables when it comes to learning how to speak Japanese. But with the right study habits, effective time management, and consistent commitment, you can learn to speak conversational Japanese in as little as 3 months.
All these things make a big impact on your fluency.
Also, you can enroll in Multibhashi for Japanese language learning.