In my view, it’s not the quantum of hours you put into learning Japanese. Also, foreign language learning cannot be confined to the four walls of a classroom let alone in your home.
It’s the amount of massive practicing and consistent usage of the language in as many everyday real-life activities, involving real-world communication with real people. In the absence of a total immersion environment, you just have to be creatively resourceful in finding speaking opportunities preferably with native speakers.
In this blog, we will discuss how much time it actually takes to learn the Japanese language.
Time taken to learn Japanese
There’s really no short and sweet answer to this question because it depends on several factors:
How much do you know about Japanese? Having initial knowledge of some common terms and the character sets may be enough head start for you to read, write, and speak like a native.
Flexibility in converting from English
Some Japanese words come in the form of gairaigo (or “loan words”), which have origins from foreign languages such as English. By studying gairaigo terms, you can seamlessly transition from English to Japanese in no time.
Time spent learning
Nothing beats hard work and patience in learning a new language. As long as you commit to spending a significant amount of time getting comfortable with Japanese, you can expect better results in the quickest time possible.
Method of learning
How you plan to learn Japanese can make a huge difference in the speed of acquiring the language.
Your purpose for learning
One of the fastest ways to learn Japanese is to determine your intention for reading or speaking the language. If you focus on Japanese words and terms normally used in a specific context or situation – say, conversational terms for travel or business – you will sound like a Japanese local quicker and more convincingly.
If you’re really looking for number estimates, here are some projections on how long it may take an average person to learn Japanese:
- Street conversations or small talk: 1 year
- Higher-level conversations on business, politics, and the government: 4 years
- Reading emails, social media posts, and short articles: 2 years
- Reading full newspaper articles and local books: 4 years
- Understanding movies and TV shows in Japanese: 2 years
- Understanding Japanese music or standup comedy: 4 years
Japanese is a rich language filled not only with nuances and context-based references but also different types of characters that a monolingual speaker may not be familiar with.
Here are some of the specific details that you need to learn in acquiring the Japanese language:
The Japanese language uses three main types of character sets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Most of the common sentences in Japanese use a combination of Hiragana and Kanji, while Katakana is useful for loan words.
There’s a fourth character set called Romaji, which spells out Japanese syllabaries and logographic characters so that non-native speakers can speak and understand the language faster.
Knowing how to speak Japanese requires understanding basic grammatical structures, parts of speech, use of particles, and integrating all of these elements together in sentences and paragraphs.
The best way to learn Japanese is to learn grammar and character sets simultaneously.
Are you eager to become a fluent Japanese speaker? Check out these tips on how to learn Japanese as comprehensively and rapidly as possible:
Get access to language learning tools
In this day and age, there’s no excuse to learn Japanese if you have the desire to do so. There are a lot of online platforms, books, videos, modules, and e-learning courses to help you get acquainted and become fluent in Japanese.
Zoom in on a particular context or usage for the language
Start by focusing on the specific use of the language. If you travel to Japan frequently, learn basic questions and replies used in transportation.
Set a learning schedule and timeline
More importantly, it’s best to follow a predetermined daily schedule for learning Japanese. For example, casual learning involves about an hour of reading, listening to, and talking in Japanese. Naturally, when you spend more hours per day learning, the faster you acquire the skill.
Looking at this quick guide, you may notice that much of the effort in learning Japanese is poured into the planning stage. By setting your time goals and looking for the right tools, you should be on course to becoming fluent in Japanese and enjoying the language as well.