How Long Does It Take To Learn Japanese?

June 19, 2023
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How Long Does It Take To Learn Japanese?

Are you interested in learning Japanese and wondering how long it takes to learn it? Perhaps you have been for a while and that has brought you here. Maybe you would like to learn the language to live in Japan, or maybe you are trying to fully understand your favorite anime or manga.

Whatever your reason is, in this blog we will share with you the experiences of current and previous students at Japademy including how long it took them to become proficient in Japanese.

You could find it difficult to learn the Japanese language quickly, especially if you have only recently started. However, how long it takes you to fully grasp and learn Japanese depends on how much time you put into studying, the level you want to reach, the resources you use to assist your study, and any mistakes you could be making while in the process.

Here are two (2) key factors that affect how long it takes to learn Japanese

Your Native Language

Image of many languages

The degree of difficulty in learning Japanese may depend on how similar your native tongue is to it. If you are a native Chinese speaker, you will have a learning advantage over others because Japanese has many words and characters (Kanji) that have their roots in Chinese. If you are a Spanish speaker, you will be gladly surprised about how easy it is to pronounce Japanese words, in fact, you will find yourself sounding almost like a native speaker from day one, this is because both Japanese and Spanish pronounce the vowels identically.

In case you are an English speaker, don't feel discouraged though. English is the language that has the most foreign words being introduced into the Japanese language. Words like hamburger, beer, milk, and hundreds more were introduced to the Japanese language and pronounced almost as in English. This is accurate given the prevalence of English loanwords in modern Japanese. It indicates that many Japanese words are simple to understand if you speak English.

Your Motivation to Learn Japanese

A person studying Katakana
A person studying katakana

How motivated you are to learn will have a big impact on how long it takes you to master the Japanese language. Learning Japanese is probably a medium to long-term undertaking, it will take you fewer months to learn Japanese if you are extremely motivated to do so.

Let's talk about how long it takes to learn Japanese

Many students have already been taught by and assisted by Japademy in achieving their objectives of learning the Japanese language. Some learned quickly, while others required significant more assistance from our Japanese teachers. Depending on how they learned and what they did, it took them a certain amount of time to become proficient.

Here is a list of the activities students usually engage in to learn Japanese:

A. Study for 2 to 3 hours a week with the support of a professional teacher

B. Practice for 1 hour a week what they learned during their lessons during their own time

C. Use apps for 10 minutes a day to learn new vocabulary

D. Study on their own without any guidance

Students that do very well (avg. 18 months):

These students do activities A, B, and C. They study for 2 to 3 hours a week with the support of a professional teacher, practice for 1 hour a week what they learned during their japanese lessons on their own time, and use apps daily for 10 minutes to learn new vocabulary. These students are typically highly motivated to learn Japanese and do it being nicely guided through the learning process. That’s why they were able to reach a proficient level in about 18 months.

Students that do well (avg. 24 months):

These students do situations A and B or A and C. Students that combine studying 2 to 3 hours a week with the help of a professional teacher and practicing for 1 hour a week what they learned during their lessons time tend to struggle to increase their vocabulary. On the other hand, students who combine studying 2 to 3 hours a week with the help of a professional teacher and using apps for 10 minutes daily to learn new vocabulary tend to struggle with the right use of Japanese grammar. These kinds of students reach a proficient level in about 24 months. 

Students that do just fine (avg. 36 months):

These students do situation A only, studying 2 to 3 hours a week with the help of a professional teacher but not doing extra efforts on their own time. These students are more likely to struggle with using the right Japanese grammar and they have limited Japanese vocabulary. This kind of student reaches a proficient level in about 36 months.

Students that do not do that well (most likely unable to become proficient):

Usually, these students only do situations C or D. These students either use apps daily for 10 minutes to learn new vocabulary or attempt to learn on their own. These students rarely make significant progress in learning Japanese. This happens because the lack of guidance to being introduced to the different grammar and structure of the language can make them feel lost or overwhelmed without knowing where to focus. For students who only use apps to learn, they usually learn how to repeat sentences without actually understanding their meaning and structure. Therefore, these kinds of students can’t actually have meaningful conversations with Japanese speakers.

Final words

Teacher preparing a Japanese lesson
Japademy teacher preparing a Japanese lesson

It can take anywhere between 18 and 36 months—or perhaps longer—to learn Japanese and become proficient. The key factors are your own abilities, native tongue, and amount of motivation for learning the language. A proficient level is more likely to be attained in a shorter amount of time if you are extremely driven and skilled. On the other hand, if you're the opposite, it can take you a while longer to get there.

Remember to always be patient and never let the length of time it is said to take to learn Japanese frighten or deter you; the time varies for everyone and will pass swiftly. Also, at Japademy with our Japanese Online Lessons we offer the guidance you need to learn Japanese effectively and in a positive way, making your learning experience much more exciting.

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Kanami Iwasaki, Japademy Founder

Japademy | Learn Japanese

We are a Japanese language school with students in worldwide and native Japanese teachers located in 7+ countries. We provide students with high quality engaging lessons from beginner to advanced levels. Start learning Japanese with us today.
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