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How Long Does it Take to Learn Japanese?

Updated on March 25, 2012


The Japanese language is a rich and historically wonderful language. Most expats or travelers to Japan find that knowing a little bit of Japanese while you go there is very beneficial. So how long does it take to learn Japanese? Well, that is not an easy question to answer. The simplest answer is that it is not how long it will take you but how much effort you put in to learning it that will help you the most.

Since most of the time learning Japanese is a long and sustained effort it is not a language that can be learned in a very short time. It also depends on the effort needed to truly master this language and regular practice time each day should be strived for. Then how you go about doing the above with give you a good idea as you go along on your mastery level of this beautiful language.


There are expats currently in Japan who regularly and effectively used their time to learn the language and have mastered it in about a year. But I know other japan expats that have been living there for several years and barely know the language at all.

There are several routes you can take to help you in the mastery learning Japanese. One of the best ways to help you learn Japanese language is by going to an actual public or privet class that teaches the language. If formal training is not available then books and tapes are usually available at almost bookstores or libraries. These should provide you with a good basic introduction to the living language of Japanese.

The true learning experience is not from books or tapes or even from class it is actually using it in real world settings. If you already live in japan this will make speaking and practicing Japanese al t easier but if you are in the process of living or working there shortly then there are other venues where you can learn to speak Japanese’s in your home country. If, you have a native Japanese speaker in your neighborhood or if you practice with a friend that knows it well would be a step in the right direction.

The process of speaking Japanese clearly and concisely is actually a simpler process then people might think. Do not even begin to listen to anyone who says otherwise because allowing those negative thoughts in will only discourage you. If you take your time and apply your effort into learning then the only real challenge you will have is reading and writing it.

The Japanese language is filled with artistic displays of words and letters each meaning something different. So in my opinion it will take longer to learn and memorize these patterns and structures then simply speaking the Japanese language. Hiragana and katakana for the most part are easy to pick up, but once you get to kanji expect another level of brain twisting. The basic Japanese person must learn before graduating high school is nearly look 2000 kanji.

While mastering the written language is more difficult than actually speaking it has the same concept of practice. If you practice the writing ability you will be able to within a short period have the basic concepts and even master some of the Japanese’s written form quickly. To memorize Japanese writing quicker try not to get to involved in Romaji. Try to associate pictures and words as often as you can and use the language in a free atmosphere where you can make mistakes. So how long does it really take to learn Japanese with dedication and practice probably no more than 1 to two years that seems like a long time but well worth the effort if you want it done right.


So how long does it take to learn Japanese? As much time as you need. Everyone has a different learning curve, but what's most important is that you put full focus into everything. Keep practicing. Speak and write on a daily basis. In my experience I will guess that it would take maybe 1-2 years to converse well with native speakers, and perhaps another few years living in Japan to fully immerse yourself, and become totally fluent in the language.


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  • profile image

    Japanese Man 7 years ago

    It really all depends on what systems you use to learn japanese

  • M.s Fowler profile image

    M.s Fowler 7 years ago from United states

    This hub was beautiful and useful I love the art of learning new languages!

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

    What a great language, my daughters focus of study in the third grade was Japan and it proved to be a beautiful and rich culture we fell in love with. Great tribute to the language. :)

  • oishi profile image

    oishi 7 years ago

    That was useful. Languages that do not belong to the indo-european group of languages are a challenge to learn but interesting at the same time. sayonara.

  • De Greek profile image

    De Greek 7 years ago from UK

    Japanese is such a beautiful language, once one understands it. But one factor in learning any language, is age. As a young man I managed to speack Japanese reasonably well withing three months, by learning from girlfrieds. If you read my story "Japan and Royalty", you will understand what I mean. I have forgotten most of it, but at times I am surprised to be able to still understand a few things when Japanese tourists are talking. When I was there, Japanese people were curious at how I could speak their language, so I used to say "Watashi-no Okaa-san wa, Nihon Jin desu" :-))

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I also interest with Japanese Language. Actually I have learned this language from my cousin in Bali Island. His wife came from Japan. But unfortunately he has broken up his relationship. I just learn a few word. But it still sound interesting for me. Thanks for share with us.