Length of time needed to achieve fluency in the Japanese language. (38)

1 名前: AK : 2007-05-20 03:53 ID:8Rc08aJH

Hi. I was wondering whether I should have made this thread in the Language section, but upon hindsight, I think it was good that I made this here.


For the past few weeks I've been investing a lot of time in Japanese. First, I started with the dual writing systems (Hiragana and Katakana, in that order) and I can now write and read them. (Though still not as fluently as I'd write the English alphabet, mind you.) I've been devouring kanji, using Heisig's book, 'Remembering the Kanji', and whatever other guides I've gotten my hands upon.

For grammar, I use Tae Kim's internet guide, and I've downloaded some torrents on the Japanese language to assist me with this too. I've also been downloading a lot of Japanese shows/movies/news reports, et cetera, none of which I can comprehend yet.

What I aim for is complete fluency in Japanese. I've read All Japanese All The Time (the blog), and it's a great inspirational read, and it's awesome to know that one could achieve fluency in less than 2 years.

So how long would it take me, you think? (And just in case you're wondering, yes, I'm very dedicated to learning this language.) Or, how long did it take you to achieve fluency?

If someone could propose a nice study plan, or benchmark, on what I should achieve in the long run (e.g. in 3 months, I can already start constructing essays with 1000 words, in 4 months, proper grammar, etc), that'd be great too, because I'd like to compare my progress with some established norm.

2 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-05-20 04:16 ID:1okuEu50

First off, don't kid yourself and don't be a weeaboo. If you are learning Japanese, what you first must do is ask yourself, why am I going to use this? If you just want to read some manga or whatever, then you might as well stop, because thats a huge waste of your time. If you want to go to Japan and immerse yourself in the large otaku subculture, then think again-- you are better off sticking to the latest Animexpo.

If you really are ready to study though, and you believe you will be using Japanese a lot, then keep on studying. I know the hiragana and katakana alphabet, along with the kanji Jin, and that's all.

I'm not trying to be critical, I have just seen too many otaku weeaboos getting wound up over learning Japanese.

3 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-05-20 06:16 ID:Heaven

I started learning Japanese 7 years ago just to play ero games. I learned most of it in the first 3 years so now I'm just in a sort of "maintenance" phase.

The only advice I can give you is this: don't take any advice from someone who only knows some hiragana/katakana and 1 kanji.

4 名前: AK : 2007-05-20 12:23 ID:8Rc08aJH

名無しさん@日本語勉強中: "The only advice I can give you is this: don't take any advice from someone who only knows some hiragana/katakana and 1 kanji."

Great piece of advice, because even for a beginner of 3 weeks I can already lay claim to knowing a lot more kanji than just one :)

Firstly, I'd like to distinguish myself from a common Wapanese.

1) I am not a big fan of anime, although I do like manga and read them occasionally. Neither am I interested that much in the otaku subculture -- furthermore, as being an 'otaku' has serious connotations of social ineptness in Japanese culture (at least, as far as I've read and heard) I'm not so willing to be herded in that category.

2) I do not quote Japanese phrases out of the blue just because I think it's cool, which is what most people 'learning' Japanese seem to do or want to do.

3) Thirdly, I have a genuine interest in Japan and Japanese culture, history, and people, and knowing Japanese would allow me access to all that with greater ease.

It's just that I haven't really had the time to begin with the language until now. So, now that I HAVE begun studying, I am going to (and I am willing to do as much as I can to) try and master the language.

To rephrase my question above then, how long would it take one to achieve good fluency, at least, being able to read newspapers?

Of course, it'd be nice to have the ability to read mangas and watch shows/TV and anime unaided by any language tools (e.g. dictionaries, etc), but rather, I want to read novels and Japanese books and speak with natives -- that's what would allow me to soak in Japanese culture.

To 名無しさん@日本語勉強中: Could you please give a description as to how fluent you are? As in, can you speak fluently? How many kanjis do you know? Can you read/write well? How long did it take you to get there? I'd just like to know.

Thanks in advance!

5 名前: 3 : 2007-05-20 14:27 ID:Heaven

Okay, me again. I'll just answer some of your questions about me you had.(I'm just assuming it was directed at me)

>how fluent you are

As far as reading goes, I can read pretty much whatever I want, but if there's a lot of technical terms, and stuff, I might have some trouble with it.

For writing, if I have been using the language regularly, it usually looks pretty close to being written by a native speaker. When I've been out of practice, it starts to slip in quality.

>can you speak fluently?

I've never had a spoken conversation with anyone in Japanese, but I could probably fake it.

>How many kanjis do you know?

I don't know, I never bothered to count. I just learn them as I find them.

>How long did it take you to get there?

In my case it was somewhere in between 2 or 3 years. I had a lot of free time on my hands though, so your mileage may vary.

>how long would it take one to achieve good fluency, at least, being able to read newspapers?

It depends on how you approach it, I guess. In my case, once I was more or less comfortable with the basic grammatical stuff(sentence structure, and whatnot), I just jumped in and started reading crap, looking up words (just by copying and pasting them into a dictionary program) as I went, and just kept doing that until I was able to actually comprehend what I was reading. I don't know if it would work for anyone else, it's just the way I did it.

6 名前: AK : 2007-05-21 12:21 ID:8Rc08aJH

That's a pretty nice explanation! Thanks! I'm actually starting off the same grounds you started off with: yep, working on my grammar first-hand; although I am at the moment also using a number of other books to help improve my knowledge of kanji, nouns, etc. I bought a dictionary too, though it's only for those moments where I can't have access to the Internet and Firefox's Rikai-chan.

It's nice to know that there are other fluent self-taught students of Japanese out there.

Anyway, anyone else out there would like to share their experience?

7 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-05-27 04:08 ID:NlrurW5I

You can't really learn a language properly only by reading websites on the internet, imo.
A real-life spoken conversation is very different from whatever meme-du-jour vippers spout on 2ch.

8 名前: : 2007-05-27 06:05 ID:Heaven


You do have a point, in that learning the written language will not necessarily mean you can speak the spoken language, and there is a lot of useless slang on the internet that one should be careful of. But 2ch is not the only Japanese site on the internet. There are plenty of websites written in perfectly good Japanese.

Also, I'm not quite sure what you mean by learning a language "properly". Could you elaborate on that?

9 名前: Sleeper83 : 2007-05-28 07:18 ID:olGuiOvY

Why you just don't take some Japanese lessons? It's best way to learn because you have feedback on your mistakes from teacher and support in classmates. Have a nice day :)

10 名前: AK : 2007-05-28 16:30 ID:zzy9fuET

Sleeper83, it's not that I do not wish to take up Japanese language classes, rather, it's that I have no time for them. I'm very busy with my current workload, but I'm still devoting up to 3 to 4 hours a day with my personal Japanese studies, and with that, I have no time for further classes.

That being said, I aim for mastery with the written and reading aspects of the Japanese language first. Then, I aim to familiarize myself with speech, probably through movies, TV shows, anime, and music.

I know I won't be able to carry myself well in a conversation early on, and I'll probably speak slowly (because of not being accustomed to producing my thoughts verbally) but at least I'll be able to comprehend what is being said through practicing with the above methods.

11 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-05-29 00:37 ID:1okuEu50

>>anime, and music

Don't kid yourself, you are a weeaboo.

12 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-05-29 05:26 ID:Heaven


>you are a weeaboo

Who here isn't a weeaboo?

13 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-05-29 18:53 ID:5utMU4dB

I'm kind of doing the same thing as the OP, I'm very interested in Japan (I like some anime and manga as a result of that, not the other way around) and have been teaching myself Japanese since last August using Tae Kim's grammar guide, and the Speedanki.com kanji flash cards. After 9 months (I pretty much only study on the weekends though) I know around 200 kanji, and just about all the basic grammar rules (although I still have to double check myself constantly). I can translate from Japanese to English moderately well (written, and assuming I have a dictionary on hand) but I still have the hardest time forming sentences in Japanese that contain anything more than subject+verb.

14 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-06-13 19:14 ID:AjyWTd3Z

I hate weeaboos.

I have a cousin who lives in Japan. I have a 2nd cousin who used to live in Japan.

I want to aspire to be an exchange student. But I must perfect my skills because there is a lot that could throw me off.

Getting a grasp on their slang, for example, is kind of difficult for me, but I can speak enough to hold a conversation.

In my 3rd year (I'm a 1st year), I will be eligible to be an exchange student. I hope to take full advantage of this, but I must realise Japanese doesn't just come to you.

It takes much studying to fully grasp the language. It takes years for some people. I have some difficulty with Kanji, but I can look at a Kanji, and then study it, then I know what it means, and I can figure out a word when I see it used.

Japanese is a difficult language when it comes to the writing.

15 名前: Bug : 2007-07-17 07:00 ID:4mMTXWb0

If what you mostly care about is being able to read and write in Japanese at a sophisticated and native level then the track you are on will get you there. They say it take a knowledge recall of about 200 kanji to read a Japanese newspaper, so however long that takes you will be up to your time, effort, and ability to internalize/memorize.

If you are interested in being as close to native as you can when in verbal communication then you simple cannot learn that in a vacuum. Movies and music along with other visual/audio resources will help a lot but you ability to build sentences, pronounce, and react to what others are saying appropriately takes practice in the natural setting. But do not worry about a busy schedule, because you do not need to commit to a class to get the kind of communication experience you need, the best thing is to search around for a conversation partner. Spend maybe at least a half but even better an hour of that time you spend studying Japanese speaking with a native Japanese person. It is easy to find willing conversation partners even if there are not native Japanese speakers where you live. There are lots of way to chat vocally online these days, so that helps if you are shy or nervous speaking the new language.

How long will it take you to be fluent? That is a personal thing, but if you stay committed to the course you are taking and suplement it with as much conversation experience as you can then you could be fluent in a few years.

I will try to think of more advice as someone who has been studying for 5 years already and fluency always seems to loom just a little bit a head of me, and then post again. Good luck!

16 名前: Bug : 2007-07-17 21:37 ID:ftb8MFJO

"They say it take a knowledge recall of about 200 kanji to read a Japanese newspaper"

This is a typo I meant that you need to know about 2,000 kanji.

17 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-07-21 22:08 ID:e79k2Lvd

I have been studying for a few years and only spending a little time each week in a class. You can learn it fairly quickly (maybe 3-4 years for fluency) if you put a lot of time into it. The largest recommendation I can make is immersing yourself in the language. Get your hands on anything you can and PAY ATTENTION. While you are watching anime LISTEN to it, recognize words, look at the subtitles and you will subconsciously pick up very subtle grammar etc. A lot of Japanese is like that, so the more actual conversation you hear the better.

Obviously people have a lot of complaints about people learning it for just manga/anime etc. But honestly I can relate, if you have ever been to Japan and looked at the massive amount of just STUFF on anything you could possibly be into, there is a large reason to learn the language (not to mention being able to post on 2-ch KITA!!!). But you have to understand that if you are serious about learning Japanese you are going to have to invest serious time and effort in it. The plus side of learning Japanese is you can become a teacher (at an eikawa) fairly easily, so you always have a job available. Also being a translator is also an option (you have to be able to pass the highest level of Japanese language skill test). Translating popular English books to Japanese will actually make you quite a lot of money. It's a good job, if you can get hired. But everything needs to be translated that goes inbetween the US and Japan so there are plenty of other jobs available (games, anime, books, manga, etc.)


18 名前: anon : 2007-08-24 02:42 ID:o57d1Cv4

nobody likes a weeabo, but at least the interest is there. who's to judge how strong this interest is?

i'm learning Japanese now orginally because I'm a great fan of Japanese films but eventually it became more that than and now I just find myself wanting to learn more about the culture and live life there for a while. so it helps to have a starting point at least.

i'm actually learning it in school which offers language classes and which progress by year so i'm hoping to take up to the most advanced level, but the regiment is pretty strict and i have about 7hrs of class per week just for Japanese not including self studying. But in 1 week, I already know all the hiragana, greetings, self introductions, and how to make simple sentences.

So i think if you're really serious about learnign Japanese asap, i highly reccomend taking classes instead of stuyding by yourself, cause it helps to have somebody talk to you constantly in Japanese too so you can familiarize yourself. =)

19 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-09-02 23:32 ID:R69l0tI5

The reason, that is to say, the reason behind why you're learning Japanese is largely irrelevant, I think. In the end, it's all about dedication. Set goals, short term and long term. Keep them realistic. If you don't meet those goals, don't let it discourage you; adjust the goals and keep moving forward.

Buy grammar books; a few of them, at least. You'll find that what you learn from book to book is different(not hugely so, but still), and that something you may have misunderstood in one book is clear in another.

You may also want to look into kanji flashcards; they're handy and portable, so you can use them on a lunchbreak on the train or something like that for a quick review. WhiteRabbitPress makes a nice set of flashcards for the JLPT tests.

The idea of a class is nice, but, really, it's going to cost a lot(time and money) and it's going to hold you back(unless you can take a strict class, but that'll most likely be pretty costly). It might sound a little silly, but it makes sense when you realize that most classes are geared towards the slowest students in the class. If you're at all committed, the other students will hold you back. Lessons will be slowed down for them and course material will be simplified so that they can digest it.

As for me, I've been teaching myself Japanese for about a year and a half. I am doing it primarily because I love anime, manga and videogames. With any luck, I'll be moving to Japan for a year(or more) in the middle of next year, but we'll see how that goes. I'm sure most would define me as a weeaboo or some such nonsense, but who gives a damn? If you enjoy learning Japanese and you're dedicated, regardless of your motivation, that's all that matters.

20 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-09-05 22:05 ID:1s/7MR6P

So I started to learn Japanese a week ago. Or rather I started learning Kanji. READING Kanji. I haven't bothered to learn how to write them. Does it really matter? I don't plan to live in Japan or something, so I'm not going to have to write them (per hand anyway, on a computer it doesn't matter, right?).
Here's the question though: Will it hurt me in the end? I only know around ~300 now, so I might as well start over if it really matters, but I don't see how if I just want to read them. Then again I don't want to be fucked after I spent weeks learning, so I want to make sure.

21 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-09-06 06:00 ID:zxqs403D


Learn to write the Kanji. You'll memorize them better and it'll be easier on you when you are reading compound Kanji.

22 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-09-07 12:05 ID:nkv8D5pQ

You learnt 300 kanji in one week?

23 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-09-07 14:40 ID:ku1LjzjO

Yeah, roughly 50 Kanji a day. But as I said only reading and with on meaning. I don't know how to write them, or their stroke order, even though I can visualize many of them easily.
That said I'm still not sure how it's important to know how to write them later on. >>21 can you elaborate on how it's harder to read comound Kanji if I don't know how to write? Thanks.

24 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-09-10 09:01 ID:nkv8D5pQ

I've been studying for months and I only know around 200 kanji at best.

But then, I've learned several readings and how to read and write them.

Still, I'm impressed.

25 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-10-07 22:15 ID:CwLGLW41

Kanji is the devil! Seriously, how many symbols do they need? 95% of the japanese language can be written in hirogana. Another 4.9% in Katakana.

They make it so difficult lol.

Sorry .... /rant off.

I have just started learning japanese myself.I'm older, and it seems to be more difficult than it should be. I won't give up on it, but I need to find my limits.

Same for you OP. Find your limits, strong points, weak points ... etc.

Then, you can work from there. My weak point seems to be memorizing the symbols. I am pretty good at remembering words, and pronounciation seems to come easily to me.

26 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-10-10 19:39 ID:mdY79e2D

>95% of the japanese language can be written in hirogana. Another 4.9% in Katakana.

You won't understand crap if everything is written in kana.

>My weak point seems to be memorizing the symbols.

It's easier if you can actually write Kanji and learn them as words respectively word combinations. Chances are, you're going to totally fail to write them correctly, though, and end up with shitty and messed up skills. I realized that when I started studying Japanese.

27 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-10-12 06:34 ID:Heaven

Hello! I'm japanese college student.
(sorry for my poor english)

>Kanji is the devil! Seriously, how many symbols do they need?

Yes, KANJI is troublesome for anyone who study japanese.
In fact, in my elementary school days, I devoted much time to

learning Kanji, as much as to work out a sum!

The number of KANJI you shold master is depend on what you want to

do using japanese.
To enjoy comics, anime, video games, which japanese 6-8 years old

children also enjoy, about 300 KANJI is required.
With 1,000 KANJI or so, maybe 10-12 years old native level, you can

enjoy most of japanese pop culture, even light novels.

28 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-10-20 04:38 ID:L9Ero2tZ

I've been studying on my own for counts on fingers maybe five years? And this is my 3rd year learning it formally... though really, I've learned nothing from that that I hadn't already learned... American high schools go way to damn slow. XD
But now at the college level things are picking up to a more enjoyable pace.

In all truth I didn't learn in order to read manga, I learned BY reading manga. XD
Gets you comfortable with the "feel" of the grammatical system.

Worked well enough that this summer I was able to carry on in Japan pretty fluently. Got plenty of "UMAI"'s. XD


29 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-10-20 10:11 ID:fWz31wmV

I studied Japanese for three years. It's not that hard to become fluent if you just get the grammar down. It's more of a framework than other languages - if you know a good amount of grammar you essentially can say anything and just move on to learning vocab (manga is good for this, though I'm not into it).

30 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-10-20 23:03 ID:BDZN1By8




31 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2007-11-28 08:48 ID:e4VEodSz

You can't learn Japanese quickly. It takes time.

Also, there's nothing wrong with learning Japanese because you want to play eroge. There's nothing wrong with learning Japanese because you want to be able to understand the music, movies, or series you enjoy. There's nothing wrong with learning Japanese because you want to be able to post on 2ch. There's nothing wrong with learning Japanese because you want to see for yourself what the otaku subculture is really like in Akihabara.

It doesn't matter WHY you want to learn the language; what only matters is that you have a reason, because without that, there's simply no point in it at all. The stronger the motivation, the better, so if you REALLY want to be able to read the Haruhi light novels on your own, or you REALLY want to be able to play through Saya no Uta in the 5 hours that Nitro+ claims is the normal playtime, then that's perfectly fine. As long as you have a reason, don't listen to what other fucks say when they whine about the whole "weeaboo" thing.

Besides, a "weeaboo" is someone who can't speak Japanese properly, but pretends to. Just because you like a lot of the same things as true weeaboos doesn't mean that you're doomed to suck at Japanese. Find your own motivation, and go with it.

32 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2008-01-01 07:47 ID:1eQ4Sb4N

i'm learning how to speak japanese so i can pick up japanese girls. language skills + western looks = ?????

33 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2008-01-01 21:41 ID:OT5W+dm1

what i found about learning a new language is that no matter how you study it, i think its best to learn it in an enviroment where you are surrounded by its culture. For example, when i was studying english, i made my little america. I've always though culture was the key and i still think it is. Try watchin japanese tv shows, reading japanese books espeically manga. Manga helped me a lot. if your japanese is advanced enough, go to 2channel and read the stuff there. Try not to go into threads that use too many terminologies like モーニング娘。(狼)板 ...

so the best way is...to learn it in japan.... haha thats how i learned it.

34 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2008-01-02 07:52 ID:bLVYwxEA


did you have a little bush in your little america? :)

35 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2008-01-02 15:14 ID:Heaven

I have a little Koizumi in my little Japan.

36 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2008-01-03 20:35 ID:x7Rok6Vi

You really need immersion. You'll never get that good reading your mangas in Amerikkka. stop being a pussy and buy a plane ticket.

37 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2008-01-04 07:15 ID:Heaven

How fluent are you?

38 名前: 名無しさん@日本語勉強中 : 2008-02-19 03:31 ID:m/RYAJ/s

People saying you can't learn without a teacher, or can't learn without being in Japan, or can't.. anything.. kind of bother me.
Certainly it's harder, teaching yourself in a country where people don't actually speak the language, but it's definitely still possible if you actually commit yourself and just do it.

But that's already been said, so here's something helpful.
In the fight against evil kanji, you need all the tools you can get o.o
On http://lrnj.com there's a game that's a good resource.
It's still in beta, but it helps a lot with learning kanji.
It actually only (currently) teaches one English meaning for each one, but the mnemonics are so good you pick them up very fast. And it's a RPG-style game, so you find yourself playing a lot (if you're into that kind of stuff, I guess XD).
You'll want a different resource for teaching yourself the readings and stuff, but it's a really good building block. And by good, I mean fun >.>

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