Yes, you can learn Japanese in a year. If you spend more time than the average new learner, you can learn Japanese up to an intermediate level.
To comfortably have a basic conversation in the language and recognize a few written words in a year, you will have to spend at least an hour every day studying the language.
However, if your purpose is fluency, you may require another year or two to speak, read and write Japanese.
Is It Hard to Learn Japanese?
It is challenging to learn this delightful language.
In the long run, your passion, dedication, and ultimate goal will determine the amount of time it will take you to master Japanese.
Why Do You Want to Learn Japanese?
There are many reasons to want to study Japanese.
You may be relocating to Japan for work or study, visiting the culturally rich region as a tourist, or even watching your favorite tv shows without subtitles.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Japanese?
Whatever your reason is to learn this unique language, it is essential to note that there are vital elements to consider on how long it will take you to know Japanese.
These include the following.
Reasons for Wanting to Learn Japanese
If you visit Japan for a short stay, you may prefer to learn essential words that can pass in a conversation.
You can pick up Japanese greetings, simple numbers, and crucial conversational words to help you get around in a few months.
If moving permanently to the country or your interest is for long-term use, you will need time and commitment to fluently learn the language.
Your Native Language
Native English speakers who know a second language or those fluent in another East Asian language will find it easier to learn Japanese as a third language.
European languages natives and Native English speakers will have a more challenging time as the languages are also different.
Can You Learn Japanese on Your Own?
Yes, most people venture into self-learning when studying a new language.
Online solutions like mobile applications that teach people a new language have become readily available, making the process much easier.
Books are also available in major bookstores and online that teach you Japanese from beginner to advanced level.
If you listen to Japanese music and watch Japanese tv regularly, they can help you pick up the common phrases used.
However, suppose you want to learn Japanese in a shorter time.
It is advisable to consider enrolling in online classes or attending physical classes with a native Japanese speaker as the tutor.
Is Learning Japanese Expensive?
Learning any new language can be expensive, and Japanese is considered one of the most costly and time-depended languages to learn.
Due to its diverse nature from other languages worldwide, Japanese can be expensive depending on the time spent learning it, resources and learning materials required, and tuition fees payable if one attends courses in a school.
Free learning material is available if one does not have the money to pay for a private tutor or attend school and is willing to spend three years learning the language.
It’s Your Call: You can learn Japanese from social media videos, personal blogs, and podcasts. However, one may spend up to 10,000 dollars(¥1,156,670.00) for a comprehensive course in a Japanese school or a private tutor for a quick study.
Can I Learn Japanese Without Kanji?
You can learn and speak Japanese without having to master Kanji.
Kanji, characters adapted from Chinese, is one of the three writing systems in Japanese.
If you only focus on Hiragana and Katakana systems of writing, you will be fluent in no time, unlike Kanji, which is harder to understand.
Most people can communicate well with other Japanese people without learning Kanji.
In Japan – School-going children do not start learning Kanji until they are over seven years old and in the second grade. Most of them already speak fluent Japanese and can read essential words at this stage.
You will find foreigners in Japan who converse in Japanese but have never studied Kanji.
All this proves that you do not need Kanji to learn Japanese.
Still, one will require to explore all the three writing systems if they want to acquire a native/bilingual proficiency level in Japanese.
Is Duolingo Suitable for Learning Japanese?
Although Duolingo is not flawless, it can be an exciting and helpful way to learn simple Japanese.
If you spend a few hours every day, you can grasp any primary language. Duolingo, a free but good online resource, allows one to learn a new language quickly.
It is a simple application that will introduce you to the language and teach you basic grammar and sentence construction.
What to Expect – The application offers game-like lessons that are fun and interactive, which keep learners excited. It covers Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana writing systems and gradually teaches Japanese phrases from easy to complex vocabulary.
However, online tutors and classes are still highly recommended to keen learners for a proper in-depth understanding of the Japanese language’s grammar, speaking, and writing.
How Can I Start to Learn Japanese?
You may already know the standard Japanese greetings or nothing.
All the same, learning a new language begins with interest.
A beginner to Japanese will need to follow a few key steps to understand the language effectively.
They include the following.
Study Reading and Writing Hiragana
Hiragana is the primary representation of the Japanese alphabet and words.
It is the primary writing system and represents all specific sounds used.
All beginners learning the language need first to study Hiragana as it teaches you proper pronunciation, how to type it, and how to read it.
Learn Kanji and Its Use
Kanji is considered the most challenging part of learning Japanese.
You can drop it if you want to know the language faster.
Studying Kanji will introduce you to vocabulary that will improve your grammar for those looking for fluency.
Learning the basics of Kanji first, typing, and writing it can come later.
Katakana is similar to Hiragana but with slight differences.
Although not used frequently at the beginner level, learning Katakana slowly from the beginning will be helpful for future learning stages.
Due to its similarities to Hiragana, typing and writing Katakana is much more manageable.
You can begin learning how to type and write Kanji at this stage.
Study Japanese Grammar
Now that you have learned basic Japanese vocabulary, you can build your grammar.
Collect and save more wording from textbooks and other reading sources.
When you have mastered over 1000 Japanese words, your pronunciation should be better, and hence your grammar and sentence construction will improve as well.
Be consistent in reading textbooks and other Japanese materials to understand the language fully.
Find a Native Japanese Tutor or Classes
If you need someone to lead you through a Japanese conversation, consider a native speaker to tutor you.
You can also join an online or physical class to continue your learning of Japanese.
A tutor will help you learn how to listen, speak and answer questions.
They can also prepare you for any exams or quizzes you need to take.
How Many Words Are Required to Be Fluent In Japanese?
One needs to know about 5,000 words for basic conversational skills in Japanese.
At this level, communication with other Japanese people will be accessible as they will understand you.
However, you will not be at the same level as a native speaker of the language.
Your pronunciation will be suitable for daily life use but not to the native level.
At 10,000 words and above:
- You should be fluent in the language as this is considered an advanced competency level.
- You will understand almost everything a native Japanese speaker says.
- You can comfortably work or live in a purely Japanese-speaking environment or community.
- Writing the language and reading basic sentences is accessible at this level, although reading a whole textbook in Japanese might still require you to look up some words.
Learners with knowledge of over 50,000 words can write and read Japanese properly.
This competency level is similar to that of a Japanese college student, which few people who are not native Japanese speakers achieve.
Compared to the English language at an equivalent level, mastering Japanese is considered higher due to more compound words.
Can I Learn Japanese In 3 Months?
Learning very basic Japanese in 3 months is possible.
However, you cannot acquire fluency in any new language in such a short period.
The Japanese language is challenging and requires dedication and time to understand.
If you want to learn common everyday words or phrases, you can speak Japanese in 3 to 6 months of daily practice.
These short-term courses are ideal for tourists and short-stay visitors to Japan.
Learning any new language, especially Japanese, can be difficult, but you can master it in a year with proper time management, excellent study patterns, and consistent dedication.
Acknowledge every improvement you make and rejoice in it, as this will inspire you to continue learning.
Your zeal to learn Japanese will determine the time it takes to be fluent.