How Long Does It Take to Learn Japanese?

By OptiLingo • 6 minute read

How long does it take to learn Japanese?

Learning Japanese Doesn’t Have to Take Long

A lot of students are terrified to know how long it takes them to learn Japanese. No matter how much you love a language, spending years of your life to master it is daunting. Luckily, learning Japanese won’t take you as long as you think. Here’s how you can estimate the average time it will take you to reach fluency, and we’ll also give you numbers to put your mind at ease.

How Hard is It to Learn Japanese?

How hard a language is and how long it takes you to master it go hand-in-hand. The harder the language the longer it will be to become fluent. Now, don’t give up on your Japanese dreams just yet. 

Although Japanese has a fierce reputation of being one of the hardest languages to learn, it’s actually much easier than you think. With the right resources, you can make learning Japanese fun, engaging, and most importantly, fast.

If you want to put a number to it, the US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has one for you. They categorized Japanese as a Level 5 language. This means that for an English native speaker, learning Japanese is considerably harder than French or Spanish for example. 

Why It’s Hard to Tell How Long It Takes to Learn a Language

You can’t just go up to a store and say “one Japanese fluency, please!”. It takes time, effort, and commitment from you to get to that level of knowledge. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

When you’re learning a language, you need to settle in for quite some time. And there’s actually no end. Languages are very complex and there’s no way to “learn all of it”. But, there’s definitely a point where you can speak to locals fluently and comfortably. And that’s how we define how long that takes to learn Japanese.

How Long it Takes Depends on 5 Things

Before we put any numbers to how fast you can learn Japanese, let’s take a look at what factors influence how long it usually takes. Every person is different, so how long it takes for you may be completely different to someone else.

1. Your Native Language

The closer your target language is to your native language, the easier and faster it will be to master it. Unfortunately, if your native language is English, Japanese is quite far from it. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be hard, only that you don’t have this particular advantage.

2. How You Study

There’s a lot to be said about what makes the best language learning method. But, as long as you find a fun and effective one, you’re good to go. The best language learning courses and apps will get you to Japanese fluency much faster.

3. What Kind of Student You Are

Are you a loud and daring student or a shy and quiet one. The only way to reach Japanese fluency is by speaking the language. Out loud. Very often.

If you have anxiety about speaking Japanese, you need tricks to help you overcome these fears. Once nothing limits you, you’ll reach Japanese fluency much faster.

4. How Much You Study Every Day

This may be obvious, but the more you study, the faster you’ll reach fluency. So, the more time and effort you put in, the faster you’ll get the results.

5. Your Goals and Motivation

If you’re learning Japanese for a trip or an exam, you have a hard deadline. A fixed point by which you need some level of Japanese fluency. This can motivate you to learn harder and faster, and give you leverage to spend more time studying each day. But, if you’re learning Japanese for pleasure, that’s fine too. You’ll have time to just have fun with the language and learn it naturally.

how long does it take to learn Japanese?

With Numbers: How Long Does It Take to Learn Japanese

But, really, how long? Well, if you really insist, we can tell you. Let’s put some numbers to your Japanese fluency.

Starting from the idea of difficulty the FSI estimate gave us, it will take you 2200 hours or 44 weeks to reach Japanese fluency if your native language is English. That’s:

  • 1 year if you spend 6 hours every day on your Japanese studies.
  • 6 years if you study for 1 hour every day
  • And 18 years if you study for just 20 minutes every day

18 years seems insanely daunting. Since your schedule’s already busy, carving out 20 minutes of your day is almost impossible. But, if there’s a will, there’s a way.

How to Speed Up Your Japanese Studies

There are a lot of tricks that can help you learn Japanese faster. But, focusing on these will definitely speed up your study time. 

  1. Learn essential vocabulary only: Why spend time cramming unnecessary Japanese words and phrases? Instead, just learn the most common vocabulary. Japanese locals only use 20% of their vocabulary for 80% of their conversations. If you master that 20%, you can already converse fluently with them.
  2. Use effective learning methods: Using a scientifically proven language learning method is key to mastering Japanese fast. Opt for a language learning program that uses comprehensible input. This theory, coined by the world-renowned linguist Stephen Krashen, can help you reach Japanese fluency faster.
  3. Have fun: Time flies when you’re having fun. So, if you’re having fun while learning Japanese, you won’t even notice how long it takes. You’ll enjoy your lessons and keep coming back for more. Choose a language learning program that keeps you engaged.

Your Journey to Japanese Fluency

To motivate you a little bit, let’s look at the timeline of your road to fluency if you start learning Japanese today with OptiLingo.

  • In a few weeks, you can say important Japanese words and phrases confidently.
  • In a few months, you can create simple sentences by yourself fast.
  • A little over a year later you can read simple books, comics, and watch Japanese anime just like a local.
  • And in three to five years you can confidently and fluently converse with Japanese locals.

Again, this is just an example. Do not rush or stress yourself. Everyone learns at a different pace.

Reach Japanese Fluency Faster with OptiLingo

Only the best language learning courses can get you to Japanese fluency best. Luckily, OptiLingo is one of the few that’s built on scientifically proven methods.

This app can get you speaking Japanese instantly. It contains the list of the most common Japanese vocabulary, which fast-tracks your studies. OptiLingo also makes you speak the language, not type it. With built-in pronunciation guides, you can build your Japanese confidence from the first lesson onwards.

Achieve your dreams of Japanese fluency faster by downloading OptiLingo!