How long does it take to learn how to speak Japanese? The answer can vary based on your objectives, learning style, and study methods.
Learning a new language is a journey. When it comes to learning Japanese, you’ll need patience, persistence, and a good work ethic. If you put in the time and effort, you can learn to speak Japanese fluently in no time!
Which level of fluency are you hoping to achieve? Answering this question will give you some deeper insight into how long it will take you to master this fun and unique language.
Basic Comprehension: 6 Months
If you know fewer than 200 words, you’re in the pre-beginner stage. You probably know basic Japanese greetings like kon’nichiwa (hello), arigatō (thank you), and sayōnara (goodbye). You should also learn how to count 1-10 in Japanese.
At this level, you may not believe you’re very far along, but you know more than you think! After picking up the first 200 words in a new language, you’re able to recognize them in conversations between native speakers, and you start to comprehend these words. For example, if you know the Japanese word Kayoubi (Tuesday), you’ll able to pick recognize it in conversations.
At the pre-beginner level, start looking up any words you hear and don’t understand. Look words up on Google Translate, and review them with your Japanese tutor.
At this level, with one-on-one lessons and consistent practice, you will pick things up quickly. Within six months, you will know enough Japanese to be able to find your way around in Japan. You will be able to make hotel reservations, ask for and understand directions, and have basic conversations with Japanese speakers.
Beginner to Intermediate (9 – 12 months)
With a solid work ethic, you can advance to the intermediate level in an average of nine months to one year.
The intermediate level is more fun, because you start to understand news and other TV programs in Japanese. You also know honorifics the words and terms to describe family members. At this point, you can proudly say you can speak (basic) Japanese!
Advanced Level and Beyond (2 – 3 years)
The average length of time to learn advanced Japanese is 2-3 years. At the intermediate level, you can understand most of what your teacher says and you can follow along with TV programs. When it comes to using the language with other Japanese speakers, however, you still have some limitations.
This can be frustrating, but it’s important not to get discouraged. In order to get to the advanced level, you will need to be able to understand different speech patterns and sounds, which can take a long time. To really learn and understand all of the nuances of the language, you will need time, a great Japanese teacher, and consistent practice with other Japanese speakers.