Hey guys! Today I want to talk about the *most common* question I get from students. "How long will it take me to become fluent?" While most people understand that learning ANY language is going to take a considerable amount of time – and they understand it can’t happen overnight, the time frame is still kinda hazy, right?
From online blogs claiming to have you fluent in a matter of months – to scholars preaching about the '10 years' it took them to become a master in the Japanese language.
My best guess? You want to learn Japanese to speak comfortably with people in Japan. You want to converse with locals and wouldn’t mind being able to engage with Japanese media (anime, tv shows, and music). So here's the honest truth – for the gigantic majority of people, you don’t need a native level of fluency, you don’t need 5,000 kanji and their associated on-yomi and kun-yomi readings, and you especially don’t need to understand all the ins-and-outs of the honorific (Keigo) language.
The reason for this is simple - I speak English (pretty well?), but I would be stressed trying to sit a grammar exam, or explain why certain things happen in English ("i before e except after c" sorry... what?) In fact, if I tried to have a conversation using "grammatically-correct and perfect" English - I might sound like a bit of a weirdo. Language is cannot always be neat and flawless. This means you don't need to understand everything about Japanese grammar. For most people, the range of language we use in everyday speech is actually smaller than you might think. Learning an everyday language is probably a way simpler and quicker process too.
However, if you're looking to become a certain level of "qualified", (i.e. meaning taking the proficiency exams for a reason like working in Japan), you are looking at jumping through a few hoops to get there. Not to worry - my programs run in like with the proficiency exams - so you can shoot me a message and I will let you know which books you need to complete.
Here are my best estimations of time frames, based on years of teaching hundreds of people across Australia.
- You want to speak to people while traveling. You want to be comfortable having simple conversations & not throwing across "phrases". You can read a menu, check-in at a hotel and save yourself if you get lost. = 6 - 8 months
- You are a goal-orientated person and you want to achieve the N3 or N2 level of proficiency. Maybe you want to work in Japan. You probably have a time frame in mind and particular needs relating to your Japanese ability (i.e., I want to watch anime and understand it clearly or I want to be able to apply for a job and work in Japan). You need to be comfortable, fast and proficient. = 18 months to 2 years
- You want to become an interpreter, learn the language in its entirety and speak, read, write and communicate better than the average Japanese person. You want a native level of fluency = 3 to 4 years.
In summary - unless you are here to be an expert in Japanese (which is absolutely incredible - and I can't wait to help you), you probably don't need as much as you think you do, and with the right program and the correct spacing of content - you're likely to achieve your goals in less than a year.
At Japanese With Aimee (JWA), I offer language programs designed to simplify learning Japanese.
The programs will guide you through the content, and all the how-tos of grammar. There are exercises and tips & tricks throughout! Then, you can meet me here for your one on one personal hour of tuition. I’ll be your tutor, and I can take you through any of the tricky bits you encountered throughout the week. If there’s anything you need to practice, review, or talk about I will help sort it out. With progress trackers, tons of extra support and a huge community of hundreds of learners, you can join hundreds of people across Australia by clicking below.
I can’t wait to meet you!