How Long Does It Take To Learn Japanese? A Guide For Beginners

Do you want to learn Japanese to fulfill your dream of traveling to Japan, working in a Japanese company or just watching anime without subtitles and reading manga? If yes, have you started to learn it? Well, learning Japanese or any language is really interesting but it is also challenging; therefore, it will take you some time or even plenty of time to learn. So, how long does it take to learn Japanese exactly? To find out the answer, let’s check this blog out!

How Long Does It Take To Learn Japanese?

This is one of the first questions usually asked by language learners, but there is no easy way to answer it. Learning a language is completely a complex process and this process is different for each individual. Thus, how fast you will learn Japanese is also different. The differences here lie in some key factors that affect your Japanese learning speed. Now, let’s have a look at them!

Five Key Factors Influencing Your Japanese Learning Speed

1. Your Goals Of Learning Japanese

how long does it take to learn japanese

Writing Kanji will take you a longer time to learn

Your Japanese learning objectives are one of the main factors which influence how long to learn Japanese. This is important because depending on what your aims of learning Japanese are, it will take more or less time to achieve them. For example, if you want to learn to write kanji (the most complex of the characters used in the Japanese writing system) it will take you longer than it would to just learn to speak Japanese in conversations. This is because there’s a variety of kanji to learn and they require a lot of memorization and practice. If you want to learn to write them, learning Japanese will be a more time-consuming experience. But once you can write kanji skillfully and understand them thoroughly, you will definitely reach a much higher level of learning Japanese. Besides, like any other language, Japanese also includes four main skills which are listening, speaking, reading and writing. If you want to be fluent in the four skills of this language, it will take you more time than if you only learn one.

2. Your Native Language

how long does it take to learn Japanese

Your native language also influences your Japanese learning

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Another important thing that will affect how long it would take you to learn Japanese is the similarities and differences between it and your mother tongue. If you are Vietnamese or a native speaker of a European language, learning Japanese is very difficult because Japanese uses a different writing system and its grammar is completely different from that of your native language and you will have to learn most of the vocabulary from the beginning. Therefore, the amount of time that it will take you to learn Japanese will be larger. So, bear in mind that learning Japanese will be a steep curve in your learning journey and you will need time to adapt to it.

3. Your Previous Language Learning Experience

Although Japanese is considered one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, this language actually borrows many English words. So, if you are an English learner or English speaker, you can save some time when learning Japanese vocabulary. Let’s take a look at some examples below to see how similar English and Japanese are.

  • スーパ[sūpa]: Supermarket
  • キス[kisu]: Kiss
  • バター[bata]: Butter
  • コンピューター[konpyūtā]: Computer

These words seem so familiar with you, right? So, how long does it take you to learn Japanese if you are learning English at the same time or if you have learned English? The answer may be not too long and your time of learning Japanese can be shortened.

4. The Time You Spend On Learning Japanese

how long does it take to learn Japanese

How fast you learn Japanese depends on the time you spend on it

Naturally, how long it takes you to learn Japanese also depends on how much time you are dedicated to it. This is basically how much time you will spend on learning Japanese daily, weekly and monthly. Studies have proven that language learners, who are willing to dedicate one hour a day to learning the language in anyways such as learning vocabulary and grammar, watching a movie or reading a book, learn remarkably faster than those who just attend a weekly class. Therefore, it is obvious that the more your immersion in Japanese is, the faster you will learn it.

5. Your Attitude

how long does it take to learn Japanese

With the right attitude, Japanese is not beyond your reach

In learning Japanese, your attitude plays a fundamental role because it has effects on how quickly you learn that fascinating language. If you approach Japanese learning with a positive attitude and regard it as a fun and great opportunity to broaden your knowledge or simply to sound like a native singer when you sing a J-pop song, you will feel more motivated to learn Japanese, thus speeding up your learning process.

Quick Estimate: How Long Does It Take To Learn Japanese?

How quickly you learn Japanese depends on your goals and ways of learning it

As you can see, before figuring out how long it will take you to learn Japanese you need to take a few things mentioned above into account.

But don’t worry and think about them too much! Take it easy!

Considering those factors is just to help you find out the answer to the question “How long would it take to learn Japanese?” Well, it definitely takes times to achieve a high level in Japanese since learning any new language is an entire process. Additionally, you cannot expect instant results or fluency in Japanese in a matter of weeks. But don’t think you will have to study Japanese for years before you can actually use it. There is something in Japanese you are able to do very early:

  • Talking to friends in basic conversations – you can learn enough Japanese to do this in a few short months
  • Reading simple comic books in Japanese – learning Japanese for over a year can enable you to do it
  • Watching movies or TV shows in Japanese – this may require you three to five years of learning Japanese

However, the estimation of time that it will take you to learn Japanese is just an estimation. How fast you learn this language still depends mainly on your goals and your ways of learning it.

How To Fasten Your Learning Japanese

how long does it take to learn Japanese

Immerse yourself in Japanese every day, you’ll be fluent in it soon

An average Japanese learner spends about 10 hours a week studying the language. So, how can you speed up your Japanese learning process if you don’t have that much amount of time? Below are some simple things you can do to immerse yourself in Japanese without taking any time out of your schedule. Let’s check them out!

  • On the way to school or to work, try listening to Japanese music or a podcast. You’ll surely learn some Japanese on the go!
  • If you are interested in what’s happening in Japan, try reading the news in Japanese on some websites such as NHK News Easy
  • Every day, try keeping the habit of learning three to five new Japanese words in your own way

If you want to find more answers to the question “How long does it take to learn Japanese?“, click and watch the video below. It’ll be helpful for you!


Having read this blog so far, you all know how much time it takes you to learn Japanese and which factors can help you achieve your goals faster, right? There’s a saying “Practice makes perfect!”, so it is also essential to remember that language learning always goes with practice. The more you practise, the faster you learn. Learning Japanese can be challenging, but don’t be discouraged! Once you are really dedicated yourself to learning it, no obstacles can prevent you. With the right attitude, strong motivation and total dedication, any language is within your reach.

About Hayami Mori

Hayami Mori is an awesome travel blogger & photographer. She was born and raised in Tokyo and have been here for nearly 25 years. She loves traveling and always wants to introduce her beautiful Japan to travelers from all over the world. Therefore, her blog is a great source of information for people looking for what to do in Japan as well as provides some tips to make their trips unforgettable.