How hard is it to learn Japanese?

Tips to help you become fluent in Japanese fast!

How Long Does It Take to Learn Japanese?

How long does it take to learn Japanese? Unfortunately there is no magic number or timeframe we can give you. Every student’s goals, ambitions, needs and motivation to learn the Japanese language is different.  

Like anything in life, we want it NOW! We’ve become so used to having everything at the click of the finger. Learning a language (properly) takes time and requires patience. Beginner students often ask “How long does it take to learn Japanese”. It’s a very common question and it really is a case by case scenario.

How difficult is learning Japanese?

Learning a second language can be very rewarding. But as the saying goes “the more rewarding, the bigger the challenge”. Japanese is a fascinating language. For most people, despite what some may say, it can take years of study to even become close to native level. But don’t let this deter you from learning Japanese

From the very beginning it’s important to understand learning Japanese is a life long journey. The longer you learn Japanese, the more rewarding you’ll find the whole journey.

Students who have started as complete beginners have found the process much easier. Perhaps this is because they have no prior learnt habits. Many courses/textbooks are given out to students in their complete form (the whole course in one). 

Temptation always gets the better of students and naturally they flick through the textbook and start to research all the levels of grammar and content before taught in class. For most students this is not an ideal process.

Many eager students come to us with gaps in their knowledge and quite often it’s because their learning process hasn’t been very structured. Their motivated to learn but their knowledge is a bit of a mixed bag. 

On top of this, the internet is a whole different area. It’s great we all have access to so much information but it can also have it’s disadvantages with studying a language. 

From years of teaching experience, our single biggest recommendation to a beginner student wanting to learn the Japanese language properly would be to take it step by step and get a solid foundation of the language. 

Don’t be in too much of a rush. Learn in a systematic process. Take Japanese lessons with an experienced native Japanese teacher. Don’t jump the gun (so to speak). Just as the saying goes “You must learn to walk before you run”.

An experienced teacher will tell you this. At Nunawading Japanese School our Japanese course is structured in a certain way. The learning process to controlled and each component of the course is passed with confidence before moving on. Rather than a student telling us what they need to learn, students follow curriculum/process. Why you might ask? Because in the long run we know this is best for the student.

Motivation is the main ingredient for success when learning Japanese. Some students are naturally motivated, whereas others need extra help and can draw inspiration from their teacher. The more time and effort a student puts into study, the quicker they progress. It really is that simple. 


 Japanese Scripts, Pronunciation, Accent & Rhythm

Initially beginner students briefly cover the following foundation of the Japanese language:

  • Japanese Scripts: Roomaji, Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji
  • Pronunciation
  • Accent & Rhythm

As an English speaker, very quickly you will start to realise that the Japanese language has different phonetics compared to the English language. During the beginning stages, Roomaji is used to teach beginner foreign students how to speak and pronounce Japanese words properly before they move on to Hiragana and Katakana scripts.


Hiragana – consists of 46 phonetic characters. Each character corresponds to one sound.


Katakana – also consists of 46 phonetic characters. They are mainly used to write foreign words which have become part of the Japanese language.

一 二 三 四 五

KANJI – It is said that about 50,000 kanji exist. However, many kanji are not necessarily used in daily life. There are 2,136 frequently used in Kanji. Although it would be very helpful to learn all of them, you only need to know about 1,000 characters to be able to read 90% of the kanji used in a newspaper.

Online Japanese Course

Will it help if I've learnt Japanese in the past?

The key to learning any language is the motivation. The easier you find it, the faster your progress will be and that’s where past experience can really help! Did someone teach you some Japanese in school? Can you speak any other languages? Have you perhaps travelled a lot throughout Asia? This type of background and experience can make a significant different with how quick a students can learn Japanese.

According to psychologists, languages we’ve studied even if they are a while ago can remain in our memory for years and help us when it comes down reviewing them. There is always an optimum time frame where learning something new. Repeating what was previously learned improves your retention rate. As they say “Repetition is key!

What’s the best way to learn Japanese?

Stay motivated. Motivation is the single most important aspect with learning Japanese. Outside of classes, find things that support your motivation like watching Japanese movies, anime, listening to Japanese music, playing video games, follow Japanese Youtubers. Surround yourself with Japan.

We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful Japanese events in Australia. Mixing with likeminded people who either hare the same love for Japan or are also learning Japanese themselves can provide a very supportive network.

List of Japanese Events and Australia-Japan Societies Across Australia

How Long Does it Take To Learn Japanese?

How long does it take to learn Japanese? Our students can hold very basic conversations in Japanese within as little as 90 days. It’s far from being a native speaker but it a great start.

What is fluency? It’s a vague, elusive concept that can be defined in many different ways. Some say it means to speak perfectly and understand at a native level while others see social capability as key to true fluency – being able-to handle social situations just as easily in your second or third languages than English would show an understanding of what this really entails

The definition varies depending on who you ask; some people might think speaking without errors but having greater difficulty when given complex sentences which require interpretations rather then using direct responses (social). But regardless of how they define the term “fluency” there seems little doubt about where we should focus our attention:

If you are learning a new language, it is always easier to begin with something similar in sound or meaning. For example if your native tongue was English then Spanish would be much less difficult because both languages use the same set of sounds and syllables; however Dutch might actually prove more challenging since there isn’t a close relationship between them at all!

Is it really that hard to learn Japanese?

Learning Japanese takes a lot of time and dedication, but it can be worth the effort. People who learn this language will have access to job opportunities in Japan if they ever want to move abroad. The main difficulty, which comes over time, is learning how to converse in Japanese using everyday words that are appropriate for the situation at hand. 

One Reddit user shared their experience with taking 800 hours of study time and being able watch anime with full comprehension after just one year!

On average how long to learn Japanese?

You can learn Japanese quickly if you speak it exclusively. It’s all about using the right method and I’ll say again: speak from day one! The more time you spend talking, listening or reading Japanese to yourself (preferably aloud) during the week, the quicker you’ll see results with studying Japanese.

Tips to make learning Japanese easy

The Japanese language is full of complexities. If you want to reach an advanced level, like that used on TV or in films for instance, then it’s important not only do all the kanji (the “essential” ones kids learn throughout grade school) but also those adopted from other languages which have been incorporated into everyday usage by native speaker.

The reason it’s so hard and takes such a long time is because you have to learn kanji on top of everything else. It segments your learning between speaking, listening, reading with writing; but if motivation has been there then they can succeed through effective study habits! If you’re serious about learning Japanese, then here are some tips to help get the ball rolling.

1. Have a strong focus on speaking Japanese

So what do you want to get out of learning Japanese? Are your goals just understanding anime in that language or would knowing more vocabulary help with other things, like reading and listening comprehension for example. Do some series have a lot different vocab than others; if so this can be an important factor when deciding which one(s) will work best for your needs!  

And if you want to speak naturally in everyday conversations, watching anime won’t get you there. Anime has a tendency towards being dramatic and not realistic Japanese speech which makes it difficult for people who are trying imitate real life situations with their own language skills as well as vocabulary resources outside of what they might learn from NHK News.

2. Make learning Japanese fun!

Studies show that the more you enjoy studying, the less tired and stressed-out your brain becomes. If playing video games or reading manga sounds fun to do in Japanese then by all means give it a go! There are many creative ways go practice the Japanese language.

Watch your favourite Japanese TV Shows. If you’re looking for something new and exciting, check out Netflix’s Terrace House. Japanese TV shows boost motivation, provides students a deeper insight into the culture and social side of Japan. You’ll also be able to pick up some localised slang terms as well which is kind of cool to use!

3. Break Down Your Japanese study goal into small, achievable milestones

Is your goal to reach JLPT N1 or near-native fluency? Then it may be worth considering the time and effort it will take you to achieve this goal. To accomplish this level of Japanese language you would need to learn approx. 2200 kanji, over 10,000 vocabulary and related grammar to effectively communicate like one can interact on an everyday basis meaningfully.

4. Surround yourself with Japanese

Listen to Japanese in the car, on the train or even at the gym. Have the Japanese radio on at home when cooking. Every single moment of your day, listen to Japanese. Nowadays we have access to millions of online Japanese content which is mostly FREE!

Another tool is creating flashcards to revise new vocabulary etc. Many students use Anki Flashcards for this. Also are you a social butterfly? Always on Instagram or Facebook? Try searching Japanese hashtags and reading native Japanese posts. Another fantastic way to get a deeper insight in the culture and also language.

5. Start writing Japanese NOW!

Find someone to study with. Practice writing letters to each other as much as possible. With so many online learning platforms, unfortunately the writing aspect is often neglected and overlooked. Its an extremely important part of the learning process.

Writing will help improve your fluency in no time at all by making mistakes which are the best way for beginners to learn. So go ahead – make some new friends that speak Japanese.


Nunawading Japanese School
Based on 232 reviews
Scroll to Top