Time required to get your Japanese to a minimum decent level

This question is addressed to all learners of Japanese so I should have probably registered it rather as a poll.
Realistically, how long did it take you before you were able to say you could more or less fluently communicate and had an intermediate level of Japanese? What was the order of study you had: what did you study first conversation, writing? How long did it take you to learn the basic number of hieroglyphs to be able to read newspapers and satisfy everyday needs?

This question comes form a rather confused if not desperate person, as you can guess:) and I have the same thing in Arabic.
 
  • _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The problem with Japanese (and Chinese, to mention the only non-European languages I know something about) is that speaking fluency and reading/writing proficiency are very much two separate learning areas. There are illiterate Japanese who speak perfectly, and very good readers of Japanese who can't speak at a comparable level, myself being one.

    I think you should think about which of these two areas you are investing more energy in. If all your time goes into learning to read and write as many kanji (not hieroglyphs! :D) as you can, then you shouldn't feel frustrated if your speaking skills do not improve. Conversely, if you don't spend much time reading or writing and just practice your conversational skills, then it is normal you don't see improvements in these other areas.

    This doesn't answer your question about learning time, but I think setting your goals clearly and look at your learning strategies objectively can make learning this very difficult language less frustrating.
     

    lilhelper

    Member
    America; English
    3 years, but still inadequate. Have a generally small-medium size vocabulary. Will continue to learn, althought slowly...not in too much of a rush, but dont want to wait forever.
     

    Sinbadx81

    Member
    English, USA
    Well, I focused mostly on speaking and it took me roughly 2-3 years, most of that time in Japan, to get to a level that I would say is around intermediate. I had 1 year of formal education at university in the US in Japanese and that helped with the basics, but the more advanced grammar I ended up studying on my own. I imagine if I had more formal training my understanding of grammar would be better, but obviously for speaking practice makes perfect.

    Right now I can read around 1000 kanji and with that I can read quite a bit, but a newspaper is still a little difficult. I can get the gist of the article but may miss out of a lot of details. I believe many quote close to 2000 is necessary to be proficient in everyday reading.
     

    akina

    Member
    England - english
    Well, if this is any help, I've read for level 1 JLPT, about 900 hours of studying is done.
    If someone has JLPT level one they are usually expected to be on par with a native speaker.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Setwale_Charm, I found conversational classes really, really helpful. I don't think Japanese is a very hard language to master if we talk about speaking it. Pronunciation is easy and the grammar makes sense with a good teacher or good resources and exercises. Learning characters are much harder but if you do it on a passive level (recognising only) it's much less stressful. So if you use 皆の日本語 or a similar course where you are exposed to both Kanji and Furigana, then it's easier to memorise - you see characters constantly and you don't spend time looking them up.

    My level is still intermediate but I only have myself to blame for this. :)

    Forum_user, hieroglyphs is a normal term for (originally) Chinese characters in many countries, including Russia. It doesn't mean something "illegible" but a pictograph, which is not a phonetic letter.
     

    _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Forum_user, hieroglyphs is a normal term for (originally) Chinese characters in many countries, including Russia. It doesn't mean something "illegible" but a pictograph, which is not a phonetic letter.
    Anatoli,
    Chinese characters are a type of what in English is called ideograms (some people even question the accuracy of this term). They are different from hieroglyphs, the most famous example of which are the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. I would be very surpised if Russian didn't have two different words for these very different concepts. :)

    Edit: Some people argue that Chinese characters are logograms or pictograms, and could therefore be considered similar to hieroglyphs but that, as you know from having studied both Chinese and Japanese, is a myth. Only a handful of Chinese characters bear visual similarities to the objects they stand for.

    Anyway, the question is complex, more complex than I have time to discuss. One thing is certain: you can't call Chinese characters hieroglyphs in English unless you are prepared to face ridicule. I mentioned it only in Setwale Charm's interest.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Thanks, Forum user. It's a different perception in other non-English speaking areas places, though. In Russia we don't have a word for "character" meaning any linguistic symbol, we use hieroglyph for Chinese or Japanese non-phonetic symbols and "letter" if it's a phonetic symbol. When speaking English, "characters" are more appropriate, I agree with that.
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Moderation Note:

    The discussion about different ways to transcribe し in Russian has been split here. [It is not true that I always say nijet to a decent request about a legitimate linguistic question. :D] Please be advised that the thread may further change title or forum, contingent upon the way the discussion unfolds.

    Regards,

    Flaminius
     

    tkekte

    Senior Member
    Russian/Israel
    Well, if this is any help, I've read for level 1 JLPT, about 900 hours of studying is done.
    If someone has JLPT level one they are usually expected to be on par with a native speaker.
    Hmm, really. ^_^
    So if you study 5 hours per day, that gives 180 days... only half of a year of studying and you have JLPT-1 done. =)
    That would be hard for someone who works full-time though...
    If only I could get a paper dictionary... using the computer all the time to study Japanese gets tiring..
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Anatoly, That`s the point!! I found conversatinal Chinese quite easy, Japanese was a bit harder but the characters are what is killing me. I do not think I will ever manage althogh the Japanese grammar is quite confusing as well , especially once you get at a more advanced level
    Hm, I find speaking in Chinese harder than , even after a continuous conversation classes, well, I am getting better but I reached that level in Japanese faster and building up on my basis is not hard either. Not sure, why for some people one language is harder than the other, we are both of Russian background with a good knowledge of at least one foreign language and judging by your profile, you have some linguistic background. So, maybe you need to review your methods of learning Japanese or change priorities or maybe you are trying to be hard on yourself, everything takes time, you know. I find Japanese much easier than Arabic because you mentioned it.

    I can recommend some textbooks/readings I found really useful, let me know if you're interested.
     

    youtin

    Senior Member
    Filipino, Philippines
    Hmm.. I think it's not so much about the time, but the effort + exposure. I' was studying Japanese on and off for about 2 years and passed Level 3, which is considered conversational level. However since I didn't really get to practice, I couldn't speak much. When I reached Japan later, all the Level 3 lessons I took up paid off and I could communicate in Japanese immediately (though a bit awkwardly). Less than year later immersed in Japanese culture and I could say I can hold a normal Japanese conversation quite well.
     
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