Are you currently thinking about learning Japanese?
I bet you have a lot of questions!
Maybe you are wondering;
Is it hard?
Will I be able to do it quickly?
Does it cost a lot ?
Can I do it for free?
What resources should I use?
Do I need to take exams?
Let me give my take on all of the following, and hopefully save you some time on your journey!
Welcome to the start of learning another language!
Learning Japanese in my experience has been completely amazing. It hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies, but, I have had much more enjoyment from taking on this challenge than having decided against it.
So I fully recommend trying, and figuring out if its something for you.
The first question, is learning Japanese hard?
There might be some geniuses out there that can do anything record time and with ease, unfortunately, I was not one of them.
Learning Japanese is hard! There is no doubt about it.
It will very likely take years to reach strong levels, and even then, it all depends on;
- Are you putting in the time and effort?
- Are you consistent?
- Are you still as eager as ever to learn?
Learning Japanese is a process, depending on what you want out of it will definitely change what you need to do, and how much time you will need to invest.
Let me say that again, learning Japanese requires a huge investment. Not hours of learning, but years to become fluent.
If you are interested only in being able to enjoy watching Anime without subtitles, movies, or television shows, then your road won't be just as long. After a few years, I think being subtitle free is a very real possibility.
Maybe 2–5 years and it's such a huge range because watching tv and movies come in all different formats.
Watching the news
Watching reality TV
All have very different needs, and vocabulary.
I'm 7 years into studying, and I still have times were I think, oh oh, they may as well be speaking French right now, I have no idea what is happening!
Its a process.
Will I be able to learn Japanese quickly?
This is an answer that I won't be able to give you. But, I can give you some idea of what to expect, assuming you want to reach one of these levels;
1.Fluent in Japanese (Reading, writing, speaking, listening)
2.Business Level (Polite forms, business manners and high levels of speaking, reading, and writing)
3.Intermediate (Able to read, write, speak and listen at a good standard but unfamiliar with all business and difficult vocabulary and speaking forms)
4.Conversational (Able to talk with friends, travel, and enjoy Japan without too much trouble)
The following is an estimate based on what others have achieved, my own experience, and job descriptions found online for those searching for Japanese positions.
5-infinite + years
2-infinite + years
I'm sure many will have their own story to tell and that it will vary from these estimations, but from the small sample of data I collected, 50 people, this is the general outcome of their learning.
How much does it cost to learn Japanese?
Unfortunately, this is another number that I will not be able to give you. But, again, for a long detailed breakdown of classes, books, please check out our other story here. It covers how far 10,000USD took me in my language learning process.
Finally, for free resources and learning for free, please check out our other detailed breakdown found here. It covers the ultimate guide to how one person can use free or paid tools to learn and includes some great 100% free resources that can really help anyone get better at Japanese.
Do I need to take exams?
If you want to join a Japanese company, anywhere in the world, having some initial proof of your level, can be an easy way to get your first foot in the door.
It can definitely help set up interviews before you meet or greet your interviewer.
Many job descriptions will ask for a minimum level of N3, from the JLPT Japanese Language Proficiency Test. With N2, and N1 being the most desired.
However, in my experience, without holding these certificates, I have been able to work and enjoy experiencing life in Japanese companies.
So personally, I would say you don’t need them. All you need are the skills and be able to show it in the interview.
And that's it!
Hopefully, you reach the level you are aiming for, and if you have already been learning, let us know how long it has taken to reach your current level below.