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How much time to learn Japanese? Fluency?

Japanese, general discussion on the language

How much time to learn Japanese? Fluency?

Postby caladwenaeariel » Sat 09.11.2010 3:37 am

I would like to learn Japanese and use it someday to be an English or music teacher someday in Japan. I know I'll need to be fluent to do that, but I've never learned a language to fluency before. I know it depends on how much time you spend on the language-learning each day, but I don't really know how much a person COULD learn per day. (Fourteen characters a week? Thirty? Some grammar and vocabulary each day...?) And I'm not using a textbook yet.

I suppose I'm asking all of you fluent Japanese speakers on this site-- :) in short, what did you do, and how did you do it, to get to the level of fluency that you are at now? How long did it take you? Please tell me anything else you think will help me!

Thanks. :)
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Re: How much time to learn Japanese? Fluency?

Postby CajunCoder » Sat 09.11.2010 8:56 pm

Ultimately, it depends wholly on how much effort you put into using it. I think what sets most people back is that they don't attempt to use the language because they do not perceive themselves as "ready" to. They believe that they still need to "study" more.

Language is not so much something you learn, as it is something you become familiar with. In the beginning, you will certainly have to study a lot. But study is only a supplement to -- not replacement for, experience. Read, write, listen, and speak every chance you get.

And lastly, I do not know what your point in asking how long it will take is, but you shouldn't be concerned with that. Some people can speak quite fluently after 3-5 years. Other people who claim to have been studying the same amount of time are STILL studying textbooks and couldn't hold a conversation if their life depended on it.

There are many factors to consider. Some people do not know how to study on their own, or do not have the motivation to do so. Some people spend their time studying the wrong things, or doing so inefficiently. Others wait for a teacher, class, or textbook to "spoon feed" them all of the information they need to know to until they wake up one morning and magically achieve "fluency." However, I think the most deciding difference between those who make progress and become accustomed to the language, and those who do not, is merely the amount of experience they gain in actually using it. So long as you are studying a "foreign language," it will remain just that - a foreign language. Languages are vast, as their purpose is to effectively communicate and encompass every area of human experience and thought. So until you live some significant portion of your life relying on your target language and experiencing life through it, you will never become accustomed to or knowledgeable of it.

Be willing to spend a very, very long time struggling with this language. Put yourself in situations that you must struggle with it. Make it an everyday part of your life, and use it in ways that you can enjoy and practice consistently. And if you ever intend to use it at such a high level as to effectively teach and command the respect of students, I would suggest spending a significant portion of your life immersed in the language - perhaps living, working, and studying in the country. At any rate, it is a hugely ambitious and time consuming process, and it is the process on which you should focus and look forward to day by day, rather than the goal, or you will most likely become discouraged and never reach it.

That's the best advice I can give, for whatever it is worth :wink:
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Re: How much time to learn Japanese? Fluency?

Postby Ongakuka » Sat 09.11.2010 9:11 pm

I would just like to say how moved I was by that brilliant (and in my opinion, very true) post by CajinCoder-san.
なぜなら、おまえは・・・・・・人形だ
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Re: How much time to learn Japanese? Fluency?

Postby caladwenaeariel » Sun 09.12.2010 12:23 am

Thanks for your help, CajunCoder! I still don't know much about this at all. You're right, it does seem a little strange to ask how long it would take to learn Japanese, but I asked because I like to plan things ahead of time... it's just what I do. :) But I will have to remember to enjoy myself in order to actually accomplish this goal-- and look forward to it daily, like you said. Thanks again!
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Posts: 27
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