Can I learn Japanese in 6 months?

Home » Beginner Japanese Tips » How to Learn Japanese in a Month (Protip: It Takes a Lot of Hard Work)By Em Casalena Last updated: June 12, 2022How to Learn Japanese in a Month (Pr

Can I learn Japanese in 6 months?

Home » Beginner Japanese Tips » How to Learn Japanese in a Month (Protip: It Takes a Lot of Hard Work)

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By Em Casalena Last updated: June 12, 2022

How to Learn Japanese in a Month (Protip: It Takes a Lot of Hard Work)

Youve probably seen blog titles likeGet Fluent in an Hour! and Learn 5,000,000 Kanji in Two Days!

These wild promises are pretty ridiculous since everybody learns a second language differently and at different speeds.

Instead of telling you how to learn Japanese, this post has a game plan and resources designedto help you learn Japanese in less than a month.

In other words, we can provide you with the suggestions and tools you need to become passably conversational in about four weeksthe rest is up to you.

Contents

  • Is It Really Possible to Learn How to Speak Japanese in Less Than 4 Weeks?
  • 4 Steps to Learn Japanese in Less Than a Month
  • 1. Use the Best Apps and Resources
  • Set your pace and schedule
  • Use apps to get you started
  • 2. Learn the Japanese Sentence Structure, Grammar Basics and Word Order
  • Learn proper particle use
  • Grammar forms to learn first
  • Beginner vocabulary words and phrases
  • Understanding Japanese word order
  • 3. Get the Gist of the Japanese Writing Systems
  • Start with hiragana
  • 4. Talk and Listen to Native Japanese Speakers
  • Communicate with native speakers
  • Watch Japanese media

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Is It Really Possible to Learn How to Speak Japanese in Less Than 4 Weeks?

Yes.

If we said no, this would be a pretty short blog post wouldnt it?

With hard work, the right tools and daily practice, just about anybody can learn usable Japanese.

You can reach a high enough level to survive a stay abroad in the country. If youre just learning for enjoyment, you can use this guide to fast-track yourself to mid- to high-beginner level.

Lets get one thing clear:You wont become fluent in a month. (Unless youre some foreign language genius.)

But you can absolutely learn what you need to get by with a month of studying. Its all about finding what resources are best for you.

We recommend printing this page or writing down the steps with their resources, and going through each step and link one by one. As you complete each resource, cross it off.

Give yourself a deadline to reach the end of the post: a month from when you begin studying.

At the end of the month, you should be able to form coherent sentences, read some basic text (with furigana) and understand some spoken Japanese. Youll be surprised at how much youve learned!

4 Steps to Learn Japanese in Less Than a Month

1. Use the Best Apps and Resources

Set your pace and schedule

There are so many apps out there that focus on daily lessons designed to fit a pace that the learner is comfortable with.

Want to jump right into hour-long lessons? Go for it! Only want to spare 15 minutes a day? This is doable.

But if you want to really get a handle on Japanese in four weeks, we suggest practicing Japanese and studying for 30 minutes a day at a minimumaim for more study-time whenever you can!

Use apps to get you started

Japanese-learning tools and apps allow you to study wherever you are. Make use of that commute or replace your morning newspaper for a month with these, instead.

Try out some of these great language-learning apps to find what works best for you (or use all four!):

  • Duolingouses bite-sized lessons that build up vocabulary and grammar knowledge for a solid basic foundation.
  • FluentU makes language learning fun and effective.

FluentU takes authentic videoslike music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talksand turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Click here to check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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  • Memriseuses spaced repetition and user-made visual mnemonics to ensure you drill each word into your long-term memory for a large core vocabulary.
  • LingoDeerprovides quick written and audio lessons that dive right into the foundation of Japanese with grammar lessons that build vocabulary naturally.

2. Learn the Japanese Sentence Structure, Grammar Basics and Word Order

A language isnt just its vocabulary words or textbook full of common phrases. You absolutely should learn the basic phrases, especially if youll be visiting Japan with only a month to learn how to speak a new language (and we have some useful travel phrases for you later in this post).

But its also important to get a handle on Japanese grammar and sentence structure. This way, youll at least have a little bit of information memorized to help in a contextual situation where youre not entirely sure what someone said or how to respond.

Itll also get you ready to build more grammar and vocabulary into your Japanese knowledge. Finally, itll give you more versatile use of all the words youre learning!

Below are some essential grammar concepts even absolute Japanese learners should know.

Learn proper particle use

Japanese particles are words that come after modified nouns, adjectives, verbs and phrases in Japanese.

These little words or sounds are an integral part of the Japanese sentence structure and indicate parts of speech, questions and exclamations and much more. Certain particles can also help show enthusiasm, cuteness, aggression, humor, etc.

To learn about Japanese particles and how to figure them out, check out these resources:

  • How to Learn Japanese Particlesfrom JLPT Boot Camp helps learners navigate the often-confusing world of particles with a guide on how to learn them. (We recommend you read this one, first!)
  • The Japanese Particles Cheat Sheetfrom Tofugu contains particle information in one condensed information sheet.
  • Introduction to Particlesby Guide to Japanese breaks down each particle with explanations and examples.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Particlesby italki has even more explanations and sample sentences for a solid understanding.

Grammar forms to learn first

Japanese grammar forms or verb forms are used to indicate various types of past, present and future tense. English also has verb forms, but our language is significantly different than Japanese so it may take some getting used to the Japanese verb forms.

The Japanese language has several verb-based tenses, including theplain, te, conditional, potential and imperative forms.

Learn the basics of Japanese grammar forms here:

  • Japanese Causative and Passive Verb Forms from Guide to Japanese is like a textbook page online: youll find a no-frills explanation of the causative and passive verb forms here.
  • All About Japanese Te Form by Kawakawa Learn Studio is a delightfully illustrated and color-coded dive into the te form.
  • Using Japanese Verb Bases by Free Japanese Lessons introduces all the different verb endings in one easy-to-use chart that you can utilize to guide your learning.
  • Japanese Verb Forms on CosCom defines each of the above verb forms in more detail; the two resources work remarkably well together.

Beginner vocabulary words and phrases

Whether youre studying for a trip or for your own enjoyment, having a core vocabulary will create a solid foundation that you can build your future learning on. After all, you cant learn grammar if you dont know any words to string into sentences.

Stock up on important vocabulary words and travel phrases with these awesome resources:

  • 80 Easy Japanese Words and Phrases to Rock Any Situationby FluentU will get you started with 80 essential words and phrases every beginner should know.
  • Easy Japanese Vocabulary List & Quiz from the NHK is an interactive vocabulary list and quiz with plenty of great core vocabulary words (as well as some more unique words).
  • Basic Japanese Words by Rocket Languages has some of the most common basic words all learners should start with, as well as links to more useful vocab.
  • Basic Japanese Travel Phrases presented by Fodors has you covered if you plan to visit Japan with useful Japanese travel phrases. Not enough for you? Check out even more Japanese travel phrases.

Understanding Japanese word order

Okay, we know this may sound kind of scary.

Japanese word order is very different from Englishand trying to grasp it may seem a bit advanced. But knowing the bare-bones basics of Japanese word order will be handy contextually when you start speaking Japanese: itll help you understand the basics of a sentence, even if you dont know all the words being used.

If youre stuck on how Japanese word order works, look into these useful guides:

  • A Visual Guide to Japanese Word Order by 8020 Japanese is a great resource for visual learners that breaks down Japanese word order by presenting it in illustrations.
  • On Japanese Word Order from Nihongo Perapera is not as colorful as the resource above, but it contains all the essentials you need to know about string words together to form Japanese sentences like a pro.
  • Japanese Sentence Structure: A Beginners Guide to Forming Japanese Sentences from FluentU is a great starter guide to forming sentences, questions and some more advanced ideas.
  • Word Order in Japanese by Nihongo Shark uses the wisdom of Yoda and some fun shark images to break down word order in a way anyone can understand.

3. Get the Gist of the Japanese Writing Systems

We mentioned earlier how important it is to focus on speaking, listening and comprehension in order to learn passable Japanese in a month. That being said, its still wise to understand the basics of Japanese writing systems.

Start with hiragana

Kanji is a complicated writing system thats beyond the scope of this guide. Even native Japanese speakers spend years achieving fluency with kanji, so we dont recommend tackling it in just a month.

However, you should definitely look into some of these resources that explain the common Japanese writing system called hiragana:

  • Learn Hiragana: The Ultimate Guide by Tofugu is a thorough visual guide to hiragana which uses images to help readers remember characters in a way theyll never forget.
  • Learn Japanese Hiragana by Guide to Japanese has handy charts with stroke order and pronunciation guides for each character.
  • Read, Write, Repeat: Japanese Hiragana Practice for Beginners from FluentU is a massive list of resources for hiragana practice, both reading and writing.
  • Hiragana Course 1 by Hiragana-Lesson introduces each character in groups with accompanying quizzes.

Some Japanese text is accompanied with hiragana readings of the included kanji (this is called furigana), so knowing hiragana is an excellent start to studying the written language.

Once you feel comfortable enough with hiragana, you can move on to learning the other writing systems of Japanese, starting with katakanathen moving on to kanjijust be aware that kanji learning will be an ongoing process.

Dont despair! Take it one step at a time.

4. Talk and Listen to Native Japanese Speakers

Youll hear any linguistic teacher tell you this, no matter the language being learned: If you want to understand a new language, you cant just study on paper. Youll need to listen to native speakers.

This is true for many reasons, the biggest one being comprehension skills.

You may think you have an idea of what Japanese sounds like, but you really dont get the nuances and pronunciation until you hear it from a Japanese persons mouth.

Its also crucial to listen and speak Japanese constantly to improve your fluency. Improving and growing in Japanese is like exercising a muscle: if you dont work it out, it wont get swole.

Communicate with native speakers

To listen to and communicate with native Japanese speakers, try out somelanguage exchange sites.These sites match learners with native speakers: you teach someone English (or your native language) and in return, they teach you Japanese.

Here are some of our favorite language exchange programs:

  • HelloTalkis a chat program where learners can find and easily chat with native speakers.
  • WeSpekeis sometimes referred to as the polyglot Facebook and acts as a social media service for language learners.
  • Conversation Exchangematches users to native speakers in their area wishing to exchange language tips and help in person.
  • My Language Exchangeallows users to reach out to native speakers and language learners from all over the world just to say hi or to start a conversation.

Watch Japanese media

If you dont feel ready for one-on-one communication, you can still get some listening practicebywatching Japanese movies, television shows and dramas as soon as possible.

Some of our favorite spots to binge watch Japanese media are:

  • Crunchyrollhas a huge collection of completed and currently-airing anime, from popular titles like Naruto to less-known gems like Aria the Animation.
  • Asian Crushis the place to go for Asian entertainment, including hundreds of Japanese TV shows, movies and web videos; check out Irezumi, Art of the Japanese Tattoofor a window into an aspect of the Japanese culture.
  • Netflixhas an ever-growing library of animated and live-action titles to watch, including the popular Japanese reality show Terrace House.

Are you feeling a little less nervous about your future Japanese language-learning journey? The internet is packed with awesome resources perfect for the beginner learnerall you need is a little help finding them.

Good luck and happy learning!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


Emily Casalenais a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. She writes about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.« Common Japanese Conjunctions: Proper Use and Mistakes to Avoid10 Beautiful Japanese Words That Will Become Your New Favorites »

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