Learning language is a big project. It is important to plan well to achieve the goal with minimum time and effort.
|Study Level||General Required Time of Study|
|Intermediate||600 (+300) hours|
|Advanced||900 (+300) hours|
Basic conversational skills can be gained quickly. But the writing system is complex.
Time for character study has to be included in each study level.
See character study section for more details.
What to Study
|Study Level||Things to be Mastered|
(JLPT: N5 and N4)
(JLPT: N3 and N2)
This chart was made to meet the particular levels of JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test).
It is recommended to follow such steps even if you don't plan to take JLPT. Most Japanese language schools have the similar curriculum.
JLPT started new test format in 2010. New test levels are from N5 (easy) to N1 (difficult). See JLPT official web-site for details.
What to Learn
|Character||Number of Letter||Time Required|
|Hiragana||81 (46 basic letters + 35 modified forms)||3-20 days|
|Katakana||81 (46 basic letters + 35 modified forms)||3-20 days|
|Kanji||About 2,000 commonly used letters||1-3 years|
Hiragana and Katakana
Most students start to learn Hiragana and Katakana at the very beginning of the Japanese study.
Hiragana and Katakana are two similar sets of alphabet. They can be learned quickly by the following programs.
It is recommended to start learning Katakana after you mastered Hiragana. It can be confusing if you learn them at the same time.
Kanji (Chinese Character)
|Study Level||Number of Kanji|
|Elementary (JLPT: Level N5 and N4)||300|
|Intermediate (JLPT: Level N3 and N2)||1,000 (+700)|
|Advanced (JLPT: Level N1)||2,000 (+1,000)|
Most students learn 1,945 jōyō Kanji (Kanji letters in common use).
Reading and meaning of Kanji change depending on how it is used in a sentence. It is important to learn the different usages of each Kanji.
Study in order - from simple, frequently used ones to more complex ones.
The following program is designed for step-by-step effective Kanji study.
How to Schedule
Language study requires a lot of memorization. Frequent repetition is the key to retain and enforce your memory.
Better to study short everyday, rather than study long once a week.
Practice Makes Perfect
Learning language is like learning how to play sports. You need a lot of practice to make a great shot at will.
Spend minimum time for understanding the rules, and do practice (drill exercise) as much as possible.
The following activities are recommended to accelerate your learning process.
Have a Japanese friend or a language-exchange partner (teaching each other).
Have a Japanese pen-pal or e-pal.
Listen to your favorite Japanese songs over and over till you memorize the lyrics. Singing these songs is also a good practice.
Watch your favorite Japanese movie repeatedly with subtitles of your mother tongue.