How long does it take to learn japanese if you already know 3 langues?

December 29, 2008 by admin 

I really wants to learn japanese but I already speak polish, norwegian and english fluently and I wonder how long would it take to learn japanese at a good communication level so I could make a conversation with japanese people and I would know the writing part as well. Do you think that 2years of home learning + 1 year student exchange in tokio would be enought to speak fluently ?

Hmmm.. If you are very good with languages then you have a fair shot at becoming fluent yes. But maybe not in 3 years. Consider a further year student exchange and I’d think you’d be pretty close to it then.

Good luck

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9 Responses to “How long does it take to learn japanese if you already know 3 langues?”

  1. Bostezo on December 29th, 2008 8:14 pm

    Well, Polish, Norwegian, and English are all Proto-Indo-European languages if I remember correctly, so they're somewhat similar. Japanese is completely different, I imagine that it would take about 5 years of serious study, more if you want to learn all the writing systems (There are 1945 kanji you need to memorize in order to be considered literate).
    References :

  2. bananas on December 29th, 2008 8:43 pm

    Hmmm.. If you are very good with languages then you have a fair shot at becoming fluent yes. But maybe not in 3 years. Consider a further year student exchange and I’d think you’d be pretty close to it then.

    Good luck
    References :

  3. garret r on December 29th, 2008 9:30 pm

    Well tske classes and when you got time at home you might be able to learn some japenese online
    References :

  4. sg on December 29th, 2008 9:40 pm

    If you know chinese, it wont take very long. They basically use the same written characters called KANJI although japanese has two other alphabets -hirugana and katakana which unlike kanji, are phonetic alphabets. However the word order in japanese is totally different from any indo european language and even totally different than chinese. So the really best way to learn it is to learn it in LATIN CHARACTERS (like english is written) and you can learn to speak it fast, even though you can’t learn to read or write if fast when you study it in latin characters. You could learn to communicate in japanese very well if you study romaji with a teacher in ONE MONTH.However if you want to learn to read and write it, it would take nearly a year. I studied japanese 6 years, I can speak it well enough for anyone who never has been to japan, but I couldnt read a book or a newspaper even after 6 years of study. All I can do is write letters, read letters if they are very plainly written with clear penmanship.
    The best thing about japanese is that it develops your brain and mind. Japanese language is very vague in its speaking and you learn to sense things people are thinking without them even saying it. Every sentence you might hear has words left out that are sensed that you would expect to be spoken.
    References :

  5. Joe on December 29th, 2008 10:14 pm

    The only difference knowing any other language to the one you want to learn is if they're related. Polish, Norwegian, and English are all nomadic languages and have no connection with any Asian Langauge (either in root or grammar). Thus, learningn any of the Asian Langauges will be different since you won't have a "stepping stone" to start from. You're start from teh very scratch.
    But you can do it if you have a talent for languages.
    good luck

    I really don't think home schooling will help that much, but the exchange in Japan definitely will!!! being there for a year beats taking classes in the colleges for 2 or 3 at the least. I have friends who did exactly that, and I can really tell their dramatic improvement over just 1 or 2 semester.
    References :
    AS, BA, MA SFSU Engineering, Japanese, CHiense

  6. australiagc on December 29th, 2008 10:22 pm

    As everyone said, Japanese is bit of a different kind. The major differences are;

    - grammar is the ‘opposite’
    - on top of the 50 x 2 alphabets (hiragana & katakana), you need to know at least 1006 kanji (Chinese characters) to be an elementary school standard, 1945 to be ‘literate’
    - Japanese has a system called ‘gobi’, where you can add all sort of different sounds at end of a sentence to change impression you give to a person, or even change a meaning in some cases
    - you can even ‘make up’ new words as you go as well, and that’s not so unusual in Japan – hundreds of ‘unofficial’ words are being created in Japan every year

    Although, having able to speak 3 languages already would help though. For being able to speak that many languages at the first place, your ears must be well developed such that you can distinguish different sounds very well. In that sense, you would certain have advantage over many other people.

    Still, Japanese is a very complicated language. I have a friend that speaks fluent English & Chinese. He had been studying Japanese for over 5 years at home, and now he have lived & worked in Japan for 2 years. Still, his Japanese isn’t hardly enough to have a basic conversation with me for more than a minute.
    References :
    http://www.guidetojapanese.org/

    Native Japanese, brought up in Australia.

  7. Choco Vanilla on December 29th, 2008 11:07 pm

    I believe it depends on the person and their abilities in learning languages. Even though some may speak 3 or 5 languages, if it took them 3-4 years to learn each language, you could expect them to take as much time or maybe even more to learn Japanese. Some who only speak 1 or 2 languages could learn faster. It depends on the person, the environment and effort.
    If you are serious enough, I’m very sure that 2 years at home and 1 year in Japan will be more than enough to be fluent for daily conversation.

    here’s my experience:
    I’m a native french and english speaker.
    I read a few books about Japanese basic grammer and memorized a few basic sentences before coming to Japan.
    Once in Japan, it took me about 6 months of intense studying on my own and living in an almost 100% japanese environment to be fluent enough in spoken and written Japanese to go through interviews and work in a 100% Japanese company. I lived with my husband(Japanese) and his parents for those 6 months. Since I didn’t go to school, he was my only source of english so when he was gone to work, I was at home trying to communicate with his parents and neighborhood.
    If you know the basics, plunge yourself in a totally japanese environment and you’ll learn quickly. It’s extremely tiresome though, but you’ll get through the rough first months of not understanding much or not being able to express yourself.
    Also, my husband was very strict in correcting my pronounciation. Thanks to him, now even Japanese people can’t tell I’m a foreigner when I speak on the phone.(That can be problematic sometimes…especially if I’m trying to explain something and I don’t know the exact proper japanese word….)

    It’s been 9 years that I’ve been living in Japan. I have passed the Japese proficiency test L1, have quit working for a company to stay at home with the kids. For the past few years, I freelance as a translator, but still, almost daily I discover something new to learn of this language.

    Good luck with your studies!

    References :

  8. Louie the linguist on December 29th, 2008 11:25 pm

    someone answered:
    The only difference knowing any other language to the one you want to learn is if they’re related. Polish, Norwegian, and English are all nomadic languages and have no connection with any Asian Langauge (either in root or grammar). Thus

    Normadic? That’s a good one. They are Indo-European, not PROTO-Indo-Eurpean, a good guess about how the IE languages looked when they were all part of one language (PIE).
    References :

  9. Aaaa A on December 29th, 2008 11:58 pm

    Age is also a factor. You may have learned a lot of languages years ago, but you would be surprised how hard it is to pick up a new language as you get older (I speak three as well).

    The short answer is no. You can learn Japanese in 1 year of study abroad to a conversational level and understand a good 80% of day to day conversations. Speaking fluently in any language takes years and constant practice, so you would not be fluent. Any one who tells you they learned how to speak Japanese at a native level in 3 years is lying to you.

    Like others mentioned, the alphabets are a pain. It’s funny to watch 50 year old Japanese men digging out their kanji dictionaries when they’re reading letters. Japanese takes decades to learn and you will always run into symbols you have never seen before (usually people with unusual names.)
    References :
    Lived there.

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