2 years to reach JLPT N5

So I have made a couple of threads talking about me signing up for japanese classes. And I recently found out the amount of time the BASIC course takes.


Here is what they say under the Q&A section of their website:

Q:日本語能力試験(JLPT)を受けたいのですが、どのくらい勉強したら 受けられますか。
I would like to take Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), how long do I need to study before I could take JLPT?

A:Basic 1~8まで受けると N5 の受験が できます。日本人会で、24か月勉強すれば受けられます。
If you would like to take JLPT N5, You need to study for 24 months (Basic 1-Basic 8).


Yes. 24 months. Do you guys think I should just get a refund and find another language school? Or is 24 months normal?

EDIT: The pacing of lessons is 2.5 hours x10 weeks and one lesson per week. Basic courses have 8 levels, so this pacing is repeated well, 8 times. Classes seem to be focusing strictly on the language itself (via みんなの日本語) and not so much culture and other stuff.

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Could make sense if it’s not full time and includes peripheral classes

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I’ve never taken the JLPT, but from my experience here on the forums and seeing other people’s testimonies, that seems like a rather long time. But it really all depends on your rate of study. I know people who’ve gotten to N1 in two years, but that’s rather fast. N3 in two years would definitely be reasonable. But if someone else who has actually taken the JLPT cares to comment, ignore mine and listen to them! :smiley:

Edit: To note that, if you’re only studying with the school, then yeah, that would make more sense. But I would highly recommend studying on your own as well.

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I took N5 after one year of a part-time university degree. Well, more like 26 weeks of class time, actually.

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I never took N5 due to timing, but my once-a-week language school in the US got me to N4 in just over a year, and it felt kind of slow.

But I mean, I guess it depends on a lot of factors.

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I know someone who failed N5 a few years back by 2 points. Today, I’m still not confident I they would pass if taken again.

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Classes at the place I went to were (effectively) two 2-hour classes per week, over 16 weeks. We were probably around N5 after that, or if not, certainly after another 8 weeks (so 24 weeks / about half a year).

Basically, 64 - 96 hours.

You could (sort of) alternatively do the classes once per week, in which case it would take twice as long - up to a year.

So, it very much depends how many hours of classes that is, whether it’s purely focused on learning the language or includes other things like history, culture, etc., and whether it might involve a lot more speaking practice than you’d otherwise get / whether that’s something you’d value.

Two years does seem quite long, but why not shop around for other options and see how long they claim to take?

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On one hand, as already pointed out, the number of hours per week is a big factor on how much material the course covers over that time BUT, in addition, I can say that at least one of the Japanese schools I went to waited too long to send students to apply for a JLPT.

In their minds, just passing the test isn’t enough. They want their students to go into the test with full confidence that they’re getting a near-perfect score. So usually students that followed the school’s advise would take the N5 when we were pretty much covering N4 material in class.

Too bad Japan Foundation is an independent institution and there’s nothing they can do to prevent some student to go for N3 and barely pass it on their second attempt

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Well, I don’t about language schools but 24 months is way too long. At JLPT N5 you pretty much know just elementary Japanese. You should be able to learn it in a year even at a moderate pace.

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I just skimmed through the practice test for N5 on the JLPT website, and in my opinion 24 months is absolutely too long. The grammar is very straightforward and it only seems to use basic vocabulary.

Like others have said, how long things take depends on how many hours you can put into it, but in my opinion if it takes 24 months for you to get to that level then I don’t think you’re really putting enough time into the language to really say that you’re studying it properly.

If you’re studying the language as a passing hobby, then maybe you can say 24 months until JLPT5, but then why go to a school for it?

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I went to full time Japanese language school in Japan, meaning 3 hours of classes every day (5 days a week). We went through all of N5 in three months. That school goes at a very fast pace (also doing N4 in 3 months and then N3 in 6 months), at least it felt very fast (I haven’t counted the number of hours we spent).

So I agree with everyone else, it depends on how much class time actually happens, but even so 24 months seems a very long time for N5.

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I’ve never taken the JLPT at any level before, but I know a friend who took it as a subject at school, and he got the N1 six years after starting. The class schedule was roughly 3h/week for the first four years, and 4h/week for the last two. It’s definitely possible to learn faster, but I guess this proves that 2 years isn’t entirely unreasonable? (But ok, I’m being really lenient here: dividing six years by five levels gives you ~1.17 years/level, which isn’t accurate because the higher levels require more time.)

You’ll probably want to look at the class hours and what’s being studied (you could check the textbook that will be used, for instance). Talk to people who have taken classes with them before if you can. It’s possible that they created the two-year time frame based on the assumption that their students wouldn’t necessarily do much work outside of class. I can imagine it taking 2 years in that case (even if I agree that it’s probably too long).

Another thing: keep in mind that the JLPT doesn’t test everything, and even people at N1 can have huge holes in their knowledge. (Anything that’s formal Japanese should be fine, but they may not have knowledge of slang, and there’s no guarantee that they can understand specialist topics that might come up in Japanese university lectures right off the bat. The JLPT also doesn’t require full spoken or written fluency because it’s multiple choice.) The friend I mentioned himself said even the N1 means nothing beyond the sense of achievement it gives and its practical utility (e.g. landing jobs in Japan or applying for a course at a Japanese university). Getting to N5 by focusing on the JLPT syllabus alone definitely shouldn’t take 24 months, even at the rate of one lesson a week, unless students do no work outside of class whatsoever. However, if the school you’re looking at aims to get you to N5, but offers a lot of ‘value-add’ on the side (e.g. cultural stuff and knowledge that’s useful but not required to pass the JLPT) then ok, maybe it’s still worth it. Depends on your goals and preferences.

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I did a course in an evening class once a week for two years and I think the pace was just sooo slow that I might have arrived at N5 afterwards. It was very casual, there were all kinds of people, with very varying paces. The course was also not very well structured, they didn’t teach us about the different verb groups and how to conjugate for example. Most of the time the Japanese teacher was just explaining things from her personal understanding, which was a lot of fun but still, it didn’t really make us progress at all.

So I think it really depends on the teacher, as well as the study materials that you are using. Growing up on the countryside I made the experience that teachers were often using very old books or very classical and ineffective approaches to learning Japanese. I still think it can be very beneficial to have a course to go to every once a week, just to keep you motivated on learning and to exchange with others, but I think the pace should be more like N5 in one year or if you have a lot of time on your hands even half a year.

I once did a three-week intensive course where we were having Japanese classes all day speaking only Japanese from the beginning, with professional trained teachers, as well as Japanese natives - it was really like going to school, but instead of different subjects there were different Japanese classes - and I can say that afterwards I learned more than during the two years of studying before, and probably that would have been even enough to pass N5.

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I did a japanese school in France and they had a bunch of different courses. If I remember correctly, the slowest one was 2h of lesson per week and about 2 years in total to reach N5.

So I think the figures you gave check out. It’s looks like the same kind of course : For people with a passing hobby for japanese who like to have fun learning another language a couple of hours a week and probably don’t study outside class.

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I started doing Japanese as evening classes through the University I work at, and that was 2.5 hours per week, 10 week semesters, 3 semesters a year. Year 1 covered chapters 1-12 of Minna No Nihongo, Year 2 covered the rest of book 1 of MNN and therefore took you to N5 level. (I switched to a tutor at the end of Year 1).

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You can do zero to N5 in one month of hardcore study

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Same experience here. I did an evening class twice a week for one year (3h per week) and from a japanese point of view, yes, it wasn’t great, way too slow.
However the people in my class were lovely and super diverse. It literally ranged from a 14 years old girl who had to get good grades at school to convince her parents to let her attends this class to a 72 years old grandpa trying to learn some japanese to be able to speak to the kids of his daughter living in Japan.

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The fastest way to get to N5 is to:

  1. Get to level 10 on WaniKani (You will know 98% of the N5 kanji)
  2. Do the N5 grammar section on Bunpro
  3. Find a JLPT N5 vocab list and learn it.
  4. Get the “Japanese Language Proficiency Test Practice Questions JLPT N5” official booklet on Amazon to prepare for the test.

And that’s about it! You can supplement with textbooks and other things as well if you want.

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It really depends a lot on you.
Where I live most academies take 1 year to take JLPT N5, but I friend of mine joined one that takes two, just like the one that you’re describing.
It was fine with him cause he didn’t want to bother much with Japanese outside class and he hadn’t much homework. But for me, the pace was really slow, with months to learn hiragana and they didn’t start learning kanji until almost the end of the first course.

So if you don’t want to bother with Japanese at all outside the class, maybe that pace is fine, but if you study on your own you probably surpass the level of your class quickly and class could become boring and useless.

Having said that, is better to improve slowly than not improve at all, and not everybody like to do self-study.

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2 years is way to long. I studied Japanese at university and it was just 50% of the study. In two years we covered enough to do JLPT 3. The current JLPT at least ( back then, only 4 levels existed).

Maybe they start with Kana and plan already 2 -3 months for this? I don´t know. The good thing might be to have a native in the course (I guess), but other than that - I´d consider other options tbh. If you are dedicated enough - maybe a combination of work books, this website, some sound samples and a native penfriend if you don´t find someone in the flesh…

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