Have you changed your system language? When is a good time?

I’ve been really tempted lately to change my system language to Japanese, but I’m not sure when I should do it. Around what level should I be before I try to immerse myself like that? I tried changing Chrome to Japanese just now and it was a little overwhelming at my measly level 3. So when’s a good time? Any ideas, folks?

Thanks in advance.

Why did you even decide to change that?

Your WaniKani level is irrelevant. If you’re set on changing your system language to Japanese… just… be able to read Japanese first.


Level 52. Still not about to change my system language to Japanese because it’s too much a hassle to deal with when I just want to do something on the computer.

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Wow. Not the replies I was expecting.

The reason I wanna change it is because I’m set on eventually being fluent in Japanese. The more you expose yourself to something, the better you become at recognizing and understanding. I use my computer a lot. There’s no better place for me to immerse myself in Japanese than at my computer.

There’s also the fact that I’ve never really seen it as a hassle to look up and translate. I go out of my way to talk to Japanese people inside the online games I play, just for the chance to experience the language and learn things.

I’m only trying to figure out at what point through WaniKani I’ll have enough kanji knowledge to get by on my computer, should I decide to change the system language.


Changing your environment is useful for english or other languages written with a phonetic alphabet. However when it comes to chinese writing, you won’t even be able to read the symbol and looking at it for hours won’t make you learn it magically. Try using japanese websites such as niconico or goo.ne.jp and you’ll quickly realise how lost you are.


It’s completely up to you and how much patience you have for looking up things you don’t know.

Even after you reach the final level of WaniKani, you will still have to look up kanji here and there. Being able to read Japanese in general (understanding the grammar and vocabulary, etc) is going to be much more important than knowing the kanji. You can easily look up kanji when you need to, the rest is what will be difficult.

Edit to add to what I said above : There are countless threads of people asking "At what level can I ____ " and there’s no true answer. There are too many things to take into account. Only you can decide when you’re comfortable enough with the language to make the switch on your computer. Your WK level can help you with recalling more kanji, but that’s not the only thing that’s important when it comes to reading.


It really depends, do you think you’ll ever have something so important to do on your computer that you couldn’t afford to trudge through the Japanese? I considered something as simple as using the Japanese Siri on my phone, but ended up not doing it since I wouldn’t be able to send English text messages over Siri.

If you don’t think that’s a problem and really want to do it, somewhere in the 15-20 range is probably good enough. There will still be a ton that you don’t recognize, but you have to start somewhere. Maybe consider doing some Anki/Memrise set specific to computer terminology right beforehand. And make sure you know your katakana. When in doubt, click キャンセル :wink:


I actually had two unintentional occasions where I had to wrestle with a Japanese interface.

The first one was on my iPhone.
I have Swedish as my main setting, but then also Japanese because I wanted access to the japanese keyboard. This was fine until Apple pushed through an update.

Previously apps would check if the app was available in Swedish, and if it wasn’t it would default to English. Suddenly, if Swedish was missing (which it does for MANY apps since it’s such a small language) it defaults to the next language setting you have that has a translation. For me this meant Japanese. It mostly had to to with push notifications, but it was still funny to see all my Pokemon Go messages in Japanese.

The second one was a couple of weeks ago when I downloaded a program for cross stitching.
For some reason, the program defaulted to Japanese language. It probably has something to do with how I got my PC set up and the fact that a Japanese person made the program, but it was totally unintentional on my part.

My gut reaction was that I had to change this somehow since there was no way I could use a program about such a specific thing in Japanese. Then I decided to try it and was very pleased when I noticed I could actually navigate fairly well. I could make educated guesses as to what buttons controlled what functions and after just a little bit of trial and error I really didn’t feel like I needed to switch to English at all.

I’m not sure how much these anecdotes help you, but I guess the main takeaway is to not be afraid to try it out and see how it feels. Worst case scenario is that you have to switch back (probably best to make a step by step guide beforehand?). Then you can switch it back on every ten levels or so and see your progress :sunglasses:


maybe first immerse yourself in reading e.g. satori reader or matcha yasashii. or, if you want a taste of the change but not do the full system, change your facebook to japanese instead? reading has massively improved my japanese and i read at least one article a day, i wouldn’t change my system yet though! good luck :slight_smile:


I would worry about adding the JP keyboard to your pc and to your smartphone first. That’s way more important.

Learn grammar => Write => Read => Grammar => Write => Read => Grammar… :slight_smile:


Yeah I already have an IME. :slight_smile:


I absolutely agree. Immersion as soon as possible is important. Think of Japan - how closely could you emulate that experience wherever you are?

I set my mobile devices to Japanese at around level 32 or so. At that level, I can read almost half of the normal Japanese I run into (source: WaniKani Statistics).

My aim after mobile was later to change all devices, and I did that a few levels later. It wasn’t much of an issue for me at first, because I memorize UI elements well.

The key for me was to force myself, actually. I come upon something I don’t know, quickly break down the Kanji + look them up, and move on. You can even go from the English to the Japanese if you have an idea of what you’re looking for :wink:

I’ve done that for a long while now, and I have become very comfortable with navigating around in Japanese. Like @vargsvans said, try it :slight_smile:

P.S. I know you’re low in level as of now, but if it isn’t too outside of your comfort zone, maybe start with changing small apps that you know very well.

Another thing (sorry for the length) - getting a leg up on some Kanji can be helpful. It allows me to speed through some WK levels at breakneck speed (OK, well, maybe just a tiny bit faster than usual :joy:)


I had that happen to my Microsoft Office installation. Any time an update is available the update dialog is in Japanese. It was fairly easy to navigate, so I didn’t bother setting it back to English.

It depends. How good is your Japanese grammar? If you can read an entire manga chapter raw, then you can. That is when you know.

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If its for fun and you enjoy it, go ahead. You won’t be immersing yourself in the language in any meaningful way. Better than nothing? Sure and it doesn’t hurt. You’ll mostly just be exposing yourself to vocab (start, new, open, close, save, copy, paste, etc. etc.).

I’m a native English speaker living in France. I have the French version of microsoft office 2007 on my computer and my work computer is all in French. Trying to be productive when you have to deal with random language issues is not fun (oh ho ho–random error messages that can’t be copied and pasted into google translate). Working on a French computer for two years has not improved my French (although I can get around on a French computer much faster than before). Writing emails in French and talking with my colleagues in French, has greatly improved my French.

But, if your goal is to work in Japanese office, having exposure to computers in Japanese is probably a good thing to have (but its also something that would be easy to pick up if you’re at an advanced level of Japanese).


I went to Google Chrome, put Japanese as my setting, but everything is still in English for some reason

I am low in level, but I took a university class (1 semester) in 2007, and I watch all my anime with English subtitles to keep my listening sharp (and it helps me learn new words). I have a reasonable understanding of basic grammer.

@smartie344 Did you relaunch it?

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Did it way before I came to Wanikani, maybe a month after I started seriously practicing reading Japanese. At that point, I was starting to get a handle on manga but was not really there yet for lighter fiction. Switched it and had some difficulty, but I was comfortable within a week or two. However, at the same time, I am very familiar with computers and I use more keyboard shortcuts than menu items on both Mac and PC, and at that time I needed to work on a computer around 12 to 16 hours a day. At that point, I had used my IPhone and Mac for several years before switching, my PC, I set up and have never used in English. At this point, I feel comfortable in all three, but I switched well over a year ago now.

I think it really comes down to how comfortable you are with computers, what your reading ability is, and how well do you passively pick up new information.


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