How far can I get in 6 months?

I’m a college student heavily considering studying abroad in Japan, but there is a strict language evaluation in order to be able to go. With six months of solid studying between now and then (and hopefully two courses through the school over the summer), do you think it’s possible to

  • Understand simple conversation on everyday topics
  • Speak in sentences about present time and familiar/daily topics
  • Read and understand simple / predictable / loosely connected texts
  • Write using basic vocab and structures.

They consider this Intermediate level–I have a feeling this may just be completely infeasible.

Regardless, over the past week I’ve learned hiragana pretty reliably (~90% success rate with all vocab on https://realkana.com/) and katakana with ~70% accuracy so far on the same site, but I realize that’s basically just step 0.

It has been super fun so far though (especially WaniKani–on track to finish level 1 tomorrow, not far yet obv but doing my reviews every hour lol), but I’m curious whether it could be possible to get to that point by this September!

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Probably the hardest thing to cram (especially outside a scroll/immersion environment) is speaking and listening ability. It’s going to be quite hard to cram those mostly solo.

How much time are you willing to dedicate per day? If it’s only 30-60 minutes, you probably won’t make enough progress in 6 months to meet a “strict evaluation”.

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If I had to guess, you are looking at between N5 and N4 from what you are talking about. It should be doable provided you are willing to invest the time and effort and find a speaking partner which will help with your listening and speaking.

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The speaking/listening is definitely the part I’m most worried about, and I’d love any tips for how to get on that ASAP! There are a few people who I know that speak Japanese–none of them are nearby or in close contact unfortunately, but I’ve been thinking about finding regular times to chat. First I have to get to the point where that’s even possible though! Not sure where to begin.

And this might sound weird but I also have Clubhouse, where I can at least listen to people very naturally/casually conversing in Japanese, which is pretty cool!

How many good hours of studying per day are you willing to spend? I have been spending 3-4 for the last 6 weeks and if I had to get to the level you say in 4.5 more months I think it would be difficult but not infeasible. You can do it!

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I think it is possible. With some great effort, I think you can get the basics down solid.

Let us know how it goes!
Only mistake I did was trying to memorize long vocab lists.

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Wow that is dedication!! You all may laugh at me for this, but it would be really, really hard for me to fit in that much time per day, but an hour or two /day with a lot more time over the weekend I think could be doable.

So far I’m leaning towards: “It’s worth a shot!”

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What I can suggest is schedule Wanikani properly so you can do it efficiently. I got lost at first 5 level, I don’t know if it’s worth doing or not, and have poor scheduling. But with better understanding how Wanikani SRS timing works, I can manage to clean up schedule time, and only open wanikani at morning 1x, noon 1x, night 1x :smiley: The important thing is consistency ~

Reference: My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 ) - #2 by jprspereira

For grammar I didn’t work it pretty well but I can suggest Bunpro if you like SRS, or Cure Dolly youtube channel (I think this one is great to build solid grammar foundation). Oh and Bunpro also provide you with textbook path option, if you work on textbook as well (like MNN, Genki, etc).

Reading and speaking is more in immersion matter for me. When Japanese become feel more natural, this will fall in place.

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you might want to ask someone more familiar with the evaluation criteria about just how much is required for each of those criteria. but i think it looks achievable, with enough effort.

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I think it’s entirely possible if you make this your main priority.

BUT I’ll also say…

If studying abroad in Japan is one of your goals, AND learning the language is part of your focus…, then the timeline shouldn’t matter as much as the goal. So, let’s say you aren’t prepared in 6 months time… That doesn’t mean you should abandon this! I’d aim for that 6 months, but really, keep your target even beyond that… to where you you’d like to be at the END of studying abroad! :slight_smile: And if it takes an extra 6 months or so to get there, then so be it!

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I just passed 6 months and I can more or less do all this, so I think that your goal is pretty good !

Of course even the really easy stuff you won’t 100% understand and you won’t be catching all the details, and you’ll be making mistakes in your speech, but as long as the gist is there it will usually work out.

I’d say study/immerse for at least 2.5ish hours everyday, and if you can, more. You can also try passive immersion if it suits you.

In my opinion go for fairly easy things first (Doesn’t have to be kids shows or anything) and use subtitles so it can help you comprehend it better. I recommend slice of life, since this is the kind of Japanese you’ll need when speaking. Once you’re at a somewhat comfortable level and can understand a good bit, start doing some listening only to bring up your listening skills. Depending on how important listening is for you, the more you should practice it.

As long as you stick to something somewhat like this, it will become a bit less confusing and you can shape up your learning routine as you go along in your journey. I just personally think this has helped me the most, good luck !

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It’s doable but there is going to be a hefty time commitment. I’d recommend prioritizing grammar and vocab and running WK as secondary.

That’s a good point. @agalassi would you keep learning even if you didn’t pass the evaluation this time around?

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Go for it.

Just out of curiosity, what program are you considering? Is that language evaluation done by your home university or the Japanese one (assuming your study abroad would be at a Japanese university)?

Most university programs with courses conducted in Japanese that I looked at require a JLPT N2 or N1 certificate, but there were also English programs with no Japanese requirements

How much of the course will focus on the bullet points? Is the course and the program behind the language evaluation run by the same organization?

I think you’ll see the biggest improvement in the six months from those courses. If nothing else, they should hopefully provide you an opportunity to practice speaking/listening with others who are also in the course (assuming a typical school-style class). All of the criteria seem in line with my Japanese classes in school.

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If you combine WaniKani with a decent grammar textbook (Genki I and II, Tae Kim’s guide to some extent as well), lots of native material exposure and dedicate around 25 hours per week to it, I think it’s doable.

I’m not sure whether you had any previous contact with the language, though? If you’re starting from absolute zero, 6 month might be just about cutting it.

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