How fast can you learn N1/N2

Requirements vary per university but you might have an easier way in. Check the international office of your university (assuming you have one) and see if you have a sister school in Japan. If you do, admissions would likely be guaranteed. It would probably depend more on seats available instead of aptitude and I suspect you’d be required to go through some language program either that school hosts or is associated with. Another thing to look into would be the ISEP program. Many schools in the US participate as well as do Japanese universities. That would also be an easier way to transfer.

For anecdotal evidence, a high school friend of mine attended William and Mary college in Virginia and transferred to Keio university. Since Keio is a sister school of William and Mary, he transferred with no problems. He graduated and became a lawyer over there, I think. As for me, I attended VCU and used the ISEP program to attend Nanzan Daigaku in Nagoya. I did have the option to go to Kansai Gaidai but opted for Nanzan because that would get me to Japan sooner. It also fit my college plans here better since it fell inline with my fall semester. If you plan to go there and stay after your term is up, a longer school term there is obviously better so you have more time to figure out things like where to live, work, etc.

Best of luck!


I’m going to assume OP is from the UK, where we have a seperate institution where you can go to do what would be the last 2 years of high school, which we call college, confusingly.


Just want to point out that you need to pass the EJU test if you want to go to a Japanese university. I’ve done some exercises and to me it felt harder than N2 material, more on par with N1, with the main challenge being the more academic vocabulary they used. Plus it also tests other knowledge, besides Japanese.

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I think it was a brown cat? I remember this user, too


This is my opinion as a 26yo boomer. I’m a bit envious at your level of conviction toward a specific goal, and such an interesting one at that. However, I don’t think sheer amount of effort and frustration you would have to put up with to take all Japanese University courses is the way to go. You mentioned that the quality of Japanese education vs. English, which is an interesting point to be sure, but I just don’t think that’s the right way to be approaching this. I think you should pour a lot of effort into learning Japanese so you can get the most out of living there, but for the sake of your sanity I think you will enjoy yourself so much more if you opt for an international program in Japan instead. You will have endless opportunities to speak Japanese, make Japanese friends, and experience all the culture has to offer without jumping into the deep end without a life preserver. I just don’t think it’s worth it to put yourself in a situation where you have to juggle your daily responsibilities and do the fun things you want to do while also being drowned in academic Japanese. I’ve been in Japan for a couple years, and it can be overwhelming even when your education doesn’t depend on it.
This may be controversial, but having a college education does not have the meaning and benefits it had 30 or even 12-15 years ago. The most important thing is finding your strengths and focusing on your goals in and outside of class. You should 100% pursue a college experience in Japan and I’m rooting for you, but from a real position of concern I would suggest that you continue to study your little heart out but reconsider enrolling in an all Japanese program. Unless you have inhuman patience and language ability, I think it will bring you more grief than you need when you move here. Do an English/Japanese program, see how much you love living in the country, than maybe a few more years down the road you can go for further education if that’s what you want. I’m sorry to be discouraging, but if this is something you just absolutely can’t give up on than godspeed. Good luck in whatever you do!


That’s interesting. Is that why I usually hear people from the UK call college “Uni”?


Sorry for everyone who I confused. I didn’t make it clear, but I am actually in college in the UK, which is the school you go to from the age of 16 to 18. It is not a university, and I am not too sure what it is called in the US. I think it is something similar to high schools maybe? Sorry for the confusion :smiley:


this is going to be clarifying for you, but also explaining it to non-Brits

So in the UK we have sixth form and college, which both occupy the last 2 years of American high school. Sixth form is typically a part of the secondary school (which is the British equivalent of both middle and high school), but with some sort of separation from the rest of the school, whereas British college is an entirely separate institution.

Both usually offer A-level courses (the British equivalent of the high school diploma, with some differences), but colleges also often focus on more vocational diplomas and apprenticeships (things relating to beauty, mechanics, media, etc.) which often lead more directly into a job, rather than continuing onto university after graduating. To my knowledge, there isn’t a direct equivalent in the US as you either complete high school, or drop out entirely. There’s no ‘alternative’ to high school. Community colleges do exist though, which I believe are an alternative to more typical colleges, where you can find more vocational courses.

In the US, college refers exclusively to university, and (I believe, although I’m not 100% sure) university is used to refer to more prestigious colleges, or as a name for the institution as a whole, rather than just the colloquial term. Also, Americans often just refer to college as “school” which isn’t done in the UK, where we would instead say “uni”.

well this was all highly off topic but I hope it was useful


I’ll be honest, this is the single best comment I’ve seen in these forums lmao.


I’m sure your mind is set but why not study sports science as a world-class institute in the UK and then emigrate to Japan afterwards?

I know people make a huge deal about the Japanese education system of those who are interested in Japanese but aiming to study at a Russell Group university is 1000% better than a Japanese university.

I’d understand if it was a niche topic area but sports science is offered at all the best UK universities. At least that way you can take advantage of tuition loans and not have to pay thousands and thousands of pounds out of pocket.


Fast enough to pass an exam? Maybe.
Good enough to be able to talk fluently? Probably not. It takes time.


To have a dream and goal is a great thing. However, I would advise to attend to an exchange program first before throwing yourself heads over heels into the adventure. Personally, I really dislike the Japanese education system as it currently is since it‘s highly inefficient and the tuition fees are very high. Furthermore, even the universities that do offer courses in English really struggle with providing actually decent classes.

PS: A lot of universities have a sports faculty or even a dedicated campus for sports e.g. Hiroshima University. However, you will rarely find anything about them in English which makes the search harder. As mentioned before, you should really try to go on an exchange program in order to create a network and to see whether or not your image of Japan is not too romantic. I‘ve seen a lot of people that actually hated Japan after living there for some time, so they basically wasted 5 years of their lives studying the Japanese culture and language.


The reason for moving to Japan wouldn’t only be the university and the fact that I will be learning there in Japanese. As I want to live in Japan afterwards, making friends and having people to know is something very calming and nice, especially when you are moving to a new country. Having to attend university is a great way of socialising and getting to know new people, who can maybe turn into friends in the future.
As for the university and how well they teach, I looked at the way their teaching system work, and it is somewhat similar to Hungary. I prefer Japan’s educating system over England’s, but don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with it, it is just not for my liking that much.
If I would go, I would go to either the Nippon Sports Science University in Tokyo (215th in the country), or Osaka University of Health and Sport Science (594th in the country). They are very similar to what I am doing right now, which I love.

I don’t really intend to try to tell you what to do/not do, but I had pretty similar thoughts and goals when I started studying japanese, so I thought to share how I’ve been doing these past years studying for reference.

I had learned hiragana/katakana and some basic basic grammar before, but I started seriously studying Japanese in 2018 in a local summer university (don’t have to be uni student to enroll, anyone can take these courses for a fee). I studied there the whole summer, and continued studying independently afterwards. Studying independently for me meant studying new kanji in the same format which we were taught during the summer: writing a new kanji on paper, it’s meaning, ways of reading, then repeating the kanji 20~ times and finally writing a few example words/sentences where it was used (didn’t know of wanikani back then). I major computer science in uni so I spent around 2h per day on this independent japanese studying on average. I took the jlpt n4 exam the same year’s december, and passed it with good scores.

After the year turned to 2019, I found myself knowing a lot about kanji, but other areas of my japanese lacked. So I picked up some shonen manga (this was really tough and exhausting at first) which had reading instructions, furigana, for all the kanji used so it was easy and fast to google translate the meanings while reading. I started adding reading to my japanese studying routine, and at some point I remember only reading without any writing on some days.

Then come summer 2019, I find wanikani and start going forward with that on the side of studying computer science, working part time, and studying japanese by mostly reading. Then in fall 2019 I finally manage to get on a japanese language university course after basically begging the professor and going through her tests / interview (she is a native japanese person). The main reason I wasn’t able to get on a course before was because I wasn’t a japanese language major student, and there were no spots / system for outsiders to enroll for those courses (still think I was super lucky to get in). It was a yearly course for the 3rd year japanese language major students, so at first it was pretty rough.

I then continued all the before mentioned routines, but now I was also participating on the japanese course, and with that came more japanese homework. The course had 2x75min lessons per week + a lot of homework, so in total during this time I spent maybe 4h per day studying japanese on average. I then took the jlpt n2 test in december 2019, and passed it (barely).

I then continued the same routine, participating on the course, doing course homework, doing wanikani, reading manga for at least 1 chapter every day. Then the course ended in spring 2020, and I continued going forward with the textbooks we used on the course along with a friend I made on the course (we did this via skype, corona and all). We kept doing that until 2020 fall when he went on to the grad school 1st year japanese course, and I went to student exchange to Osaka university language and culture program.

When starting the exchange studies they had placement tests where we had to do tests for kanji, reading, listening and grammar knowledge, on top of writing different types of essays (more casual letters, and academical reports). I got graded as CEFR B2 (but the tests didn’t include measuring speaking ability which was naturally my least practiced area).

Now I’m studying here in Osaka, and all my classes are completely in japanese. I haven’t really had any trouble understanding the teachers, and I think I’m learning tons right now. There is some pretty challenging academic writing stuff but I just think of that as another way to improve myself, even if I’ll actually never need to be able to produce academic text in japanese. Also the speaking part has improved way faster than I expected, I already feel comfortable speaking about pretty much anything without having to guess what I’m going to be asked beforehand etc.

So as a consensus and I guess answer to your original question: for me it was possible to go beyond N2 level in 2 years by not giving up my routine even when I felt like quitting completely. Everyone is an individual, so this will definitely not work for everyone, and maybe for someone the process could be even easier than what it was for me. But if you’re willing to spend even more time learning than what I did and stick to that for 2 years, I see no reason why you couldn’t get to a level where you can go to student exchange, where the classes are taught in japanese.

If there’s anything more you’d like to ask about my journey, I’m more than willing to talk more :slight_smile: but I’m in no way claiming that how I did things is the way someone else should learn japanese, this is just what I ended up doing in the end.

(sorry for the long post)


Thank you for the reply!

Learning from reading a lot of mangas is something I am currently thinking about doing. Right now, I watch animes in my free time, with Japanese soundtrack and mostly with Hungarian subs, but some of them I watch again and I use Japanese subs. I am getting comfortable with learning quite a lot of Kanjis at the moment, and also with both hiragana and katakana. However, I do sometimes read books or writings only written in either hiragana, katakana or mixed together.

What you have done and achieved, is absolutely amazing! :open_mouth: If I have any questions I will definitely ask away and thank you for your help! Also, congrats on all of what you have managed to get done, and good luck with your further studies! :smiley:

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Yeah reading is definitely key to learning the language in my opinion. Anime is also pretty good for practicing listening!

I’ve been pretty passionate about learning japanese so I’m really eager to talk about it, as I haven’t been able to do much else outside of studying and working since 2018 :sweat_smile: I had to pretty much sacrifice a lot of time with friends / time doing other stuff I enjoy to be able to go through with this.

Thank you, hope you’ll also find how you want to approach learning japanese!

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In the U.S., a University teaches a broader range of majors and is organized into colleges that cover certain fields, e.g., :“University of Nowhere” might have the “Smith College of Engineering” and the “Jones College of Arts and Sciences.” So it’s not really a prestige issue.


This is just to share an idea, because I am periodically looking into it myself. It seems there are a lot of language schools in Japan now, that not only teach you Japanese but also offer some support getting into a university. You can study at the language school with a student visa from half a year to two years, and most schools organize university fairs, watch for certain dates when to apply or do tests, help with the application papers and procedures. Some also offer classes with general subjects in Japanese as preparation for the university.
So, if you for some reason decide not to push for N2/N1, it might be an idea to consider.
But, go for it and good luck!

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My opinion won’t be popular, but if your goal is to take JLPT - you should study specifically for it. You will always hear that it is not good for your general Japanese (which is wrong), but JLPT’s give you this much needed sense of some accomplishment, and without that it is very hard to stay motivated.

Once you complete basic textbooks (Minna no nihongo 1&2, for instance) you will have a solid N4 level and an ability to express almost any of your thought in Japanese. After that you I suggest you go straight to JLPT prep books (they be like "N2 in two months!). These books will give a grammar you need, which is crucial in order to pass, not just vocab. They also have books for kanji, but WaniKani covers them pretty well (in terms of JLPT), so you don’t really require those. I recommend Nihongo Sou Matome (N2 and N3). As for N1, all my Japanese teachers say the same thing - it’s nearly impossible to pass if you haven’t lived in Japan for some time, there are things there that are not comprehensible through just studying. That said, N2 is usually more than enough for most jobs or universities, and it’s pretty achievable in 2 years.

Once again - you will have plenty of time to learn every aspect of Japanese while being in Japan. The most essential thing needed for studying there - Japanese comprehension, and you if can pass JLPT - you can comprehend, I assure you. Setting specific goal and going towards it is a key to success. Good luck!

P.S: Make sure to pass JLPT in order, that will make it more achievable. Maybe skip N5, but surely take N4 and N3, don’t go straight from nothing to N2, you need to get used to the exam itself (rules, structure, timing etc.)


Hey, I went to VCU too! Do they offer Japanese classes now? It wasn’t available while I was there, but I’m not sure what options they had for study abroad. Glad you seem to have had a good experience!