Japanese progress

it’s a stupid question i know, but i was wondering what - in average - level of japanese i should have acquired in 6 months time? i know it takes years of study, but i have no way of assessing if i making progress even if i’m supposed to be utter crap after only six months. what would you say? i’m studying let’s say an hour a day.



Well, if you’re studying 1h per day for the last 6 months, you did more than 90% of people :slight_smile: Congratz!

How does your Japanese study look like? Anything that you think could be done better?

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It really depends on you. Every single person will learn at a different rate. Some people just have a knack for some languages while others don’t. As an example, I picked up Japanese relatively quickly, but my friend did not. On the other hand, he picked up Latin extremely easily, and I struggled to make sense of it all.

If you don’t know any Japanese at all, you will have to start learning Hiragana and Katakana first. That should take you about two weeks to three weeks to learn well. After that, I would say grab Genki I and Genki II. Each book should take you three to four months to complete. If you have a knack for the language and finish the two Genki series with enough understanding, you would be at an N4 level proficiency in Japanese.

Are there any specific reasons for you wanting to learn Japanese in such a short term? Vacation? Business trip? JET program?

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wiki says:

|N1|3000–4800 hours
|N2|1600–2800 hours
|N3|950–1700 hours
|N4|575–1000 hours
|N5|325–600 hours|


There’s people on here talking about going for the N3 after six months. Then there’s people like me. Over two years, and unsure if I passed the N5. It all depends. Time put in, natural ability, going at it alone vs with friends vs in a class, etc etc.


Yeahhh, just take that with a grain of salt.


why (honest question)? the data-set is pretty new (2010-2015) and the ranges are fairly wide. the “Japanese in A Year” guy from youtube mentioned in one of his videos, that the numbers line up with his study experience.

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Because the hours don’t matter at all if you’re not “there” yet. We’re not robots, we don’t always learn with the same efficiency. A hour of mine might be very different from a hour of yours.

I like the “Japanese in a year” guy, he seems very honest and cool to hang out with… but I’ve found better advice here on the forums than what he shares :man_shrugging:


I would think that’s the reason why the span is almost 100% though…

Actually he was under the range by a bit.

The reason I say so is because A: What counts as studying japanese doesn’t always count as studying for the JLPT. B: Some people can get to that level much faster or slower depending on what they study and how well they learn.

The you can study for X amount of time for the N5, but any higher level knowledge you gained wont be of much use. I dont think anyone should base their studies around max score/time put in on each test. To then gauge the rate of your improvement by the time it takes to achieve certain scores on that test makes no sense.

Also as jpr said, hours are just time, not a measure of how much you actually have learned. An hour can do different things to progress your studies depending on the person. I like that they added the range as a guideline for what you can expect, but its not good to judge your progress. There is no set level that you should acquire in any amount of time.

Agreed. He actually has probably spent more time studying than me, but some of the things he said I just didnt agree with.


well thats right, we dont learn with the same efficiency and we dont use the same methods, thats why the ranges are so wide. and its not really about the advice or the methods the youtuber used, its about the time in hours he spent to get there.

I don’t think the ranges are wide enough honestly :thinking: If someone is having classes, then I might guess it’s easier to define a period… But if one is self-learning (most of us in here), then the game changes. You can be 10x more effective than a class or 10x less effective.


And how do you define those periods of time? Time by actually opening the books until you close them back? Does the time you play around with your phone count too? Or is it only when you’re 100% focused? What’s you being 100% focused then?

I think using these periods can bring more trouble than it helps. But you do you :slight_smile:

Now, measuring your efficiency is a whole different story, which is what the “Japanese in a year” guy does (at least my impression).


Ive probably spent sub 800 hours learning this language and was 2 points away from N2 on the J-cat. Just because the range was accurate for him doesn’t mean it was accurate for everyone. That can go both ways, either more or less.

Thats a range for the time it takes people to complete each level though. I’ll say it again, the ranges on the jlpt are not meant to gauge your own rate of progress. To illustrate:

Good: “I want to pass the N5, I’ll need to study for it for around 325-600 hours”

Bad: “Ive been studying for 600 hours, I should be able to pass the N5 or I’m behind”

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do you have a better method? the hours you spent studying japanese is simpy the most accurate. if someone tells you, “hey, i have been learning japanese for the past 5 years” this will tell you nothing. he could still be at N5 or fluent in the language.

thats pretty much what im talking about (the last part you have edited). for me its not really about the JLPT test, but more about the time you have to spent to reach a certain level of proficiency (not based on the JLPT). its more like a guidline.

The number of hours spent learning a language means nothing if the methods used are ineffective. That is what I think what @jprspereira is trying to say. There are a lot of people who haven’t used their study time very effectively but would’ve scored higher on the criteria provided by the number of hours spent studying (according to the source you provided). So, in essence, the effectiveness of the study time plays a key role. That can vary from learner to learner. Since no one but the learner knows the effectiveness of their own studies, a third party cannot make that determination about whether or not that person’s studies aligns with a projection.



OP, point is…its hard to tell you what the “average” improvement is, or even if you are at that average. There really is no set point for where you should be at right now, but if you are studying 1h/day then you are 100% improving. Your level after 6 months is all that matters. You can take the J-cat now and 6 months down the line to show yourself where and (about) how much you have improved, but there is no set amount of improvement that should be had for that either.

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But OP was asking how far he should be after 6 months, or ~180 hours given that last sentence. To post the hours for JLPT levels implied (in my mind) that where he should be at is based on JLPT levels…which is very misleading.

Damn, you’re a genius. Exactly what I wanted to say.

Here, enjoy!

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When you hit level 60 you unlock the “communication level booster pack”.