Study abroad in Japan

Hey Guys,
I’m planning to study abroad in Japan starting in Fall 2020. My future university offers an exchange program to various universities in Japan in the 3rd year of Bachelor.

As far as I read, I have to possess a JLPT N1 certificate to be accepted at the university. I made the JLPT N5 in December last year and I’m now around JLPT N4 level (finished Genki 2 and now continuing with Tobira). My question to you: is my plan reasonable/possible?

I’m graduating High School right now, but soon I will have a break of 3 month before university starts. So I will have plenty of time to study Japanese in these these months. But after that, I will study full time, so I won’t be able to spend weeks for studying Japanese -_-.

Thank you for sharing your opinions to my plan :smiley:

According to wikipedia,

total study time required *for students residing in Japan:

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

But really, everyone is different, and it matters how well distributed your studying is (between learning kanji, vocab, grammar, listening, etc)…Also since the time is based on people living in Japan… people who aren’t living in Japan will probably take longer due to less immersion/exposure…

I think you can get to N2. N1 seems to be way harder though, mainly in 2 years and when you won’t be able to study full time. We have our N1 resident @Naphthalene but it took them 8 years to pass N1 I believe.

Everything up to N3 is basically required knowledge to function at an advanced level in Japan. At N2, some obscure things you will rarely need start to creep in. At N1, a lot of the grammar is very formal or literary grammar that you basically will never be expected to use and will only encounter on rare occasions. But you still need to be able to answer the questions on the test.

So, it’s like, anyone serious about getting to a high level should naturally get to around N2 at some point, whether they use JLPT-focused materials or not, but N1 takes some deliberate cramming.


What are you planning to study at university?

I will study micro engineering at EPFL in Lausanne (Switzerland)

That’s a bit strange that they require N1 to be accepted. I used to work in a major japanese university, and the people from EPFL there didn’t know any japanese at all, which is very common to all science majors. Maybe things have changed, but I find it really strange, because basically there would be no science student able to go into the exchange program otherwise. But if you aim for an N1 you’re not wasting your time anyways.

As far as I read, it’s possible without any Japanese abilities to study in master degree but not in bachelor degree… And I really want to go for my bachelor there because the master degree is thought in English and not in Japanese…

I also looked at exchange programs. Generally, there are exchanges that do not require n1 but those then only allow you to enroll in solely english thought classes. Also as your uni isn’t a english university you would be required to show that you have B2 english.

those lists do not include kanikani. so their kanji learning will be much longer :>

Well I don’t think that the kanji’s are the main problem, but the grammer and vocabulary is…

Everything up to N3 is required to function at a basic level in Japan.

I think you can get by in Japan as a basic speaker without N3. Unless you’re just nitpicking that I didn’t specify “up to and including”. I thought it was obvious from how it continued though.

The point is that you can be advanced without complete N2 knowledge, but not without N3 knowledge.

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At lower than N3, if am sure you could probably get through things, it just wouldn’t be pretty. “I go store now, I hungry.”, etc But the main point is that at N3 you’re certainly not going to be able to handle a fully Japanese university course, even completely ignoring Kanji ability.

Again, it was about necessity, not sufficience.

Do you agree with the statement “someone who is advanced should know everthing in N3”?

And then do you agree with “someone who is advanced should know everything in N2”?

I think it’s possible for someone to be advanced and still be missing parts of N2 knowledge.

I was also imagining the distinction between knowing it and being able to use it, but maybe didn’t articulate that well. Passing N3 doesn’t mean you can use all of N3. But advanced speakers should be able to.

I agree with both statements. And statement two clearly encompasses statement 1. Ignoring the test itself for the moment.

An “advanced” speaker should be approaching their abilities in English, and to be at that level, knowing all of N2 is definitely essential.

We clearly have different ideas of what advanced is, I guess. You can get hired to work in a Japanese environment with N2, and I think those people are expected to be advanced. But you don’t need to have gotten a 100% on N2 to pass it.

Your “advanced” sounds like “near-native” to me.

I know from friends that it’s possible to move up one JLPT level per year with focused study, living in Japan.

I’d say for the first three, especially starting at a young age, you should be able to do the once-a-year track. For N2 and especially N1, I’m not sure. I think N2 is probably doable, but N1 represents a large gulf and it might be reasonable to expect you’d pass it after being in Japan, rather than before.

Though it’s not impossible.

I think this sounds strange, as N1 is not near-native at alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll I think.

What is the difference between “advance” and “near-native” to you @Leebo?

I’m curious about what people with N2 who have failed to get N1 even after trying, but can comfortably read listen and understand what is happening to them in a complete Japanese workspace.

In my experience I have had friend who passed N2 but still get rejected plenty for not having “good enough” Japanese. My feeling now is that N1 is like the basic knowledge needed to start being able to function in business and complete Japanese situations and understand Japanese news and media easily.

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Well, I think Syphus’s definition of “advanced” goes beyond N1 as well, but that’s another point. Since you can pass N1 and still be missing bits and pieces of N2. I wasn’t saying N1 is equal to “near-native”.

There is a LOT of N2 and N1 grammar that you do not ever need to be able to use to function in a Japanese office. That is to say, you can totally get by without knowing it as well as you need to to get a question about it on the test right.