This guy says you can become fluent in Japanese in 6 months

Hello Everyone

So I started studying Japanese this year. I started with Tofugu’s guide, I learn’t Hiragana, I learnt some Katakana, and now I’m here on WaniKani learning kanji. So far I don’t know much grammar, but I’m not stressed because Tofugu’s guide says the best time to start learning grammar is at level 10 on WaniKani, then my grammar studies won’t be hampered by my lack of kanji knowledge.

But this morning I found this video:

The video seems to be making some good points, but I’m curious if any of you have any experience with the methods that Chris Lonsdale is describing here? If he is correct, then I could have been fluent in Japanese buy now, because I started studying in June. However, it seems a little, too good to be true.


I watched that video a long time ago, I believe, but when people make these claims you always have to ask what they mean by “fluent.” It’s a term that is used very loosely, and most marketing blurbs that advertise reaching fluency prey on the fact that most people think of fluency as a very high level of proficiency, while the resource in question might just define it as being able to have daily topic conversations.

Not saying he’s doing that, but it just comes to mind when discussing this kind of thing.


Oh, I understand. I’m not sure how this video defines the fluency that it is referring to. But, I’m still curious to find out if there is anyone here who has had any success with the methods that this video discusses.

Rewatching it, and 2 minutes in and he says he got to “native” level in Chinese in a little more than 6 months.

I’ll try to keep my eyes from rolling out of my head for the rest of it.


Okay, finished rewatching. He makes a lot of points that are definitely useful to people, but there’s really no substance to any of the time claims. No elaboration on what the levels of proficiency actually mean. Even “native” is vague. He can’t possibly mean that his Chinese is indistinguishable from a native, right (well, after 30 years, who knows, but back then when it was like a year or whatever)? That’s what I think people are going to assume when they hear “native.” It’s hard to guess what he actually means in quantifiable terms.

So, sure, by all means, keep a lot of the things he says in mind. Speaking is a physical activity. Focus on content that is not too far above your level.

But his details are all fuzzy.


Talking about native fluency while behind unable to read sounds off for me, especialy knowing that written language is usually quite more complex than the spoken side. Plus he doesn’t speak a word of Chinese during the talk, so I have a hard time believing him.


Can confirm, I was able to read Japanese novels at a decent speed after 7 months of studying. Trust me, my dad works at Nintendo.


Even if he spoke now, he’s talking about how good he was 30 years ago, so we can never verify the claim.

Unless he’s just shit now, then obviously he was shit then too, I guess.

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Seriously!? Your dad works at Nintendo, could he get me a job there? I’d love to work at Nintendo.


The process of learning a new language has been quite interesting for me. I’ve made piece with the fact that it’s going to take quite a while before I can actually, understand, and speak Japanese. However I’d like to progress faster if possible, so I’m always curious when someone says they figured out how to learn language’s fast.

I suppose the best I can hope for is to find more efficient ways of language learning, that I didn’t know about before, not some special new method that throws everything else aside.

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The talk could be useful for someone who’s approaching language learning for the first time.
He’s not saying anything new that anybody (who is not a noob on language learning) already know basically. Of course, you want to learn those 20% most common words that are used 80% of the time. Of course, you gotta get the “brain soaked” by doing a lot of listening (and at this point here he’s also contraddicting himself with his previous statement that you “don’t need immersion”… mmh).

Also, he says you should get a partner that is interested in you like your parents when you were a child. This only task could very easily take more than 6 months imho.


My friend went to Japan recently with one of his mates, and he kept going on about how this guy learned Japanese just from watching Anime for a few months. I tell him its impossible, if he can speak Japanese then he did a lot more than just watch Anime, full stop.

I say to him “I’ve watched thousands of anime, literally, for over a decade, and I didn’t learn more than a few words until I started actually studying it” and his response, which feels like an insult to me, “yeah but this guy is really clever”.

But he keeps insisting. I’m pretty sure his definition of speaking Japanese is then being able to say a few words such as hello, thank you, etc.

Point is, the definition of being able to speak a language, and in particular, the timeframe it takes to achieve it, varies to a point where any claims lose all credibility the moment they’re spoken.


Being fluent just by anime must be quite a sight…


Maybe there are some people that can learn Japanese in 6 months. That certainly wouldn’t be me!
When I moved to Switzerland I had a reasonable amount of German already but was far from fluent. After being there for 6-9 months my German had improved massively and I was functionally fluent. However, even after 15 years is was still not close to a native German speaker.


Fluency isn’t a definitive term. If you pick up the most basic language book and learn how to speak the language particularly well up to that level you still have reached some level of fluency. If you can order food in restaurants, go shopping, buy train tickets, and carry out small talk easily, you too have reached a level of fluency. I’d say a lot of that can be done in 6 months. But you’re not getting native level in 6 months without some matrix type plug that is shoved into the back of your head. Even your native tongue took more than 6 months of darn near 24 hour exposure to get to where you are.


Like @Leebo says, I would like to have more information on the intensity of the learning and how learning is measured at different stages. The thing with TED talks is that there’s usually little time for the science behind it (it’s kind of written for the masses, I guess).

I also don’t quite agree with the claim that immersion doesn’t help: my English girlfriend met my family a couple of years ago, in my home country, and one morning I woke up late and my mum and her were chatting in the kitchen in my mum’s tongue. I listened for a while. It was basic, but very effective conversation. This happened after my partner had been there for just over a week, with no one around but me to speak with her in English.

I went to Japan about six months ago (again, with the gf), and the first time we went out for dinner a group of slightly drunk, but very friendly salarymen the table next to ours started chatting. My Japanese came out “magnificently” (not really, but a lot better than I expected). I had very basic Japanese only, but they were willing to wait until I finished what I was saying, and also to take the time to speak slowly. There was also A LOT of body language. I guess that is what Chris Lonsdale means in his talk by language “Language Parent”.

But hey, that guy is a scientist in the field and I’m a mere mortal down here with my anecdotal evidence, so I’m sure he has backing for his claims :slight_smile:



impressive japanese, right out of my anime. i’m fluent now, because /r/iamverysmart

seen/heard these same claims so often, it doesn’t even amuse me enough anymore to get me through the work day.


you forgot やめてください




well, I have a friend who watched spanish TV shows for four months when he was 16 years old and afterwards he could speak spanish really good, just from those shows…
I would not believe it if I wasn’t there during this time.
spanish is a lot easy than japanese, but still, there are people who are just good with languge

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