Time investment for audio vs text

What can you reach faster assumed you only study one of them?

Reading/ Writing(no kanji drawing)?

The hypothetical goal would be watching Tv or reading a novel.

No heavy material but also no kids stuff.

For me speaking/listening hands down. I can understand most anime (except for the super poetic or technical stuff) without subtitles, and I can speak most of what I want to say in Japanese as long as it’s not very technical again.

Reading and writing at the same level takes so much more effort IMO due to kanji.


I personally feel like my reading skills advance much more with the same time investment, but that’s probably just because I’m more comfortable with it. It was the same with English, I feel like I’m making no progress in listening or speaking until I’m pretty far into reading.

But I’m sure it’s just the opposite for many people, as pointed out by @Sidcaiyar above. So I guess you can’t really know before trying.

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Pretty sure you could learn speaking much faster, if you focused entirely on it, like some current day advocates do, and some teaching methods from the 60s, 70s and 80s (Audio Lingual Method). Some classes in Japanese were actually taught with separate spoken and written courses, where you would first learn the speaking and then the writing.

Then again, most people actually enjoy both audio and reading, so there are good reasons most curriculums today are comprehensive (ie: include both).

If we would remove kanjis completly from the japanese language and would only use kana.

Would it be equal then?

Reading something written entirely in kana is even worse, you basically have no idea how to parse the text since they don’t use spaces.


Except of course all the obvious word endings and particles.


Isn’t spoken japanese like that? you only hear kana?

Not quite. You can kind of tell words apart through the flow of the speech, and the pitches, I guess. Speaking is not the same as looking at a bunch of hiragana and sounding them out one by one.


The best option to simplify reading is probably to keep the kanji there and just add furigana.

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Are Kanji’s the only thing which multiplies the workload or are there fewer spoken than written words you have to know?

awaiting your text @somewanikani :grin:

Listening is probably the easiest to get started with, because it’s the only one you can really pick up a foundation in by pure osmosis. If you’re like me you’re probably ingesting a lot spoken Japanese in the form of subtitled video, so you’re forming connections without even realizing it. You won’t get fluent this way, not even close, but you can learn a surprising amount without ever making a formal effort to “study” it.

Reading, however, seems by far the easiest to get modestly proficient at once you start actually studying. I think it lends itself better to solo study in ways listening study cannot (a WK for listening comprehension wouldn’t be remotely as useful as it is for reading), and because it’s written word you can ingest it at your own pace, not being subject to someone else’s speaking speed.

So if you’re immersed in a lot of Japanese media, you’ll probably see listening make gains first (I could get the gist of a simple drama CD or unsubbed slice of life anime episode long before I could understand any kanji), but reading quickly overtaking it once you start studying. In less than a year of WK I already feel more competent at reading raw manga than watching raw anime, despite having almost 20 years of anime watching in Japanese under my belt compared to like a year of reading manga in Japanese.

Speaking and writing are vastly more difficult, because even dumb-child-level proficiency requires knowing the language exponentially more intimately than reading or listening does. When someone else is speaking or writing to you, they’ve already done almost all of the work. You’re just (well, “just”, none of this is easy) pulling meaning from what they’ve produced.

At least, this is my impression. I’ve set my Japanese language goals at being able to read, and no further. Writing, listening, and speaking require dramatically different learning methods, all of which are much harder, in my opinion, than how I’m learning to read. I doubt I’ll ever have time for anything beyond reading.


Different people learn different ways…

Except the kanji is what makes it obvious. :slightly_smiling_face:

That is one way, but There’sareasonyoucanreadthisjustfinewithnospacesandit’snotbecauseofkanji the same goes for こんにちはごきげえんようきょうもがんばってよ

If you can’t spot the obvious word boundaries there, the problem is with you and not the lack of Kanji. Did you know the original Tale of Genji manuscript was written in almost all Kana? If what you’re saying is true it would be literally impossible to read.

This has nothing to do with “learning styles” and more to do with “people not knowing the language well enough”

Never said it was illegible or impossible to distinguish words, but you can’t honestly say that “There’sareasonyoucanreadthisjustfinewithnospacesandit’snotbecauseofkanji” isn’t easier to read with the spaces included.

Reading, with furigana, is my strongest skill, and it’s still pretty pathetic given how long I have studied Japanese…

Personally, due to the mental processes involved in approaching the four linguistic skills, I think it would be more appropriate to pair them as follows:

Speaking/Writing (Slower, more difficult*)
Listening/Reading (Faster, less difficult)

As @somewanikani mentioned, speaking and writing require a deeper understanding of the language, as you must not only convert the units of meaning (words) but also reorganize them to properly state what you want to convey.

An aural learner (prioritizes hearing over vision) will probably be able to listen to Japanese most easily. As infants, we first learn language by listening at a very young age but lack the capacity to handle the intrinsic cognitive load of forming language via speech. Listening is also much easier to practice, as Japanese media is very accessible in this internet age. On the other hand, speaking is much more difficult to utilize, as both finding language partners (especially if you’re not in Japan) as well as having the initiative to engage potential partners adds more difficulty to the task.

Visual and kinesthetic leaners will probably find reading Japanese easier to learn quickly. Writing in only kana makes the difficulty of learning tremendously lower, and, unlike the problem mentioned in previous discussions, unless you intend on being a writer, using kana for basic conversations should cause little to no problems for natives with whom you are conversing and relay important information like addresses and names without issue.

Listening and reading will each make the other stronger naturally as the grammar and vocabulary increase, but will have minimal impact on writing and speaking. My opinion is that either listening or reading would come the most naturally depending on your learning style and interests, with listening having a slight edge due to simple phonetic range of Japanese as a language versus the complex writing system of kanji. Speaking would be the most difficult to do well without proper conversation partners, while writing is simply repetition and use which can be performed on one’s own.

TL:DR: Listening > Reading > Writing > Speaking (assuming you’re learning alone). Listening and Reading somewhat exchangeable whether you like reading or watching TV/listening music more and whether you’re an aural or visual/kinesthetic learner.

Not really related, but this kind of reminded me of this:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

The same occurs in music. Professional musics don’t individually read each note on a sheet of paper, especially pianists. The brain learns the distance of the intervals on a staff and begins to form relations, allowing for musicians to glance a grouping of notes and immediately understand what to do. It’s also why sheet music is still a difficult endeavor even for skilled musicians who learned by ear and understand quite a bit of theory(namely guitarists).

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