Trying to Get Fluent In Japanese?

What is the quickest way to get fluent in Japanese?

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Go to a Japanese language school and fully immerse yourself in the language and culture for several years.

However if you don’t have thousands of dollars to make that happen, my advice is to never give up. Keep trying different textbooks and apps until you find the ones that work for you. Find some Japanese native speakers that are willing to help you. Listen to nothing but Japanese music and podcasts during your idle time and watch nothing but Japanese news and slice of life dramas on TV. Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t be afraid to take breaks but always try to come back as soon as possible.


There are intensive immersion programs that cost thousands of dollars a week. I guess that would be the fastest way.


I mean, the quickest way? Treat it like a full-time job. Get a tutor who speaks fluent Japanese, run through a grammar book, use anki to learn a great deal of vocabulary, learn kanji from a source that gives it faster to you than WaniKani, since you’re gonna be spending 3 or 4 hours a day on it. Once you’ve hit a wall after completing the grammar books, go to Japan and enroll in a language school.

Realistically for a person who doesn’t have 8+ hours a day and financial independence? Grammar books, anki decks, and a lot of perseverance. Eventually you’ll hit a point where you’ll need immersion to progress, at which point you either consume a ton of Japanese media or you move to Japan.

Unless you’re a language prodigy, it’ll take years, regardless. There aren’t too many major pitfalls other than burnout, so the most important thing is to keep studying.


Actually, now that I think about it, the fastest way as an american would probably be to enroll in the Air Force, do very well on the placement exam that all military members take before getting their assignment, and hope to high hell you’re able to get a position that requires Japanese.


I did one of those in college and it was the best thing ever but it did cost me about $8,000 for just 3 months of being in Japan. I learned an unbelievable amount of Japanese during that time but it was not cost efficient :joy:

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The language school I went to in America (my classes were typical 6-8 student night classes) offered a program where you could be in class for 8 hours a day with just you and 4 Japanese teachers. It was about $1500 per week. Kinda wish I could see what somone could accomplish with that.

I dunno about not cost-efficient - I went for a holiday for just two weeks last December, and it cost me a bit over $2000 US. Scale that to three months, and it comes out to $12,000.

Not completely sure that it is scalable, mind. That includes buying souvenirs and eating out for every meal…

What can you do with 4 Japanese teachers that you can’t with 1? oO




Have richer conversations (of which you can be an observer as well), they can take turns, etc.

I don’t know if being with one person can really count as immersion.

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I think it kind of depends how you define “fluent”

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That’s an interesting conversation, but in this case, I think it just determines where the finish line is, but I still think the ways that are considered the “quickest” will get you to that finish line quickest no matter which finish line you choose.

That’s true, I suppose. Maybe it was my own misconception…but prior to reading that article (actually, it was a different one that I can’t right now) my idea of fluency included reading and writing (and speaking/listening, of course). In that sense, WK made a lot of sense because it taught me kanji way faster than any other method that I’d tried, but really, meant I didn’t progress at all in listening/speaking because I spent all my time on WK (and a little grammar).

Anyway, my point was mainly that you have to know your goals before you try to find the fastest way there…

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Well, yeah, this is a bit like asking, “What’s the fastest way to buy a book” and the answer being “Well, if you have a rocket, you can get to the bookstore in a few seconds.” I don’t think anyone expects him to be spending thousands of dollars on an immersion program, and maybe it’ll be a good incentive to think about what he really wants to ask.


Suck at conversing in Japanese 4 times as hard


Oh yeah it’s definitely cheaper to be there for a longer time because I was able to cook and I wasn’t buying souvenirs all the time, It’s probably easier on most people to spend $20-$50 a month on lessons than it is to give up all that money up front. It’s a cost-benefit analysis of how fast you really wanna learn Japanese though, if I could get that kind of money together again and quit my job I’d go back to that language school in a heartbeat, it’s just really hard to do without student loans.

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I haven’t done this with Japanese (Ironically since I’m married to a Japanese woman and have lived with her family on occasion) but I have entered immersion programs in the past for French and Spanish, and I can attest that they were incredible boosts to achieving some degree of fluency.

I went into the Spanish one, which was about 3 months in a town in Mexico, having studied Spanish for several years before but never being exactly fluent, and I left being able to hold conversations without having to think about each word. (Not saying I’m anywhere near native-level, but I can get by.)

The French one was six weeks in a town in Quebec, and I went in with zero French. I came out with maybe not fluency, but at least the ability to communicate, which felt amazing.

So yes, if anyone has the opportunity to go to an immersion program, I’d highly recommend it.

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Since no one knows what fluency is, this question is very tricky. The only way to learn how to speak a language is by speaking the language itself. Study itself is a preparation or support for that goal: you could study all live and never achieve that, or you could speak without study and eventually become fluent.

If you want fluency closed to native level I would recommend you the AJATT method (18 months and you achieve the understanding and spelling of a native), however that method is very extreme and definitely not for everyone (also not much compatible with wanikani)