Trying to Get Fluent In Japanese?

Okay… I might have exaggerated,… however speaking out your mind without any apparent restrictions and reading engineering books aimed for university students is quite an achievement.

just for completeness:

Does anyone know if there are any weekend intensive courses anywhere in america or canada? I’m thinking like 6-8 hours each day or something of the sort to make it worth my travel. Thank you in advance!

I skipped through the video, but it seemed like it was entirely in English…?

I don’t understand why you would pay money for immersion. You can do it all at home with the price of your electrical bill and internet bill.

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You’re going to have to elaborate, unless we just have massive differences in understanding what an immersion program offers.


Anyone mentions AJATT, and everyone will have opinions.

I don’t have much of one, but here’s the main source of my skepticism: I don’t see how nothing but input will result in good output. I really, really don’t. I don’t read or listen as much as I should, I know, but I have a lot of hours of input from Japanese. And my output is shit. In my experience, the only times I have ever improved in that department is when I am actively outputting and receiving feedback from others, which is something that AJATT doesn’t seem to think is necessary at all.

Yeah, that video is all in Engish, but there is another video that he links in the comments of him speaking in Japanese.


Well, AJATT is what I’m getting at. It’s basically free with the cost of time and effort, which you will be putting in if you want to be fluent anyways. Paying thousands of dollars for that seems absurd. Of course if his goal is to speak fluently, no matter what method he takes, or how much money he spends it will take lots and lots of practice to speak naturally.

Did you miss the “quickest” part of the question in the first post?

The quickest way would be immersion from the start, and paying for the immersion seems stupid imo

By that you mean just living in Japan? That doesn’t come with an instructor (and also isn’t free to do). Though it would probably be second fastest if it wasn’t so damn easy to live in Japan with no Japanese.


Nah, anyone can attain fluency anywhere in the world as long as they have the internet and put in the effort, it’s full of a nearly infinite sea of people to talk to, grammar explanations, books, movies, etc… Attaining native level fluency on the other hand I would think takes at least a few years of living in Japan.

We’re talking about the quickest way. No one is doubting you can get there by many different methods.

And I would really not call anything outside of Japan immersion (with the exception of those programs mentioned, where you pay to be surrounded by only Japanese instruction all day). Even living in Japan it’s hard to be immersed, especially if you are here with a job related at all to English. You’d have to be in a Japanese-only speaking company or something doing something unrelated to English, I imagine.

And like you said, that could take years.

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I see… I guess I was thinking about the most efficient way of learning language learning (highest level of fluency with the lowest cost and time)

Yeah, an immersion program is not efficient, from a cost perspective (unless your time is incredibly valuable, and for some business people it might be a good trade-off, who knows)

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When reading bits of this thread to my partner, I posed the OP’s question and he quickly said “Move to Japan”. if it wasn’t obvious he’s never traveled outside the country before, it is obvious now. In my (however brief) travels outside the US, the number of times I silently walked in to a store, up to the counter, and was greeted with “Hello” is infuriating.


“Infuriating” seems a little strong. Like you’re on the verge of apoplexy simply because someone tries to speak with you in your own language.


But what gave me away!? I just look insufficiently French so I don’t get any language immersion.

Edit: I’m also trusting that my hyperbole is obvious there.

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I would say let go of the thought “quickest”. Language learning is a marathon, not a sprint race. You don’t want to burn yourself out a few steps from the starting line.

It also depends on your definition of fluent. If fluent = “can express yourself and understand other people in most everyday contexts including telling your opinions and giving reasons for them”, then 3-4 years could be enough. Even 1,5 could be, if you’re able to spend the entire time in Japanese environment. Also, work through textbooks such as GENKI, watch nihongo no mori and listen to NHK Easy News.

However if fluent = “speaks, writes, reads and understands speech like a native Japanese person”, well… 15 - 20 years. (I think the real range might be even more broad, because people study at different paces and small advantages and disadvantages start to have cumulative effects. A genius or just someone really obsessed could do it in 12 years I guess.)

Also, at this point the usual advice of GENKI, nihongo no mori and NHK Easy is not enough. Not even close. Do you like reading? Well you better learn to love to, because the only way to shrink that gap that has been widening between you and native speakers ever since they were born is to soak your brain in linguistic and cultural information. That means read read read. The Japanese read on average 12-13 books a year and that’s what you should be aiming for as well.

It’s not only for comprehension practice and strengthening grammar practice (though that’s important as well). A language is full of idioms and phrases that mean something else than their individual words, and the only way I can think of to master that is by reading a lot.

At the moment I think I’m starting to be a mid-level student or at least not a real beginner anymore. I can ask or say something about most everyday topics without having to use another language. It’s not pretty and sometimes it’s really broken, but it’s possible. But I already know what my main source of awkwardness shall be for years to come: idioms.

For example in English we have “silence is golden”. So simple and easy to understand nobody thinks twice about it, right? Well if you try to translate that directly into another language and say 沈黙は金 for example, it could come out right but most likely not. It will probably sound like someone saying “de-speaking is metallic” or whatever and no one knows what that means.

But really, you’re level 1 now. Focus on the basics. Build yourself a firm foundation or you’ll give up long before you’ll worry about this stuff.


As for the quickest way to become fluent. Probably you’ll hear about AJATT, which in this community is a topic that gets lots of people quickly typing back against it, specially after one of the main voices on AJATT did a video comparing kanji learning using the prefered AJATT method vs others as WK.

Whatever impression about AJATT you get, I think the core point on this way of getting fluent really fast (as compared to the 15-20 years I’m reading was mentioned) is immersion (plain and simple, not attached to any other name). Basically strive to consume native media as soon as possible making it part of your everyday routine. The training wheels of textbook drillings, dumbed down dialogues and english explanations in learners material won’t never leave you up and ready to get into real native media. So you might as well start gaging yourself how far you are from the ACTUAL goal right from the start, so no dissapointment strikes you when exposed to real material after studying for years.

You might check


As those are good resources to actually help you to start immersing (I think the AJATT related material is a great source also, whether you follow exactly that method or not)

PS: Probably the better advice would be to learn who’s advice you can trust. Search for people you see have a good level that you aspire to (check with japanese people to judge any foreigner’s ability if needed), and follow that advice the first.
So, all in all don’t trust blindly my advise either. Check before you spend a large amount of time trying to learn a language that’s famous for the difficulty level. Hey, spend a moonth or two seeking for a method if needed :wink:
** Consider the time any particular method demands also. I think that’s a big untold issue in most methods, and could very much be the first point to have into account.

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