What level should you start to practice speaking/conversation?

Topic says it all :slight_smile:

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Advice I always see given is the sooner the better. Even if you aren’t able to say much, you should learn pretty fast, especially if you’re lucky enough to work with patient people :slight_smile:


If by “level” you mean “level on WaniKani,” I would say that there shouldn’t be any direct relationship between WaniKani and speaking. WaniKani teaches reading, so it’s just something different entirely. There are even some people here who are native speakers who grew up outside of Japan, so they’re here just to learn to read the kanji.


This is it! My speaking is pretty first class but dammit if I can read. My kanji is so trash LOL

Talking wanikani levels. Start trying to speak from Level 1 my dude


Exactly this. No matter how much you can read or write, if you don’t learn audio-only factors of Japanese like pitch, you’ll have a rough start trying to talk with people. A large amount of hiragana homophones are not actually the same, but you won’t get that purely off of learning kanji (although it will help).

I won’t even get started on grammar. :rofl:


I’m level 31 now and still can’t even hold a basic conversation. Your Wanikani level means nothing in terms of your Japanese ability outside of kanji. Right now I will say that I’m getting pretty good at reading even if I’m a disaster at understanding the spoken language. My primary goal is being able to read well so that’s fine with me. What I’m trying to get at is if you want to be able to speak Japanese, start practicing to speak now. That is assuming you have the grammar to be able to form at least basic Japanese sentences. If you don’t, pick up a textbook and get through a few chapters and you should have enough knowledge to at least start.


As someone new to both I have been enjoying the way that my WaniKani lessons help with my other studies. For example when I reached a lesson on telling time/asking the time not long after learning “now,” “noon,” “part/minute” and “half” on WaniKani, it was a piece of cake (not to mention already being able to read half the lesson in Kanji).

The answer is always “as soon as possible,” really. You have nothing to lose by practicing now.


I’m always shy about speaking as well, in large part because I feel like I’m somehow wasting their time or imposing. I have gotten around that by paying a tutor on italki. I’m sure I could find a conversation partner for language exchange for free, but something about that compensation makes me feel more open to making mistakes.

I’ll come in with the probably unpopular opinion.

I on the other hand don’t think “as soon as possible” is the right answer. If you barely have the vocabulary and grammar to say more than a few things, you’re not really conversing thus there isn’t much to practice saying other than the one or two things you know. I personally don’t think this is the most efficient use of your time.

Maybe when you have enough basic grammar and vocabulary, then you can try to start simple conversation, say around the end of Genki 1.

Then again, this is my personal opinion, the only way to tell is to try speaking a few times (because the first time will always be rubbish) and see how you feel… I certainly wouldn’t make it my focus in the beginning though.


It’s the one that works for you. I think one of the biggest keys to language learning is figuring out what works, and ignoring anyone who thinks they know better. You do you, man!


I’ve thought that too, since I do feel pressured to know /something/, but even from polyglots who are learning a new language for the first time recommend it. One of them said to make a script, and plan out beforehand, but only look at it if you absolutely need to.

Another documented it on YT. It’s “Japanese In a Year” and he showed his whole process. You could really see him struggle, but it was amazing at just how fast he picked things up from that. :o

I’m not saying you’re wrong though, just thought I mention these guys since I felt similar to you. (I honestly haven’t started speaking practice aside from talking to myself since I’m too anxious to practice with strangers, haha.) Definitely do whatever works for you. :slight_smile:

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When I started learning Japanese I got a tutor, outside of normal studying, to help me for one hour a week and she would only speak in Japanese during the hour. It was difficult at first but after a few weeks it gets easier to understand and you can say a few things. I think this is a good approach because you are not having full conversations where you are limited to your vocabulary, but you are able to slowly learn more things to say and over time have a conversation.

This may be difficult depending on where you live though. I was in New York City so it was easy to find someone from Japan.


The real answer is whenever you want. It also depends on your goals. If you are going to Japan soon / really want to chat with ppl on hellotalk or something / are required to speak as part of a class you are taking/ etc you might want to start putting time in to speaking practice.

But something to think about (I don’t know how I feel about this but it seems to make sense):

I have heard a lot of people (teachers, successful japanese learners, youtube dudes) say a version of the following,

Your speaking level with fairly little practice will approach your LISTENING comprehension level. This is in contrast to your reading comprehension level. The basic idea being that you certainly cannot produce speech that you would not be able to understand if it was spoken to you.

So one thing that makes sense is that you cannot “learn” how to speak natural japanese by making up lots of Japanese sentences and trying to say them and practicing speaking that way. People also point out that if you try and do that you can build alot of bad habits since you will be saying things that a native speaker will understand (even though its sounds wierd and no native speaker would ever say it that way) and since you are understood you just keep doing these things that sound crappy and then later on its hard to break those habits.
So what folks recommend is that if you practice your listening comprehension and get to the point that you can understand basic everyday conversations at speed (on tv, anime, podcasts, etc) you will then, if put in similar situations, be able with very little practice to reproduce that speech. With the benifit that you are speaking more naturally since you are mimicking things that Japanese ppl actually say.

Again i’m just passing on advice that I have heard numerous times.

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