What resources should I use to reach fluency?

So, I’m going to Japan as an exchange student in a little more than a year, and I would like to reach fluency or close to fluency before that. What resources should I use, and how much should I study daily?

A user on Reddit made an extremely detailed guide on learning Japanese, especially for people who have time constraints, however even people who just want to learn the language in general without time constraints will benefit a lot from reading this. I come back to this guide now and then to look up new resources and adjust my routines and study resources. A Year to Learn Japanese


Depending on what you mean by fluency, you may be attempting to do something close to impossible, however if you want to reach a level of being able to survive and maybe thrive in most situations you come across in Japan, that’s very possible.
First off you will probably want to keep using Wanikani for the duration, and you probably already know hiragana and katakana, and training those will help with reading a bit faster down the line.
Then it’s a good idea to get started on learning some grammar. I used Genki 1, 2 and Tobira, but there are a lot of different ones.
When you start getting some understanding, definitely make the transition to using Japanese media like tv shows, films, books, games or whatever else you enjoy in your spare time, that also exists in Japanese.
As for time to study, if you want to get very comfortable in Japanese in a little more than a year, a couple of hours a day at least would probably be a place to start, though the amount of study time can be adjusted over time depending on how you feel it’s working. It’s important to keep motivation in check.
Sounds like a great opportunity, to study abroad in Japan. Best of luck with it!


How good is your Japanese now?

Aim to get a good solid base instead of fluency.
Learn all of JLPT N5 content.
Learn past, present, ing forms
Learn casual and masu forms
Learn some adj
Learn some very simple formal words so you can understand what shop staff are asking you.
If you are up for a challenge, learn Minna no nihongo 2 or genki 2
Remember to listen a lot. Immersion will help ypu for the long term goal but doesn’t work over night
As mich wanikani as you can fit in.

Know that fluent in whatever months is impossible but it is fun to try.
I study about 4 hours a day (I have time right now.)
Learned the basics in about 3 years.
Studying for about 3 and a half years now

You’re smarter than me.
Go for it.
Most importantly, enjoy the ride.


Thank you. I’m very aware that this is close to impossible and it’s a very intimidating language. Learning enough to thrive in every situation is probably going to be easier, but I mean nothing wrong in challenging myself :D. I’ll check out Tobira and Genki. Thanks again!

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I know very little, I know katakana and hiragana and a little kanji.

Thank you, this looks like a nice plan to follow.

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I read a little bit of it, it’s too much for me to read in one sitting right now (kinda busy right now lol)
I will definitely read all of this and try to follow it. It looks very good, Thanks a lot!


And of course ask us questions and record your process.
I’m nosey.

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I could recommend checking out Japanese from zero on YouTube with j. Trombley. The explanations are a bit too casual at times, but it’s fun to watch, so you are not that likely do drop out. Once you are done with it, and you are about lvl30 on wk you could try playing some video games, preferably rpgs. That’s my plan at least.


I also reccomend Japanese From Zero series. Good videos to get you started.


Ultimately it depends on what you find engaging.

For me, one of the core elements to the language is learning the forms of verbs and adjectives. If you haven’t seen this tool, I’d recommend putting some time aside every day to practice, starting with present, past, negative and negative past verbs and adjectives.

If you can fire those off in your brain immediately with no thought, you are in a very good place, especially as knowing the past form of verbs means you essentially also know the て form.

Once you have mastered that and other N5 grammar, you should be able to speak in broken Japanese, which is powerful! You’ve got more options then, like you could get a Japanese teacher on iTalki, even one that doesn’t speak any English at all (just be prepared to make lots of mistakes and to learn from them).


Like others have mentioned in this thread fluency is sort of subjective, and can mean different things. There’s people who feel that they are fluent in a language if they know some set phrases that can be used in most day to day situations, there’s people who feel that basic grammar and vocabulary is enough to be fluent, others feel that if you’re not able to talk about politics, or how to economic climate is nowadays, you’re not fluent.

The latter takes years to achieve, the middle one is probably doable in a year. What I’d recommend is learning basic grammar ( whatever resource you like - Genki I & II, Minna no nihongo, Tae Kim’s guide ), learning most common Kanji ( I’d say about lvl 20~ish on Wanikani ) and some of the most common words ( between 1k-2k ). At that point you’re around an N4 level, and that’s enough to survive in Japan :). Keep in mind that it would be important to train Listening and Speaking skills as well ( you could try watching shows w/o subtitles, podcasts, etc for listening practice and shadowing for speaking ). I’d say that watching shows with JP subtitles is a bit too close to reading to consider listening practice, but it’s still decent practice.

After that point, I’d just consume native content and make flashcards, while also using some other resources for various language aspects. I’ve seen the most improvement this way over just plain textbooks. It also makes Wanikani easier :wink: and it’s a lot of fun. I recommend skimming through https://refold.la/roadmap/ since it details a very effective strategy to language learning through immersion ( called AJATT on other parts of the internet )

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Thanks a lot! This is some very great advice and I’ll check out all of the resources you listed. I appreciate it!

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I’ll definitely check this out right away.
Thank you, I appreciate it.

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I sure will! :smile:

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