Part 1: Attitude towards learning Japanese

(3rd May 2022: Amended with inputs from friends)

Hi all,

I am writing a series of posts on how to succeed in Japanese language learning. Part 1 is on our attitude towards learning Japanese. As some of you may know, this is my 15th year teaching Japanese. I have seen many students, those who are really serious in learning Japanese and those who treats Japanese language learning like a visit to the cinema once every month.

To succeed in learning Japanese, I strongly believe in putting in at least 8 hours a week to study, just like how I am studying psychology. The experts suggest that 100 hours of revision to be put in for each level of Japanese. My take is the following:

Beginner/JLPT N5 level: 250-300 hours
Intermediate/JLPT N4 level: 250-300 hours
Pre-Advanced/JLPT N3 level: 200-250 hours
Advanced 1/JLPT N2 level: 200-250 hours
Advanced 2/JLPT N1 level: 200-250 hours

Take my recommendations with a pinch of salt. I am merely stating a fact based on past experiences of my students and Japanese learners that I have encountered.

Here are some other recommendations by other writers: here , here, and here

Personally, I have seen students who revise at least 8 hours of study time and students who revise 1-2 hours a week. The difference is very big. Those who revise 1-2 hours of study time a week will usually get about 50-60 marks for their in house tests or JLPT exam, whereas those who revise at least 8 hours will get around 80-90 marks.

We also conducted a survey in our classes, asking students, how much time they are revising per week and in their opinion, what is the recommended amount of time to study per week. The results are listed below:

The level of understanding would also differ a lot for these 2 groups of students. In psychology, psychologists always run experiments to see differences between 2 groups of people. Although I don’t run them, through my observations over the years, those that put in 8 hours of study time are likely to understand passages and conversations better.

Apart from learning the language, I also recommend you to expose yourself to various Japanese culture. The following is a good book to understand more about Japanese people.

English version

Japanese version

It is regrettable that I only found out how to study properly after I started learning Japanese. My advice for all: if you wish to learn Japanese, please do it with a right attitude and be willing to put in the effort.

For those who find it hard to commit 8 hours to study, perhaps a good way is to get yourself exposed to some Japanese dramas, TV shows or music. You can find a lot of them on Youtube or Netflix. You can set some realistic goals to achieve 8 hours of study time a week.

Good luck to all who are learning Japanese.


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