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How long would it take to learn the Japanese language fluently?

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OK. So here's the scoop.

Hello! You're in the same position that I was a few years back.

As of this point, I've studied Japanese for 4 years at the college level. Although I'm not fluent, I'd like to think I'm pretty close. I'm at the point where I could carry on a conversation for many hours without a problem. However, reading a science textbook would still be impossible :0

I started out thinking that I would self-teach myself through the internet and this language learning software I bought... big mistake! To stay on focus for self-teaching, you definitely need some sort of plan to follow, so internet learning is not the key. Also, I've yet to meet any decent Japanese come from someone who has learned from computer software.

What I've found to be the best textbook money can buy is called Genki. This textbook was written by two Japanese language as well as a native English speaker. It covers all the corners: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I'd recommend buying the textbook, workbook, and CDs to get the full use out of the program. After finishing Genki I, there is also Genki II and "An Intermediate Course in Elementary Japanese" all published my the company "Japan Times."

However, if you decide to self-study, you need to find some serious motivation. You also need to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible, as you won't be practicing in class. I recommend finding Japanese people in your area, or watching Japanese TV Drama on the internet. I DON'T recommend watching anime for learning Japanese though. Often, the stuff spoken in anime is ONLY spoken in anime. Also, learning from music is a bad idea... lyrics are often poetic and don't use every day language.

I also recommend find a class at least after 2 years of study. I did this, and found my speaking skills were far worse than my classmates as I didn't have daily practice. I had tried speaking Japanese to myself whenever possible, but that just can't match learning to speak with other people. I tested into intermediate Japanese at the University of Minnesota. I bit of a drive, but definitely worth it.

I actually recommend self-study for the first bit of time. Learning to speak through CDs and TV dramas may not teach you to respond quickly in speaking terms, but you won't learn the bad pronunciation of your beginning Japanese classmates. Due to this (I believe) I've been told that my Japanese pronunciation is spot-on... so much that I'd be mistaken as Japanese on the phone.


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