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In what order should I learn Japanese?


Learning a new language can be challenging, especially when it comes to Japanese, which has a unique writing system and grammar rules. To make the learning process more manageable, it’s essential to understand the order in which you should learn Japanese. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to approach Japanese language learning.

Start with Hiragana and Katakana

The first step in learning Japanese is to start with the two syllabaries, Hiragana and Katakana. These are the basic building blocks of the language and are used for writing Japanese words that do not have Kanji characters. Hiragana and Katakana are relatively easy to learn compared to Kanji, and they help you read and write basic Japanese sentences.

Japanese Snack Box

Learn Basic Japanese Vocabulary

After mastering Hiragana and Katakana, the next step is to learn basic Japanese vocabulary. Focus on learning everyday words and phrases that you can use in daily conversations. Start with simple greetings, numbers, colors, food items, family members, and so on. This will help you build a solid foundation for further language learning.

Study Japanese Grammar Rules

Japanese grammar rules can be complex and different from English grammar rules. However, it’s crucial to learn them to communicate effectively in Japanese. Start by understanding basic sentence structure, verb conjugation, particles, and adjectives. You can use textbooks or online resources for learning grammar.

Get Familiar with Kanji Characters

Kanji is an essential part of the Japanese language and consists of thousands of characters. Learning all of them can be overwhelming but start with the most commonly used ones first. Focus on learning Kanji characters that are used in everyday conversations and written materials such as newspapers or magazines.

Practice Listening and Speaking

Practice listening and speaking as much as possible to improve your speaking skills. Start with simple conversations with native speakers or language exchange partners. It’s also helpful to watch Japanese movies or TV shows with subtitles to get used to the sound of the language.

Use Language Learning Apps

Language learning apps can be an excellent tool for practicing Japanese anytime and anywhere. Apps like Duolingo, Memrise, or Rosetta Stone offer interactive lessons that cover vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking skills.

Read Children’s Books or Manga

Reading children’s books or manga is an excellent way to improve your reading skills while enjoying a good story. Start with simple stories that use basic vocabulary and grammar structures before moving on to more complex materials.

Attend Japanese Language Classes

If you prefer a more structured approach to learning Japanese, consider attending language classes. Many universities or language schools offer beginner-level courses that cover all aspects of the language.

Immerse Yourself in Japanese Culture

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture by watching Japanese movies or TV shows, listening to J-pop music or attending cultural events. This will help you understand the nuances of the language better and appreciate Japan’s rich cultural history.

Practice Writing in Japanese

To improve your writing skills in Japanese, practice writing short essays or journal entries using new vocabulary and grammar structures you’ve learned. You can also find online writing communities where you can get feedback on your writing from native speakers.

Take JLPT Exams

The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is a standardized test that measures proficiency in the Japanese language. Taking JLPT exams can motivate you to study harder and give you a clear idea of your level of proficiency in the language.


Learning Japanese takes time and effort but following a structured approach can make it more manageable. Starting with Hiragana and Katakana, focusing on basic vocabulary and grammar rules, getting familiar with Kanji characters, practicing listening and speaking skills are some of the essential steps in learning Japanese. Using language learning apps, attending classes, immersing yourself in Japanese culture are other ways to improve your language skills.

Which Japanese language should I learn first?

Hiragana is one of the three Japanese writing systems, and it is the one that beginners should focus on first. Learning to read hiragana is essential for accessing many Japanese learning materials, and it is usually the first topic taught in a traditional classroom setting.

Should I learn Japanese or kanji first?

The recommended order for learning Japanese writing systems is Hiragana first, followed by Katakana, and then Kanji. While you can mix it up, it’s important to focus on mastering Hiragana before delving into the others.

Does it take 1 year to learn Japanese?

Learning Japanese is particularly challenging for native English speakers. However, if your goal is to communicate in casual Japanese and make friends in Japan, one can achieve this in less than a year without needing to learn hiragana and katakana.

Is 3 months enough to learn Japanese?

On average, it takes several months of consistent studying and practicing Japanese for about 30-60 minutes a day to attain conversational fluency. With this level of dedication, one could achieve this level of proficiency in about 3 months.

Does it take 2 years to learn Japanese?

It typically takes 2-3 years to become proficient in advanced Japanese. At the intermediate level, you can comprehend most of what your instructor says and follow along with TV shows. However, when communicating with Japanese speakers, there may still be some limitations.

Is 30 too late to learn Japanese?

Is it too late for me to learn Japanese in Japan if I’m over 30 years old? There has been a misconception that it’s no longer possible to do so, but this is not true. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams of learning the Japanese language.

Join Language Exchange Programs

Language exchange programs are a great way to practice your Japanese skills with native speakers. These programs allow you to connect with Japanese speakers who want to learn your native language in exchange for teaching you Japanese. You can find language exchange programs online or through local language schools or universities.

Travel to Japan

Traveling to Japan is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the language and culture. Being surrounded by the language on a daily basis can help you improve your listening and speaking skills. You can also practice reading and writing Japanese by reading signs, menus, and other written materials. Additionally, you can attend language classes or participate in cultural activities while in Japan.

Use Flashcards to Memorize Vocabulary

Flashcards are a useful tool for memorizing vocabulary in any language, including Japanese. Create flashcards with new words and phrases that you want to learn and review them regularly. You can also use flashcard apps like Anki or Quizlet that come with pre-made Japanese vocabulary decks.

Find a Japanese Language Partner

Finding a Japanese language partner is another way to practice speaking and listening skills. You can find a language partner online through language learning apps, social media platforms, or language exchange websites. Alternatively, you can find a local language partner through community groups or language schools.

Use Japanese Language Learning Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to improve your listening skills while learning new vocabulary and grammar structures. There are many Japanese language learning podcasts available online that cover various topics such as culture, current events, or everyday conversations.

Watch Japanese TV Shows and Movies without Subtitles

Watching Japanese TV shows and movies without subtitles is an excellent way to improve your listening skills and pick up new vocabulary and expressions. Although it may be challenging at first, it helps train your ears to understand spoken Japanese more naturally.

Get a Japanese Language Tutor

If you prefer one-on-one instruction, consider hiring a Japanese language tutor. A tutor can provide personalized instruction tailored to your needs and level of proficiency. You can find tutors online through tutoring websites or local language schools.

Stay Motivated

Finally, staying motivated is essential when learning any new skill, including Japanese. Set achievable goals for yourself, celebrate small successes along the way, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes. Remember that learning a language takes time and effort but is also a rewarding experience that opens up new opportunities for personal growth and development.

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