Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?

Gary-T1 January 4, 2011, 3:07 am
Hi there,

I have just typed this topic into google and a lot of people say you will never be very fluent unless you live in Japan for many years........very discouraging.

I have tried many programs over the years and have fully understood them all but still only understand very little when watching a Japanese Movie or listening to a song?

I have recently been made redundant and have took the opportunity to learn how to read and write hiragana and katakana.....which i found to be very easy using whiterabbit flashcards.

I have now moved onto Kanji and have found that more difficult.

Most things i have learned in my life eventually come to me but Japanese language learning is not happening quick enough for me.

I think need some encouragement or i think i will never learn this.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
2679 January 4, 2011, 9:39 am
konnichiwa !

Well, all language learning takes time, don't imagine that you buy something to help you learn and in the blink of an eye you know that language. Any new language takes at least couple of years to master (only if you keep up with it, or else it will take longer).

Just follow these courses as they are and supplement them with Japanese TV, anime and manga. Trust me, a lot of watching and reading really helps. I personally, have been studying with the help of Rocket Japanese for about 4 months now and I can say that I understand about 30 to 50 percent of what it is said (50% is a rare case, but it's really encouraging).

About kanji it is true that it take time to master them. I'm not in a better position with them either, but I'll keep up with the courses and maybe use other sources as well...Read More
konnichiwa !

Well, all language learning takes time, don't imagine that you buy something to help you learn and in the blink of an eye you know that language. Any new language takes at least couple of years to master (only if you keep up with it, or else it will take longer).

Just follow these courses as they are and supplement them with Japanese TV, anime and manga. Trust me, a lot of watching and reading really helps. I personally, have been studying with the help of Rocket Japanese for about 4 months now and I can say that I understand about 30 to 50 percent of what it is said (50% is a rare case, but it's really encouraging).

About kanji it is true that it take time to master them. I'm not in a better position with them either, but I'll keep up with the courses and maybe use other sources as well. At first I didn't like them, but now I realized that they are essential for understanding Japanese.

それでは、がんばってね!
コッド
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Gary-T1 January 4, 2011, 4:52 pm
Hello,

I have been learning Japanese for years but its a bit hard to fit it in when you work 12 hours a day.

Now that i have some free time in my hands i will put in the extra time and effort.

Thanks for your reply.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Sayaka-Matsuura January 11, 2011, 12:22 am
Gary-san,

Some years ago, I met a fluent-Japanese speaker in America. I assumed he had lived in Japan - but turns out he had never been there!! However, his passion for Japan and Japanese language was quite intense and he had Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji charts on his toilet walls. He also explained that he found Japanese-speaking friends on-line to chat to and even pen-pal's to practice the writing. I'm sure that it is POSSIBLE for a westerner to become fluent. And Rocket Japanese is a tool to get you closer to that goal!

-Sayaka
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Gary-T1 January 11, 2011, 12:51 am
Thanks again.

Thats encouraging o hear.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
John-C January 17, 2011, 11:27 pm
My friend has done it, but he has been obsessed with the language and country since he was 11 years old. Now he is 22 years old and is like a walking Japanese Encyclopaedia.

I have been learning a lot from Rocket Japanese but i also purchased a book called "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar" which has also helped.

I plan on going to Japan for business next year. My stay would be 6 months or more and that’s were I expect, being immersed in language that I would learn most of it.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
CatPanda January 22, 2011, 7:45 am
Learning any language is going to be easier done in the country it is spoken in versus in a country where it is not a native language.

There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that in countries where the language is not spoken, there just is nowhere to practice it. Unless you can find someone who is a native in the language or someone who is also studying the language, you really won't know of very many ways of being able to practice it. Then also if you try to practice it in daily life people go and get mad at you because "This is country X, we speak Language X here!"

Today there is skype and a variety of programs that can help get around this location barrier, but on the other hand, being in the country where the language is natively spoken has the added bonus of immersion...Read More
Learning any language is going to be easier done in the country it is spoken in versus in a country where it is not a native language.

There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that in countries where the language is not spoken, there just is nowhere to practice it. Unless you can find someone who is a native in the language or someone who is also studying the language, you really won't know of very many ways of being able to practice it. Then also if you try to practice it in daily life people go and get mad at you because "This is country X, we speak Language X here!"

Today there is skype and a variety of programs that can help get around this location barrier, but on the other hand, being in the country where the language is natively spoken has the added bonus of immersion. Things are done completely in the language you are learning and its like an inverse of being in your native country, people now get mad at you for speaking your native tongue instead of trying to learn their language.

So the biggest thing about being in the country where the language you are learning is natively spoken is that your almost forced to try and learn the language you want to learn. The only problem is, staying in the country where the language you are learning is not going to be easy. It will be an emotional challenge that you will have to ovecome, but at the same time once overcome, you will be having the time of your life.

The biggest thing about trying to become fluent in a language is you just gotta find every possible opportunity to use the language. Everything WITHIN YOUR CONTROL should be used to try and learn the new language. There are some people who even try to manipulate their dreams to try and learn a new language (crazy albeit, but it kinda proves my point). The other thing is you need to learn to CHERISH FAILURE as it is through mistakes and overall failure that you learn the most. A famous saying amongst rotary exchange students is "Fall down 7 times stand back up 8". I myself even sometimes look to PURPOSELY make mistakes so that I can learn more.

Learning a new language is a challenge, but you just have to stand up to it and give it your all and try to be surrounded by it as much as is possible.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Keyatta--2 February 5, 2011, 7:07 pm
it is not true that u have to live in japan for years to be fluent.to be fluent u have to at least talk to a native japanese speaker and talk about anything and you have to understand every word they say.you need to know how to read hiragana, katakana, kanji clearly that is the only ways you can become fluent.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Chubby April 1, 2011, 4:51 pm
Well, if you think about it, for a native English speaker, it takes years to learn and even more to master. We start out from birth trying to sound words we hear and 10yrs later at age 10 () we are quite fluent but don't really master speaking English 'till later adult years when forming more complex English composition structures which are much easier in later teens and adulthood than when we were at ten years old.

So, I would assume, we should understand it 'could' take us at least the same the amount of time to learn a new language fluently as it took us to learn our native languages. We are older and each individual is different when it comes to learning so some many become fluent much quicker while others take longer.

I have resolved in my mind that, in the next 10yrs, I should be speaking Japanese better or just at good as a typical 10yr old Japanese person would and progress from there as time goes on...Read More
Well, if you think about it, for a native English speaker, it takes years to learn and even more to master. We start out from birth trying to sound words we hear and 10yrs later at age 10 () we are quite fluent but don't really master speaking English 'till later adult years when forming more complex English composition structures which are much easier in later teens and adulthood than when we were at ten years old.

So, I would assume, we should understand it 'could' take us at least the same the amount of time to learn a new language fluently as it took us to learn our native languages. We are older and each individual is different when it comes to learning so some many become fluent much quicker while others take longer.

I have resolved in my mind that, in the next 10yrs, I should be speaking Japanese better or just at good as a typical 10yr old Japanese person would and progress from there as time goes on. Of course, as mentioned in above posts, being in the country of the language would be a huge help but as Sayaka San had posted of her experience, it is very possible to attain that fluency even if not within that particular country.

Great topic.

Konnichiwa.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
John-C April 1, 2011, 7:58 pm
I agree to an extent Chukwuka, except it takes a while for a child to learn a language as they have to first learn about concepts and idea's. A good example is learning Hiragana and Katakana. An adult will learn these two systems quicker than a child would.

An adult would learn a lot quicker as they already have an understanding of concepts and idea's. To help myself learn more efficiently I purchased a book called "How languages are learned". It contains some very useful information. Along with additional units at University in relation to education and psychology.

I also study Spanish along with Japanese and as a result of knowing 3 languages I have learnt to think in concepts, not in a set language. I know many people make the mistake of thinking in English than translating it into another language before speaking...Read More
I agree to an extent Chukwuka, except it takes a while for a child to learn a language as they have to first learn about concepts and idea's. A good example is learning Hiragana and Katakana. An adult will learn these two systems quicker than a child would.

An adult would learn a lot quicker as they already have an understanding of concepts and idea's. To help myself learn more efficiently I purchased a book called "How languages are learned". It contains some very useful information. Along with additional units at University in relation to education and psychology.

I also study Spanish along with Japanese and as a result of knowing 3 languages I have learnt to think in concepts, not in a set language. I know many people make the mistake of thinking in English than translating it into another language before speaking. Same with listening or reading, some people will translate to English before understanding the concept.

At the end of a day, a language is a system to allow one another to share ideas and concepts. This is affirmed by the existence of many, many different languages that humankind has developed throughout history.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Chubby April 7, 2011, 2:48 pm
Konnichiwa John san; yoroshiku onegaishimas

I totally understand what you're trying to get across but we have to remember that we should always try to understand not everyone is like us (the individual) and it is often better to see things said or done as a collective in certain circumstances i.e people 'in general' or the normal average. Sort of like "keeping or moving ahead together as a community (Human race)"

This is why I said "We are older and each individual is different when it comes to learning so some many become fluent much quicker while others take longer".

Very interesting that you also learn to speak Spanish as simultaneously with Japanese. I have also wondered if I could try learning French too along with Japanese but was a little intimidated that I might get confused or start mixing up the two but it would seem you've encouraged me to at least try...Read More
Konnichiwa John san; yoroshiku onegaishimas

I totally understand what you're trying to get across but we have to remember that we should always try to understand not everyone is like us (the individual) and it is often better to see things said or done as a collective in certain circumstances i.e people 'in general' or the normal average. Sort of like "keeping or moving ahead together as a community (Human race)"

This is why I said "We are older and each individual is different when it comes to learning so some many become fluent much quicker while others take longer".

Very interesting that you also learn to speak Spanish as simultaneously with Japanese. I have also wondered if I could try learning French too along with Japanese but was a little intimidated that I might get confused or start mixing up the two but it would seem you've encouraged me to at least try.

Sore dewa, my new friend.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
CatPanda April 7, 2011, 4:11 pm
First thing first, everyone here does realize they could use the time they are spending discussing this matter to study Japanese right?

On another note, Chubby, studying multiple languages just takes time and effort. Everything with languages just takes time and effort. I was once studying Spanish, French, and Japanese simultaneously prior to my exchange to Japan. Since then my interest in Spanish culture has diminished, and as such no longer maintain my Spanish, but I still am studying French and Japanese at the same time. In short, learning multiple languages at the same time is not something worry about. You can confuse words at times, but if you work at it enough you won't have that problem (I once spoke french on a Spanish oral confusing the heck out of the other person testing, but yeah...Read More
First thing first, everyone here does realize they could use the time they are spending discussing this matter to study Japanese right?

On another note, Chubby, studying multiple languages just takes time and effort. Everything with languages just takes time and effort. I was once studying Spanish, French, and Japanese simultaneously prior to my exchange to Japan. Since then my interest in Spanish culture has diminished, and as such no longer maintain my Spanish, but I still am studying French and Japanese at the same time. In short, learning multiple languages at the same time is not something worry about. You can confuse words at times, but if you work at it enough you won't have that problem (I once spoke french on a Spanish oral confusing the heck out of the other person testing, but yeah... life goes on.)

I have been told by Japanese people that I am fluent in their spoken language, but I don't consider myself fluent until I feel that I can properly express everything I would like to express with the appropriate level of softness/formality. I have only been studying Japanese for 2 years and 4 months. 7 months of this was while I was in an extremely rural part of Japan, but at the same time those 2 years and 4 months have been a lot of effort and time put into my studies.

No matter how old/young you are, it all comes down to your time and effort. While I understand busy schedules may limit time, but if you are really serious about studying the language you need to have the effort.

In the US, while I am studying French, whenever I am asked to look up French Vocabulary I also look up the Japanese word if I don't know it already.

I could also turn it around and look up french words to whatever Japanese word I look up as well.

The point is, no matter who you are, how your brain works, or whatever other EXCUSE you may have for difficulties... it all comes down to how much effort you are going to put forward. I am not saying that every person can attain a level of fluency that convinces Japanese people as such in 2 years and 4 months, but what I am saying is if you keep working at it, you will obtain that before you know it. Don't over worry about how long it takes you to learn, just learn.

Thank you for your time,

Derek
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
robin-r24 April 8, 2011, 7:20 pm
Fluent in a language takes long time, for some it can take very long time, but minimum for getting decent i would say 3 years and fluent well that depends on how fluent you want too be, i dont even know 100% in my own language so is that fluent or what.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
CatPanda April 8, 2011, 8:42 pm
I would just like to reiterate that I did not make that claim, that was the words of Japanese people.

Although there is no such thing as a time limit on fluency, fluency is defined by your own goals, I honestly hold myself to a higher standard than Japanese people are holding me to, but in either case... it takes as long as it takes, whether that be 5 years, 10 years, 2 years or whatever... different people learn at different rates so labeling a minimum is not possible.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Indiangirl-- November 11, 2011, 4:27 pm
Just to give you people a tip on language learning...If you are learning more than 1 language at a time, it would be better if you learn one at a time. Cause if you learn more than one language at a time it would be confusing and you wouldnt really know much of the languages, but if you learn one then you will know more vocab,grammar,characters,etc. and it would be possible to become fluent then.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
CatPanda November 23, 2011, 10:11 am
With recent observations taken into account I agree with Indiangirl... this is why I stopped taking French now too and have put all my focus on Japanese until I am near native speaking capabilities.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Mireia January 2, 2012, 5:21 am
Gary-san,

Don't get discouraged, I've also been learning Japanese for years now but that doesn't make me stop being in love with this language and wanting to learn more and more day after day. I have to admit Rocket Japanese is the very best method I've used so far and I've never seen someone so dedicated to her job and love for her language and country as Sayaka is (I'm a secret fan of her work ). A good idea would be chatting with all of us here through the boards... chats... and I'm sure little by little you'll become completely fluent. Just have faith in yourself, we'll all help you here one way or another, after all, that's what all of us have in common: love for Japan and its language.

So, don't worry, we'll all learn together!!

Best wishes,
MireiaRead More
Gary-san,

Don't get discouraged, I've also been learning Japanese for years now but that doesn't make me stop being in love with this language and wanting to learn more and more day after day. I have to admit Rocket Japanese is the very best method I've used so far and I've never seen someone so dedicated to her job and love for her language and country as Sayaka is (I'm a secret fan of her work ). A good idea would be chatting with all of us here through the boards... chats... and I'm sure little by little you'll become completely fluent. Just have faith in yourself, we'll all help you here one way or another, after all, that's what all of us have in common: love for Japan and its language.

So, don't worry, we'll all learn together!!

Best wishes,
Mireia
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Lawii-k January 18, 2012, 1:02 pm
Everything is possible ,i learn t Japanese language basic within three months. Though i cant speak but i can hear and respond in my native English.It require none quitter.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
CatPanda March 25, 2012, 11:18 pm
Food for thought, fluency is only in regards to speed. You can be fluent but not know much about grammar or vocabulary. This would be people like me who are great in conversation, but don't do too well on formal testing.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
John-C March 25, 2012, 11:29 pm
I agree, to an extent.

Fluency in Japanese would be doing what the Japanese do on a daily basis. Read newspapers, watch tv. Talk and conduct business.

But as you pointed out, testing is a lot different.
I teach TOEIC, originally in Australia. Most fluent English speakers would barely score around the 800-850 mark. 990 is considered 100% fluent.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Ana-Angel May 16, 2012, 7:42 pm
I'm sure there are a lot of westerners who know Japanese. Just because you don't know them doesn't mean they aren't there!

One thing I love about Rocket Japanese is that they don't just teach you the language, but the culture as well. One thing I'm doing to help me is watching anime online and trying to figure out what they're saying. I feel like I've accomplished another goal when I can tell what the characters are saying!

Learning more about Japanese culture and studying hard on the language makes a big difference! Anything is possible!

Sayonara,
Momoko Akatsutsumi
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
nick--3 May 20, 2012, 9:04 pm
On average how long does it take to learn Japanese close to fluently?

I've been interested in Japanese culture for a long time now and hope to try going to college there when I am done with high school(still have two years though). I watch anime and Japanese drama, they kind of help at times when learning some basic things mainly. I've studied Japanese culture and history too for a while now.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
robin-r24 May 21, 2012, 1:54 pm
well if you study everyday then i will make a very random guess maybe 5 years, then you can call yourself sort of fluent. or when you know the 1850 kanji then you can call yourself fluent for sure, at least in writing
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
nick--3 May 21, 2012, 3:49 pm
I see. How long would it take to speak decently? I know a few people from Japan they say my Japanese is very broken.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
2679 May 22, 2012, 1:04 pm
Speak decently...well, let's say 2 years if you're serious on your studies.
I've been learnin Japanese on my own for about 2 years now and when I went to a special festival called Japan Play held in my country, I started a conversation with a Japanese guy there and he said that I speak quite well. So for me, it took about 2 years to speak decently...but this depends actually on every individual
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
nick--3 May 22, 2012, 1:41 pm
Thats good to hear. Since summer vacation is soon, I will start studying on a daily basis. I hope to get kinda decent by the end of the summer.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
robin-r24 May 23, 2012, 6:06 pm
very broken? have you learned japanese by anime or by study in books and stuff? becuase it is rare that a japanese person says that a foreigners japanese is broken.
what book are you studying in?
i would recommend genki it is a very good book and you will learn basis fast.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Alan-R-G October 25, 2013, 2:22 pm
Is it true that most people in a country feel fluent if they speak 3000 words?
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
2679 October 25, 2013, 3:14 pm
It really depends solely on the number of words, the base vocabulary that each languages has (which greatly differs from country to country).
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
コウ日本語 October 27, 2013, 9:05 am
Don't get despair! Just treat your Japanese learning journey as a lifelong learning experience. No doubt you will need a long time to master the language. However, just think of it as a bonus because you are actually learning two languages at the same time. Many of the Kanji that you have learnt can be reused when you learn the Chinese language next time.

皆さん、頑張って 下さい!
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
sai-g1 June 19, 2014, 3:12 am
You can. if you try at this and implement this you can get it down. Watching various anime will help too.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?
Mike_UK September 21, 2014, 9:51 pm
I often hear people saying that the need to live in the county in order to become fluent in the language of that country. I look at this another way - A person can easily live in a country and not become fluent in the language of the country. Not speaking the language will make life a lot harder and far less interesting but you can vey easily do it. For example. you can do your shopping in a supermarket and never say a word....
Becoming fluent in any language takes a great deal of hard work which is why it is held as one of the hallmarks of a good education. You mentioned that you are finding kanji harder than hiragana and katakana but bear in mind that the Japanese spend many years learning it too - all through elementary school, junior high and for most, senior high...Read More
I often hear people saying that the need to live in the county in order to become fluent in the language of that country. I look at this another way - A person can easily live in a country and not become fluent in the language of the country. Not speaking the language will make life a lot harder and far less interesting but you can vey easily do it. For example. you can do your shopping in a supermarket and never say a word....
Becoming fluent in any language takes a great deal of hard work which is why it is held as one of the hallmarks of a good education. You mentioned that you are finding kanji harder than hiragana and katakana but bear in mind that the Japanese spend many years learning it too - all through elementary school, junior high and for most, senior high. That is twelve years and so it is fairly clear that we cannot learn kanji in months. I feel with language learning in general, it is very important not to give up and to focus on what you can now do rather than what you can't. If kanji is getting you down, don't focus on it, focus on listening and speaking first and then come back to kanji later if you still want to.
If you do not want to study kanji yet, you can still practice speaking fluently by reading things written in romaji - obviously reading out loud. I find reading out loud for even 10 to 15 minutes a day can be a big help - I always have time to do that and if you use the conversations on here, it can also be a very quick and easy way to review the lessons you have already finished. For listening, I listen to the conversations on here or elsewhere on the web - personally, I feel it is best not to translate what you are listening to back into your native language (except in the very beginning) - instead I try and respond to it in Japanese without ever thinking in English.
Is it really possible for a westerner to be fluent learning Japanese Online?

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