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Frequently asked questions about Japanese
Why is it important to learn Japanese?
Japanese is spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It’s the 9th most spoken language in the world.
Japan is considered a cultural superpower due to the large-scale influence of Japanese food, technology, industry, music, video games, and animation on the world. The popularity of Japanese culture and the growth of tourism in Japan made Japanese one of the most popular languages to learn recently.
Japan is also the world’s 3rd largest economy, so Japanese knowledge can provide a wealth of opportunities. Learning Japanese will make it easier to learn other Asian languages.
Is it hard to learn Japanese?
The Japanese language is relatively simple phonetically, so it’s rather easy to master its pronunciation compared to other languages. Its grammar is also very regular and easier to master compared to most European languages.
The main challenge in learning Japanese is its complex writing system, which uses both phonetic symbols and thousands of Chinese characters.
How long does it take to learn Japanese?
According to the US Department of State, a native English speaker will take around 2200 hours to become proficient in Japanese.
Hiragana and Katakana can be mastered in a few weeks or even a few days. Kanji requires the student to learn around 2000 characters. Japanese is significantly easier to learn for those who have some knowledge of Korean (due to the grammar similarities) or Chinese (due to previous knowledge of Chinese characters).
What is the official Japanese assessment test?
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT, is the official test for non-native speakers. It covers grammar, reading, and listening ability. The test is held twice a year in several countries, in July and December.
The JLPT has 5 levels, where N1 is the hardest and N5 is the easiest. N5 and N4 are for beginners, N3 for intermediate students, and N2 and N1 for those proficient in the language. An N2 certificate is the minimum JLPT level required for foreigners to work on several Japanese companies.