Can you learn Japanese in 5 minutes?
That would be the dream, right?
Well, obviously (hopefully!) you already know that there’s no way to learn an entire language in just five minutes. Not until we’re at the stage where we can plug some kind of microchip into your brain.
But can you learn Japanese in five minutes a day, if you commit to study every day?
Well, that’s a different question.
Honestly, if you’re seriously about learning a language – if you want to be fluent – you’ll have to dedicate a lot more time than that.
Still, we know a lot of people simply don’t have the time to study all day.
And that’s fine! You can still learn a lot by making steady progress over time.
With that in mind, here’s how we recommend using your precious time to learn Japanese most effectively, whether you can spare 5 minutes a day, 15 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day or more:
Five minutes a day
So you really only have 5 minutes a day to study Japanese?
In that case, you can do a lot worse than using it to study with Duolingo.
Duolingo is a free app that teaches you Japanese with quick, fun, interactive activities and multiple choice quizzes.
When you sign up, you’ll be asked to choose how much time you want to spend each day: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or 20 minutes.
Duolingo has been around for a while and is available in various languages.
Finally, the long-awaited Japanese version is here! Be warned, the Japanese course is brand new and not yet perfect.
But even though it’s not perfect, it fun and simple to use, and easy to fit into your day. Try to make a habit of using it for five minutes with your morning coffee, for example.
This is the most effective way we can think of to learn Japanese in just five minutes a day.
15 minutes a day
Ok, so you think you can spare 15 minutes a day to work on your Japanese!
That’s awesome – every little helps.
With just 15 minutes to spare, we recommend you still use Duolingo as the basis of your studies.
Then, why not supplement it with a couple of Japanese videos on YouTube.
We have a list of our favourite Japanese YouTubers here.
If you’re a beginner, start with videos like this one that teaches basic phrases.
This will work well with what you learn on Duolingo. It’s good to experience different inputs styles (audio, video, reading, interactive) because this helps you to remember. If you hear the same words over and over in different formats, this will help reinforce them in your brain.
Also, most people simply find videos one of the most entertaining ways to learn. YouTube will keep you interested in your Japanese studies and will expose you to real spoken Japanese.
Best of all, these methods are all free!
30 minutes a day
Now we’re talking!
Just 30 minutes a day is enough to commit to an even more effective Japanese language program. You can expect to see far quicker results if you can spend half an hour each day on your Japanese.
With 30 minutes to spare, we recommend the Rocket Languages Japanese course.
This is an online Japanese course which you can access from your computer or through the mobile app.
Each lesson is based around an audio track which is approximately 30 minutes long. This makes the course an ideal basis for your studies if you have half an hour to spare each day.
Even better, since you can download the audio tracks (or access from your phone), it’s easy to fit in the listening part of the course while you’re out and about.
If you can dedicate half an hour a day to Rocket Japanese, you’ll be able to complete each lesson in two to four days. Spend your first day listening to the audio lesson. The next couple of days or two, spend half an hour going over what you’ve learned and practising the dialogue with the interactive quizzes and tools.
You’ll see huge progress with this method!
So, you can spare one hour a day to work on your Japanese? Excellent!
With this amount of time, we recommend sticking with Rocket Japanese. You could simply move through the lessons more quickly. However, you risk burning out, or simply moving too fast to remember everything.
Why not reinforce the new words and sentences you learn in Rocket Languages by speaking with a native speaker? Yes, it might sound scary now, but even beginners can hold a conversation with a native speaker. You’ll benefit hugely from it!
After all, you’re learning Japanese to use it in the real world, not just for the pleasure of writing in a textbook, right?!
You can find several ways to contact a native speaker for free conversational practise here. Or, if you have a bit more of a budget, get Skype lessons with a qualified Japanese teacher from as little as $7 an hour on italki.
By the way, you can speak with a tutor or Japanese conversation partner over Skype, Facetime, Line, Whatsapp or many other online chat services. There’s no excuse not to connect with Japanese speakers, even if you don’t live in Japan!
2 hours or more
If you can spend two hours a day or more on your Japanese, well done! With this amount of time and dedication, you’ll be able to speak great conversational Japanese before too long.
And really, two hours isn’t so long. Don’t forget, you don’t have to study in one long chunk each day. Split it into 20-30 minutes blocks and study during your morning coffee, commute, lunchbreak and just before bed. This will be much more achievable and stop you feeling overwhelmed.
You should keep Rocket Japanese or a similar course as the foundation of your Japanese studies. It’s important to follow a quality, structured course so that you keep making progress in grammar and essential vocabulary.
But with several hours of study time each day, the important thing is to mix it up. Try to bring in a lot of different resources. Otherwise you risk getting bored and giving up.
Learning Japanese should always be fun, or at the very least, stimulating!
Supplement your main Japanese course with plenty of exposure to real Japanese materials. This can include Japanese YouTube channels, music, Japanese movies or dramas, and reading some easy texts for beginners. See this article on creating an immersion environment for more tips.
Constant exposure to real-life Japanese means that you’ll be absorbing the words and sounds of the language on a subconscious level, making it easier to memorise new vocabulary later.
It’s also way more interesting, and motivating, to use real-life resources!
This also might be the time to work on your kanji.
Although Rocket Japanese does introduce all the essential kanji, if you’re serious about getting fluent fast, you might want to step up the pace. The more kanji you can read, the more you’ll be able to understand real, native Japanese. For serious kanji learners, we recommend James Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji.
How much time do you spend on your Japanese studies each day?