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Tips on learning Korean/Japanese?

Hey everyone, I'm 15 years old(16 in 2 months) and from Canada. I'm fluent in English and French. I'm fascinated with Asia so I want to learn 2 or 3 new languages. I'm currently learning Korean, I've learnt the whole alphabet and now doing Talk To Me In Korean courses. But I also want to learn Japanese, and potentially mandarin as a 3rd so here are my questions.

  1. How long will it take approximately for me to be able to speak in Korean fluently?

  2. Is it possible to learn Japanese too after I do Korean or should I do it at the same time?

3.Any helpful resources or tips to help me with Korean and/or Japanese learning?

  1. How long will it take to learn Japanese and speak it fluently?

I am very passionate about learning these new languages so commitment isn't a big problem for me. I also tend to learn and pick up things quite easily.

Thanks for everyone's time/attention/responses. I hope you all have a wonderful day! (Any answer is greatly appreciated)

July 24, 2017


  1. Depends what you mean with fluent. Some TOPIK 6 students don't consider themselves fluent and say it is a lifetime endeavour. Other TOPIK 4 or 5 students say they can communicate with anyone anytime. Theoretically, you can reach such level in 1 or 2 years doing an intensive all-day language program at a Korean university. Probably longer as an English/French speaker. Check out Sogang, Yonsei, SNU, etc.
  2. Yes, it is possible. Japanese has same grammar structures as Korean. Grammar is often considered to be the hard part when learning Korean as an English or french speaker. As for Mandarin, you will have an edge learning vocabulary as many Korean words have Chinese roots. Mandarin grammar is extremely easy. You can do it at the same time, but that simply means you will need twice as much time to get fluent in Korean. Think about what is most important to you. Learning two languages at the same time can get confusing at times, but will also allow you to make links and connections between them, giving you some "aha" moments.
  3. Check out my blog where I have linked to several resources in many of my posts. There are also several long discussions in Reddit threads I link to on how much time it takes to become fluent.
  4. Probably similar to Korean. I have a friend who got N1 in 2 to 3 years.


Japanese takes about 4 years if you study 2 to 3 hours a day. If you only practice for 1 hour, it takes 6 years. Learning Asian languages is pretty hard. But having a word of the day can help a lot..


I have studied Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. I recommend just doing one at a time. Get really good at Korean, then try one of the others. I also suggest you try to study in the country to get really good at any of these languages. If someone just studies in their home country, even if they major in one of these languages at university, it is common to not actually be able to read in the language. In Taiwan you can get scholarships from the government to study Mandarin at university.


I agree that giving it your all for one language before dipping into the other will be beneficial in the long run.

  1. It depends on how much you study.
  2. I recommend to only doing one language at time. But if you're disciplined with plenty of time, you can study more than one language at the same time.
  3. Check out Memrise, Italki, Tandem etc. You can study Japanese on Duolingo already but only on iOS and Android. The Korean course will be released on August 17th unless there will be any delays.
  4. I have contact with a Japanese professor in Japan. He says it's common to learn Japanese very well after three years of studying the language in Japan. Written and spoken is included.


To 2. It depends :-) Do you only want to learn to speak or also to read and to write Japanese? The Japanese writing system is very complex and it will need many effort to master it, especially the reading of words written in Chinese characters (in Japanese 'Kanji'). You can reach JLPT N1 in 2 or 3 years, but I think, you may then not be able to learn other asian languages at the same time.

To 3. There are so many useful materials...I posted some of them here, but you can´t really search here... the following links are some expamles of threads with some useful informations about learning material for Japanese:


According to FSI, the time it takes for a native English speaker to learn Korean to a fluent level is 2200 hours in a classroom setting. However, in my personal opinion as a native Korean speaker is that it will probably take you longer than 2200 hours to be able to use any language as fluently as a native speaker, speaking from personal experience with English, especially if it is a language that is as different as Korean. But it really depends on what "fluent" means for you.

I think Japanese will be easier, if you know Korean. For many Koreans, Japanese is considered an easy language to learn. The word order is identical, and both languages share many grammatical similarities. And many of the vocabulary are derived from Chinese, so it sounds similar. It will be better imo, if you learn either Japanese or Korean first and learn the other, because I think I don't think it's a good idea to learn languages that are similar, especially grammatically.

I never really studied Korean from English so I can't help you, but I can say that if you were to speak Korean fluently, a new set of Japanese learning materials will open up to you, and in my opinion, understanding Japanese from Korean is easier than understanding Japanese from Korean, and vice versa with Japanese to Korean.

Japanese will take around the same amount of time if not more, because with Korean, you don't need to learn to read Chinese characters, however, with Japanese, while Hiragana and Katakana are easy, Kanji becomes a pain, and along with a complex system of formality and honorifics, to become fluent in Japanese is really hard.

I think while TOPIK and JLPT are a good indication of whether you know the language well, fluency is a different matter imo, because none of the languages test on speaking, you will need to practice speaking, which is harder than reading and writing and listening.


Very true about the TOPIK. Beyond the intrinsic value as a certificate, I would just consider it something to motivate you and to gauge certain Korean skills.

Also, as with any standardized test, it incentives you to learn how to pass the test, rather than learn the language. You even have classes in Korea that focus only on how to pass TOPIK!

The KIIP (Korean Integration and Immigration Program) exam does a better job as it tests for speaking too. But doesn't go as high.


It takes a long time to learn Japanese. For most people, it takes up to 4 years.


If you really want to study two languages at the time, wait or a moment you get your Korean enough good. I mean that you should get to the next level of learning it - not the basics but a step further. Then you can begin learning Japanese.

Japanese have similar grammar to Korean so sometimes (or othen) you can translate one to other word by word. So the biggest difficulty is to learn kanji with all the readings. Knowing Korean grammar could make you paying more attention to kanji when you'll start with learning Japanese.

I will recommend you to start Chinese after being really advanced in Korean, some advanced in Japanese (or completely). And again: knowing kanji could make you learning better hanzi and make you paying more attention for pronunciation which will little similar to Korean.


It takes 1 or 2 years doing Korean with 2-4 hours of daily study. And Japanese takes about 4 years if you study 2 hours.If you study around an hour a day, it will take you 6 years, so I think about 4 to 5 hours is a good study time. I highly recommend using flashcards or having a word of the day. I have the Korean alphabet taped to my pencilbox and learned the whole thing in around 2 months. I also recommend learning Chinese first, because it makes Korean and Japanese seem less hard.

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