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3. Learn Japanese fast? How Fast?

Updated: May 28, 2022

High speed rail, like the Japanese Shinkansen (新幹線), cut down travel times dramatically, and they are a blast to ride! Their secret is being extremely aerodynamic and using continuously welded tracks on unobstructed pathways, without any sharp turns. But, how does this apply to learning Japanese?

You, the bullet train in this example, can decrease wind resistance, and increase speed, by knowing and focusing on your goals, and sticking to the routines you put in place. The Stout Sensei program, or the special tracks in this example, form a strong, clearly marked path to proficiency with simple, step-by-step video lessons that fit neatly into a comprehensive Japanese language curriculum. Put them together, and you’ll make fast progress. But, how fast, you ask?

How difficult is Japanese, actually? Well, it’s pretty difficult, according to the Foreign Service Institute, which ranks world languages into four categories according to difficulty ( In order to get to “Professional Working Proficiency” they recommend different time commitments for different language categories, assuming your first language is English.

  • Category I: Spanish, French, Italian... (24 weeks)

  • Category II: German, Indonesian, Malay... (36 weeks)

  • Category III: Farsi, Hebrew, Russian... (44 weeks)

  • Category IV: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese... (88 weeks)

But, fear not. Not everyone wants or needs “Professional Working Proficiency” in Japanese. You can do a lot with even elementary-low proficiency, especially as a traveler, expat, or student in Japan. There is no reason to give up, just because advanced proficiency might be out of reach for the moment.

The Stout Sensei approach is all about simple, step-by-step lessons that fit neatly into an overall, comprehensive curriculum. This way, if you complete the elementary level, for instance, you can be sure to function comfortably at the survival, sentence level of proficiency. And, if you complete the intermediate level, you can be confident as you express yourself, understand others, grasp cultural insights at the paragraph level, in a way that is both satisfying and undeniably real. Having taught Japanese for 25 years I know what it takes, and I can help you get there, fast.

How fast? It’s as fast as you want to go! You determine the pace, one lesson per day, or two, or three. Each one takes just 5 to 10 minutes. Add to that another 5 to 10 minutes for the review and assessment, and you’ve made some real progress. And, there is huge satisfaction all along the way. It’s the joy of being able to do something today that you couldn’t do yesterday.

One quick example. An absolute beginner can do that course in 18 videos, which at one video per day, takes less than three weeks. So, if I told you, you could master Japanese pronunciation, basic expressions, and all 46 hiragana characters in three week, with just 10 to 20 minutes per day, would you believe me? Well, it’s true. And you could go faster, and many have, doing it in just one week!

That’s fast!

That’s Shinkansen fast!


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