Learning Japanese 18 Months Update – Am I Fluent?

This blog post accompanies the video I put up on YouTube for my 18 months update video. If you haven’t already seen it then you can via the link below↓


The video discusses what level I am in Japanese at this current stage and what I still need to improve on. Here is a summary of the video.

Most of my success has been come from AJATT so definitely go and check the site out for more information!

My reading and listening are at a fluent level. I can understand the language with ease and I do not bump into many new words per day.

My reading is very strong. I can read over 3200 Kanji and know the meanings of many more. I can read any general purpose documents mainly focusing on news articles, books, websites etc. I can also read Software Engineering and Computer Science related material.

My listening is also very strong. I can understand the news, TV, movies, YouTube, music etc. with very few issues. Very rarely does a new word I don’t know pop up, and daily conversation is absolutely no issue for me.

My speaking is still getting there and probably needs more time to be perfected. This is to be expected as it is still early days when it comes to speaking. My speech flows and comes naturally but there are occasional mistakes. When I do make a mistake I often realize as it sounds “off”. I would like for this to not happen at all, however I realize that this is a common thing even in our native languages and I still have very few hours of Japanese when compared to a native speaker. The issue of making mistakes should occur less frequently with more input. I have 2 years left before I leave University. By this time I expect to speak like a native speaker.

My writing is perfectly fine on computers and phones as I have the help of an IME to choose the Kanji I want to type. Writing from hand though is much harder as I struggle to remember the Kanji for words in my head. Apparently this is also an issue that natives have as well but obviously not as often as me. This is something I am fixing and I hope to be able to naturally write by hand within the next year.

I don’t think I am at the same level that Khatz was at, but overall I am incredibly happy with the stage that I am at. 🙂

Anki Statistics

RTK Deck Total of Mature Notes

Sentence Deck Total of Mature and Learning

Sentence Deck Review Count History Over the Past 17 Months

Sentence Deck Review Time History Over the Past 17 Months

Kanji and Vocabulary Writing Deck Total Mature + Learning + Unseen Notes

Thanks for reading and watching!

Click here for more information on learning Japanese



By Matthew Hawkins


Here are some of my favorite tools and sites for learning Japanese

Thank you for reading this blog post, which I hope you found useful for learning Japanese. Here are some of the most useful websites that I’ve found for finding Japanese content to use for immersion as well as some really useful learning tools to help you through your Japanese studies. Some of these are affiliate links which just means that if you decide to use these sites by clicking the following links, then I will earn a commission. But honestly speaking, these are the sites that I use and recommend language learners, even my friends, to use anyway.

Anki Tools: To get started, I really like Migaku for Anki. By itself, Anki is already a super useful tool for language learners but Migaku allows for integration with websites like YouTube and Netflix, allowing it’s users to create flashcards from the shows and videos that they are watching, as they are watching them. If you use my link you can get an extra month for free.

Speaking Practice: For this I absolutely love iTalki. There are thousands of Japanese teachers on the platform that are available at all times of the day to have conversations with you, in Japanese. Some teachers take a more traditional approach while others are just there to chat, these are the ones I would recommend if you are looking to improve your conversational Japanese. Lessons start from just $5 and there’s no long term commitment, I highly recommend them.

Immersion: I’ve used a lot of different earphones / headphones over the years but by far the one that has come out on top is the NENRENT S570. This is a singular in-ear earphone that matches your skin tone to keep it discrete, meaning you can listen to the language you are learning while at work, or school. For a full list of tools and gadgets I recommend for maximizing your immersion time, check out this blog post.

13 Replies to “Learning Japanese 18 Months Update – Am I Fluent?”

  1. Hey Matt! I was wondering how your writing deck works? So, do you add a certain sentence then the target vocab/kanji in hiragana and then write them out?

    I was imagining something like this (this is from Welcome to NHK light novel):
    front: 台所には汚れ物が(たい積)してる
    back: 堆積

    1. I’m really lazy and have just been doing single vocab words. Sentences are better so I would do that. Khatz himself recommends you write your main sentences out anyways. I never did this, hence why I can’t write by hand. Definitely do what you are doing 🙂

      For me though, as I already understand Japanese, I just do single words. For example,
      Front: たいせき
      Back: 堆積

      However, as we all know there are a lot of words that are said the same so it is sometimes hard to tell which to write based on just the hiragana. For these cases I simply add a picture or will add a sentence for context. I do think your format is better though so I would stay with that 🙂

      I also have a stroke order font installed to make sure I write the word correctly.

  2. Hey Matt,
    I recently started the Ajatt Method but I have a few problems when doing sentence cards. How did you learn word extensions, for example: I know what 帰る means but when I see 帰れるといいです, I don’t know what it means. How did you looked this up and what did you put in your srs? The base word or the word+ extension?

    1. You can look up an explanation in English if you wish but try, if you can, to look explanations up in Japanese. Then just add the explanations to your cards as if it was a normal word 🙂 Treat grammar like vocab, either let it sink in, or add it to Anki with explanations 🙂

  3. I’ve watched your first progress video since you started AJATT. At that time, I was already doing AJATT but I can say my progress has been extremely stagnant. With a little 自己分析, my slow progress stems from not measuring my progress at all… I’ve been in a deep slump for quite a while but seeing this gives me a little motivation boost! Thanks for the informative video, Matt!

    1. I think having fun, keeping track of your progress and focusing slightly on efficiency is the key to quicker results, but in the end it still takes a long time. I’m glad that the video has helped though!

  4. 凄すぎです。一日22時間も日本語を聞いているとは…

    1. It’s not that amazing, aha :p It definitely has helped my listening skills though. I don’t think I would be at this level if I didn’t do that many hours per day. I’m glad you’re going to give it a go! 😀 Let me know how it works out! 🙂

  5. Informative video. I’d say at your level getting better is merely a matter of just coasting. Understand but not having active vocabulary that matches it is quite normal and impressive given that you’re only about 18 months into it.

    I also took a look at the math that I should be aiming for to reach 10,000 sentences. I have 5380 so far and my math says it should take me roughly 6 months to hit 10,000 sentences by adding about 25 sentences a day. Listening I don’t count the hours but all day I’m listening. I gotta rev up my reading and I feel like I can get there. I feel like by the end of the year I should be at the level I desire comprehension wise. Writing I’m the same as you, I can recognize Kanji easily but sometimes I forget certain kanji strokes which I think is just merely a matter of repetition and coming across it via words. I can write something like 鬱 or 喩 easily from off the top but sometimes something simple like 発 or 実 and I’m pulling out the phone to see the stroke order.


    1. I agree with you there. If I want to get a large amount of vocab a day I am going to have to read into other topics of interest, other whys its just a case of keep plodding along, getting input and adding those few extra words.

      That’s awesome man! If you aim for that target I expect you will probably reach it sooner as well. If you reach your sentence goal and get your reading up I am sure you will reach a really good level by the end of the year.

      Definitely agree! この方法は、本当に無駄のない効率的な勉強方法だと思う。

      Yeah, I know others with similar issues as well. A native speaker actually asked me what the Kanji was for 怠る the other day, when she was writing. Its quite a natural thing apparently. Obviously we will struggle with it more than natives but we can fix it with more practice. Haha! I know exactly what you mean! We will get there in the end though! 🙂

Comments are closed.