Trying to learn Japanese without learning to read

Some people only care about being able to converse with native speakers and have no interest in reading books or similar written media. Because of this, they convince themselves they don’t need the written language and can just get by with listening/speaking practice only.


  • Kanji are one of the biggest hurdles for new learners, so avoiding kanji will cut out a significant chunk of “study”


  • There’s not many listening-focused resources, and the few that exist are extremely sketchy or with dodgy results (for example Pimsleur)
  • Reading is actually one of the best ways to obtain a wide and varied vocabulary and build language intuition. If you actively avoid reading you will have a much harder time acquiring the language compared to someone that reads.

Conclusion: Unless you have a live-in tutor or someone available to feed you spoken comprehensible input all the time and guide you through the process of learning the language the spoken way, it will be much much harder to learn Japanese without touching the written language than it would be easier for you to just learn to read it like everyone else does. It’s counter-intuitive but that’s how it is. Don’t skip reading, you’d just be causing yourself more troubles than it’s worth it.