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Learn japanese is a waste of time?


6 Nov 2015
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I know that many have heard this phrase a lot of times and I'm not searching create conflicts. Years ago I was thinking and very excited in study Japanase. I never did because I was starting the university but now I start to see like a waste of time and specifically, in my case, maybe I should more focus on studying English, which already I have an average level.

I read a lot of cases of people that traveled to Japan for a short time and with little knowledge of Japanese language and in the end, they stay to this day. In addition, I've been looking for the reasons why people say something like that and the reasons are most of the times, these:

1. Only used in Japan.
2. Take really TIME and DEDICATION, especially for kanjis.
3. The Japanese learn English and do not speak much with foreigners.
4. In business, Japanese people prefer to speak English with foreigners.
5. The jerarquias on the job that Japan have, means to work some years to get a better payment (more than 200,000 yens)
6. Tokyo is a very expensive city.

With these points it seems that the benefit is not worth the sacrifice of time and investment it takes to learn Japanese.

As I have mentioned I have and an average base of English, this year I got my certificate of FCE, so I think get a higher level of English I would take less time and it would be more easy. It may also be the best have both English and Spanish language (my native lenguage).

Why I want to learn another language? the big reason because I want to try my luck and find work in another country.

What do you think?, please I want to know some opinions and as I said I do not seek to create conflict.


27 Apr 2014
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If you just want to learn *any* other language to find work in *any* other country, then I'd say Japanese is indeed not the best choice for a Westerner. There are plenty of easier languages in that case.
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6 Mar 2003
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I agree, it can be a waste of time if the goal is to get some career benefit from it. If it's something you enjoy as a hobby then it seems more productive than other activities (like playing video games). Obviously for people living in Japan it's very helpful. And helpful for people like me who don't live in Japan but work with Japanese.
As to your points:
#1 - I agree.
#2 - True. It's easy to underestimate the effort it takes to become proficient.
#3 - This one I disagree with. The Japanese do learn English but for the most part can't use it proficiently.
#4 - I disagree with this one too. They prefer to speak Japanese if they can. They resort to English if they need to.
#5 - I don't understand this one. You mean the seniority-based (instead of merit-based) systems? That's highly dependent on the company.
#6 - I disagree. Tokyo is affordable compared to many places, if you live like a Japanese.

Much of the "is it worth it" discussion depends on your vocation.

Mike Cash

15 Mar 2002
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Learning the language creates opportunities to make use of it. The more you learn, the more opportunities there will be.

That being said, though, I really don't understand why anyone outside Japan would put in the time and work to learn Japanese.

By the way....there is a lot more to Japan than just Tokyo.
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