In this day and age, when the world is more connected than ever, learning a new language sounds like a great idea. When you finally made up your mind to actually start learning something, you might be wondering what language to start learning. As an international student who aced JLPT N2 within three years, it is obvious I would insist you go for Japanese.
If you are looking for something to provide you with the much-needed motivation for the gruelling and long journey of language-learning, look no further! In this article, I will explain to you why Japanese is such a great language that you will never regret learning.
1. Japanese will take you places (Literally!!!)
The first thing people might consider before they invest their precious time and money into learning something new is probably the return on investment. “Will I be spending tons of time and money for nothing?”, “Will learning Japanese be worth it?” These are common questions that many might have in mind. Well, let me tell you one thing: the returns on investment you’ll get for learning Japanese, in my case, is MASSIVE.
Let me elaborate on that a bit. Here’s my background:
Having received a scholarship, I came to Japan as a fresh high school graduate. Back then, I barely spoke Japanese. Even though my undergraduate program was fully taught in English, I realized how difficult it was to get opportunities outside the classroom. Now that I can handle both casual everyday conversation and serious business talks in Japanese, I managed to land some coveted internship positions and got to meet so many cool people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
If you are living abroad, being able to speak Japanese will give you a great advantage if you ever want to find opportunities in Japan – the world’s third-largest economy. There are even career forums dedicated to Japanese-English bilingual people, such as the Boston Career Forum and many others. Why limit yourself to your home country when you can kickstart your career on the other side of the earth?
2. It will open up a whole new world of sub-culture and entertainment
Who could resist good Netflix shows? If you are not switching to Japanese Netflix, I suggest you do so as soon as you can. Why? – The shows are awesome! Ever since I discovered Terrace House, I have become a Terrace House fanatic who watches new episodes as soon as they come out. Terrace House has always been really entertaining for me. However, as my Japanese language skills improved over the years, I started realizing that I like it even more, now that I can simply watch it without subtitles. I could catch all the jokes and understand the cultural context behind the views of the commentators judging house member’s feuds and blossoming relationships.
Apart from Terrace House, there are so many great Japanese shows available on streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. As those shows are typically targeted towards Japanese audiences, there are no subtitles. Being able to understand Japanese has granted me great access to unforgettable Japanese dramas （ドラマ）, which is a Japanglish term for TV series. What’s more, if you’re not the type of person who pays for streaming services, good ol’ TV shows are surprisingly entertaining to watch as well.
3. You will be able to talk to the locals like a boss
Everyone talks about authentic travel, but how do you know if your travel experience is really “authentic”? The answer is simple – ask the locals. Even if you don’t have any Japanese friends (yet), don’t worry! There are plenty of cultural exchange events for Japanese and foreigners to get to know each other, learn new languages, and potentially make new friends.
As a large percentage of Japanese people don’t speak English in their daily lives, learning Japanese will open up a whole new world that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to non-Japanese speakers. Who knows, you might be able to strike up some conversation with the obaachan (おばあちゃん）, the grannies in your neighbourhood and discover some hidden gems unknown to outsiders!
4. Knowing Japanese helps you get to know a new way of thinking and understand the Japanese culture
Japanese has a grammatical structure that is totally different from English. Despite my experience in learning and achieving relatively good comprehension of English, which was my second language, I was still dumbfounded by how complicated Japanese language seemed to me at first sight.
However, as I persevered and kept on going, my efforts paid off. I started making sense of the Japanese grammar and the way of thinking that it conveys. Moreover, there are plenty of words that cannot be simply translated into other languages. I won’t get into details in this article, but take a look at this article from Tokyo Weekender.
5. Japanese is fascinating and beautiful
This might be quite subjective, but I do believe that Japanese is definitely a beautiful language to learn. I personally enjoy how it sounds, how Chinese characters get adopted into the neat writing system consisting of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. I love how the language keeps evolving and how there are increasingly so many new words being invented. (Check this out for a comprehensive beginner’s guide to Japanese internet slangs.)
All in all, despite the great efforts it took me to learn Japanese, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. If you’re hesitating whether to learn Japanese, here’s my advice: Just Do It!