I try not to judge other language courses or websites. Even the ones I completely disagree with and have seen people consistently not do well with. People like different things, and different methods click, so try for yourself and see what matches you. What I will judge however are the annoying ways many major language learning sites advertise learning Japanese.
I won’t name any specific sites, but you’ve seen this all before. Let’s get into what needs to be stopped.
6. “Japanese is the most difficult language in the world and is nearly impossible to learn!”
Regardless of whether Japanese is truly the most difficult, it is not the place of a site to demonize the language as impossible. Yes, Japanese is difficult to learn. A lot of the difficulty comes with the time, motivation and discipline required to continue over the years. But you can learn it. You can enjoy learning it. It’s a far cry from impossible.
5. “Look at these examples of how Japanese is ridiculously impossible!”
There are annoying parts of learning Japanese. For example, learning all the honorifics in Japanese and being able to produce them is hard, because you most likely aren’t in situations where you’ll ever need to use them (unless you work for a Japanese company or have Japanese clients). However, just because Japanese has some difficult parts, doesn’t mean the whole language is like that.
So when advertisements state there are hundreds or thousands of ways to say something, it is a major exaggeration. It reminds me of the old myth of the 1,000 ways to say snow in eskimo. (Hint: it’s not true).
4. “Japanese is impossible, but we have finally cracked it!”
While the advertising originally claimed how Japanese was next to impossible, they have finally found a way to make it easier. This is the turning point for the world. Now people can actually learn Japanese.
3. “Our solution is scientifically proven”
If you are going to quote science for language learning, you have to show information backing it up. You need long term comparative studies, with thousands of participants, over many years.
2. “Our solution is one of a kind and has never been done before”
Japanese studying has been around for a while. New tools take the good from other tools and make them better. New tools take different approaches. There are unique aspects that new courses and sites come out with. But you better actually talk about them. Don’t talk about how unique you are for using SRS, or teaching kanji instead of romaji, or using information building blocks (i+1). This isn’t new.
1. “You only have to study 5 or 10 minutes a day!”
This one kills me till this day. It’s insane. No one thinks that they are going to master Japanese in this amount of time. After all the time spent telling us how difficult Japanese is, you are going to tell me that in 30-60 hours a year (5-10 minutes x 365 days), you are going to learn Japanese? That’s just insulting.
Stop this type of advertising
There are millions of people who really want to learn Japanese out there in the world. If you offer a good program, that actually works, people will use it. Then they will tell others. You’ll make money while doing something good.
Don’t spread unrealistic myths, exaggerations, and promises. If you want to get people’s attention, focus on the fun. Focus on the wonder. Focus on their study reasons. Focus on what they will be able to do one day.
What bothers you about Japanese language learning advertising?
Has anything particularly annoyed you that you wish language learning companies would stop doing?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.