Can you Learn Japanese Solely for a Job and More Money?
Some people think about money… a lot. Okay everyone thinks about money a lot, and those thoughts occasionally find their way into the language learning world. Have you ever thought to yourself what is the monetary value of learning a language? What is the monetary value of learning Japanese? You can find some interesting articles that break down how your salary would improve if you have a foreign language ability.
Spending a little time thinking about it can be fun. And it absolutely may be an extra little boost of motivation. On top of all the reasons you are studying, it never hurts to be able to think it’ll give you a nice financial boost over the long term to whatever career you choose. This is a positive. This is why Softbank tried to pay its workers $10,000 to learn English a few years back.
The warning comes for one very specific type of learner. If this is you, you need to read this carefully.
Are you trying to learn Japanese solely for work or money?
This type of goal doesn’t sound so bad. Your career is a major part of your life. Money is a major part of your life. What could be more motivating than trying to make both of them so much better with a little bit of language study. If you can study for years for merely hobby reasons, imagine how hard you can study to make your life financially secure.
So you make this major goal as your foundation of study: “I am learning Japanese to accomplish X career goal.”
You probably already see this coming, but this is bad. Real bad. I’ve met a few people who tried this, and burned out faster than you can imagine. Studying Japanese solely for the promise of a better job, or money, will work… for several weeks, maybe months if you are lucky. However, it is not enough to get you through the entirety of the hardships to master Japanese. And since you probably need to go beyond mere conversational ability for a career goal, what’s going to guide you in the long run?
When you are in those inevitable moments of study darkness, what do you think is going to pull you out into the light? Thoughts of money? Or thoughts of all the things that you love about Japanese? All the happiness Japanese brings to you. All the sense of wonder, and adventure and fun that you’ve experienced. Money won’t do it. It won’t even come close.
Maybe there are some rare outliers. But odds are that’s not you. Your chance of failure is too high. If that’s the game you want to play, go for it, but tread extremely carefully. Money and career prospects are good as one small piece of motivation. But make sure you have the rest of the motivation pie as well.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
Not totally the article I expected but a good one nonetheless. I remember looking at some facinating jobs a while back, but they required you to learn German on the job. Sounded cool, and I do want to learn at least a little German, but I just couldn’t imagine myself going too far. Doing something just for work can be frustrating, and would be almost unbearable if you ended up not liking your work.
On the other hand, with Japanese I’ve gone from “I just want to read manga” to “wait…. maybe Japanese can make me money??”. I’m still figuring out how to get to that level, mainly speaking, but otherwise it is an really cool and interesting new goal. Still won’t stop me from learning useless sci-fi and fighting vocab though :)
It’s completely natural and fine to start Japanese out of passion, and then turn it into your career and a way to make money. Trying to do it without the first half of this is where the problem arises.
Hey, you never know where sci-fi and fighting vocabulary may turn out useful in your future career :)
And if you think you want to work for a Japanese company to make money、頑張ってね！
One of my Anki sentences is “彼は過労で倒れた.”
”過労”is what will be your life working for a Japanese company と思います。Making money without 過労 is better in my opinion.
While there are Japanese companies that work people a little bit too hard, there are also good ones out there. Also, you can often use your Japanese at non-Japanese companies in your home country (or in Japan), and this can change the work situation entirely.