Learn Japanese Without Caring what Other People Think — 4 Comments

  1. I . . . didn’t get any of that, actually. I started studying Japanese a little bit here and there for fun during college when the common interest in my group of friends was anime. Then after graduating I moved to Japan for six years. Obviously, no one in Japan is going to say “studying Japanese is a waste of time,” and since moving back Japanese has continued to be central to my career.

    However, I did have a college roommate who mentioned that her parents were a bit discouraging of the idea of studying Japanese because they considered Japanese to be a language that hardly anyone spoke except a few people on a tiny island on the other side of the world, so they thought she wouldn’t ever have an opportunity to use it.

    It seems there are still people who have that same misconception, so these are some things that can be said in reply:

    -Depending on what numbers you are looking at, it is the language with around the 9th to 12th most native speakers in the world. (A lot of people don’t realize that it is this high.)
    -It has the third largest GDP in the world. (Unless you count the EU all as one entity, in which case the 4th largest.)
    -Japan has a large number of expatriates living in places like Brazil and the US.
    -Demand compared to supply is much higher for Japanese-English bilingual speakers than for, say, Spanish-English, French-English, or Hindi-English, because while those other language pairs have a large number (large supply) of fluently bilingual speakers, there are a lot less people who are fluently bilingual in Japanese and English.

    Specifically for people in the States:
    -Japan is one of the United States’ biggest economic partners and there are tons of opportunities to use Japanese in one’s career. For example, in my state alone, which is not one that people usually first think of as having a Japanese population, there are over 200 companies that are members of the state’s Japan-America society.

    Although these are all sensible/practical reasons that hopefully have some persuasive power for people who need or want to convince someone that Japanese isn’t useless, I completely agree that as long as it’s not something harmful, it is totally fine to want to study Japanese for the sake of a hobby, like video games for example. Plenty of people started out studying Japanese that way and became fluent because they were doing something they loved.

    • Thanks for sharing these replies. I’m sure they will help someone who needs to convince a stubborn person close to them.

  2. I haven’t gotten that with Japanese yet, but I once betrayed my interest when in high school that I wanted to learn Hungarian because I had family who came from there. One of the people who I told asked, “Why would you want to learn that language? Only 5 million people speak it and only in Hungary. It won’t help you get a job or anything.”

    I was like (to myself), “What?! Since when did wanting a job have anything to do with wanting to get closer to your cultural heritage?”


    • Yeah. People that only consider the monetary value of a language don’t really understand what foreign languages are actually about.

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