You most likely are not learning Japanese for the money. If you don’t enjoy the language, you aren’t going to want to study it, and you aren’t going to ever get fluent. But can money be an influencer? Even just a little?
A few years ago, the giant Japanese communications company SoftBank decided that in order to make its presence stronger abroad, it needed more fluent English speakers. So it decided to offer $10,000 to any worker who scored over 900 (which is a very high score) on the worldwide English exam standard, TOEIC. Those over 800 could also earn $3,000.
That’s a lot of money for anyone. And at the same time it is adding a valuable lifelong skill, and is setting you up for a nice promotion path within the company.
But is this a good idea?
When it comes to tasks that require creativity, passion, or purpose, it has been shown that monetary incentives often either have no effect or actually even make things worse.
Monetary incentives for language learning should be problematic then.
I feel this is often relevant to Japanese learners, because while money probably has never been your focus, you may have considered how Japanese will help your current and/or future career. It’s a strange situation because while money is not a goal, fluent Japanese will most likely have a positive result on your career in some form or another (and thus bring in more money).
I never thought about getting money out of Japanese as a reason for studying, but when I was living in Japan, getting a good job using Japanese became a major incentive.
What do you think?
If you were offered $10,000 if you scored 90% or higher on the JLPT N1, do you think that would that encourage you to learn faster? Even if your answer is no, do you have any major career incentives that rely on Japanese? Do you think this is pushing your speed at all?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.