Why Japanese Is Both the Hardest and Easiest Language to Learn

When you take one look at Japanese
grammar, pitch accent, and kanji, It’s very easy to come to the conclusion that Japanese
is one of the world’s hardest languages to learn from the perspective of an English native speaker. There is something that Japanese has, however,
that not many other languages possess, and because of this one thing it could potentially make the language much easier than we’re led to believe. With this, I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s
hard work towards learning Japanese but rather share different perspective
that hopefully gives some inspiration and motivation to those currently learning or to those who want to learn but haven’t started yet. And to those watching but not interested in learning, Wait, why are you wat- So, how can Japanese be both the
hardest and easiest language to learn? Despite the time-consuming process of learning Japanese grammar, pitch accent, and kanji, that unique thing Japanese has is tons and tons of content Japanese has anime, manga, video games,
visual novels, dramas, movies, music, and a culture that attracts the attention
of millions of people across the world. Unfortunately, the issue is that
people are getting caught in learning just kanji, pitch accent, and grammar rules, and they never really try to learn from the
good juicy native content that Japanese offers. And when they do try, they don’t stick with it long enough and they just quit after one, two, or three days But of course, learning from this kind of
native material can be very overwhelming But that’s why I’m such a big fan of learning Japanese from anime starting from day one. And to be clear, I’m not saying that everyone should just watch anime for sixteen hours a day and
never pick up a course book or kanji book. What I’m saying is that forcing yourself to study for two, three, four hours every single day is going to completely burn you out after six months, I’ve been down that road with
Korean many many years ago. And you know what? I get it. It’s embarrassing to tell people that
you learn Japanese from anime because we all know that guy. You know, that guy. Thanks, Darren, for screwing it up for everybody else, hmm? But if you prayed it to your grammar book in hopes that you won’t turn into a weeb before you
started learning Japanese from anime, and by that, I mean just study for 30 to 60
minutes and then watch a few episodes, you might find it’s incredibly easy to
pick up thousands of vocabulary words and grammar structures
that are found in everyday Japanese just by turning off the subtitles and listening in. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. You can’t actually learn how to speak
Japanese by watching anime, right? Well… Yeah, I’m not so sure about that. In reality, it’s so easy to learn and keep
learning for multiple hours per day, and as a result, you eventually encounter and learn all the “serious”
Japanese that you need to know. You can even use the Japanese
subtitles to help you learn even more including kanji as well. But don’t you need to learn all
2,000+ of the “regular-use” kanji before you can read Japanese? Absolutely not! While it’s true that I used
“Remembering the Kanji” in an “attempt” to study
800 of those characters, I couldn’t actually complete the full course. And if it makes you feel any better, I forgot A LOT of those 800 characters. I was making great progress
learning 20-30 kanji a day, but honestly, I just got bored after a while. And I needed something else to do. I definitely didn’t feel
ready to read anything, but the most important
thing was that I started. And I started with the
Japanese subtitles from kitsunekko.net for the anime
that I was watching at the time. And that’s how I was
able to learn the rest. Well, at least the “regular-use” kanji that is. People get caught in this idea that we
must complete the full kanji course or the entire grammar book before doing anything else. We have this idea that we need to study
super hard for years, and then one day, just magically we’re
able to understand native Japanese 100% no subtitles or translations required. But in reality, reading and listening to native Japanese every single day is how you eventually get to that point. And because japanese has so much
good content you can binge on, it can potentially become the easiest language to immerse yourself in and learn from day in and day out In other words, while it’s going to take native English
speakers more time in general to reach the advanced levels
of Japanese than say Spanish, the mental effort and burden
required to reach this point can be significantly much less in Japanese when the language is learned primarily through native materials. You see, without that good content to practice
reading and listening in a foreign language all this learning becomes meaningless. The truth is out of millions of people
who start learning foreign languages, most just stop learning at some
point and quit altogether. For example, I studied Korean for four years religiously while living and working
as an English teacher in South Korea. But I eventually lost all motivation to continue learning even though I was inside the country and studying that language was my
entire life for that whole period. The thing is that Korean has
plenty of good content as well like K dramas movies and comedy shows. And I found it all very interesting, but after
four years of immersing myself in that country I had accumulated very little content in particular that I wanted to read or listened to for fun and just for the sake of the content itself. I realized I was reading and listening to all
this Korean but mostly only to learn Korean. What was the point of pushing myself to reach the advanced levels if it had lost all meaning? Just to get some job at some Korean company? Mmmmmmm…Meh. It’s true that many people study foreign
languages for work-related reasons. They want to build that resume and work in a foreign country and get ahead in their careers. And even then, having some kind of cultural affinity with the language you’re studying makes it so much easier. So if you were super into Korean culture
or any other foreign culture, You could make the argument that that
language is the easiest language to learn (for you.) But it just so happens that a lot of people that learn Japanese like myself we do it because we’re weebs! It’s because we’re absolutely fascinated by so
much of what Japan offers and as a result, we’re naturally interested in
learning the language as well. That’s because good content in a foreign
language gives birth to the reason to start learning it and the ultimate
motivation to persist in mastering it. Even if you’re someone who’s not interested in anime, Try not being moved by one of the major films from Studio Ghibli or reading a manga like Death Note. I understand that anime doesn’t appeal
to a large number of people out there, yet if a guy like Bill burr can like One Punch Man, there’s at least a small chance you might like it as well. So to put everything all together, whether you’re interested in learning Japanese or are currently studying, there’s going to be some initial effort required in learning the basics to grammar, pitch accent, and kanji. But whenever you find yourself getting continually bored with whatever material you’re working through, It doesn’t mean that you’re lazy nor stupid. In fact, it’s a sign from your highly intelligent brain, which is the product of millions of years of evolution, and it’s trying to tell you to try something new Go to the source material that got you interested learning Japanese in the first place, and learn directly from that. If you know the basics of hiragana,
katakana, and grammar, you have more than enough to begin your own journey. You can always learn the hard parts along the way. And if learning Japanese from things
like anime and video games still seems unrealistic to you personally, to that I say, World of Warcraft. Seriously. You’d be surprised at all the different
ways millions of people across the world have used to reach a high level
of English including World of Warcraft. There’s one story in particular though, which I would like to share with you. This story comes from the world’s top
Super Smash Brothers player who goes by the name ZeRo and who also learned English primarily through video games. In his home town in Chile, all the video games sold
came in English rather than Spanish So he had to learn English to even be able
to play video games while growing up. At just 10 years old, he printed out a 30
page guide in English on how to play the character Falco in the game Super Smash Brothers Melee. And with the help of a dictionary and his sister, he was able to read the entire guide and
eventually understand all of it. Now not only as he considered the best
player of the current game, he lives the majority of his life through English. With that story in mind, I’d like to conclude this video with a
quote from Friedrich Nietzsche He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. And as always, thanks for watching.

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