Is Japanese hard to learn?

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If looked at from a linguistic point of view, Japanese is considered one of the easier languages for a beginner to learn. It has a simple pronunciation scheme and with few exceptions a straight forward set of grammatical rules. Limitations on sentence structure are also quite minimal. The most difficult aspect of learning Japanese is the mastery of the reading and writing of kanji.

An interesting characteristic of Japanese is that it is spoken differently if the speaker is a man, woman or child. There are, for example, many different words for "I", and which version you use depends under which category you fall. An even more confusing aspect is that the speaker must choose the appropriate words depending on the relationship between oneself and the conversant. Another aspect of Japanese that may be hard for foreigners is that there are quite a few Japanese words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings.

The Japanese are typically shy when speaking other languages. Therefore, they are very sympathetic to the plight of foreigners trying to speak Japanese. One will find a lot of tolerance from the Japanese if you try to speak to them in Japanese. Do not be afraid of making mistakes!

It may now seem that Japanese is a difficult language, but as is evident from the many foreigners that go to Japan, that spoken Japanese is not that difficult to learn. One will find that after a year in Japan a good mastery of the language can be achieved.

It is estimated that 2.3 million people worldwide studied Japanese in 2003, and the number is growing. The largest area of growth can be found in the ASEAN counties (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) such as China and Korea.

If you'd like to get started learning, check out my lessons for beginners.