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Should you learn German or Japanese?

When we are faced with the decision of which language to learn next, it can be both exciting and scary.

After all, you will spend hours upon hours investing in this new skill, so it is important to choose what’s right for you.

If you are asking yourself “Should I learn German or Japanese?“, this post is for you!

We will outline the main points you should consider before making a decision and give you questions to ask yourself that will hopefully facilitate your choice.

Why are you learning a new language?

This is the question that will first and foremost give you an idea of which language might be the better choice.

Why do you want to learn a new language? What is your purpose?

If you don’t have one yet, this should be your first task. Find your “why”.

Not only will the choice of language be a lot easier once you have identified your “why”, but it will also be your beacon of motivation once you start studying.

Can’t think of anything? Maybe consider these things: Do you want to go to school or university in Germany?

Do you love Japanese culture? Do you want to be able to read German philosophers in their original version?

Or would you love to understand your favorite Anime without dubs? Do you want to move abroad for work?

These are merely a few ideas to get you started, your why will be completely unique, as it is a combination of what drives you to learn that language!

Think of your hobbies, your dreams, your bucket list!

If you tend toward German, this article will give you a great overview of the reasons why learning German is worth the effort.

Difficulty

Of course, when deciding on a new language to learn, a big factor to take into consideration is the language difficulty.

English is a Germanic language and therefore shares its language family with German.

This means it will be slightly easier, as the two languages share common sentence structures and vocabulary.

Japanese on the other hand is very different, and will therefore be more of a challenge to learn.

According to the Foreign Service Institute, German is a category II language, which means it takes native English speakers about 750 hours to get to a general proficiency in speaking and reading.

Japanese is considered a category V language, and achieving a similar proficiency will take 2200 hours!

Why is that? Japanese and English have very different grammatical structures, making them harder to learn.

Both languages can be intimidating, though. One of the factors to consider is the writing system.

German shares the Latin alphabet with English, with the only difference being the added letters Ö, Ä, Ü, and ß and the fact that 5 letters are pronounced differently in German than in English (C, J, S, V, and W).

The Japanese writing system is a lot more complex.

Apart from the letters being very different, written Japanese also alternates three different alphabets, depending on the word’s part of speech and origin.

Other than that, Japanese is relatively simple. The language has no grammatical gender, plural forms, or articles.

Verbs are not conjugated and nouns do not have to be changed according to cases. There are some features that are hard for English speakers to get used to, however.

German is a bit more difficult in terms of its grammar, but once you get a hang of the basics, the language gets easier and easier over time.

In general, Japanese will be more of a challenge to learn than German, and it might be easier to get discouraged as it takes a considerable amount of time to get to a fluent speaking level.

If you like a challenge, though, this might be a good choice!

German will take some work in the beginning, but after a few weeks, you will already be able to speak a bit and start understanding movies, podcasts, and books!

This makes it very motivating, as you will see a lot of progress.

Your situation

Any language would be a great choice to learn, but something to consider in your decision should be your situation and circumstances.

Do you have people speaking either language around you? This will make learning easier and give you a boost of motivation.

Another factor is which languages you know already. If you know English and Spanish, for example, German might be a great choice because these two languages will make it a lot easier to learn German.

If you happen to know a Japonic language already, Japanese will be easier, of course.

But also languages like Turkish, which don’t share a common language family, are extremely similar to Japanese in grammatical structure, so that might help, too!

Culture

When learning a new language, you also learn about the culture associated with said language.

This is why being intrigued by a culture can be a great motivator for learning a new language.

When deciding between the two languages, which culture excites you the most?

Usually, neither culture will disappoint, but they are so different in nature, that you might feel drawn to one more than the other!

What will you decide?

One thing is for sure, either language will be an amazing addition to your skillset, and will help you in the future. Which language you will learn is ultimately up to you.

When deciding on the language, keep the topics mentioned above in mind.

Be honest with yourself at this point, because you want to make a decision that will keep you motivated in the long run.

The most important point is probably the first one mentioned – your purpose.

If you have a strong reason to learn a language, the difficulty and circumstances can always be overcome with hard work and passion!

If you end up choosing German, the rest of this website will give you great resources on how to learn the language!

Good luck with your decision!

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