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10 Advantages of Learning Japanese

10 Advantages of Learning Japanese

Did you know that learning a new language could actually make you smarter? Scientific research into language learning suggests that when you tackle a new language, it causes brain growth.

If you want to take advantage of increased brain power, you’ll no doubt be wondering what language to learn. If you’re seriously undecided, know that Japanese is a very popular choice for language learners. When delving into why that is, the reasons aren’t too surprising.

1. It Can Be The Basis for Learning a New Culture

During the process of learning Japanese, you will very likely learn all sorts of things about Japan itself. You’ll learn the history of the country and the differences in dialect between one region and another. You’ll also learn to use words specific to Japanese customs and culture.

This can allow you to slowly open up and learn more than you ever imagined about Japan, its people and its rich and interesting history.

2. It Is Not As Hard As You May Think

Although learning any new language can be difficult, you are already at a distinct advantage as a native English speaker. English is actually one of the hardest languages to learn.

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But any new language can be intimidating simply because it’s so different from what you’re used to. However, after you start learning some Japanese characters, you’ll be surprised by how easy they are to remember with regular practice.

Many people start out with the hirigana alphabet first, so consider learning these characters initially if you plan to be self-taught.

3. It Increases Your Job Options

As the world’s economies become increasingly global, it makes perfect sense to use language as a tool for branching out and increasing your business options.

Looking to work in Japan? It would make things work more smoothly if you learned the language rather than trying to find American-owned businesses or hoping like heck that your coworkers will understand you. You will find that learning at least one other language could greatly increase your job prospects.

4. It Helps With Greater Language Sensitivity

Once you begin to learn Japanese, it will amaze you how anyone could ever mistake it for Chinese, Thai or Korean.

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To the untrained and insensitive ear, many Asian languages may “sound alike.” However, as you begin to learn Japanese, you’ll be easily able to distinguish Japanese from Korean and Chinese.

5. You Avoid Having Things “Lost In Translation”

Japanese anime and television shows have become very popular in the United States. An entire generation of children grew up watching shows such as Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon and Naruto. However, it may come as a surprise to know exactly how much was lost in translation.

This includes anything from phrases being edited to “make sense” in English, to voice actors failing to capture the correct emotion in the original show, to American sensors trying to pass off PG-13 or R subject matter as “kid-friendly.” When you’re able to understand the original content for yourself, you don’t have to worry about inadequate editing issues.

6. It Makes It Easy to Make More Friends Online

For many users in the Western world, the internet is an “English-only” reality. As such, you may assume that citizens in Japan engage in online activities at the same rate as Americans. But this is HIGHLY inaccurate. Japan boasts a population that is among the world’s most internet savvy.

There is a simple reason why interaction between English-speaking Americans and Japanese citizens isn’t as great as it could be: Often these persons use Japanese-language sites. Learning Japanese will allow you to navigate these locations and find new friends to interact with.

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7. It Helps You Sing All the Way Through Your Favorite Jpop Songs

If you are a fan of Jpop (Japanese pop music), but don’t speak Japanese, you’re missing out on the complete enjoyment of the music you like.

You may think it’s enough to hum along to the melody and sing any English lyrics and words found in the song. But you’ll find it’s an entirely different experience when you can truly understand the meaning and emotion behind certain songs.

8. It Will Inspire You to Learn Other East Asian Languages

With the possible exception of Japanophiles, or persons exclusively fixated on all things Japanese, persons who learn about the Japanese language and culture may be moved to learn about other Asian countries and cultures.

It’s not unusual for someone to first learn Japanese and then move on to Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese or Thai. This will allow for you to greatly expand your understanding of languages and cultures in East Asia.

9. It Gives You a Less-Conventional Approach

Even though Japanese cartoons and video games are popular in the United States, language wise, Americans often opt to take on a European language.

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While others boast Spanish, French or German as a second language, saying you can speak fluent Japanese will make you stand out and can allow you to offer a unique perspective as compared to your peers.

10. It Could Help You Study Abroad

Japanese schools have high standards of learning at all levels of education. If you’re interested in studying abroad, Japan would be an excellent place to do so. Of course, studying in a different country would be most beneficial if you can speak the language very well, so make sure you are comfortable with all three Japanese “alphabets” (hirigana, katakana and kanji) before undertaking this endeavor.

As you can see, the reasons behind choosing to learn Japanese are varied. However, it can be a rewarding experience that helps you grow your knowledge of the world around you.

Featured photo credit: Infinity K via flickr.com

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Kayla Matthews

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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