Not a long time ago, I couldn’t decide whether to learn Japanese or Chinese as my 5th language.
I have been learning Korean since about 2010 and at that time, I was studying Japanese along with it. Since I was also learning Spanish at school, I had decided to delay my Japanese studies and focus on Korean back then.
Now after so much advancement, I felt that I was ready for the next step.
Originally, I had planned to learn Chinese right after catching up with Japanese but now I wasn’t sure if I wanted to learn a 6th language in general. Rather than speaking two more languages at an intermediate level, I want to aim for advanced fluency and perfect pronunciation, but also work on the other languages that I’m fluent in already.
Other than learning languages, I also do work on developing and nourishing other skills. We all have only so-and-so much time, and of course, I want to use my time in a way that’s most useful. Especially after having experienced the up and downs of life, it became even more important to me. I feel like the possibility that I “could” settle with this as my last language is high.
Learning another language that I could hardly use in my everyday life with real people is a downside to me. I had barely ever met Japanese people in my life, and more so, I didn’t have much to do with Japan anymore.
A language that you can barely use in your home country, although you feel so much passion for it right now, can be depressing later on.
I came to this conclusion through my experience with the Korean language. For instance, when it comes to Chinese, a positive factor is that Chinese (Mandarin) is the second most spoken language in the world. I even experienced situations where knowing Chinese would have been helpful. As for Korean, I had to create and search for opportunities. Just for the same reason that English makes my life easier, I don’t feel like I would regret learning Chinese.
As beautiful as Japanese is. There is a chance for me to regret investing time into something that is barely benefitting me.
I have invested a lot of dedication and time into my Korean studies and even if I wanted to, I can’t let go of it, I have to continuously weed the gardens to maintain my level now.
Deciding to learn a language, is like choosing to have children. Even after one has come as far as being able to speak it at a fluent level, the practice never ends. Once you stop using what you have, you forget.
Does that mean I regret learning Korean?
If were to think of positive things in the midst of all negativity, then this would be one thing that I’d think about to lift my mood. In fact, I even do it sometimes. To me, discovery is one of the greatest feelings on earth. It amazes me how people from the past play such big roles to the life that exists today.
The Korean culture has influenced me a lot. However, due to the spread of ridicule, racism, and hate among the foreigner and Korean learning community, I have started to treat it more like an expensive diamond that I don’t want to wear when I go outside. It didn’t use to be that and as I much as I’ve expected and celebrated Korea’s international success since 2009, this negativity is probably one of the side effects of the popularity. At the time, it’s impossible to ignore and pass by those things, and it makes me feel unhappy. I handle it this way because I want to protect it and my feelings for it. I expect that it’ll die down a bit at some point.
I understand that you can feel motivated to learn a language because you simply feel attracted to the culture. A lot of people learn for that reason, but something that we need to consider is that your feelings can change. We need to consider the intended use of it. Where will you use it?
Things that will help you decide:
- Try and test it out! Before I made my decision, I gave both languages a try. That helped me most to make a decision.
- I highly recommend making a pro and con list on each language. I created a few points below, but the lists will look different for every person. Feel free to let me know in the comments down below, I might edit them into this post later.
As said, one positive point about Chinese is the fact that it’s the second most spoken language in the world. That means lots of opportunities for usage.
Also, it can help you in your career, no doubt that Chinese will look very impressive on a resume.
The grammar is closer to German, so probably English too. I found the language itself very easily structured.
You will have a lot of characters to learn.
Has only 24 letters.
Korea is promising, it’s a country that is gaining more and more significance.
A lot of support and learning material for your studies.
Korea pushes for cultural export, you also have a lot of entertainment sources that you can use to study with. This point is a much more difficult aspect with Japanese though.
Have to make more effort to find opportunities to use it.
If you know Korean, it’ll be helpful because there are lots of similarities.
Three different scripts to learn: Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana
Depending on your situation, Possibly more difficult to use outside of Japan.
Japan is more closed off.