Why you shouldn’t learn Japanese

TOKYO —

Anyone with an interest in Japan should learn a little Japanese, I really believe. Daily life is much better when you know a few key phrases: Hello. My name is. Please. May I?  No really, please. Why not? Oh come on, please. You sure? Last chance. Well fine, be that way. Sorry for causing a scene. Even if I pay you? No? Hmph, well I didn’t want to anyway.

But when I say “a little” of the language, I mean it. Beyond a handful of survival sentences, you should give a really good think to whether or not you want to continue learning Japanese.

So this is Phase II of the Japanese Rule of 7 Learn Some Japanese project. Phase I was here. Phase III? Well, okay I haven’t written that yet. Hey, what can I say, I’m lazy.  Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, Phase II. The “selection” phase. For this, you’re going to want to find yourself a really tall mountain. The taller the better, preferably with a sturdy pine tree. Climb to the mountaintop and sit there. If there is a pine tree, then climb to the top of that and sit there instead. Then stay there for exactly one week. You should probably pack some sandwiches, now that I think about it, and maybe some beers too. Just think how refreshing they’d be. And while you’re there with your pine cones and sandwiches and beer, ask yourself: Do I really want to study Japanese? No, really.  Because here’s what it’s all about.

It’s Going to Take Time. A Really Freaking Long Time

I want to tell the world that learning Japanese is easy and fun. Because that would be great and the world would like that, and then I could sell the world some secret method that I dreamed up and I’d be rich and the world would be happy. But on a scale of 1 to Hot-Tub-at-the-Playboy-Mansion, learning Japanese slots in somewhere between soldering together your own black-and-white TV and copying the Bible by hand while wearing a Medieval monk outfit. Plus, it takes a long time.

Look, everyone thinks they can learn Japanese quickly, fueled in part, no doubt, by the number of websites claiming to help you do so if you buy their products. But honestly, when I look at the very few people I actually know who’ve succeeded, it’s clear why.  They got up at 4 a.m. every morning to do speaking drills, or wrote 50,000 flash cards, or went to language school five hours a day. Myself, I can honestly say I’ve spent at least 4,000 hours actively studying, and that’s not counting watching Japanese movies, singing karaoke, having conversations all day long in Japanese, and working in Japan.

Part of the problem lies with ever-loftier goals. At first, I thought it would be enough just to master some survival phrases. But every time I met someone, they asked me questions I couldn’t answer. So I learned more, until I could finally have a conversation. Then I wanted to have a longer, more interesting conversation, until eventually I realized what I really needed was to make myself understood in both speech and writing at roughly the same level I’m at in English. In other words, even fluency wasn’t enough. It’s a little bit like putting yourself through high school and college all over again, alone, in Japanese.

If I had to say how long it would take to get reasonably good at Japanese, I’d estimate a minimum of 3 to 7 years, and possibly much more, depending upon how much time you devote and how many advantages you bring to the table.

Safe Return Doubtful

Of the hundreds of people I’ve seen study Japanese over the years, only about 10 succeeded in speaking the language with any level of competency. The rest eventually stopped. You might want to give some thought to undertaking a project with a higher dropout rate than that oShackletonf the Navy SEALs. Just saying.

Of course, you can spend the years of your life any way you like, but it seems a shame to buy a cookbook, go to the store for eggs, flour and a cake pan, come home and mix up a batter, put it in the oven, and then half an hour later yank open the oven and throw the whole thing out the window. In other words, either bake the cake or do not. There is no try. Pretty sure Yoda said that.

Most people seem to last about a year and a half. They’re all balls-out at the start, and then after several months it dawns on them that it’s a much bigger task than they were led to believe. So be aware of how long it’s going to take. If you want to spend the years, you absolutely can do it. But think about whether you want to spend a decade on Japanese before you set out. Doing it halfway seems kind of a waste of time.

Opportunity Cost

This is a term economists use to make you feel bad about your behavior. If you spent $10 on a delicious dinner, well, see there Ken, that’s $10 you could have invested in the stock market, and now you’d be rich and could have two delicious dinners. That kind of stuff.

Studying Japanese takes some money, but more importantly, it takes time. In the 3 to 7 years you spent learning Japanese, you could have learned to play the guitar, and now you’d be in a cool rock band. Or you could have gone to the gym and now you’d have abs of steel. Or gone back to college. 

The Payback

I don’t like the word “problem.” I prefer “challenge.” And one of the challenges — oh the hell with it—the problem with Japanese is that it’s pretty much only useful in Japan. So how long are you going to be in Japan? Let’s say you turn out to be some super prodigy kind of dude and learn Japanese in just two years. Great, now I hate you. Whatever. If you stay in Japan for two years, then that’s 1:1 and maybe it was worth the time investment. But what if it takes you five years to learn and you only stay for a year?  See what I’m saying? I’ve known people who spent years learning Japanese and watching anime and reading manga and then once they got here . . . eh, it wasn’t as great as they thought it’d be, and they went home. Open window, insert cake.

You Really Don’t Need Japanese

Of the roughly 20 countries I’ve been to, Japan is probably the most set up to accommodate people who don’t speak the local language. Many foreigners live here with no more than a handful of simple phrases and do just fine. Lots of signs and menus are in English, and the entire population has received at least six years of English education.  Even if you try to speak Japanese, it may not work. Sometimes no matter how perfectly you ask a question in Japanese, you’ll get an answer in English, or at least dumbed-down Japanese. Contrary to many countries that demand you speak the local language, Japan sometimes seems to prefer you don’t speak Japanese.

Japanese Can Make You Less Popular

You know David Blaine, the magician guy? Think about like him at a party. People see him and they just wig out, like, wow, David Blaine! Do some card tricks or hold your breath for 10 minutes or something! And he’s like, Nah, I just want to drink a beer like everybody else. That would suck, right? You’d be like, I went to a party with stupid David Blaine and he didn’t even levitate or anything.

Well that’s you in Japan, unless you look super Japanese, and then people will be confused until they figure out you’re secretly white. Your magic trick is that you can speak English. That’s what everyone wants you to do. And every time you do it, and tell them about how big the cheeseburgers are back home and how people wear shoes inside the house, their eyes will light up and they’ll be like, wow, amazing!

And every time you speak Japanese, people will say, “Oh, your Japanese is so good.” And then they’ll try to speak English with you. You can say the most profound thing ever in Japanese, make the funniest joke, talk about the earth being taken over by space robots, whatever — and all you’ll get back is “Heeeeey.” But say any stupid thing off the top of your head in English and everybody will bust up laughing. English is a pretty upbeat language; Japanese, eh, not so much. 

Japan Isn’t all That

If you came to Japan for a vacation, you probably had a pretty mind-blowing time.  Everything was new, and everything was interesting. But it was also, in a sense, free, because you used money you’d saved up or you credit-carded it or something. Either way, you didn’t have to work in Japan in exchange for the experience you were having.

But once you live and work here, that changes. You can go clubbing, take trips to onsen, hang out all night in karaoke booths, but you have to work in order to make those things possible. And the more fun you want to have, the more you have to work. That realization changes the equation. It’s not fun for free once you live here.

Now, I like Japan, don’t get me wrong. And I like conversing in Japanese, and reading and writing it. But Japan’s still just a place, with plenty of both good and bad. That’s why it’s called Japan, and not heaven. The architecture — mmm, it’s not so great. The natural scenery — yeah, that’s not so great either. The people — ah jeez, well, you get the idea. But hey, at least the food’s good. That’s something.

Choose Wisely

So if you’ve never wanted to learn Japanese, here’s your big chance to do absolutely butt nothing. On the other hand, if you still really, really want to study Japanese, and make it a significant part of your life’s work, then I’m 100 percent behind you. Well, maybe like 90, but that’s pretty good anyway. So it’s probably safe to come down out of the tree now and continue on to Phase III. I mean, as soon as I write it. Okay, maybe you better stay up there a bit longer.

Author Infomation

Ken Seeroi
Ken Seeroi
I'm a professional writer, photographer, and occasional English teacher living in Japan. My writings are mostly humor mixed with social commentary, with the occasional foray into language education.
Website: http://www.japaneseruleof7.com
  • 12

    James Rogers

    Sometimes no matter how perfectly you ask a question in Japanese, you'll get an answer in English

    Exactly. Often when trying my hardest to speak Japanese, I end up wondering why do I bother?

  • 12

    Frungy

    Hilarious as always Ken, but you forgot my personal number 1 reason for not learning Japanese, the confused and panicked looks on the faces of the locals as I speak English and their brains scramble to try and assemble the scraps of English they learnt decades ago under some teacher who was more interested in grammar than speaking English.

    I do have a minor bone to pick:

    Of the roughly 20 countries I’ve been to, Japan is probably the most set up to accommodate people who don’t speak the local language.

    ... which countries are these? Seriously man, I've lived all on almost every continent and I've never met a country as anti-English as Japan... except for France, but they've got a good reason, that 100 year war thingy. Actually, now that I think about it, even France, with its actively anti-English laws, isn't as bad as Japan, because the French just sneered in arrogance at my speaking English, they didn't actually start panicking and look like I should dial 119 for an ambulance. While the French score quite poorly at English on international tests they're actually not bad at communicating in English.

    The Japanese on the other hand are god-awful at communicating in any language, including their own. You can have a whole conversation in Japanese consisting of one or two word sentences and monosyllabic grunts... its like trying to communicate with a teenager!

    My point though is that I'd love to know which countries these are. If they're "the north pole", "the south pole", etc. then I might acknowledge your point, penguins are notorious for their elitist attitude and refusal to speak English, unlike their more civilised equitorial relatives, the parrots, mynahs, and so forth. However, in my experience from sweaty Brazil to frozen Russia I've never run across a country with as acute an English-phobia as Japan.

  • 9

    Maria

    Japanese isn't that difficult to pick up, although of course it is difficult to get good - very good - fluent at (just like any language).

    You should persevere and learn to understand, speak, read and write Japanese as far as possible, because otherwise it's a massive waste of a good opportunity, and of your time here; and because otherwise you'll become a tiresome cliche of that foreigner.

    There are plenty of people who can use Japanese very well indeed. They just don't go on about it, continually apologising or justifying their lack of language, as non-speakers end up doing.

  • 1

    Brainiac

    I think that foreigners who don't wish to learn Japanese are quite fortunate in Japan. When I first came in the 1980s, I was surprised that many TV programs were bilingual, that signs were in English and that there were four English newspapers. It made me very lazy about learning Japanese.

  • 9

    wtfjapan

    "But Japan’s still just a place, with plenty of both good and bad. That’s why it’s called Japan, and not heaven" LOL thats the quote of the year!

  • 1

    wtfjapan

    well my Japanese is very average but that has not stopped me from earning a lot more than the average Japanese wage. you certainly dont need to speak Japanese well to be successful in Japan.

  • 1

    MumbaiRocks!

    This is a good article, thumbs up. I might add that I passed the 1kyuu japanese language test and did all the kanji card things and try to maintain competency by constant review. But, basically, I am just not that interested in anything that would pull me up to fluency. The few guys/gals I have seen that are truly fluent have a particular, genuine and deep interest in something Japanese like manga, or movies, etc. Without that fuel, the vast majority, including myself peter out. In the case of guys, I would say 99% of them learn Japanese to hit on women, and once they succeed or realize it is unnecessary, well then no need to keep studying.

  • 10

    timtak

    Japanese is a lot easier, more systematic, and suited to being an international language than English. The Kanji especially make Japanese easy non-European language to learn due to the systematic formation of the vocabulary from 1000 to 2000 building blocks, via agglutination. Learn 2000 English words and you may be able to converse at kindergarten. You'll need a thousand more to join primary school (at the above the level of Japanese learners) and you'll probably keep learning about one thousand words a year till your 40's if you are an educated native English speaker. Learn 2000 Kanji and blam, you can read a Japanese broadsheet newspaper. There are no tones, consonant clusters (try getting a Japanese person to say "clothes"), very few irregular verbs, no verb conjunctions, and completely transparent spelling (unlike ghoti/fish English). The difference between "wa" and "ga" is a bitch but not as arbitrary at the use of "the" (The Times, Newsweek, The Kings Head, Macdonalds). IME/ATOK make kanji input easy and Rikai.com and Firefox "Furigana injector" make reading them, with auto-placed "rubi" readings simple too. There are no relative pronouns, so making the most of a limited learner vocabulary is relatively easy - just put the adjectival clause in front of the noun. Google "Japanese as an international language" for more, and keep learning Japanese because, unlike most Japanese learners of English, you will get there.

  • 7

    kickboard

    Most people seem to last about a year and a half.

    Based on what? Your personal experience? Stories from friends? The thing you fail to mention in this "article" is that English is like a sport. Some people are born with the ability to pick it up quicker than others.

  • 12

    Jimizo

    'Japan is probably the most set up to accommodate people who don't speak the local language'. I take it he's not a fan of Ryokan.

  • 8

    ChibaChick

    Not speaking Japanese is your ticket to an easi(er) ride as a kindergarten mother. There were 3 of us furriners. 2 didnt speak a word of Japanese, and then there was me. The other two got away with a lot. I didnt.

    On the other hand now I am outside Japan you wouldnt believe how "cool" it is to be fluent in Japanese. Everyone is well impressed. I am enjoying my new found and temporary star-status because I give myself 6 months at the outside before I have lost the lot unless I can convince my husband that we need to speak it at home as he always promised we would. :-/

  • 0

    GJN48

    Spergin about Japanese here!

  • 3

    cleo

    And every time you speak Japanese, people will say, “Oh, your Japanese is so good.” And then they’ll try to speak English with you.

    Nah, what I find is people you meet for the first time hang back because they assume they can't communicate with you, them not speaking English and you being a furriner. Then they find out you can speak Japanese (usually by hearing you talking to someone else, and that someone else's head not exploding from the effort of trying to speak English) and heave a huge sigh of relief. Then they start telling you their life story.

  • 4

    nandakandamanda

    Cleo, that is probably more true outside the Tokyo anthill.

  • 0

    cleo

    nandakanda - Probably. But then why would anyone want to live in Tokyo anyway? (Well, my mil and her pals do, but none of them has ever considered for an instant speaking to me in English....)

  • 12

    Get Real

    you certainly dont need to speak Japanese well to be successful in Japan

    ..but how much more successful would you be if you did?

    (assuming that you realize the missed opportunities?)

  • 2

    Jimizo

    I work at an engineering/manufacturing company and one of the problems we often encounter is the poor use of written Japanese from Japanese. I'm a science major ( as you can probably tell from the standard of the English in my mails ) but I can at least write a set of instructions or specifications in clear, digestible English or Japanese if I have a native-speaking, literate proofreader. Japanese education does not pay anything like enough attention to how to write, or in some cases even speak and present, in a lucid, concise manner. The usual 'Japanese is very vague' myths are trotted by someone who has given me sheets of poorly written, vague garbage. Japanese isn't some magical code understood by those who share similar sensibilities. It's a language like any other which can be learned with effort, but many Japanese still buy in to the idea that it cannot be mastered by outsiders. If it is the vague, badly expressed Japanese have to put up with, many of our native-speaking Japanese translators haven't got a clue either.

  • 5

    papasmurfinjapan

    It’s Going to Take Time.

    It's funny that a bunch of gaijins living in Japan who won't/don't/can't learn Japanese always complain about the abysmal English ability of Japanese people. Of course it's going to take time. Is it worth it? That depends how much you want to understand the country and how deep you want your friendships to be, but I think knowledge is better than ignorance, don't you?

    Japanese Can Make You Less Popular

    If you are a single guy in a bar, true.

    But who wants to be friends with a person who only wants to use you for free English lessons? I have found that it is much easier to talk to people when they know you can speak Japanese. Like Cleo says, often people really open up to foriegners in ways they wouldn't to other Japanese people - though as nandakandamanda says, perhaps that is only in the sticks.

  • 3

    malfupete

    my son learned english and japanese... he's 4.

    I'd reason wtfjapan is successful in Japan is that because of his ability (or in this case lack of ability) means he can't be hired by a japanese firm, therefore saving his work/life balance and not being ko'd by having to work until 11pm every night.

    I'd definitely call that a success

  • 2

    John Occupythemoon Daly

    I've become highly disenchanted with learning Japanese. I studied in university, studied abroad, and it has been my goal to ace the level 1 of the JLPT for some time now, but, I have a terrible confession: since coming to Japan, my Japanese has GOTTEN WORSE. Why? I don't even need it to work in Japan. As I teach English, I speak English all day. My boss is American, so we converse in English, and on the occasions where I go out with students, they... you guessed it, want to practice their English. I have gotten very good at living in Japan, but besides daily conversation, I have no time to put in serious study (besides waking up at 4 am), and there aren't any reasonably priced Japanese classes in my city. It's really frustrating. I don't want to bail on the whole thing, as I've already invested so much time, but Ken nailed it: it's so easy to quit when there's no reason to continue. Ah, well, I'll keep trying when I can, but it's a shame I have to stop working in Japan to improve my Japanese...

  • 8

    CherryBlossomAngel

    It's just better to be dumb, naive and stupid then to make the effort. I have a friend that is a astrophysicist that works for NASA. I used to wonder why would anyone bother spending half their lifetime looking at a bunch of stars searching for the origins of the universe lol. I can think of a lot better things how one can be spending their time doing. Yet I wonder how many people have actually talked to one. My friend put it to me this way.

    Who has not felt a sense of awe while looking deep into the sky, lit with countless stars on a clear night? Who has not asked themselves if ours is the only planet that supports life? Who has not pondered the nature of the planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe itself? I seek to to explain through Science everything that we observe in the Universe, from the comets and planets in our own solar system to distant galaxies which are far beyond what anyone can imagine. By studying the cosmos beyond our own planet, I can try to understand where we came from, where we are going, and how physics works under conditions which are impossible to recreate on Earth. In astronomy, the Universe is our laboratory! That is why I am a astrophysicist.

    OK, that was a bit more of an answer then I was looking for but I had it coming lol. I could tell this is what he lived & breathed for and I respect that. In retrospect I didn't learn Japanese or continue to learn with the assumption of ever becoming a master of the language. I did it to challenge myself and try to push beyond my limitations of what I thought was possible. It helped me to become a better more attentive listener. In addition to being more discipline in my daily life as well.

    So that sure doesn't sound like a waste of time to me! Learning Japanese while extremely difficult is not unattainable as is climbing Mount Everest. You believe in something enough and are willing to make the sacrifices. As well as put forth the effort one needs to get there it's possible. In closing I grew up as a stutterer and dyslexic to boot. English was a nightmare for me and yet I prevailed. Japanese in contrast is just like me reliving my childhood all over again. Actually I am kinda ok with that! :)

  • 3

    gaijingaijin

    They made amazing country for themselves and even you stay here for 40 years you will not be integrated, whatever you do, learn language, get Japanese wife, ..... I am 63 very wealthy with Japanese wife and 3 kids, extremely unhappy. Live here for awhile and leave as soon as you can. I regret my life path and now I am trapped here.

  • -6

    Kent Mcgraw

    You should persevere and learn to understand, speak, read and write Japanese as far as possible

    It is not easy at all to learn Japanese and reading Japanese is two to three times more difficult. First, the words are not separated in Japanese writing so even if you have a dictionary, you do not know where one word ends and another begins. Second, the use of Kanji effectually makes it nearly impossible to be able to read. The Japanese spend from the time they are babies up through high school and college to learn Kanji and then there is some Kanji they do not know. I have met many people who sincerely try to communicate in English which is greatly appreciated. I have not met many that are willing to teach me Japanese. Sure, I learned the hiragana and the katakana but can't read anything due to everything is in Kanji and if there is some hiragana or katakana there is Kanji mixed into it. I just say, satpaliwakaranai, that has to be my favorite Japanese word.

  • 2

    cleo

    It is not easy at all to learn Japanese

    As malfupete points out, little kiddies can do it.

    the words are not separated in Japanese writing so even if you have a dictionary, you do not know where one word ends and another begins.

    That's really no problem. The big words tend to be separated by the kana in between, providing hints about grammar and stuff. それは問題ないよ。単語と単語の間に仮名が入るからね。See what I mean? It's only in very convoluted officialese that you get strings and strings of kanji with ne'er a break in sight.

    the use of Kanji effectually makes it nearly impossible to be able to read.

    Yet Japan has a 99% literacy rate....

  • 1

    papasmurfinjapan

    the use of Kanji effectually makes it nearly impossible to be able to read

    Actually a good portion of the world's population actually can read Kanji, with no problem. Just ask the Chinese.

  • 3

    therougou

    Not speaking Japanese is your ticket to an easi(er) ride as a kindergarten mother. There were 3 of us furriners. 2 didnt speak a word of Japanese, and then there was me. The other two got away with a lot. I didnt.

    What did you not get away with? You mean the other mamas invite you to all their events? I speak Japanese but feel I get away with certain stuff at the workplace just for being a foreigner.

  • 1

    therougou

    can't be hired by a japanese firm, therefore saving his work/life balance and not being ko'd by having to work until 11pm every night.

    Not everyone works that late. I am a system engineer and usually leave work before 7:30 (Normal hours are 9:30-6:30)

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    I don't know, Ken... this is certainly not your best work. The amount of times you say, "Whatever" really dulls it.

    "Of the hundreds of people I’ve seen study Japanese over the years, only about 10 succeeded in speaking the language with any level of competency."

    My guess is that you've met mostly foreign language teachers. And definite 'competency'? One thing people keep in mind is that when you study a target language, it is best to immerse yourself in that language as completely as possible, and is very hard to do when a large part of your day is teaching and/or conversing in your native tongue as well.

    It also depends on the person and not just their diligence.

    Timtak: "The Kanji especially make Japanese easy non-European language to learn due to the systematic formation of the vocabulary from 1000 to 2000 building blocks, via agglutination. Learn 2000 English words and you may be able to converse at kindergarten."

    Show me a Kindergartner that can write 2000 Kanji.

    "There are no tones, consonant clusters (try getting a Japanese person to say "clothes"), very few irregular verbs, no verb conjunctions, and completely transparent spelling (unlike ghoti/fish English)."

    All you're saying is Japanese is easy to learn while other language are not. As such in my mind that runs counter to it being ideal, especially as it's the national language in ONE country (there might be an island in Micronesia or the Marshalls... I forget!). There are more irregular verbs than you think, in Japanese, though I agree English has FAR too many and there's nothing you can do but memorize them, but your snippets of examples of how Japanese benefits from English having this or that do not mention all the archaic, difficult points they have in Japanese that do not exist in English or many other languages. No relative pronouns? Instead you change particles... not a whole lot different. And anyway, all you seem to talk about is Kanji, but what about Keigo and all it's formalities? And what about people who don't like Kanji? I happen to love it, but still.

  • 2

    therougou

    Do the irregularities in a language really matter at the end of the day? I mean, how many people have time to think about rules before they speak, anyway.

    My daughter was picking up English faster than Japanese (until she went to a Japanese preschool at least) despite the fact that I am the only one speaking English to her and at work on weekdays. She had no clue what Japanese words meant and would say "haha, that's Japanese!" when she heard anything other than English.

  • 6

    Peter Payne

    I barely know where to begin with this article. Yes, some good points about return on investment and all that. But everything good that happened to me happened because I took learning Japanese seriously. I frigging won my wife's interest because I could draw the kanji for 薔薇 (bara, rose) from memory...back when I could, before computers ate all my kanji knowledge. I now have a successful company with many employees and if I hadn't learned Japanese none of this would have happened.

    If you want to consider ways to learn Japanese without wasting your time learning to write kanji, we might have a discussion. Learn to read only, forget testing on writing kanji, do reading only...it could actually work out pretty well.

  • 1

    GW

    JohnOD,

    I you really want to do it keep at it & the single best thing you can do is take another job & i mean ANY job that throws in with the natives, unless your goal is to teach that is.

    Another long timer here, while doing good if I could go back to day 1 I would have come & left after 2yrs max. While I certainly dont regret what I have done & do its just that watching Japan decline & be poorly run is damned depressing.

    But if you can miss the misery of being a salary dude it might work for ya

  • 0

    wtfjapan

    Actually a good portion of the world's population actually can read Kanji, with no problem. Just ask the Chinese, well thats only usefull if Japanese & Chinese want to communicate with writing. there needs to be an international lanuage for communication, and thanks to the Brits for colonising many parts of the world, its now ENGLISH.

  • 3

    ReikiZen

    One's English ability will do little if nothing for you while in Japan. I have rarely if ever ran into anyone wanting to practice their English on me. It isn't as common as people are led to believe. It just creates more problems then not usually.

    Language is much more than just a means of communication. It is also an inseparable part of our culture.

    While there's still some debate among scholars whether or not a particular language influences someone's thought process? Which I very much believe to be the case. Or is it someone's culture that influences the language or both? In my own opinion language and culture are closely connected. Some have argued that all languages are dialects of one language, which is the human language. Even though they may appear very different, they are in fact very similar.

    Nevertheless, different cultures have a predominant fashion in which they use their language and they have differences which cannot be underestimated.

    Such as in the case of United States or Western Europe values self-expression and verbal precision. We are encouraged to be direct and to speak our mind. In the case with Japan as with other Asian cultures use an indirect style of communication. Words such as perhaps and maybe are used much more frequently than yes, no or for sure.

    In Japanese precise articulation is appreciated much less than speaking between the lines or being understood without words.

    Therefore the language is used quite differently in contrast. The style of language is focused on speaker and depends on a person's status and identity. If you wanted to learn Japanese, it would be impossible to do so without learning about their culture as well.

    Japanese pay a lot of attention to a person's status and use honorifics, which apply according to the rank of the person who is speaking and who he or she is speaking to.

    The word shopping for instance which is used quite heavily in the west does not exist in some other languages (such as for example in Russian) as a noun. Why? Because it is not a huge part of the other cultures. The same goes for the word fast food, which is not only not popular, but unacceptable in many other cultures. Another interesting example is the word ilunga.

    The Tshiluba language comes from the Republic of Congo and is considered to be the most untranslatable word in the world.

    Well so they say at least. Ilunga describes a person who is ready to forgive any transgression a first as well as a second time, but never for a third time. The point I am trying to make is that due to the very nature of the Japanese language. It is foolish to believe English will get you much if anywhere within Japanese culture and society. Unless you have your own personal translator that follows you around that is lol.

    Your English ability might win you some brownie points within some circles or a temporary flavor of the day. Yet that will quickly wear off and you will be hung out to dry before you know it.

    This article is a farce and is only playing on stereotypes which is not helping anyone here. The more you know the better off you are. This is coming from someone who had to learn this the hard way.

  • 1

    ReformedBasher

    @Dog

    Kanji, with it's multitude of readings, makes Japanese difficult even for Japanese.

    Pronouncing things like names perhaps but not for reading (with the occasional exception).

    I lived in Japan for 4 years before I decided to learn Kanji (as opposed to getting by with knowing just a few). It took me about 2 months of studying a page or two a night to become reasonably proficient. (Reading newspapers and magazines, etc). This is because I was able to recognize words I knew that I had never seen written before. Still applies, I can usually guess the meaning of words from the Kanji and/or context.

  • 4

    Thunderbird2

    I go to Japan for my holidays every year and I do my best to learn as much Japanese as I can... out of respect. Why should the locals have to struggle to understand my English? As for those who work and live in Japan, I would have thought that learning the language would have been essential.

  • 1

    MumbaiRocks!

    @JohnOccupytheMoonDaly: after objectively reading your post it is glaringly obvious that the only change you need is to get a job in a Japanese company. With a university diploma and some footwork asking friends and students to send your resume to small and mid-size company HR departments, you should be able to work in a JP company for about the same or slightly more than you currently make and they will WELCOME your desire to use Japanese. If you stay with the eikaiwa you can expect the situation to continue to ripen.

  • 4

    YongYang

    Of course you need to learn and understand the language of the culture you are in, otherwise you miss so much, the humor, the stories, the added weave to the human experience of the tapestry around you. If you're here, learn, embrace and enjoy.

  • 3

    ReformedBasher

    I guess your incentive to learn a foreign language depends largely how long you intend to live here, and how much you intend to become a part of the community.

    I taught myself for 2 years, practising with my friends, writing to penpals, etc, with the intention of staying here for as short as 6 months. Thinking I would be laughed at by all the other foreigners, I was amazed to learn that many foreigners never made an effort, even after living here for years.

    But that was back in 1991. These days I'm very happy to see (hear) a lot of foreigners speaking good Japanese. It shows. Most "natives" where I live are not surprised when I talk to them for the first time. "Oh, this guys speaks Japanese, that simplifies things". If anything, it's going to be about my speaking the local dialect - again, something I started late last year when I moved to a new region because how else would I understand what's going on around me?

    I agree with Get Real...

    how much more successful would you be if you did?

    Seriously, I understand short termers not bothering but otherwise, I personally think long term expats in any country who don't make the effort to learn the local language are parasites. It's not how good you are, It's whether or not you tried.

  • -6

    FizzBit

    I am definitely one of THOSE foreigners who haven't learned the language. 10 years living here. I teach english and I can tell you that a lot of English teachers who can speak Japanese use it in the classroom. Well, I can't. So the students have to use their English if they want to communicate.

  • 2

    80393

    English will get you much if anywhere within Japanese culture and society

    neither will japanese fluency if you dont look the part

  • -3

    Verisimilitude

    From personal experience, it is much simpler to go to a country, having learnt only a few phrases, and your counterparts, knowing nothing of your own language, to.. learn the language. Survival instincts are by far the greatest stimuli of the human psyche.. particularly in learning, to co-exist and survive. Support mechanisms are fine, but they can only go so far.. self-study, is the wrong word.. since from the day you are born till the day you die.. you never stop studying.. or rather learn..

    If you wish to learn a secondary language, first.. learn to love the country, before you utter a word. Because a baby, utters words.. once it feels secure, once it feels, a part of its environment.. and most importantly, once it feels accepted by those around the child..

    that is how i learnt Japanese and English simultaneously... ugh.. i despise Kanji.

  • 2

    ReformedBasher

    @Fizzbit

    If the real reason for not learning is as you say - fair enough. I'd still try to learn the basics so you are not a burden in the case of an emergency etc. (Assuming yo have not done so already)

  • 3

    Terrikus

    Kanji was a lifesaver for me. After learning how to speak Chinese, when I came over to Japan, I found getting around so much easier. I was like, This! This I can read! The more Kanji there was, the happier I was.

  • 3

    Rochelle Lantano

    while its true that its different when you are just "travelling" or vacationing in Japan VS living and working in Japan.. its true that a better lifestyle you want to acquire living in Japan the harder you need to work.. based on my experience yes, this is true.. BUT by all means I would not say that JAPAN is just another country..ARE YOU KIDDING ME ?

  • 1

    80393

    I would not say that JAPAN is just another country

    what would you call it?

  • 0

    Wakarimasen

    Taxis shops restaurants bars a bit of basic conversation and voila, life in Japan is breeze.

  • 0

    Rochelle Lantano

    80393 what would you call it?

    Culture is what I call it :)

  • 3

    80393

    Culture is what I call it :)

    as opposed to the cultureless countries?

  • 0

    Get Real

    I just say, satpaliwakaranai (sic)

    and ask if you can keep your shoes on?

  • 8

    Lowly

    It's not worth doing anything you don't want to do. Musical instruments take a notoriously long time to master, and if you really don't enjoy making sounds on the piano, why spend all that time practicing?? If you want to totally give up, get cable tv, and lie on the couch when not at work, and there will always be something to entertain your brain thingy.

    Of course it's worth learning Japanese. It is important to communicate with your fellows and really understand why ppl around you say/ and do the things they do. If you don't need it and don't want it, well, no one is going to care whether you study or not.

    As far as taking a long time to learn, that is debatable. A lot depends on your method and your study habits. (you can sit all day at the piano poking the ivories w/o learning a thing if you want to...)

  • 0

    yokatta

    Hahaha, good article Ken! Exactly, I've been in Japan for 20 years and I'm still getting away with my daily simple J phrases and a lot of English speaking.

  • 2

    tmarie

    As malfupete points out, little kiddies can do it.

    Little kiddies can speak little kiddie Japanese. They can't really read, can't really write and have to spend 12 years in the public school system learning kanji. Not exactly a great example. You're average eight year old can't read most of the train advertisements nor a standard newspaper.

    Frankly, I found the better my Japanese got, the more annoyed I became with the place. Ignorance is bliss and when I didn't understand the shallow conversations and yammering on about stupid things, the better I thought this place was. Nothing like being able to understand TV shows here to make the rose tinted glasses fall off and shatter.

  • 1

    Serrano

    "Even if I pay you? No?"

    Oh my...

  • 7

    Craig Dandridge

    This "Opinion" piece is based on a nonsensical premise: Why you should not expand your mind or learn about another culture.

  • 3

    yyj72

    Jimizo and tmarie, I couldn't agree more. Listening to my inlaws, you'd be hard pressed to find one complete sentence throughout the entire conversation. Love them, but they definitely were never taught how to express themselves in a lucid manner. I think the lack of education in this area contributes a great deal to the trouble Japanese have learning foreign languages too.

  • 3

    Ah_so

    Learn 2000 Kanji and blam, you can read a Japanese broadsheet newspaper.

    Timtak, sometimes it is better to not say anything...

  • -1

    WilliB

    Although it is a bit exaggerated, the writer makes some good points. Certainly for Tokyo it is very valid.

  • -3

    tmarie

    **Why you should not expand your mind or learn about another culture. **

    Not speaking the language doesn't mean you can't learn about another culture or expand your mind.

    Language is all about intelligibility anyway, no?

  • -2

    Iwandabaka

    I got here 27 years ago, never attended a class anywhere, passed the 日本語能力検定1級 (as if that counts for anything) ...it all comes with time and a sincere interest in talking with the sweet people of this country.

  • 7

    Patrick McCormick

    There's a few things about this article that rubs the wrong way to me: 1) That there really is no means of expanding your horizons in Japan by learning Japanese. False in a few circumstances. If you're a history buff (like me) or have family who are Japanese (like me) then all the more reason to learn the language. I can't count how many times I've gone to a museum or location and the English only covered half, if that, the content the Japanese covered. The Edo-Tokyo museum has a great exhibit in the early history of Edo, but try to see all the history in English only. It's pathetic. Learning the language will open new windows to understanding it. And as far as the family is concerned, they have little time to learn English, so it is a hobby of mine that leads to understanding with family.

    2) The premise that you shouldn't learn Japanese if you're only a tourist could be extrapolated to say if you are a tourist anywhere you never have to learn the language. Not quite. Yes there's signage, and helpful things IN TOKYO but venture outside of that bubble and things go downhill very quickly. I couldn't imagine being able to go to Shirakawa-go and not know a word of Japanese. Again, learning the language opens up new windows that if you want more than pre-canned phrases and easy-to-digest facts.

    3) And all those years of English language instruction haven't really given the native Japanese the ability to communicate whatsoever.

  • 2

    Jonathan Harston

    Bizzarely, the place I most used my Japanese was Hong Kong. I couldn't speak Chinese, they couldn't speak English, but we could both speak Japanese ;)

  • 0

    bruinfan

    TMarie,

    I don't always agree with you but your comment above was right on. I get more negs move for supporting good comments of others, than I do for making my own dumb comments, though.

  • -2

    thkanner

    Why you shouldn’t learn Japanese? iam 2years in japan now and didnt learn a word. and i will not even try to learn anything in the future. no point cos i always will be a foreigner here and i like it that they treat me this way.

  • 3

    lump1

    Let me try to expand your horizons a little. Why should you learn Japanese really well?

    First: Because it's good for your brain to master foreign languages, and the more different, the better. You get a slightly different way of thinking and of approaching problems.

    Second: A culture is encoded in a language. You can't understand a culture without it.

    Third: You might get a Japanese girlfriend, and unless you can switch languages back and forth, you'll always feel like you're the beta in the relationship. If you go out with her friends, they will always be humoring you with a switch to English, and they will become tired of this. If you meet her grandparents, you're going to want to have a normal conversation with them. They won't think you're serious if you didn't bother learning their language.

    Fourth: Gaijin who can't speak Japanese are more likely to hit a glass ceiling at work. Language skills don't automatically take you through, but they do improve your chances.

    Fifth: You have to climb out of the "contemptible valley" of your language skills. I made up that expression to be similar to the uncanny valley of animation. Here's the idea. When your Japanese is obviously a bunch of inadequate, strung-together phrases, the locals will like it. It looks like you're trying. When you become really fluent, they will also like it, because they can just speak to you effortlessly, and you sound as smart as you are. But in between these points, there is a contemptible valley, where your skills are good enough to converse, but you sound like kind of like an intellectually challenged Japanese person. Once your skills get good enough to where your mistakes sound like the mistakes of a Japanese child or moron - rather than an obvious foreigner - you've reached the depth of the contemptible valley. Whoever hears you can't help but suspect that you're shallow and stupid, even if they consciously realize that this is probably the result of a language barrier and not your stupidity. Once you're there, there's only one way out, and that's forward toward full fluency.

  • 2

    donburi

    @Iwandabaka, I think you mean 日本語能力試験1級

  • 6

    ksandness

    Sigh, this is an all-too-common attitude among expats from English-speaking countries. English-speakers are the first to whine if an immigrant to their country doesn't speak English the minute he or she steps off the plane, and if a national or local government provides official forms or signage or information in any language other than English, it is "coddling those immigrants who refuse to learn English."

    I've even seen websites that tout retirement overseas and assure the retirees that they can live in Mexico without speaking Spanish. (Any North American familiar with the English Only movement will see the irony here.)

    I'll give you my experience. Granted, I came to Japan for the first time as a student of Japanese historical linguistics and eventually became a translator. My experience was different from many people's study abroad experience in that I was one of two native speakers of English in the entire university. Most of the other foreign students were from Asian countries, such as Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, and our only common language was Japanese. I also lived in an apartment in an all-Japanese neighborhood and spoke English perhaps once or twice a week. I spent much of each weekday reading scholarly articles in Japanese. (I had already gone through Cornell University's FALCON intensive program and three years of graduate school before arriving in Japan.)

    During this time, I knew an expat couple who had lived in Japan for many years and took the same approach as the author of this piece, that you just need a few phrases. Worse still, their children, who had come with them to Japan as infants or toddlers, and were teenagers by the time I met them, did not speak Japanese.

    Aside from the fact that my language skills have been useful professionally, they have enriched my life immeasurably.

    For one thing, I can talk to anyone, not just people who speak English. I've had interesting conversations with people from all walks of life and of all ages. It's hard to maintain stereotypes when you've had in-depth conversations with all kinds of people. If I need to ask fairly complicated questions of train station employees or bank tellers, I can. I can get information and make reservations over the phone, even if the person on the other end of the line doesn't speak English. Many times, I have seen panic on the faces of retail clerks or ticket sellers, only to see them relax when I address them in Japanese and explain what I need.

    I am not illiterate in Japan. I can read signs, newspapers, magazines, even novels. If I have a layover in a country train station, I can pick up a newspaper and read it.

    I can understand what's happening on TV. Granted, much of it is inane (but if you think that inane TV is uniquely Japanese, you haven't seen the inanities shown to the viewing public in your own country recently), but being able to understand what is happening on TV can be a useful skill. I was living in a gaijin house in the summer of 1985 when the big JAL crash that killed 495 people occurred. I was the only person in the house who could tell my housemates what was going on.

    I'll never be mistaken for a Japanese person over the phone, and since I live in the States, I don't have many opportunities to speak Japanese. But I do read and watch movies, and when I visit Japan, my brain soon clicks into gear.

    People who live in Japan and don't speak Japanese beyond a few phrases don't know what they're missing. Saying "You'll never be accepted no matter how long you live here, so why bother learning the language" may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. True, you'll never really be Japanese, but many of my fellow translators have proved that you can live a full adult life in Japan if you bother to learn the language to what is called "professional competence."

  • 1

    JustinPascoe31

    I would LOVE to learn Japanese, hiragana and katakana, plus kanji. Any one interested in taking on a student?

  • 3

    Maria

    @JustinPascoe - you can learn hiragana and katakana in a few days - get some flashcards and a writing practice workbook. Easy as, if you knuckle down for a short while.

  • 3

    JustinPascoe31

    @Maria. Problem is pronounciation and recognition between the characters. I do know that Japanese kids learn the characters by relating them to pictures with a statement...kind of hard to explain. What I'm after is coaching. I can get the flash cards from many different web sites, but to learn the correct pronounciation and contexts, thats the hard part.

  • 0

    FizzBit

    @ReformedBasher

    I do.

  • 0

    CruisinJapan

    When I read the title, I was ready to disagree right away.

    BUT, You made a lot of great points, and I would agree that most of us here in Japan from other lands can just enjoy the adventure, eat the food, and stick to the essential phrases like "nama-biru kudasai!" and "okawari kudasai!"

    "A draft beer, please", and "one more, please!"

    Very will written!!

  • 6

    gameover

    For short-termers I completely agree there is no real need to learn much Japanese. Of course do so if you wish but its not required to enjoy life here at all.

    For long-termers or lifers I cannot understand the mentality behind NOT learning the language. There are lots of reasons to learn and it should need to be explained. For me personally the biggest reason is career. I work for a 外資系 but fluent Japanese ability is pretty much mandatory in my field and gives me an edge. Without Japanese my employment choices and potential for salary growth would be very very limited. Money is not a huge factor for me but if allows my children to have a decent life and education.

    But going beyond that, if I met someone in my native Australia who had been living there for than five- ten years and could not speak at a general conversation level then what would I think of them...? What you you think?

  • -1

    tmarie

    But going beyond that, if I met someone in my native Australia who had been living there for than five- ten years and could not speak at a general conversation level then what would I think of them...? What you you think?

    I would think that since they've lived there that long and manage, it appears they don't really have a need.

    If Japan really wanted to improve the language skills of foreigners they might want to oh, I don't know, stop having city/ward Japanese lessons at 11:00 on Wednesdays when no one can attend, start looking at their teacher trainer, look at the quality of textbooks... Let's be honest, much like Japanese learning English, those who manage to learn Japanese fluently do it inspite of the materials out there. Teachers, textbooks and materials here for Japanese are often 30 years behind those of other languages. The methods are outdated and the price they charge here for schools is crazy. Sorry but Japan really isn't offering any incentive to the average Joe who lives here.

  • 2

    tmarie

    I'd also like to ad that the literacy rate here is dropping. My average uni student writes things in easy kanji or hiragana and often asks other students how to write something in Japanese. Add in the katakana version for things and I don't think the Japanese language is doing so well even with the young Japanese.

  • 4

    Simon Rudduck

    I personally am very happy I made efforts to learn Japanese while I was living in Tokyo.

    1 It helped me understand the people around me much deeper than I could have without it.

    2 With 3 sets of characters, including kanji, it is intrinsically interesting, and a worthwhile hobby.

    3 It taught me something a little scary about myself: "how much of me is ALSO based on the culture I was raised in?"

    4 It's polite to make an effort to communicate with people in their country in their language.

    5 You meet different types of people. Not every person is interested in a free English lesson. Some of these people and I had pretty interesting & satisfying discussions in a mix of Japanese and English.

    6 Not every girl is interested in speaking English with a foreign boyfriend. Some of my most fulfilling relationships were with women like that.

    7 I have had numerous conversations with Japanese people in my own city in Japanese when I meet them here, and they love being able to confide/relax with a "foreigner" in their own language. (Much the way a lot of lazy-ass westerners do in Tokyo - may I add)

    A middle-aged American man sitting next to me on the Yamanote line saw me studying kanji once. He said - I'll never forget the arrogance - "Why are you studying for? All you need to say is 'hello' and the women drop their panties."

    I was mortified. Please don't think like this man.

  • 5

    Reinaert Albrecht

    You can say the most profound thing ever in Japanese, make the funniest joke, talk about the earth being taken over by space robots, whatever — and all you’ll get back is “Heeeeey.” But say any stupid thing off the top of your head in English and everybody will bust up laughing. English is a pretty upbeat language; Japanese, eh, not so much.

    Strange, over the 10 years that I've been visiting Japan this never happened to me (apart from drunk men in izakaya's). Maybe you talk to the wrong people in Japan?

  • -6

    nigelboy

    Of the hundreds of people I’ve seen study Japanese over the years, only about 10 succeeded in speaking the language with any level of competency.

    The remainder just bitches and whines about every one and everything and quite often letting their frustrations typed on this very site.

  • 2

    sighclops

    'Japan is probably the most set up to accommodate people who don't speak the local language'.

    ... yeah, until you leave the city! I've lived in the countryside, as well as the big city, and let me tell you things are VERY different out there...

  • -2

    papasmurfinjapan

    MY family is Japanese and trust me, knowing Japanese hasn't really been beneficial. I'd prefer to be the ignorant fool when it came to their enlightening conversations.

    lol. Sounds like my in-laws, but at least I don't judge the entire nation on the experiences I have with my wife's crazy parents.

    You can't understand a culture without it. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Care to elaborate? How do you truly understand a culture without knowing the language?

  • 0

    tmarie

    Who said I was judging JUST based on my in-laws? Mentioned TV shows as well.

    I guess you think we don't know anything about former civilizations and their culture because we don't speak their language, right? I guess all those articles that people read in their native language about different cultures doesn't mean anything, right? I guess all those deaf/mute/blind folks don't know anything about their culture, right? Do you think all Japanese folks have a clear insight to their culture because they speak Japanese or because they learn about it?

  • 1

    papasmurfinjapan

    Who said I was judging JUST based on my in-laws? Mentioned TV shows as well

    Oh, the in-laws and TV?? Well then, I stand corrected...

    You know it's sad that someone who has obviously spent an extended period of time in this country feels so bitter towards the locals. I hate to sound like a travel brochure, but if all you are judging Japan's worth on is your in-laws and TV, then you don't know what you're missing. Try making some real friends, get out more and enjoy the country, and you might just find the Japanese language is pretty damn useful for a person who has decided to settle down here.

    I guess you think we don't know anything about former civilizations and their culture because we don't speak their language, right?

    As always, you are being over-simplistic. Of course you can learn about a culture from a Lonely Planet guide or textbook, but the only way to truly (note that word, as opposed to superficially) learn and understand a culture is to immerse yourself in it. That's pretty hard to do if you don't speak the language, or even try and make an effort to do so.

    I guess all those deaf/mute/blind folks don't know anything about their culture,

    If they are deaf, mute, and blind, then yeah, they probably don't know as much as someone with all their senses in tact. But if they are deaf they can read and speak, if they are mute they can hear and write and if they are blind they can hear and see, so they still have the language to communicate. The foreigner who thinks Japanese is a waste of time doesn't. If they are deaf/blind/mute and on top of that have no linguistic skills whatsoever, then I'd wager, yes, they probably know little about their culture, or anything for that matter.

    Do you think all Japanese folks have a clear insight to their culture because they speak Japanese or because they learn about it

    Like I said, real culture is not something you learn in a textbook. It's something you experience. Go to Osaka, live among the locals, learn the dialect. That is a unique culture you aren't going to learn from a textbook. So do they have a "clear insight to (sic) their culture"?? Yes, more than the clueless foreigner at least. Do they have a clear insight into whatever you read on Wikipedia about what foreigners think is Japanese culture? (geisha, samurai etc..) Probably not, because that is not what Japan's living culture is.

  • 0

    tmarie

    **Well then, I stand corrected... **

    Indeed. Do I really need to add in the nattering from housewives in cafes, students on trains...

    I have some lovely J friends and all that jazz. You're lokking to argue and that's it. If you think one can't understand culture without language, you're going against what research has stated otherwise. But feel free to believe you are correct and scholars are not.

  • -2

    miamanera

    The architecture — mmm, it’s not so great. The natural scenery — yeah, that’s not so great either. The people — ah jeez, well, you get the idea. But hey, at least the food’s good. That’s something.

    10000% agree with you, ken :)

    and if you only want to find japanese girlfriend (s), for most of them....you don't really need english or others. they know exactly what "body language" means hehe :)

  • 0

    papasmurfinjapan

    If you think one can't understand culture without language, you're going against what research has stated otherwise. But feel free to believe you are correct and scholars are not.

    To make sure I'm understanding you correctly, by saying you don't need to know a language to understand a culture, are you implying that language has no influence on culture? If language does influence culture, then how can you understand it without understanding how the language influences it? Furthermore, how can you truly understand a language without understanding the culture? The two are intimately intertwined.

    I'd be interested to see this research you are referring to, because practically everything I have ever read states the exact opposite. Language has a huge influence on culture.

    Here's just one example from the WSJ. Hardly an academic journal I know, but good enough for JT. The sub-heading, just in case you don't bother to click it is "New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world" In other words, if you want to understand the Japanese, you really need to learn the language. If you learnt the language, but you still don't understand them, then you haven't learnt enough.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868.html

    You see, it's not enough to know the vocabulary of a language, you need to understand the cultural baggage that is connected to it to really "get it". To Japanese people the word "Judas" is just another name; only when they learn the meaning attached to it by Christian culture do they understand why in English it means "traitor". And so it is in Japanese, and every other language.

    Knowing about a culture, and knowing a culture are two different things. I know about the culture of South Korea from reading a few history books and travel guides on the country, I even learnt a bit more by travelling there a few times with nothing more than rudimendtary Korean skills, but I do not presume to truly know the cultural idiosyncracies of the country because I do not understand the linguistic nuances that play an important part of everyday communication, and thereby make up a huge part of the living, breathing culture of the people and country.

  • 5

    tranel

    Whooo... another gaijin who thinks it's perfectly ok to move to another country and live there and expect to be treated as a responsible adult alongside everybody else... without bothering to learn how to speak, read and write.

    What is it with native English speakers in Japan? Why do I encounter this attitude so much?? Ah sure ain't gone learn any goddam Japanese, dats juust too dam haaard.

    Yes, always take the easy way forward. If you can avoid something, do it. What a shitty shitty attitude. Unsurprisingly, the very same people tend to fume at the ears at the thought of people living in THEIR country without, you guessed it, learning to speak, read and write English properly.

    As for Japanese only being useful in Japan... er, no. Useful only in a Japanese context maybe, but once you speak business Japanese well, it is a skill you can use worldwide. I know.

  • 0

    Juju1

    Hmm interesting...

    Just because the Japanese have had English training in Jnr. & Snr. High doesn't mean they will be confident enough to speak English. I've been here a little over a year & around 95% of my experiences shopping, going to restaurants/cares etc. trying to converse in basic English have failed. I ask " Can you speak English?" (even in Japanese) and most likely I get a shake of the head. Maybe they're just too shy? Or maybe they seriously don't know what to say? So okay I try a little Japanese. I'm seriously terrible at it in all facets, but in order to live at least a little bit more comfortably it's important to try.

    Therefore, it brings to the point that if you're gonna live here you need to learn the language. That goes for any other country! It's not just to speak with people like I mentioned above, but also to be able to understand things you read or announcements, performances you occasionally see in public and the list goes on....

    I do admit that some organizations are not foreigner friendly for example I just received a letter about renewing my health insurance & it was written entirely in Japanese. I'm thinking...My name is obviously foreign so I would think there would be an English version just in case.... MY POINT BEING... If you're going to live here learn the language, also don't expect to get a response in English all the time!

  • 4

    DP812

    Even if you're not going to stay in Japan for a long time, it will still make your life a lot easier if you learn Japanese. The whole novelty of being a native English speaker tends to evaporate after you've been here for a few years, unless you go somewhere else.

    If you're going to live in any country for any length of time, it's always a good idea to try and learn the language as much as possible. It's just common courtesy I think. You may never become fluent, but you should still make the effort.

  • 1

    Alyse Johnston

    In all honesty, I just find the language interesting. I hate english, it makes no sense, breaks all it's own "rules" and I use the word "rules" very loosely. Japanese sounds and is much more structured and makes more overall sense. And not to be picky with your article here but even though people in Japan take english classes does't mean they are fluent or can hold a conversation in english. Most high schools in the US require students to take a language and most are not going to be able to speak well in that language. I myself took spanish for a total of 9 years (2nd grade to sophomore of HS) of my schooling and I can't hold a conversation with a native spanish speaker to save my life. And like I said before English is a sucky language that makes no sense, even native speakers can't speak it properly. Just saying.

  • 1

    Frank Brown

    Thank you so much for your timely article. Timely for me anyway. Amazing that you should post it right as I am considering moving to Japan and learning Japanese. My interest in learning Japanese comes from the number of jobs in my field that ask for bilingual people. Your comments on opportunity cost were especially enlightening. (I was an economics major back in the day.) I am not a young guy any more and so if I only have twenty to twentyfive years left, do I REALLY want to spend a significant percentage of them leaning Japanese? Probably not so much. I really like your sense of humor and I will continue to read your posts. Thanks again.

  • 0

    Ernesto Romero

    So... don't do it because it is hard and takes time/effort? That's what I took from your article, ridiculous.

  • 1

    Aline Frost

    So... don't do it because it is hard and takes time/effort? That's what I took from your article, ridiculous.

    nah, he's not saying 'don't do it beacuse it takes time and effort', but 'consider if this huge amount of time and effort is worth it.'

  • 1

    Aline Frost

    This article has a point. I've been studying japanese for a year and a half now, and I'm kind of going through a crisis. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like the challenge, but I really don't know why I'm learning it. It seems pointless for me, you know? I don't like anime/manga, I don't plan to be an expat in Japan, I'm not a friend/girlfriend of any japanese... But at the same time, now that I spent so much effort learning it, it seems a waste of time to stop now...

  • 1

    Daveydoh

    I just want to learn Japanese to watch my anime without subtitles, and also if there's ever a mind reader and he only speaks English I can speak in Japanese and he won't be able to understand what I'm saying...I can do that with Portuguese and Spanish too, but that's not nearly as fun.

    but I really don't know why I'm learning it. It seems pointless for me, you know? I don't like anime/manga, I don't plan to be an expat in Japan, I'm not a friend/girlfriend of any japanese... But at the same time, now that I spent so much effort learning it, it seems a waste of time to stop now...

    Then really why do anything at all then? Why breathe? Why learn the guitar? Why even get a boyfriend? Why smile to the camera? In the end, were all going to die anyway, it would all have been a waste of time!

    If you learned something that you found enjoyable at the time, don't regret it. Who knows maybe someone like you may stumble upon you and they will need help and you can help guide them or write an article like this of your experiences. I don't know maybe I'm just foolishly optimistic, I personally enjoy teaching people the things I learn it's so fun when they are able to learn it too. But then again we are all different, and I'm probably just a young sap.

  • 2

    Herrick Mak

    lol so wrong I spent less than 2 years I can almost read everything except newspaper. kanji is too easy for me the more kanji there are the easier for me because I am Asian haha. never wrong to learn a language, you meet more friends with it.

  • 1

    Herrick Mak

    the hardest part for me is actually just remembering the kunyomi only I can get the meaning once I see the kanji directly. why are you talking about opportunity cost and all that. you better off studying Chinese instead as the job market and economy is growing so quick in china. well I'm native in Chinese and very fluent in English, learning Japanese is merely interest, meeting Japanese friends and potentially getting a job in Japan in the future. no offense I often see Koreans Chinese speak native level Japanese more than that of English speaking countries.

  • 2

    Adrian Bitsinnie

    I still want to learn Japanese I'm 15 learning guitar, trying to learn 2 different languages and in highschool! To make it better i already know 2 languages, so I guess you could say I'm in my prime for learning, its going well so far! :) it's very, very hard though because school takes up a half a day and then I got football practice. :(

  • 1

    eikaiwaisascam

    The article is probably based on someone who has been living in the urban areas of Japan. Yes it is true in urban areas many Japanese will speak English to you if you try to communicate with them in Japanese. As someone who has spent many years in rural Japan I can tell you it is almost the complete opposite. Many Japanese will speak to you in Japanese. Many can't speak English so won't reply to you in English. So there is an argument out there that the best way to learn Japanese is to live in a rural area. You can get good at speaking Japanese after 3 years provided you have spent a lot of time with Japanese people. Some foreigners speak excellent Japanese, many don't. Reason why? The foreigners that speak excellent Japanese have probably studied 10 times harder than you and spent a lot more time speaking in Japanese with Japanese people. There are no shortcuts. I speak excellent Japanese but it took me a lot of hard work to get there. I've met other foreigners with excellent Japanese and it took them hard work too. The thing I noticed is I see a lot of foreigners with Japanese wives who don't speak Japanese well despite the long years in Japan and having partners whose native language is Japanese. It goes to show you can have all the tools at your hand to master Japanese but if your not truly prepared to make the efforts required you won't master it.

  • 1

    Yun Kang

    Kind of a dumb article in my opinion. The gist of this was pretty much don't learn Japanese because it's too hard, you won't use it, you'll still be seen as a foreigner, and because Japan isn't some fantasy land. Okay, fine but the reality is that if you intend to live in Japan, work in Japan, you MUST learn the language. No matter how easy it is to live there with no ability to speak Japanese. The only way to make your daily life easier in a foreign country is by learning the language. In order to converse with the locals, your coworkers, customer service staff, you need to learn the language, in order to ask questions you need to learn the language etc. This whole business of "Japanese don't want you to speak their language" is bullcrap. Plain and simple. That attitude does nothing but try and rationalize laziness and lack of effort and it's pathetic to be honest. Yes, Japanese people when they see foreigners will automatically assume that they cannot speak the language, nothing wrong with that because MOST CAN'T. However, when you show proficiency in the language people are going to speak to you in Japanese whether you like it or not. The whole novelty foreigner status gets old quickly after people realize that you can speak fluent Japanese. The only downside to this is that once Japanese people realize that you can speak fluent Japanese, they will often hold you to the same stupid rules that they hold other people (honne, tatemae, etc).

  • 1

    Andromeda18_

    I've been to Japan and thought the architecture was great (at least the architecture of old buildings, of which there were many) and the natural scenery beautiful. Different taste, I suppose. As for the people, they were pretty nice while I was there (nowhere else in the world has someone offered me, a complete stranger, shelter from the pouring rain inside his/her own house) but I admit 3 weeks isn't enough to form a valid opinion about a country's population.

    For me, the problem with this article is that you assume learning Japanese has to serve a purpose, but that's not necessarily true. I don't want to learn Japanese to go to Japan. Sure, it would be nice to speak the local language in any country, but I want to learn Japanese because it's a language I love. I just love the way Japanese sounds. I don't need a practical reason for wanting to learn Japanese, but given the amount of Japanese books/manga I read, the amount of anime/Japanese movies/Japanese TV series I watch, the amount of Japanese music I listen to and the amount of Japanese games I play I'm pretty certain it would come in handy.

    Will it take a long time? No doubt about it. Will it be hard? I already know enough Japanese to know it's no picnic. However, had I started learning Japanese over 10 years ago when I first became interested in it I would be a fluent speaker/reader/writer by now. I kept postponing it because I was too busy and it would take too long, but the truth is the years passed and if I had spent 1h every day studying Japanese I too would have spent at least 4000 hours doing it. I don't regret wasting my time learning a language that probably has little practical application. I regret not wasting it. Plus, Japanese pronunciation is very similar to my native language's pronunciation (Japanese pronunciation is actually a simpler subset) so at least that part of learning the language is easy for me.

  • 1

    ivilares

    And the more fun you want to have, the more you have to work.

    Isn't that the case anywhere you live? I don't think it is something that only happens in Japan... As for learning Japanese, it's the same with any language you try to learn. It takes hard work and constant practice. You need to try and listen to it everyday and try to learn things on your own, not only in class. People drop out a lot and sometimes you need to think "am i really going to use this language in the future?" before you get into any kind of course or classes. But anyway, I don't think we should discourage people to try and learn a new skill, even if they do drop out in the end. All they were trying to do was to improve themselves and to learn more about something unknown to them, and I think that's pretty great.

  • 2

    Astromech

    I feel that I have been trolled by this post and by many of the comments. But, for any poor sole that is confused by this post or possibly starting to agree or believe in this balderdash, please, please, please look else where before giving up on a wonderful hobby or life changing pursuit. There are actually more people outside of Japan that speak Japanese fluently than there are in Japan. Ever been to Brazil? Yes, Japanese is not used as much as Chinese, Spanish, French or English, however it is still in the top 10 languages by usage. Learning any second language is valuable regardless of where in the world it is used. Also, Japan is an extremely influential and powerful nation with many opportunities for those with an interest to coming to this wonderful country. I have lived and worked in Japan as an Engineer and as an ALT teacher. As a teacher, I was surrounded by other English teachers and to be honest it was the most stifling time I had had in Japan. Their outlook was very narrow and there experience was limited as they mixed with themselves or the "few" japanese people who actually wanted to be around English speaking people. Sure, Japan has a huge population and it is not hard to find someone who wants to learn english (simply because of the numbers), but there are many many others learning Chinese (becoming more and more popular in schools) and German. The Japanese people who wanted to be around the English speakers would tag along with anything and everything the "English" speakers wanted to do and that included many nights at the local expat bar and heading over to each others homes for drinks and parties. Was it fun? Sure, but in a limited way. This is no different to Japanese clubs back in Australia where many aussies go because they think they love and "know" japan (they like anime and jpop culture) so they try and mix with Japanese people and in tern follow them around everywhere. Once I had broken away from that group, I started to head out on my own. I saw more of Japan, the country (88% forested, ha who knew) and so many gorgeous little country towns. I decided to start talking to people. Just approaching local people. I tried to use the language and people everywhere, young and old were generous to my outreach. I ended up staying with people, given meals, invited into homes, and made many long term relationships. There was zero english. I still have a long way to go with my study as do many people learning any other language, but if you are truly interested, you will stick with it. If you go out and try, really try, to make authentic relationships you will improve and enjoy. Forget about the expat bars. Thats NOT an experience that you will benefit from. To be honest, you will probably just be around ethnocentric, complaining american teachers. Oh, by the way. It seems that every job I have had in japan (other than teaching) wants you to learn japanese, provides all foreign workers with Japanese lessons and tutors and communication at work toward you is moved to japanese as quickly as possible. Keep with it.

  • 1

    Peter Payne

    As a bilingual American who loves Japan, I want to angry with this post, but it raises some good points, especially about opportunity cost for individuals who might not stay here that long. People should read and consider before engaging in a huge program to learn Japanese.

    I plan to live in Spain for 3-5 years in my old age, and I'll be happy to learn "enough but not too much" Spanish.

  • 1

    Steven Thacker

    The author brings up a lot of good points. However, I think that if you are planning to live in Japan for a long time, you really ought to study the language. You can just study a few hours a week and combined with the fact that you are living here, over the years you will not regret putting in this effort. To become great at Japanese is a whole different story and requires a lot of serious, hard work. If you are planning to live here only 1 or 2 years then you would be seriously wasting your time if you tried to get "good" at Japanese (unless you are Korean or can already read Chinese, etc.). When I come across people who have been here 5 years+ and can hardly say more than a few words, my honest reaction is "what the heck?" I think it's shameful honestly. I feel like you have no respect and are kind of a fool. I mean, you can't talk to the vast majority of the people in this country. Although Japanese people probably wouldn't say it, they probably think you're a fool too.

  • -1

    Daemon Ryuou

    I thing this article is just stupid. There is nothing wrong with wanting to learn the native language of a country you're visiting. As someone who lives in an english speaking country, it aggravates me when people make my life more difficult by not speaking english when they move here. It's out of respect that if I'm visiting a japanese speaking country that I will at least attempt to communicate with them in japanese.

    The mindset of the author of this article is very egotistical. It's as though they feel they're entitled to be awe'd at by people who speak english and japanese simply because they themselves speak english and japanese. If you're going to learn any language, you should do it for the right reasons; like being able to have more relaxed conversation, closer relationships, better opportunities, a sense of independence, or for academic purposes.

    As for the question of difficulty, Hiragana and Katagana aren't difficult at all. I actually learned to read and write Hiragana in just 3 days just by repeatedly writing them in sets of 5. As for kanji, yes it is difficult, but let it register in your head that Kanji is not only used by Japanese, but also Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. You're essentially killing 4 birds with 1 stone. No one expects you to learn every kanji character; and just like english you can often determine the meaning of something you don't know from context.

    There's also the matter of the assholish demonization of Japan in this article. Oh? You actually had to work to eat? Am I supposed to be surprised or sympathetic about this? This is true no matter what country you live it, it's a fact of life. Don't get pissy and badmouth another country because you had dreams of partying 24/7 without a care in the world and got a reality check.

  • 1

    Serrano

    This article didn't include the #1 reason for not learning Japanese:

    It's way easier to ignore the inane chatter of schoolgirls and obaasans if you don't understand what they're chattering about, lol.

    "As a bilingual American who loves Japan, I want to angry with this post,"

    Hee hee!

  • 2

    Alaina Miller

    My personal opinion, if you live in a country, and plan on living there indefinitely, learn the language. Doesn't mean you have to be perfect, but you should try each day and make an effort to communicate in the language of that country. In the end, it will cause less problems for you, and it won't cause the natives of that country problems.

  • 2

    NeonFraction

    I actually enjoy learning Japanese in the same way other people enjoy taking a pottery class or listening to music. It's fun and useful. Because please do not believe for one second that learning Japanese will hurt you. It doesn't take long in Japan to figure out that having knowledge is always better than remaining ignorant. At the very least, you'll have to learn simple kanji, katakana, hiragana and basic spoken phrases.

    I feel like a lot of people forget that just because it's easy for YOU to not speak Japanese in Japan, you're being inconsiderate to everyone around you.

  • 1

    MrMojo

    Don't know why the majority of people think it's bad to learn a second or third or... language. It opens your mind to other cultures and it makes communication fun even if it is frustration, considering your not a native speaker of that other culture.

    Learning Japanese is like learning another language... it takes time and effort! Yes, it's better to keep using it so you retain it but it's NOT a total waste of time. The hardest parts are not to just quit, saying it's a waste of time, which it's not and to keep the perseverance of learning both the written and spoken language. It's harder to learn as an adult. Imaging trying to learn most words from the dictionary but in another language? That's how people learned in a formal educational setting when learning English. Now let's learn another language. Woah! There's no such thing or it's different as an adult which is EXACTLY true as kids and adults learn things differently!

    Why should people learn English? Let's just insult the English speaking world, which isn't much considering that there's lots more languages on Earth though English is one of the most primarily language currently used today.

    How's it different than others learning English? The tones of the variant comments are very narrow minded if not somewhat prejudiced.

    "...the use of Kanji effectually makes it nearly impossible to be able to read." Seriously?! Kanji is Chinese characters. If you learn kanji, you learn Chinese. Sure, it's pronounced differently and may be interpreted differently in Japanese, but you'll learn how to read, write and speak Chinese! Ever think of that? Of course NOT, based on the comment!

  • 1

    Zeedraak

    This article didn't include the #1 reason for not learning Japanese:

    It's way easier to ignore the inane chatter of schoolgirls and obaasans if you don't understand what they're chattering about, lol.


    Do I really need to add in the nattering from housewives in cafes, students on trains...


    In that case you shouldn't learn ANY foreign language at all and better still, forget you own language. The nonsense that is coming out of peoples mouth in trains, cafes, shops is cringeworthy all over the world.

  • 1

    pablo944

    Haha Ken, your post is very amusing although you are missing a very important point (at least from a male perspective). Japanese women are so beautiful! Is that not why western men wish to learn Japanese? Learning a new language is but a small task considering the possible rewards.

  • 0

    Daniel Knox

    I disagree with pretty much everything in this article. Discouraging people from learning more than basic survival phrases is, to me, propagation of ignorance to the extreme. I assume this article is targeting people who live in Japan, so when I look back on my 3 years and imagine that I'd taken this advice, I would have only squeezed a fraction of the enjoyment that I have so far. Let me break down the points: 'It's going to take time'. Learning a new language tends to! Yes, Japanese is very difficult, but if you concentrate on its easy points, the simple pronunciation, the limited vocabulary (I dare you to count the number of words for 'delicious' in common use), and relatively simple grammar, and spend a bit of time on the writing system, most people will be OK. Anyway, since when is something taking a long time a good reason not to do it? It takes a long time because English and Japanese are very different. Therefore it takes a long time for the Japanese to learn English. Isn't it nice to meet them halfway at least? 'Safe return doubtful'. Yes a lot of people 'give up'. Or do you mean they go home after spending a year or so working here? I don't think it's really the same thing. Either way, learning as much of the language as you can while you're here increases your enjoyment/appreciation tenfold. 'Opportunity cost'. Moot point. Everything has an opportunity cost. Spend 3 years learning Japanese, or spend 3 years learning guitar. I'd take Japanese I think.. 'The payback'. I don't really understand the point here. So people spend time learning Japanese and then find it's not worth it? Each to his own, but I probably wouldn't be able to relate to someone like that. 'You really don't need Japanese'. OK so this might've been written by an Eikaiwa teacher who's only friends with high-level English speakers. Oh and signs at stations are in English! Yay, I don't need Japanese at all! And if they don't understand me I'll just point and speak a bit louder! Let me honestly say that 90% of Japanese people I meet are relieved that I can converse with them in (admittedly not perfect!) Japanese. And that my understanding of people is enhanced by speaking to them in their mother tongue. 'Japanese can make you less popular'. What on earth...? I don't remember someone being more popular than me because they COULDN'T speak Japanese. Some of the parties I go to, if I bring someone who doesn't speak Japanese, then I practically have to babysit them. At my work, if I couldn't speak Japanese, I'm guessing no one would bother talking to me. And I'm an English teacher!! 'Japan isn't all that'. This one is the most aggravating.. So things cost money in Japan? And I have to work to enjoy them?? Nope, looks like Japan isn't for me after all!! I probably sound like such a Japan-geek. The irony is, I would've agreed with most of this in my first 6 months here. But now looking back, it's the kind of mindset that I could've done without.

  • 0

    Egle Singh

    I have read this all very interesting article and all the comments. I've been thinking about this for so long! First I started to learn Japanese when I was 23 just like that without any reason. I wanted to see how kanjis work and all that. I got hooked up and spent loads of money on books during the 3 years I was trying to study it on my own. I never seemed to have time for drills as I have children and a busy home life. I was desperate to go to Japan but then realized that it's pretty unrealistic so I quit learning Japanese FOR GOOD. I can understand and agree with every sentence in this article. This is a fact, this is true. All the points are totally correct and valid.

    After 3 years or so when I realized I've learnt my 3rd foreign language almost to the fluent level I felt I was bored and needed something in my life. For example: an extremely difficult foreign language. The candidates were Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and two Indian languages. I felt like I've achieved everything in material life and there was nothing to it. I felt I didn't want new clothes, new things, new trips - nothing. When I really thought what I wanted was the joy of using Japanese. But this time my priorities were different (I was very careful in setting my priorities):

    1. I don't intend to become fluent in Japanese necessarily;
    2. I will speak and write it even if it's wrong and people laugh at it;
    3. I will use it everyday and it doesn't matter if I'm ever going or not going to Japan;
    4. I know that what I like about Japan can be only experienced in Japanese novels, samurai movies and museums;
    5. I know that even if I was fluent in Japanese, I would hardly ever "open up" with someone as I don't do that in my own language and I am not very outgoing either;
    6. The reason why I want to learn Japanese is I like Japanese writers, movies and books. I can include music and songs too.
    7. For that I don't need to live in Japan because if my priority are books, I can buy them from amazon.jp or read online.
    8. I think one should only learn the language if they intend to use it.
    9. One should learn the language not because of others but because of themselves. So, not because of Japanese or for Japanese but for oneself. Even if the whole Japan will speak English with you and Japanese - between each other, will it be fun to think they might be laughing behind your back in Japanese. And this applies to every language.
    10. After coming back to learn Japanese after the 3 years break I've noticed I could remember many words and many kanjis. And what I've learnt was so much more than when I started of from 0. We should divide the process into small steps and be grateful when we achieve them.
    11. 5 minutes a day is better than 8 hours on Sundays. If we get into a habit to do Japanese a little and daily, there will be no stress and no overwork. The same with body building. You just need 20 min of exercise per day and a perfect diet - secret to perfect body. The art is to stick to it for a long time.

    That's only my conclusions and how I motivate myself. We should enjoy the process, if we don't, we should review our motivations. If there aren't any, we should create them. If learning Japanese doesn't seem worth it, look for a reason that will make it worth it. The reason shouldn't die when we meet a bad Japan related experience. Imagine you were a Japanese in your past life. So you are a Japanese, you knew the language. No one can take it from you. So you can remember it quietly :) You refers to myself or one.

  • 0

    jenifadesu

    I wish I hadn't wasted all my time NOT learning Japanese. Now I'm paying for it. My Japanese mother was our only contact - both verbal and written - to our relatives in Japan. Now that her health is failing, I'm relying on translators and my crappy, broken Japanese to keep in touch with them. We had a human Japanese textbook whenever we needed one, and neither me or my siblings took advantage of that. But, ours is an isolated incident. Just venting.

  • -1

    Afie Amaliya Afiefah

    Oh My, your article has made my eyes open! I've learnJapanese at least for 4 years in college. But i have no confident to speak with Japanese at all (I really have trouble with this). Thanks a lot! I hope i got this confident in other languages too.

Login to leave a comment

OR
  • 営業/建設機械  

    営業/建設機械  
    MB Japan 株式会社、埼玉県
    給与:給与要相談 歩合制 給与参考例・・・2013年度営業職月給平均 45万円  
  • Teacher for Children and After School Care

    Teacher for Children and After School Care
    Spike and Ai International After School、神奈川県
    給与:月給 26万円 ~ 30万円
  • スクールスタッフ | School Staff

    スクールスタッフ | School Staff
    ファーストラーニング松戸校 - First Learning (Matsudo)、千葉県
    給与:月給 22万円 ~ 25万円 相談可 3ヶ月のトレーニング/見習い期間は18万円/月からスタート
  • External Affairs Media Coordinator

    External Affairs Media Coordinator
    The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan / 在日米国商工会議所 (ACCJ)、東京都
    給与:給与についての記載なし
  • リサ―チ アナリスト

    リサ―チ アナリスト
    Promar Consulting / プロマーコンサルティング、東京都
    給与:給与要相談 Depends on experience

More in Opinions

View all

View all