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Mar 12, 2024 | Japanese Translation

Is Japanese The Hardest Language To Learn?

Is Japanese The Hardest Language To Learn?

It is often said that Japanese is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. This myth is not accurate. Multiple reasons make this language hard to master. But the good news is, if a native English speaker is willing to put in some work and study, you can learn Japanese with relative ease!


Why Is Japanese So Hard To Learn?

Japanese is a language that has been around for centuries. Over 125 million people speak it in Japan, the United States, Brazil, and other countries. People who follow Japanese culture have argued that Japanese can be difficult to learn because it’s so different from English or another European language.

The Japanese writing system may also make the Japanese vocabulary look very hard to comprehend compared to other languages. However, there is a uniqueness in the Japanese sounds and the written language, and it is worth studying Japanese. You can explore more about Itadakimasu’s meaning and where to use it in Japanese Culture.

What Is It About Japan That Makes It Seem So Intimidating?

Every new language seems difficult at the beginning. The hardest language varieties are Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese. However, these below-mentioned categories build up the complicacy of the Japanese language. Also, learn more here about the Cantonese Translator.

1. Japanese writing system

There are three distinct writing systems in use in the native language of Japan, one of which is the Roman alphabet.

Katakana and Hiragana

Hiragana and katakana are the first two syllabaries. Unlike English alphabets, they are better-termed syllabaries instead. Memorizing both parts of each sound is very effective. Get a nice hiragana and katakana chart, practice writing and pronouncing the sounds, and the non-native speakers will be all set to learn the Japanese alphabet.

The hiragana syllabary goes back to the ninth century when Chinese characters were used in phoneme transcriptions for the first time. Katana emerged as a derivative of Kanji around the same era.

The kana (a term that refers to both hiragana and katakana) are very organized. If it sounds intimidating, remember that learning it is pretty simple. Katakana is simply a variant of hiragana that’s been invented for foreign languages.


Kanji is the most similar writing system to Chinese, making it much easier for a native speaker of some version of Chinese or another language with a similar writing system to learn than an English speaker. There are many thousands of Kanji, and the exact figure is unknown. That said, there are 2,136 普通漢字 (jouyou Kanji), which are the Kanji taught in Japanese schools from junior high onwards.

Kanji, like kana, are often more complex than kana and may have many unique readings and meanings. The ideal approach is to utilize a website or book dedicated to you or common Kanji and learn the first few hundred.

Make a mental note to learn Kanji. Then, use an add-on to assist the English speakers in understanding Japanese words on the web. Although learning Kanji takes a significant amount of time and effort, this is nothing surprising if you wish to learn any language. Kanji is one of the most difficult as well as interesting aspects of Japanese study.

Many people consider Kanji to be the most challenging component of Japanese language learning. If you are visiting Japan for a short time, it may be more convenient not to learn Kanji.

However, if you dedicatedly want to learn the foreign words of Japanese, you must master the Kanji.

All these languages have a common root: they share the same Latin alphabet, Romaji.

What Is It About Japan That Makes It Seem So Intimidating?

2. Japanese word order

Japanese sentences usually end with Japanese verbs. This peculiarity of Japanese grammar makes the grammatical structures more tricky than Chinese grammar. Do you want to bring a sentence to a close? Simply add a verb, and you’re done.

Your brain is pretty skilled at performing such tasks automatically. As a result, if you simply allow it to happen, the order of words in Japanese grammar soon becomes meaningless.

The verbs are at the end of a Japanese sentence and simplify things for the English speakers, particularly asking questions. Japanese also use only the past and present tense while speaking.

3. Gender Differences

Japan used to have considerably distinct gender differences in language, but that has changed. Many linguists now characterize the distinctions as delicate “female” and harsh “male.”

The differences in speech are classified by end tags and degree of politeness: for example, instead of ending in ~わ (wa), the rougher form may end in !!! (ze), a ruder conclusion.

In reality, the majority of language schools teach gender-neutral Japanese (and it’s necessary to understand Keigo discussed below), so this isn’t as crucial; nevertheless, it’s essential to recognize when dealing with normal conversation.

4. Politeness

To be impolite is to break both personally and culturally in Japan, where politeness is valued above all else. Although most visitors and ex-pats are forgiven for their precision of Keigo, being deliberate with your disrespectful words can go a long way in creating a wrong impression on your coworkers, bosses, and neighborhood.

Every day Keigo is the connection between client and employee, in which the customer is highly respected. You can adapt phrases with practice, though they may be difficult to master at first.

5. Dialects

There are many local dialects, but the most widespread form spoken in Tokyo will be taught to you when you learn the Japanese verb tenses. The most well-known variety is known as Kansai-ben or Kansai dialect.

Kansai is the area that includes both Kyoto and Osaka, Japan’s other two major hubs. Kansai dialect is more laid-back and has become a significant element of comedy routines thanks to Osaka, which is one of Japan’s most renowned entertainment destinations.

On the other hand, prefectures (and sometimes even cities) have significant differences in dialects. Therefore even the most fluent Japanese speaker will feel out of place when traveling outside of Tokyo.

Some dialects, such as those spoken in Okinawa and Hokkaido, preserve words from the Ryukyuan languages and the Ainu indigenous peoples who were the original inhabitants of Japan.


Is It Worth It Learning the Japanese Language?

Yes, definitely! Studying Japanese or any new language is rewarding as well as beneficial for your brain functions; you will think more critically and creatively after becoming fluent in other languages.

It is worth learning the Japanese language because it is not a difficult language for a native English speaker who is a proficient speaker of the Romance languages.

Some benefits of learning the language are:

  1. Japanese is spoken in many Asian countries and is also used to write manga, anime, etc.
  2. Learning different languages, especially Japanese, will improve your brain function and help you think more creatively.
  3. One can use Japanese etiquette to express emotions, feelings, etc., in ways that English cannot.
  4. Japan is a growing tourist destination with lots to do and see, so formal training in spoken Japanese can benefit a lot.
  5. For online Japanese language learners, the opportunity to travel around Japan with ease is confirmed. At the same time, do not forget to get your official Japanese papers translated by NAATI-accredited Japanese translators.
  6. You will be able to enjoy the J-pop music.

How Long Does It Take For The Average Person To Learn Japanese?

It is a popular belief among linguists that it takes about 300 hours to learn Japanese online. You can do it in a year with enough dedication and effort put into learning the language. Learning and speaking languages like French, Spanish, and Dutch take even longer.

The best news is that English speakers can go for a reliable way to learn Japanese for beginner courses. He may opt for an online Japanese course or hire a professional Japanese teacher to conduct their Japanese studies.


What’s The Best Way To Learn Japanese For A Native English Speaker?

What's The Best Way To Learn Japanese For A Native English Speaker?

It’s a wonderful idea to use online courses and resources that are especially useful for learning the fundamentals of grammar and common phrases before going on a trip. Even in this technological age, immersion is still the best method to learn things.

While there are some Japanese immigrant communities throughout the world, Japan provides the most significant opportunity for immersive learning. This way you learn their culture too.

When you’re among the Japanese people, you’ll feel the social pressure to adapt and learn Japanese compared to other situations.

Finally, make a trip to Japan if you want to be fluent in Japanese.

How To Learn Japanese?

As it is not any tonal language, this language is easy to grasp compared to any other language.

These days, with the internet allowing for global communication and language learning becoming more effortless, we live in a different world. You may sit at home in your sweat pants and utilize these five helpful solutions.


Duolingo has made a name for itself as a free language-learning platform. The website offers courses in a variety of languages, including Japanese. You can use Duolingo on your computer, as well as an app for your phone.

You can go to a more difficult lesson after you’ve finished a lesson. You may compete against your friends or other gamers by earning and redeeming Experience points and certificates.

The greatest feature of Duolingo is its speaking practice, which is extremely rare in online courses. You may pronounce things into a microphone, and the lesson will correct your accent.


Marugoto is a unique course that helps pupils learn Japanese in a more professional way, according to the European system of A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 levels.

You may select from a number of programs that are tailored to your needs. There are also intermediate and advanced professional development classes, as well as instructor-led training sessions.

This site is highly recommended for serious learners.


FluentU offers a number of paid monthly courses for a variety of languages, including Japanese. The starting study package includes quizzes similar to Duolingo and real-world videos that illustrate the concepts covered in typical circumstances.

It also has movies and audio with explanatory subtitles to assist you in learning the language while having fun.


EdX is a learning platform that offers courses in a variety of subjects, not just languages. Actual university professors create the lectures and assignments, but they’re free and self-paced, allowing you to study and complete tasks when you have time.

The verified certificates are payable, and they are worth it.


The Nippon Broadcasting System, or NHK, is a Japanese television station.

They provide a variety of Japanese lessons on their website, though they are all focused on what you wish to accomplish, whether it’s Japanese for traveling, work, or fluency. Some courses start at the very beginning and work their way up to the intermediate level.

The lessons focus on grammar, as well as real-life conversations. It’s a great way to get started with the Characteristics And Significance Of The Japanese Language.




Any language that’s difficult to learn has a unique set of elements that you’ll need to master. Japanese is no different in this regard, and it can take some time before everything starts falling into place.

The courses mentioned above will help get your foot in the door and let you know how much work lies ahead of you if you wish to become fluent enough to speak Japanese.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Japanese hard to learn?

Many English speakers believe that learning the Japanese language is one of the most challenging languages to do. It is undoubtedly complex since it uses three different writing systems, a sentence structure that differs from English, and a complex hierarchy of politeness.

2. Is Japanese worth learning?

Learning Japanese has several social advantages. You can meet and get to know more individuals if you can communicate with more of them. Making Japanese friends will be considerably more straightforward for you if you speak the language than if someone doesn’t.

3. How much do Japanese lessons cost?

Japanese teachers and sessions often cost $30 per hour. You should budget $15 to $150 per hour if you hire a Japanese tutor to help you improve your language skills.

David Lee

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