Thank you for posting. I'm pretty positive all JapanesePod101.com users have objections to this article. To me, being able to speak more than one language is a good enough reason to learn a new language. Leaning a new language will always open new doors!
Everyone learns things in different ways. Some people take to things like language and music very easily while others are better and physical sports and similar activities. I’ve been a lifelong student of music and now of Japanese and as a learner I know what works for me and what doesn’t and I think that is true for everyone. Here are some of my thoughts on certain parts of the article:
“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.”
I started studying Japanese at the Japan Society of Northern CA in San Francisco (classes are 2 hours per class, once per week) and am now just past the one year mark. We use both the Japanese for Busy People book and Genki I and II. It’s been slow going and by no means easy for me. I’m quite disciplined about doing all the homework and practice problems in the books, but I lack immersion and do not otherwise have any native speakers to practice with on my free time. At this point I can easily see myself going the distance and being a lifelong learner of the language, simply because I like the culture and destination so much. Unlike say, playing football or some other heavily physical sport, language is something you can do till the day you day regardless of your health. One might even argue, that studying language is good for your health as it helps with memory.
“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.”
This is assuming that in 3 to 7 years you haven’t actually gained usable and fluent competency in Japanese. What if you did? Not everyone learns at the same rate. And even if you weren’t fluent in 3 to 7 years, so what? What if the learning process alone is enjoyable to you? And what’s to say you’d be any more successful at learning guitar or any other activity? Again, it’s not all about that particular thing you are learning, but about you as a learner and whether you actually have a passion or something vs. it just being a passing trend.
With learning things, especially arts and languages, I think seeing it in such staunchly practical 1-to-1 terms may not be the most helpful for prospective learners. Ask why you want to do it and how badly you want to do it.