Japanese is a pretty interesting language. Not only does it have 4 different writing systems that it uses. It is also made more difficult by the fact that the sentence order is not the same as that of English and a lot of other languages. It is rated as on of the most difficult languages to learn by the Foreign Service Institute, which estimates it takes around 2200 classroom hours to become proficient:
(Even the cartoon in the infographic is doing it wrong )
But yet, this seemingly impossible language to learn is becoming more and more popular. If anything, the fact that it is difficult makes it more interesting and popular. I was personally drawn to Japanese because of the writing. I like the idea of symbols having meaning instead of just symbolizing sounds.
And the Japanese community is quite an amazing and supportive group. It is also pretty international. Just the other day I got an email from someone studying in Switzerland and I have regular readers from Pakistan to Argentina. I love hearing from everyone about their different experiences.
Even though a lot of you might be self-studiers, like myself. You are definitely not alone. As the graphic below points out there are a good 3.5 million or so of us spread throughout the world. There is a pretty good chance you can find others interested in learning Japanese like you.
What I thought was interesting about these stats is the number of kanji you need to learn. Learning kanji can be a major hurtle with Japanese. When you go to learn another language like Spanish or German, at least you can read it, but not Japanese. We have the added challenge of learning a few new alphabets and kanji is highly irregular. Some kanji have multiple ways to be pronounced. Others have several seemingly unconnected meanings. It is a real struggle.
By the way, ReadtheKanji.com is a beautiful site for studying Japanese. You can learn the word in context with example sentences and you don’t even have to have an IME!