Whether you’re taking Japanese lessons for fun or for academic reasons, there are a number of benefits to learning Japanese. Here, Washington, D.C. Japanese teacher Taro T. explains how learning Japanese can boost your professional career…
When you first start learning Japanese, you may be unaware of all of the benefits that can result from your new language skills. Once you’ve achieved a certain level of proficiency, you can put your Japanese skills to practical use, especially in the workplace.
Professionally, you can use your Japanese-language skills in two different ways: to earn supplemental income, and to build your full-time career in the corporate world.
If you are interested in learning Japanese for work, here are some benefits of doing so – as well as a few other things you need to know about learning this illustrious language!
How Can I Teach Myself Japanese?
If you’re curious about how to learn Japanese, know that there are all kinds of resources you can turn to in order to learn to speak Japanese, such as:
- Reading Japanese books
- Using a language app – get an idea of the best app to learn Japanese here
- Use mnemonics and image associations to help you remember the words
- Read manga
- Use Japanese worksheets and websites
- Find a native Japanese speaker to converse with, either in-person or online
- Listen to Japanese music and watch Japanese movies
- Take online Japanese lessons
Watching videos can be a great way to learn Japanese, too. Here’s a video that explains more benefits of learning Japanese, particularly for the career-minded:
Benefits of Learning Japanese for Your Career
As you learn to speak Japanese, you’re going to see your career grow exponentially! Here are some of the biggest benefits of learning Japanese for your professional life.
This may come as no surprise, but if you’re proficient in Japanese, you’ll be able to use your language skills to work in translation. This is especially useful if you want to to earn a supplemental income.
Plus, you will be in high demand in the U.S. if you can speak Japanese. Census shows that there were 436,110 Japanese speakers in the U.S. in 2011. This number is small compared with other languages like Chinese (2,882,497) and Spanish (37,579,787).
If you want to get a job as a translator, however, get ready to buckle down and study hard. A translation job will usually require you to have an advanced knowledge of Japanese.
In translation, you will be working on all types of assignments from business and academic, to legal documents. The more technical the document, the more difficult it is to translate.
According to SimplyHired, the average pay for a Japanese translator is $43,000. If you would like to earn an income on the higher end, look into becoming a paralegal, as the average salary for a Japanese bilingual paralegal is $51,000.
Keep in mind that these figures can be deceiving, as part-time and temporary positions are more abundant than full-time positions.
Besides more income, translation jobs are generally flexible and convenient. The jobs are often project based, and you can work from home and around your schedule. This has been a lifesaver for me, and I’ve also met great a mentor through a translation job.
2. Work in Japan
Despite the flexibility translation jobs offer, not everyone is looking to earn a supplemental income. You may already have a full-time career, or you may be looking to start one.
If that’s the case, you may want to consider working in Japan. Although this is a big decision and lifestyle change, it’s a great opportunity for you to build your career while living in Japan.
Besides, landing a career in Japan is easier than you think!
Robert Walters, an international recruiting firm, reports that there is a shortage of bilingual professionals. According to their report, there were 1.09 job offers for every candidate in 2014.
Bilingual professionals are in high demand in jobs in human resources, engineering, and sales, so if you speak Japanese and have technical skills, you have a good chance of landing a job in Japan.
Working in Japan also makes economical sense, as wages for bilingual professionals have been increasing at an average of 10 percent each year as the Japanese economy continues to recover.
3. Get Connected
While learning Japanese can expand your professional options, the real purpose of language is to connect with others.
Jerry Weintraub, a legendary talent manager and movie producer, says that the connections you have with others largely defines your life. Through his ability to make connections, he booked concerts for Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra in their prime years.
Most of us may not have the people skills and ability to negotiate like Mr. Weintraub, but knowing Japanese, even a little, can help you connect with new people. This could lead you to a new job, a new business opportunity, or even a great friendship!
4. Challenge Yourself
Learning Japanese is not easy. If you want to challenge yourself, picking up this difficult language is one of the best ways to do so.
Challenging yourself in one area (even if totally unrelated to your job or other aspects of your personal life) will undoubtedly improve your tenacity, self-confidence, and abilities in other areas as well.
5. Improve Your Workplace Status
Most managers will admire a person who challenges themselves with constant personal growth – if you want to improve your status at work, learning Japanese is one of the best ways to do so.
Whether you just know business Japanese or even a few basic greetings, picking up the language is a great way to get other clients and business partners (particularly those from Japan) to respect you.
What are the Job Opportunities After Learning Japanese?
If you’re interested in learning Japanese to improve your job prospects, your odds of finding jobs like these will be much higher:
- Translation and interpretation
- Embassies and government jobs
- Flight attendant
- Sales executives in the import-export niche
- Jobs in travel, tourism, and hospitality
- Jobs in BPO & KPO
- Training, teaching, and tutoring in the Japanese language
- Information technology jobs
- Jobs that are located in Japan specifically
Learning Japanese for Beginners: Other Benefits of Learning Japanese
When you learn to speak Japanese, you’ll also be able to tap into these other benefits:
- You’ll gain an appreciation for the Japanese culture
- It will allow you to engage with fellow artists, authors, and other Japanese creative professionals
- Learning Japanese may help you learn other languages, like Korean and Chinese
- You may be able to study abroad – or just travel for fun to other Japanese-speaking cultures
And of course, it will make you sound really, really cool at your next dinner party! There’s no better way to impress your friends than to show them that you’re fluent in another language (and a tricky one at that!).
Ready to start learning Japanese yet? If so, the next question you might find yourself asking is, “how long does it take to learn Japanese?” That depends.
If you want to learn Japanese free and totally on your own, it will probably take you a bit longer than if you were learning Japanese with a tutor. However, it’s still possible to learn to speak Japanese by yourself – it might just take longer.
On average, it takes around two to three years of committed study to become fluent in the language.
Is it Hard to Learn Japanese?
Is Japanese hard to learn? No.
It isn’t necessarily hard to learn Japanese. The stroke order and other intricacies of the written language can be difficult to get the hang of but the good news is that Japanese has consistent grammar and pronunciation rules while also mimicking much of the sound and structure of the English language. For example, Japanese has five basic vowel sounds.
So where to get started?
To learn Japanese, you need to first learn the alphabet. Japanese has three writing systems known as katakana, kanji and hiragana. Then, you’ll need to learn how to pronounce words in Japanese (the sounds in Japanese are, fortunately, quite similar to those in English).
After you’ve mastered the basic sounds and know how to speak Japanese, you can start reading and writing in the language.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember – taking lessons in Japanese is the best way to learn Japanese, regardless of whether you want to master it for personal or professional reasons. Sign up for lessons today – you won’t regret it.
And most importantly, throughout your journey, continue to believe in the benefits of learning Japanese; I wish you all the best on your future success.
Start learning Japanese today, sign up for lessons with a private Japanese tutor!