How long does it take to learn the basics of Japanese or Spanish?

December 29, 2008 by admin 

Hi, I would really like to learn Japanese and Spanish. I was wondering which one it would be better to learn first. I don't want to get them confused or slow my progress in either one, but I'm also impatient and want to study them both. How long do you think it would take to learn enough of Japanese or Spanish that I could begin studying the other without getting too slowed down? Thank you!

It really depends on your motivation, interest and practicality of language use. If you live in an area of the world where Spanish is spoken and you can watch t.v. or listen to Spanish music, then you may want to learn Spanish because it it will be easier to meet native speakers and practice the language. The same would go for Japanese.

English is a combination of Germanic structure and Latin-derived vocabulary. Spanish is a Romance (Latin-based) language, so you will find similarities while learning it. They also use the same alphabet as we do (with the addition of several letters), so learning to read it is not as difficult as say Russian or Greek would be.

Japanese is an Asian language that actually has three writing forms, kanji, katagana and hiragana that each have different characters that need to be memorized that represent different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc.). They also use romaji, the Roman alphabet to write Japanese using our alphabet (tsunami, sake, sushi, etc.).

I suggest becoming fluent in one of the two as you can easily get confused if you try the two before you've mastered one, then tackling the third. You might want to do Spanish first, as it will be more similar to English, then Japanese.

Good luck!

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Comments

10 Responses to “How long does it take to learn the basics of Japanese or Spanish?”

  1. Icy U on December 29th, 2008 8:15 pm

    Since they are both very different, you could study them both at the same time without confusing them. I don't have a sight for you with basics on Spanish, but here is a good site for the basics of Japanese: http://www.freejapaneselessons.com/ Hope it helps you get started.
    References :

  2. David B on December 29th, 2008 8:47 pm

    First of all, it seems that you are an English speaker. Therefore based on your native tongue Spanish would definitely be the easier to learn. Largely because of the alphabet, pronunciation, and ease of learning. One thing about learning a foreign language is that it is not something you can be impatient with. It is a life-long study sometimes to truly learn a language. Good luck!
    References :

  3. John B on December 29th, 2008 9:33 pm

    You should learn Spanish first; it has many more simularities to English than Japanese has to English; it has more simularities to English than Japanese has to English. Both languages are relatively easy compared to learning English as a second language I would guess. It should only take a week to start learning basics. If you have already learned a second language, learning both of those should not be that hard. Japanese is more difficult because of the characters, and it does not have any links to English. Now that I am taking Spanish as a second language, and I have taken it for two school years, I feel like I could learn two more languages along with it, but it could be over confidence. Learning Japanese with Romanji will allow you to use a familiar alphabet. I think I learned the basics of
    Spanish in no more than the first month of Spanish 1 at my school.
    References :

  4. James S on December 29th, 2008 9:44 pm

    I worked in two language schools in USA which taught Japanese and Spanish. I used to speak Japanese when I lived in Japan. Also I understand some Spanish. In my opinion both are relatively simple to learn the basics. They are much easier than German and Danish, my other two languages.

    Japanese people are so prejudice that you will never be accepted into their culture, no matter how well your speak, even is you are of Japanese descent.
    References :

  5. spookysickness on December 29th, 2008 10:10 pm

    Japanese will take a lot more time than Spanish would. For Japanese, you have to learn a grammar completely foreign to English, three writing systems, and a complex structure of politeness that most English-speakers do not use ever in their English-speaking life.
    References :
    In Third Year Japanese.

  6. Draga M. on December 29th, 2008 10:16 pm

    It really depends on your motivation, interest and practicality of language use. If you live in an area of the world where Spanish is spoken and you can watch t.v. or listen to Spanish music, then you may want to learn Spanish because it it will be easier to meet native speakers and practice the language. The same would go for Japanese.

    English is a combination of Germanic structure and Latin-derived vocabulary. Spanish is a Romance (Latin-based) language, so you will find similarities while learning it. They also use the same alphabet as we do (with the addition of several letters), so learning to read it is not as difficult as say Russian or Greek would be.

    Japanese is an Asian language that actually has three writing forms, kanji, katagana and hiragana that each have different characters that need to be memorized that represent different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc.). They also use romaji, the Roman alphabet to write Japanese using our alphabet (tsunami, sake, sushi, etc.).

    I suggest becoming fluent in one of the two as you can easily get confused if you try the two before you've mastered one, then tackling the third. You might want to do Spanish first, as it will be more similar to English, then Japanese.

    Good luck!
    References :
    I'm a language teacher (French and Intro to German, Spanish, Latin, Japanese, ASL)

  7. Maggie LeMasters on December 29th, 2008 10:52 pm

    You couldn't have picked two more diametrically opposed languages.

    Spanish you should be able to pick up relatively quickly. It is a romance language, and a lot of the vocabulary is very similar to English.

    Japanese has no correspondence to English (other than a few loan words which Americans routinely mispronounce).

    The general rule of thumb is: if you want to achieve a certain level of comptency in a language and you are a native English speaker then you can reach that level

    for Spanish in six months
    for French in one year
    for Russian in two years
    for Japanese in five years

    assuming that you put equal time and effort into whichever language you choose.
    References :
    Dr. Eleanor Jorden, one of the world's top three linguists in Japanese language, now deceased

  8. Raul on December 29th, 2008 10:58 pm

    Well, ok first, i haven't read the other answers yet, so sorry if i'm repetative. Anyways.. Japanese is nothing like Spanish! Do not worry about getting them confused. So if you wanted you could study them both at once. I means, Spanish is closer to English. It is a Subject-Verb-Object langauge while Japanese is an Subject-Object-Verb langauge. Also, Japanese uses a different alphabet, Hirigana or Katana, or actually also Chinese symbols. So, i'm sure you won't get them mixed up with that. Anyways.. try both, see whichever you like and study that one more at first and then go after the other one! Goodluck! About.com has both a good Japanese language site and Spanish language site (for learners i mean) haha. Goodluck!
    References :

  9. Gail on December 29th, 2008 11:23 pm

    If I were you I would study spanish first beacause spanish is really easy to learn. After that I would try to learn japanese. Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!
    References :

  10. JudasHero on December 29th, 2008 11:31 pm

    It really depends what you mean by "learn". Know enough to pass a test? Be able to watch TV? Speak? Become an interpreter? Depending on which one, and how hard and often and in what form you study, anywhere from six months to several years for Spanish, anywhere from a year to decades for Japanese. Which is to say, Spanish is much easier than Japanese if you are a Westerner.
    Incidentally, related or not it's very easy to confuse any two languages if you are learning them simultaneously. My mother's family is latin american, and I constantly wind up blurting out Japanese words without even realizing it when I talk to them.
    References :

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