5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Major in Japanese (and 2 You Might Consider It)

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but majoring in Japanese might just be the worst thing you can do for your career. Sure you love Japanese and majoring in the language seems like the perfect way to spend your years in college, but is it really worth it? Do you know what you’re getting yourself into? Maybe it could work for you, but it’s certainly not going to work for everyone.

1. You Might be Better Off Studying on Your Own

self-learner“I’m… I’m learning!”

I think many would assume that if you major in a language, you’ll be pretty awesome at that language after four years of study. This is completely false. I had four years of Japanese language study at college, and even spent 10 weeks abroad studying in Kobe, Japan. However, by the time I graduated, my Japanese skill was about that of a preschooler, maybe worse.

This is not due to poor study habits or anything like that. I was a pretty good student, and I actually enjoyed my Japanese classes so I really tried hard and also tried to make the most out of them. But the thing is, most classroom Japanese just goes too slow and you really don’t learn all that much considering how long you study it. Of course this depends on the school and the curriculum, but I feel this to be true on the whole. I think I learned the most when I was actually in Japan just talking to people – not in the classroom doing lessons.

wanikani-textfugu-anki

Therefore, as far as learning Japanese goes, you might just be better off studying on your own, going at your own pace, and learning Japanese the way you want to, learning the Japanese that is helpful, interesting, and useful to you. At the very least, you should be supplementing your classroom Japanese with your own self-study. Use WaniKani, or Textfugu, or Anki, or just anything that works for you. You need to supplement. Do not expect to become fluent in Japanese just because you major in it.

Some people need the Japanese classes just to have that motivation and a definitive schedule for learning, and I can understand that. But if you’re really going to learn the language and have it be beneficial and worth it, you’re going to need to put in plenty of study time on your own, outside of the classroom.

To be honest, you really don’t need the classes at all and could be spending that class time learning something more valuable instead. But if you do find yourself in a Japanese classroom, make sure you make the most of it. Remember, your Japanese fluency is up to you and you alone.

2. Other Languages are More Useful, for Business Anyway

France_Grunge_Flag_by_think0

Photo by think0

In the 1980s and 1990s, learning Japanese was a great thing to do for business. Japan was starting its worldwide takeover, and knowing Japanese made you super-duper employable for the business. These days French, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and even Russian and Portuguese are all languages that rank higher than Japanese as far as being useful in the business world. Japanese just isn’t as valuable as it used to be.

Japanese is still very popular though, because, well, Japan is awesome. Some people want to learn Japanese because of all the cool anime, manga, and video games that come out of Japan. Other people just love the language and the culture and some even want to live there. I don’t blame them. But if you want to learn a language to be successful in the business world, you can certainly do better than Japanese.

Japanese-business

Now, I’m not trying to say that Japanese is worthless for finding a business job – not at all. There are plenty of jobs to be found at Japanese companies such as Honda and the like, I’m just saying that you might have better success with one of the other languages given the competitive job market these days. Plus languages like French and Spanish are easier to learn than Japanese, but more on that later.

3. Limited or No Jobs

unemployment“Did you guys major in Japanese too?”

Speaking of finding jobs, the job market really sucks for Japanese majors these days. Sure you can teach English in Japan (which is BS, btw) through a program like JET or something, but where are the advancement opportunities there? Plus, you don’t even need to know Japanese for most of those teaching programs!

You could also teach Japanese, but you’re not going to be able to teach past your skill level, and as we covered in #1, the skill level of the average Japanese graduate probably isn’t that high. And since it’s not that high, you’re not going to be able to get jobs like being an interpreter, translator, or anything cool like that. Also, there really aren’t too many job opportunities for you if your Japanese is your only marketable skill, but again, more on that later.

4. Debt

student-debtStudent debt is a huge, rotten issue. Depending on your parents, your school, and if you have any scholarships or work during undergrad, you can graduate with no debt, or a lot of debt. If you graduate with a lot of debt, you’d be best off landing a job that will pay you a lot of money. Most likely, whatever job you get with your sub-par Japanese (as per #1) isn’t going to be all that great or pay that well.

Debt-gap

Photo by David Horsey

Being in debt sucks. Life and everything in general is just so much more stress-free and easy when you don’t have to worry about debt. I don’t know about you, but if I was in debt, I’d want to get out of it as soon as possible. Now, I’m not saying that you should do something you hate but pays well just to get out of debt – it’s just something to think about. Think of your future and plan accordingly.

5. It’s Hard

broken-brain“Japanese gone done broke my brain!”

I’m sure you’ve heard it before and I’m sure you’ll hear it again. Despite what some may say, Japanese is still pretty hard comparatively. I’ve studied both French and Spanish before, and let me tell you – it’s so much easier to get the hang of than Japanese, especially for a native English speaker. The biggest part for me is just the writing system. If it was just the speaking part, I don’t think it would be that bad. It’s the written Japanese that’s the killer.

Learning Japanese isn’t for everyone. If you’re going to try and conquer the problem mentioned in #1, you’re going to have to tough out how hard Japanese is to master and work hard on your own to become fluent. If you want a job, and a job that pays well, expect to work really hard at mastering Japanese. Unless you’re a language savant, it’s going to be a rough journey. Probably.

Times When Majoring in Japanese Would be Okay

approvedIn my opinion, there are at least two cases when majoring in Japanese would make sense and be okay for someone to do. Those two things are: you’re really good at it, or you major in something else too. First, let’s explore why being really good at Japanese would make majoring in it acceptable.

You’re Like, Super Good at It

really-goodIf you’re really good at Japanese and you love it so much that you study your brains out on your own time and really devote yourself to the language, there’s a good chance you’ll be super good at it by the time you graduate. Maybe you’ll even be so good you won’t have to deal with the intermediate plateau. Maybe you won’t even have to do anything. Good job.

Since you’re fluent, or near fluent in the language now, you’re much more employable. You can teach at a higher level, get jobs in the government, be a translator, an interpreter, or anything else of the sort.

Since most people aren’t at this level when they graduate, you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest, and that’s great. The only problem is – you don’t know if you’re going to be good at Japanese or have what it takes to really study your brains out for those four years before you actually start doing it. So like I said before, if you’re planning on going this route and you want to succeed and make money, be prepared to stick it out and really dedicate yourself to the language.

You Have Other Useful Skills

Mastery-CalculatorThe other reason why you might consider majoring in Japanese is if you already have another marketable skill, or if you’re majoring in something else (that’s useful) as well. This way, even if your Japanese isn’t that great when you graduate (like mine) you’ll still be able to find a job and get dat money, son.

My undergraduate journey was kind of a wild one (six years long with many major and minor changes), but by the end of it, I graduated with a double major in Japanese and Economics with a minor in Engineering. If I had just majored in Japanese, I would probably have a terrible job right now, but I don’t. I get to help out with all this Tofugu stuff, and for my day job I work as a Chemical Information Specialist. It’s pretty great.

economists

Majoring in economics gave me tons of writing practice, and I’m sure all that practice helped me land this position with Tofugu. Plus, I worked IT for three years in undergrad and I love computers, so it was really easy for me to get the hang of WordPress and all the other tech stuff going on behind the scenes here on Tofugu/Textfugu/WaniKani. If Japanese was all I was really good with, I probably wouldn’t be here.

Same goes for my other job. My computer skills and engineering mindset helped me land this position, and I don’t even use any Japanese at all. If all I knew was Japanese, I would most definitely not be where I am today. Plus, for most jobs I interviewed for after I graduated that had a Japanese requirement, my Japanese wasn’t good enough. Take Honda for example.

honda-dream-crusher

After I graduated, I applied for a position with Honda at a large research and development facility. The position was an IT position, but this was no problem since I had three years of IT experience under my belt from working at my university. However, they also needed someone who could help troubleshoot the machines of the Japanese employees who would be more comfortable talking things out in their native tongue.

Everything went great until the Japanese part. It was actually really embarrassing. While I never really felt super confident in my Japanese ability, this really made it crystal clear that my Japanese just wasn’t up to snuff and that my college courses really didn’t prepare me for landing a job where Japanese competency was needed. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. They even cited my lack of Japanese competency as the reason why.

In Conclusion

be-preparedSo the bottom line is: be prepared. If you’re not really, really good at Japanese and you don’t have any other useful skills, life after graduation might just be abysmal for you. So don’t put all your eggs into the Japanese basket unless you’re confident that you’re going to be the most bestest Japanese speaker that there ever was.

If you know you’re not going to be that awesome at Japanese by the time you graduate, do yourself a favor and develop some other employable skills as well, or double major, or at least make Japanese a minor and choose a more lucrative major. But that’s just my two cents. Everyone is different and opportunities and lucky breaks are bound to happen, so things might work out for you even if you don’t agree with how I feel. You never know!

follow_your_dreams

And just to be sure, I am in no way trying to put anyone down or make anyone feel bad and I’m certainly not trying to tell people to not follow their dreams. I’m just trying to get you to think about the best way to achieve them. I have some friends who really regret majoring in Japanese, so I’m just trying to get you thinking about things so the same thing doesn’t happen to you if you’re considering it. I want you all to succeed and be happy!


So tell me, are you majoring in/thinking of majoring in Japanese or have you graduated with a degree in Japanese already? How was finding a job? Share your stories, tips, and advice in the comments below and maybe you can help someone else out on their journey! Thanks!

  • Jon

    Woo! Go engineering! I’m trying to become an aerospace/aeronautical engineer myself.

    I think you should consider writing an article on normal employment in Japan for foreigners. Perhaps something about the main occupations that attract foreigners (besides teaching foreign language and being in the US military). I’m sure some of the engineering companies desire a few native English speakers, as long as their Japanese skills are good enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nityanandarama.dasa Nityananda-rama Dasa

    I have found a way to major in linguistics, minor in anthropology and still have time to fit in all of the Japanese classes my school has to offer. I am too lazy to study on my own TT-TT

  • MrsSpooky

    I’m studying on my own. It’s my hobby and I love it and it keeps me mentally active plus it’s a rush when I understand the anime I’m watching or I can actually read what’s written in Japanese. Granted, I’m not at all fluent and my reading is pretty basic, I can tell when I’m making progress and that’s FUN! Plus, I noted on a couple online resumes in the hobbies and leisure activities section that I’m learning Japanese. So far I’ve gotten two job inquiries because of that. Neither one paid anywhere CLOSE to what I’m making now, and at the time (this was a couple years ago), my Japanese would not have been good enough.

    I like this article. It’s always good to be realistic about these things.

  • Flora

    Learning Japanese isn’t THAT hard – I learned the grammar in about six months, all the kana in one month, and I’ve been studying kanji for almost a year now. And that was all through self-study.

    That being said, I’d love to take classes if I could; you might learn faster through self-study, but group study can help smooth out the rough edges of your progress & point out mistakes you missed.

  • Paladin341

    Do you think double majoring in Japanese and Anthropology would be bad? I’m also considering minoring in Computer Science because I lack 1 class. I’m always worried about something like this John, what would be your advice? I’m close to graduation though. I’ve taken Chinese course last semester and considering studying abroad in Taiwan as well.

  • Amy

    Wow this really gave me a wake up call although I’ve read some similar things on the internet. At the moment I’m 15 and I’m just tired of studying the compulsory subjects at school. Japanese is the only thing I enjoy studying and I wanted to continue it at university. My other strength is ICT. I’m learning Spanish too but I don’t really enjoy it. I know that I probably won’t be fluent enough to become an interpreter or translator in a company or something. Lately I’ve been thinking of other jobs that I could do but I can’t seem to think of anything else but teaching english. Even that I don’t want to do. So now I’m just stuck.

  • Rikke

    HEREHERE!
    I’m currently 2nd year student of Japanese, but I haven’t really learned THAT much more of the language, than I believe I could have taught myself anyways. I’m still improving way more by my own studies, than those I get from school. School also kills my motivation to improve and study Japanese, because it’s made into lousy mandatory work.

    Also, uni has some Japan-related subjects that I have absolutely ZERO interest in, but HAVE to take and even write reports in.
    I’m seriously thinking of dropping out – my only problem is that I wouldn’t know what else to do.

    Really, all I wanna do is speak Japanese. I don’t wanna be a Japan-specialist.

    Good Lord, I’m so tempted to drop out… Take a year off (or drop out entirely), WWOOFing, finding out what I want with life, go back to school. Perhaps.

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/GreenFox59 Michael Warren McDonald

    I think you’re missing one major point–when majoring in anything you will always have draw backs. Example, I am a non-religious person majoring in religion, but that doesn’t mean that I am limited in only religious knowledge. When majoring in Japanese, I am sure there are more skills being developed other than just the Japanese language. To be in such a major, you have to have dedication, time management skills, and other marketable traits. Most Americans change their careers multiple times in their life. With that in mind, college students develop more skills than what is on the surface of their major.

  • Koichinist

    Chemical Information Specialist? From that minor in Engineering? Really? :)
    Very insightful post, John! :)

  • http://twitter.com/JupeBullet Jupiter Bullet

    yep. Some people just drown their passion in anime or manga and think they can make it through the language too. Well, reality hits hard when your pronunciation is weird and you can’t bring yourself to love the kanji and the language. Some people I know graduated after 4 years in University with no love for the language and their Japanese isn’t being helpful in job searching, not even in raw manga reading.
    Love your no.1 article. I had the same thoughts. I quit my university too when I was studying English because I found that the pace is too slow and the words taught didn’t seem useful, not even to waste time with. Language is not something you learn, it’s something you need to be passionate about to keep yourself amused to dive in deeper and deeper as you grow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fina-Pon/100000239573856 Fina Pon

    Yes, Tofugu-staff, please write an article on “normal” employments, like IT or engineering postions. Whenever I try to find anything related to job offers in Japan for foreigners, all there is are English-teacher positions.

  • PianoFish

    If you a) really love Japanese and can’t think of anything else you would want to devote 4 years of your life to and b) really want to go to university then go for it. See if you can find a double major course in Japanese and computing, that would be awesome! (I know at least one exists in the UK because I got a place but was talked out of taking it.) Bear in mind that a degree has merits outside its own field, universities are constantly banging on about transferable skills and a lot of people don’t end up with a job which requires their specific degree whatever they study – there is no degree that guarantees you that related job, whatever the universities might try to convince you! In fact the only one of my friends to get a job straight out of uni in her field of study did music, one of the worst for direct employment prospects.

    I’m not saying you absolutely should do Japanese but you need to think carefully and definitely don’t pick something you don’t really like because you think it will get you a better job. A friend of mine studied law and I saw far too many people either change course after a year or drop out altogether because they’d only done it either for the (theoretical) money or their parents/teachers convinced them it was a good idea. They hated it and essentially wasted a year’s time and tuition fees.

  • DAVIDPD

    Any time you turn a passion into something that has limits, things usually end up poorly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.alexander.980 Joel Alexander

    That’s because that IS basically all there is. Most Japanese firms are much more likely to hire a native speaker.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.alexander.980 Joel Alexander

    I’m studying Japanese as a part-time diploma at uni – currently in the summer break between the second and third (of three) years. And yeah, I have to admit, whenever I try to actually use my Japanese in a real situation, it often becomes horribly clear how much I still have to learn. Or how much more practice I ought to be doing.

    I do, however, already have bachelors in physics and mechatronic engineering, so it’s not like I’m relying on my Japanese.

  • SaraWyatt

    I got the same advice from a career counselor back in the day (late2005 lol). He told me it’s better to take Chinese because we’d be doing a lot of business with China in the future. True dat. But, I got so mad at him. I went on a rant about how I was already learning Japanese and they’re completely different languages and cultures and how I was good at it and how I’d be good enough to be an interpreter/translator some day. hahahaaa Poor guy. I was very passionate, but it didn’t matter anyway. There were some complications (life) and I never got to follow through. Yet. Nowadays it seems I’m more of a language hobbyist (or opportunist). I move from language to language depending on what’s most relevant in my life at the time and what’s available for me to learn. I went from German->Japanese->Korean(for 5sec)->Italian->Spanish. It helps with Jeopardy if nothing else. For a while (several years) I felt it was the end of the world if I couldn’t study Japanese at school. I still adore it, but I just can’t see getting very far without moving there and it’s hard to move there and work unless you’re a professional of some kind. And, really, /there/ is where it’s most relevant.

  • Emily

    I’m about to be 3rd year into a Japanese major and feeling the same way about the benefits of self-study! I don’t think I’ll drop out entirely, but reading this article has made me seriously consider changing my major to a minor (thus eliminating the boring, mandatory papers!)…

  • SaraWyatt

    I feel the same way. I’ve been looking into schemes which would allow me to float around the world for a while without a penny to my name. I came up with cruise ships. Also, some countries, like New Zealand, are welcoming to farm workers in general because their youngsters are runnin’ off to find better jobs. I like the sound of this WWOOFing thing. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :) Good luck! It’s never too late to return to school. ;)

  • Drew

    Like Will Hunting once said:
    “You just wasted 150 grand on an education you could’ve gotten for a dollar in late fees at the local library.”

  • Ruben

    There is a lot of stuff to learn when you want a good degree, for me there is no need to push japanese violently into my brains as well.
    But I love the language…it’s fun ! So I take it easy. Learning the language on my own is the best option.
    Maybe I would learn the language faster in Japan, but when I go to Japan I suppose there will be a lot of other stuff beside learning the language (housing, employment if it’s for a longer time,…) to take care about ! Not a good option to stand in the middle of a japanese speaking world and think, “maybe my japanese has to improve in order to survive this”.

  • Rikke

    No worries! WWOOF is really a nice organization. Take a look at their website ;)
    You work for for board and lodging, so you “only” have to pay for transportation, yourself.
    I have this pink, fluffy dream of living as a rurounin for about a year, just going wherever, finding people to live with and work for, and if I get tired of it, I just move on!

  • Rikke

    Yeah; my problem is I wouldn’t know what to use the Japanese for… I don’t even know if I want a job that requires me to have a degree in Japanese. I really don’t know what I want…

  • Michael

    Yeah, i knew that would have been a bad idea before I even read this. Why are schools everywhere so against actually teaching the language in a way that will help people speak it? It’s like a conspiracy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000185670208 Nick Haupt

    The colleges I’m looking into don’t even offer Japanese as a major, but I’ve been interested in getting a minor in it. My majors were always going to be related to the fields I want to go into, and my minors useful skills I wanted on the side.

  • oh dear

    Well…this made me feel much ”better” >_>”

  • AJ

    Interesting article… It made me think about the cons and pros that I wasnt aware of. Thanks dude~ ^J^
    American Ju Jitsu started my big interest in the language and culture in Japan, although when I was younger, I was obsessed with saying the word “Japanese” if that counts (after I started learning about the culture in 2nd grade lol). Haha.. ><
    Studying on my own, trying to make things fun.. Like trying to sing any Japanese song that seems momentary fun to do so, like the epic convience store song. Although my major is computer graphic design, and I wanna be a mangaka (and if i fail, video game designer lol).
    Uhm… This is my 6th year teaching myself, and I speak decently (I suck at speaking lol). I am o.k. at writing as long as it is no more than 1 page then my writing starts to suck even though it already looks like a preschoolers hand writting, and im proud. Haha. Although I can read manga in its original format (YAY~~!). :D

    I wrote lots, opps. whatever. gomensai.
    sugoi no desu ka.

  • SaraWyatt

    Yeah, I like that dream. I’d like to spend at least a few years of my life like that. I don’t really want anything except the ability to travel, the time to read as many books as I want, and to learn as much as I can before I die. Working outside would be nice. I like fresh air, gardening, and animals. I’ll check the website and see if there’s a farm in Ireland or Japan in need… then start saving money! Maybe I’ll find a husband and get to stay longer, who knows? heh heh heh

  • http://twitter.com/Ali_Haikugirl Ali Muskett

    This is a really interesting article. I never even considered studying a language at university, let alone majoring in one, but for the last couple of years I have been wishing that I had studied Japanese. I’ve found trying to fit in Japanese around work etc is just too hard, and I wish I could focus on it more. But you do have a very good point about jobs, and about the fact that majoring in Japanese won’t necessarily make you fluent.

  • HatsuHazama

    Hell yeah! It’s my ambition to become an engineer living an working in Japan someday as well, though I’ve not decided on specialisation (even though I have ages to decide).

    Aerospace is definitely one of the cooler ones in my opinion though.

  • HatsuHazama

    I personally have cannot see myself using Japanese as anything but an additional qualification, but maybe thats because I haven’t really spoken with, well, anybody about it seriously in terms of qualifications (funny side of being a nearly closet-self-learner!).
    However, the fact remains though, I’d still chose Japanese over most real qualifications, but that’s just because I love it so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.odwyer Bill O’Dwyer

    I’m sorry, but this article has gotten me quite angry.
    What started as a very lengthy comment has now evolved into a full blown counter-blog. Have a read if you’ve time.
    http://iamaramblingblogger.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/tirade.html

  • Lionrence

    where live there’s a pretty big community of people who just love Japanese, I know a lot of people who went to university and majored in what we call East Asian studies and they also learn Japanese or Chinese depending on their choices. From my experience, none of them have achieved a decent job resulting of this (one of them even asked me to get him a job at my company which requires a high school degree only) and they are damn good at japanese because they learned on their own, or went to japan for a couple of years.

    I sometimes contemplate the idea of having a Japanese related job, but with what I’ve seen, I’m not too confident. I just keep learning for fun at least^^

  • http://www.facebook.com/jen.obrien.58 Jen Obrien

    I WWOOFed in Japan, twice. If you’re careful to find good hosts it’s absolutely worthwhile. Do it while you still have the freedom to make these kinds of choices – get experience trying out different things and then find something you really love to that you can focus on in school and work. I tried to control my education by deciding first and experiencing after, and it didn’t work at all. Things worked out in the end, but it was like a 15 year process.

  • grotesk_faery

    I really wanted to minor in Japanese since I adore languages and it’s the only one I’ve not felt comfortable doing entirely on my own, but for some reason my huge university (VCU) doesn’t even offer a single Japanese class. They offer Zulu, but no Japanese… I’d have to go to one of the nearby schools to learn it, and as a premed student, I just can’t handle jamming that sort of thing into my schedule and I can’t manage my time well enough to truly study it on my own. So I’m a bio major, premed, with minors in chemistry and French… maybe someday, Japanese will be a thing for me, but not in college.

  • John

    I’d have to agree with Joel here right off the bat, but perhaps sometime in the future I’ll look into this more and get in touch with the friends I have living in Japan and see if I can come up with anything useful and interesting for a post!

  • John

    I would agree that you definitely need interaction and some sort of feedback at some point for speaking and writing, but if you’re just learning it to consume media then you’re in the clear, haha.

  • John

    I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s bad, perhaps just a bit limited. Do you know what you want to do for a career? Teaching? Government job? Something else? And what would you study in Taiwan if you ended up going?

  • John

    Plus you’ve still got some years to figure it out, so don’t worry about it too much! When I started college I never would have guessed I’d end up where I am today, haha. Just stay positive and use your best judgement as things go along.

  • John

    What are you thinking of switching to?

  • John

    I do agree that that is true, and your degree in no way defines what you’re going to end up doing unless it’s highly technical like engineering or something. But that ties in with my 2 reasons why you might be okay to major in Japanese – if you have other skills. Personally, the language classes I was taking didn’t really develop anything else iother than the language too much, but if you’re in a program that does or if you feel confident that you have enough skills and knowledge from other areas of your life then you’d be more likely to be okay. Plus there are much more valuable skills than dedication and time management etc. You’re pretty much assumed to have those just for graduating, haha.

  • John

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Newclear

    I’m an engineer. I’m also living in Japan. I think that’s good enough reason to study Japanese (on my own) just so I can communicate my needs and casual conversations, at least minimally. Otherwise, nothing would compel me to pick up that arduous task considering I’m an intermediate Spanish speaker, and a beginner Italian, French and Portuguese speaker. I will admit though… learning Japanese has opened my mind to learning Chinese, which actually made the list of official UN languages, so it won’t all be a “waste” when I leave here in 2 years. Other than that, language preservation feels important to me, but the point is most languages by itself alone hardly pays the light bill, especially with cuts to teachers and language and arts programmes.

  • John

    Hey man, sorry to hear that I got you all fired up, haha. I really wasn’t trying to ruffle anyone’s feathers with the article, but I’m pretty flattered you actually wrote a whole blog post in response to it. I get where you’re coming from with it, but maybe I wasn’t clear as I meant to be in my post. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from majoring in Japanese or from following their dreams or anything, I’m just trying to give them something to think about and generate some helpful tips and feedback (like yours, thanks!) here in the comments.

    Like I said, I majored in Japanese, and I’m glad I did. I got to meet lots of people and get involved with stuff I never would have if I hadn’t, and learning Japanese kind of changed my way of thinking about some things. But I’m also really glad I didn’t only major in Japanese and nothing else. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I did.

    But yeah, the bottom line is that I just want people to think about stuff and be prepared. With the way the job market is over here in America these days, I just want everyone to be happy and successful after they graduate. Japanese is an awesome language and I hope that everyone who’s interested pursues it in some way or another. I’m just trying to get people thinking about their futures, not shoot anyone down or anything. And again, thanks for all your feedback!

  • Tofugu no ChiChi

    One reason to major in Japanese: work in Tofugu and meet Koichi!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.haynia Jessica Haynia

    I completely agree with you, John about the classes being slow. I studied on my own before taking Japanese in college because when i first started my school didn’t offer Japanese. By the time it did and I took it I had already learned Kana and most of the basics. As I took the two beginning classes I was still practicing on my own with Textfugu and found my classes more of a review for that than learning anymore really new. Even with Kanji, I was so far ahead. We were barely learning any and when we did it was simply what their English meanings were and thats it. I was so far ahead of pretty much all of my classmates.

    That was community college. This semester I start at a University that offers Japanese as a minor, but it’s not just the language. The minor is also about Japan’s history and even literature too so I’m taking it more because it’s an interest of mine. My major is Anthropology, in case anyone was wondering, lol.

    But from what I hear, the University classes aren’t really any different than the ones at the community college. I also think of the biggest problems is that, at least in my schools, they don’t really require a lot of speaking. Now that would be something taking an actual Japanese class has over studying on your own, yet from what I gather they don’t take much advantage of that. So yeah for me studying on my own has proved more useful, but taking the classes has helped me stay on track and also help make things stick in my mind since it’s another opportunity to practice.

    I do agree with not majoring in JUST Japanese. I think minoring in it would be best, or doing the double major thing.

    Oh and thanks for this John. I was super sad about not being able to take Japanese this semester since the class is full, but now I’m cool with it! ^^

  • ジョサイア

    In other words keep out art majors :P

  • John

    Our Japanese classes actually focused mostly on speaking but the issue for me was that it was all memorized conversations and short responses to questions we were more or less prepared for if we looked over the lesson. There wasn’t very much thinking and speaking on the fly which was why I felt studying abroad and talking to people in real Japanese situations was the most helpful for my learning at least.

  • Marie

    Ah, feeling a little nervous now :/ I’m going to be a Japanese major at college next year, makes me nervous. Though, I love Japanese and learn it on my own as well and write letters in Japanese to my friend for practice. My goal is to be a translator/interpreter because I love translating, for some odd reason. That’s definitely what I want to do with my life, and can’t really see myself doing anything else. If I keep at it, do you think I’ll be okay after graduation and actually find a job/not starve? Also, what might be another major/or minor to pair with a Japanese major?

  • John

    Well if you know that’s what you want to do, my advice for you is just to work really hard at it while you’re in college and make sure to practice a lot on your own too. Don’t count only on the course to teach you the stuff you’ll need to be fluent after graduating. As long as you work hard at it, you should be okay. What sort of stuff do you want to interpret or translate? Perhaps you could major/minor in a related field. That would definitely help you out, I think. Also make sure that your self studies gear towards this as well. Do you want to translate government or foreign policy stuff? You could minor in something like that and you could also focus your self study towards those things, like reading government publications in Japanese or just watching the Japanese news. Of course if you’re interested in something else you could just tailor your studies accordingly.

  • Pepper_the_Sgt

    Fortunately, I’ve chosen to chosen to only minor in Japanese and major in something else. Unfortunately, that something else is Audio Engineering Technology (i.e., that guy who records and mixes music albums). I love doing it, but If you haven’t noticed, the music industry is kind of falling apart lately. So it’s a really competitive job market with not much money.

    I’d like to to audio for films, cartoons, video games, and so on. Still competitive, but at least you can pay your bills if you find a job. I think I would like working on those kinds of projects more, but there’s not much of that kind of work around me.

    I’m hoping to get a teaching job in Japan soon (should find out in March if I get it), with the goal of really improving my Japanese by living in the country. Hopefully I’ll make some connections and get some audio work. That would be ideal. Even if I return to America or move to some other country, it would be nice to have clients from Japan. With the internet, that kind of business is totally doable today.