Is it possible to learn kanji and another language at the same time?

By possible I mean “not batshit crazy”. I like the window Kanji provides into reading Japanese (and Chinese!), but would doing Wanikani everydayish interfere with learning to speak another language? I wouldn’t be starting from scratch, mind you, and I have a lot of free time (for now at least). I’m thinking the two might not interfere with eachother in my brain because they’re so different. Your thoughts? Does anyone have experience with something similar?

I guess it depends on the languages and the levels you are in (and your native language too).

I could totally see me learning Spanish and Japanese at the same time… but that’s because Portuguese (my native language) is similar to Spanish. However, I wouldn’t try to learn Korean and Japanese at the same time because it would reduce my time to “master” both.

The best I can say is… try for yourself for a while and see how it works.

4 Likes

I think you’d be fine. The only real issue is that when real life hits you might not have enough time to study two new languages simultaneously.

1 Like

Definitely try it out. I’ve learned Japanese alongside two other languages at one point. I was learning them all pretty casually, but one was a romance language and the other was a germanic language so since they are pretty different, there wasn’t any chance of confusing them.

The cool thing I found is that the more you learn of other languages, the more you can make connections with grammar or maybe something resonates better with another language than your native one.

2 Likes

Lots of people can’t even find time to learn Japanese while trying to learn kanji.

19 Likes

I’m fascinated with language in general and I’ve dabbled in several. Spanish is the non-English language I’m closest to fluency in, and that’s not saying much. Basically I know a bunch of basic nouns and phrases and how to conjugate verbs in a few tenses. I’ll probably always have a passing understanding of Spanish, but I’m no fan of the language. (I curse myself for taking Spanish instead of French in school) The language I’m talking about is Hebrew, which I was taught to around a preschool level as a child and have mostly forgotten with the exception of the alphabet and religious phrases. I have a much higher likelihood of visiting Israel than Japan anytime soon. I’ve learned kana and basic grammar (particles and conjugations) but not conversation. I do think it’s meaningful that the languages are completely unrelated.
As for all the ESL people here, sometimes I feel like having English as a native language is a drawback because I never had a pressing need to learn another one.

1 Like

I should mention, there is nothing like Wanikani for Hebrew, even the Anki decks are kind of shitty. A lot of the resources cater to Christians and teach Biblical Hebrew rather than Modern Hebrew. It’s almost surprising just how shitty they are. I would welcome anyone to prove me wrong on that point :slight_smile:

Knowing multiple languages significantly decreases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and also delays its progression. :smile:

5 Likes

I think it’s possible. Right now I’m learning English too.

1 Like

I tend to think of Japanese of more of spoken language, rather than written language with Kanji. Kanji is merely a shorthand.

If you want to learn another language at the same time, it should not be Chinese, because the Kanji will confuse you.

All languages are more spoken than written. (well, living languages) Don’t worry, it’s not Chinese. After WK and supplemental Anki I’m planning on learning speaking (and reading!) skills by watching some anime with the original CCs.

1 Like

You’re doing well so far!

1 Like

I say go for it. You can never have too many languages under your belt! Whenever I hang out with my Korean friend I like to ask him to teach me random phrases in Korean because why the hell not? Your brain will make room for them and you’d be surprised what you can remember.

I’m not currently learning anything besides Japanese because I have no use to learn any other languages at the moment. I think I might try Korean after Japanese since their structures are so similar, but I’m also considering a romance language since it’ll be so different. The possibilities are endless, I guess. :wink:

Good luck with whatever you choose to do!

2 Likes

I’ve wanted to learn to read Korean for a while. There’s really no writing system like Hangul, it fits the language so perfectly. Beautiful too.

1 Like

My friend said it’s sooo easy to learn how to read! It took her ~5 hours to learn and master the writing system. She said the pronunciations can get difficult, but as far as reading goes, it’s a breeze.

If only tofugu had a guide for it…

When I was in university, I studied Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish in the same semester - and none of that conflicted (my first language is English). It directly depends on how you learn, in my opinion. I found that Chinese was VASTLY easier to learn to read and write (as it is rare for a character to have more than one reading) but much harder to speak properly - counter to Japanese which is much easier to learn to speak passably while far more difficult to learn to write. Spanish is, once you get past verbs, reasonably easy to learn as many words are pretty intuitive.

Korean, I’ve heard, is one of the most difficult languages to really get a handle on - so I imagine that it would be a good idea to focus solely on that. Russian/Ukranian are complex languages. Greek is downright evil to learn (but super interesting), and Polish is a grammar nightmare (even Polish people complain about how hard it is).

In the end, it really depends on your passion for learning languages. And how much time (and how you allocate that time) you put into it. Yes, it is absolutely doable, and yes it is doable without craziness. It would probably work better to pick a secondary language that is closer to English in construction (such as Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese) so you can stay focused on kanji and writing in Japanese.

That’s my two bits anyway. Best of luck on your journey!

4 Likes

Well I´m learning a lot of English lol …

Thanks! Besides kanji Wanikani is a excelent tool to learn how to spell English words correctly too. Learning a lot!

Although I haven’t tried it I don’t think it would be any harder or easier to study two at the same time if you aren’t constrained by time. You will probably prefer one over the other but how much you take in from each language would depend on how much time you put into studying each one individually I suppose.

If both languages are scripted text then it would be like studying french and spanish at the same time (with arabic characters from the same origin but of course they have different meanings and sounds).

1 Like