Japanese Or Korean?

So recently I’ve been through a lot of personal things and it just a lot harder for me to continue learning Japanese (specifically) for now. I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese and Korean at some point in my life, but I started with Japanese first.

My main reason for starting with Japanese was because i found it a lot harder for me to learn than Korean. Yes, Korean has difficult pronunciation (or so I’ve heard), but I found it easier. My thought process was that I’d learn the harder language first (in this case, Japanese) and return to Korean after.

However, I find it’s much harder for me to find free resources for Japanese, and I also don’t have any income to pay for such. Should I switch my original plan and learn Korean before Japanese? Or should I try to learn both at the same time? I can definitely find ways to continue Japanese, so should I consider learning Korean on the side at the same time?

I’ve taken so many breaks and have been very indecisive between which of the two I should learn first, over the years. But at this point in my life, I’m wondering if choosing Japanese first was the wrong idea.

I’m honestly just really lost right now and don’t know what to do. Learning language has been sort of a comfort to me, in ways that I can’t really explain. Sort of a getaway, like reading. I just don’t know what to do now.

Ah, I guess this was really long. But if anyone has advice, etc, it’d be very much appreciated!


I think step one is to have a real, tangible goal for learning either language. A reason for it.

Whatever you have motivation for, you will find a means to achieve.


And to complement jerseytom’s advice, you’ll want to cultivate discipline instead of relying on motivation. Motivation will get you started, discipline will get to to the goal.


When I first started considering learning the two languages, it was because I was interested in both cultures and was a fan of things like anime, k-pop, dramas, etc.

As I’ve gotten older I decided to start Japanese. I wanted to learn a language that I was interested in, and would be helpful for future opportunities. I have the motivation, so to say. The thing I lack would be discipline. I really do want to learn Japanese, but I struggle to stick to a routine and stay on task.

My mental health doesn’t make it any easier, and I’m a terrible procrastinator. Honestly, I find myself searching for the easy ways out a lot. I dont think I can stay on track on my own. Part of the reason why I posted this was because I thought some answers might give me the effort to push myself even more because truthfully, I know I’m not trying as hard as I want to.

Thank you, though! I definitely will try to motivate myself more, and adding onto what chaswrig said, try to discipline myself as well.

It sounds to me like you have a general goal but perhaps not a specific goal, or a specific and tangible milestone.

Something like watching a favorite anime in Japanese without subtitles for example. Or reading a specific book.

Everyone’s motivations are different, but I think the more you can really tack it down to be one distinct thing you want to be able to do, the easier it is to stay on track. That way it’s like you have a specific destination rather than just a general direction. And the more excited you are about that thing, the easier it is to stay on course.


Specific goals definitely really help! I have absolutely no need to know Japanese, and definitely had a life got in the way/not motivated enough to pick up learning when tired period the past couple years. When I picked it back up, I knew I needed some goals. TBH, WaniKani has been great for having the simple goal of ‘do reviews twice/day’, but in terms of a bigger goal, I wanted to manage to read a book in Japanese. An easy book. It didn’t have to be an exciting book, but I wanted to make it through enough grammar and vocabulary to not get totally lost in the sentences. I am about 1/3 of the way through Magic Tree House (in Japanese) - it is not a difficulty book. It is clearly a book for children, but I’m reading and seeing grammar points that I know and reading at a pace that isn’t ridiculously slow, so I feel well on my way. It definitely kickstarted me on ‘be systematic and consistent about the grammar’, as well as ‘you need to do this most days’ (because otherwise I forget what’s going on in the book and need to re-read, which makes reading even slower, but is nice for seeing what vocab/grammar I remember).

I find SRS systems helpful for keeping me from procrastinating (because I’m awful at that - ask my husband who just listened to me sit on the couch saying “I don’t wanna” while looking at my Japanese textbook - not because I didn’t want to learn, but because I didn’t want to start). If WK isn’t in the cards, or isn’t helpful right now, something like KameSame might be good for vocabulary. I like it because I can make predictable times to do the thing, and it’s genuinely worse if I procrastinate (as in I’m going to have too many reviews, forget a bunch of stuff and have a review session that feels not great). Plus, you know, it’s straight memorization and relatively low effort - I’m not going to get the nuances of the word from memorizing it, so I really just need to attach the word to a known English word, and then tweak my understanding as I see it ‘in the wild’ a bit later. Side note on sticking to a routine - attach the reviews to an existing routine. For me, I always eat breakfast and look at the news. Now I eat breakfast and do my reviews before I look at the news. It’s easier to add to a routine you have than to create a new one.

Small goals definitely help me with procrastinating, as does finding one ‘fun’ language learning activity to reward myself with. Right now it’s reading my book (and a manga on the side, which is easier), but in the past it has also been watching an anime in Japanese with Japanese subtitles and seeing what words/concepts I can pick out before I watch it with English subtitles.

I am literally procrastinating on finishing my textbook exercises right now while giving you anti-procrastination tips… I swear, these are actually useful tips…

unrelated reply to nishi790

OMG I’ve been wanting to pick up the Japanese version of Magic Tree House!! Have you seen the anime?

I think you need to evaluate what your goal is… why not both at the same time?? There’s a lot of overlapping vocab (thanks china) and there’s a lot of similar grammar. If you don’t have a specific goal for using either one, I think it would be just fun to learn them at the same time. It’ll be more challenging definitely, but why not try?

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I have considered it, so I might try. Thank you for the input!

unrelated - Magic Treehouse stuff

I’m still in the dinosaur part of the first book, being entertained by Annie wanting to befriend all of the dinosaurs and Jack continually telling her it’s a terrible idea, so can’t comment a whole lot on the plot yet.
So far the book is super readable compared to other books that I’ve attempted (and not yet succeeded at) reading. I will say, the book is clearly for kids - there’s not a ton of kanji and it all has furigana, but parsing out the kana is mostly not too bad. Lots of shorter sentences with few embedded clauses, which I think is most of what makes it readable. I lack the Japanese skills to critique on the quality of writing, but the story is nostalgic for me (I read the English ones as a kid), and the Jack and Annie personalities come through really well. Overall, it’s fun!

The anime is my reward for finishing the first book - will probably be a few weeks - then I just have to find somewhere to watch it (and probably rope my husband into watching it, just because).

Get the book! We can make a discussion thread :slight_smile:

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Now, you mentioned that language learning is like a getaway to you. If you just do it for the fun of doing it, then pick whichever one you would rather do right now (sounds like korean). If you’re actually wanting to get to a high level in either of those languages, however, then…

Honestly, and I hope this doesn’t sound dismissive, but what I think you need is not advice from language learners, but rather people who more specialize in self improvement to help with discipline and work ethic.

You’re absolutely not alone, because I see a lot of people who seek a lot of motivation, but to me I think that may be a bit misguided. Motivation really isn’t all that imo. It’ll have its ups and downs with time. What I find to be one of the biggest predictors of success in language learning is not what you do on the days where its easy and you have motivation, but on the inevitable days where its hard. What gets you through those days is really nothing but discipline. Its your two eyes fixed on the prize you want for your future self.

Honestly, I can’t say I’ve been motivated to learn japanese for like…a year now maybe? Shits overrated anyways. I’d attack that discipline, focus, and procrastination first. Otherwise, if I’m being real with you, I think your chances of being successful in any language are going to be a lot lower.


Do this then implement a system of some kind with yourself. Like, “I study [x language] every day at 7am to 8am.” It can be anytime, even 5 or 10 minutes, but outlining and being as specific as possible about what you will do and when you will do it (and turning this into a system), will offload will power in the long-run.

(once you get used to it you won’t need will power anymore, it will just be a part of who you are)


I’d say there’s no reason why you can’t learn both. Just ten minutes per day on each would be sufficient to get some progress!

Reference: they say if you have an hour to practise something, spread it over smaller sessions. E.g. ten minutes over five days. This is more effective than an hour session.

So going on this reference, can you spare ten minutes for each language everyday? You can be creative, do you have a commute, could you study while working out on a cycling machine, the toilet, your lunch break?

Good luck!


I had lots of fun learning multiple languages at once. I had a huge binder full of different vocabulary words.
Monday I would learn Italian and Japanese. Tuesday I would learn Spanish and Russian. etc etc.
Loved it.
I’d listen to 1 song in each language and lookup 5 vocabulary every day.

Not the most effective plan but if you just want to escape, enjoy the culture, and have fun, I recommend it.

Eventually I dropped all the languages to concentrate on 1 so I could pass a test. I still long for the others though.

The winner was… Japanese :slight_smile:


Have you heard of SMART goals? They may be of use to you since everyone seems to be mentioning setting specific goals. You can google it to get a better idea, but essentially, you create a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. Some other models say Actionable and Realistic, but the gist is the same. It’ll give you a specific plan to achieve a goal that you can definitively say you’ve achieved within a certain period of time. Worked well for me throughout high school when trying to do things that I knew I wouldn’t be motivated by deadlines and such. In other words, it helped me build that discipline that one needs when motivation runs out.


Hi! Productivity addict here lol
What @Chauler said is great advice in my opinion, I use these types of goals regularly and they work really well so I’d also totally recommend this to anyone struggling with motivation.
I’d also suggest to learn about “the path of least resistance”, which states that you’re more likely to do what’s easier, so leave your notebook open on your desk, wanikani (or any other SRS) loaded and ready to use, etc. Modify your environment so that learning Japanese (or Korean if you decide to switch) is the easiest choice.
Hope it helps!


I agree with everyone here. You need a specific goal in mind if you want to make clear progress. And if you want clear progress, I’d recommend you choose 1 language. If you don’t want/need clear progress, then just do what you want to do. Study a bit of Japanese here, a bit of Korean there, watch some anime, listen to some K-pop, etc.

I also have been learning Korean and Japanese. I started with Spanish in HS, dropped it, picked up Japanese later, dropped that too, then lived in Korea for some time and obviously learned Korean. I still want to be fluent in Japanese, but my Korean skills are better but still subpar for what I would like to do, so Japanese got put on a back burner. But I still enjoy it, so, like some others here have said, I continue on “studying” Japanese for like 10 minutes a day or so using Wanikani.

The biggest problem I have with learning 2 languages at once is that I usually can “pull” the right word from my primary target language (Korean), but I can’t for the life of me remember the word from my secondary target language (Japanese). Once I look up the word though, I’m like, “Oh yeah…”

But if you’re not interested in clear progress and just want to have fun and learn both, then do it! I like watching anime and K-dramas, which is why I enjoy learning both at the same time. And even though I don’t study either as much as I should/want to, I find that passive learning through TV works for me… at least I can understand a lot of what is said without subtitles. My speaking however… O_O


Really? I thought Japanese has the biggest library of free learning resources available, beside English.

Personally, I think Korean is a lot easier to learn than Japanese. But I stopped learning it because I lost my motivation after I broke up with my Ex (She’s a Korean and forced me to learn Korean lol)

I’m learning Japanese because I love anime, manga and video games. When I learning Japanese I have a passion that I want to consume those media in their original form and that keep me moving forward.

In short, I think you should learn whichever inspired you the most. Don’t worry about learning resources. Japanese have a lot of them available online. I can suggest you a few if you need them.


Failed user of both at the same time here - I ended up getting strangely comfortable speaking a mixture of the two languages XD
I suppose it’s because as a trilingual I’m just not used to speaking one language for a long amount of time

But if you are considering that dual language route, I suggest you try to spend 70% of your time learning Japanese, and maybe 30% of your time learning Korean (doing both together at the same intensity might not help you learn either well, and not having significant progress over some amount of time might lead to frustration).
You’re lucky since both languages have some massive similarities, so as long as you don’t end up getting confused as to which language you’re speaking (RIP me) you should be able to draw relations and enjoy the process.

However, I don’t follow this route. Since I ended up mixing up the two languages, I decided to focus only on Japanese for now. Maybe once I feel more comfortable with Japanese I might start a new language later?


There’s a Japanese Magic Tree House??? I might have to get it.