Logical Reasons to Learn A Language…

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series The First World Problem is Choice

Are some of the worst.

There’s nothing worse than a good reason to learn a language.

Logic won’t move you.

Addiction will.

Stop looking for good reasons. They won’t help you. They will only oppress you. You don’t need them.

Go searching. Go shopping. Ask around. Go find, make or choose things that are addictive-but-helpful to you — addictive books, addictive movies, addictive people, addictive songs. Then you’ll (literally) be able to talk.

People with good reasons to learn Spanish and Chinese (“I ‘should’”; “there are a over a billion Chinese people”; “it will make me more marketable” 1) are the least likely to actually learn them.

People who get hooked on telenovelas, on the other hand…

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  1. I hate this effing word. What are you, a piece of meat? Who’s buying you? Judas Priest, man…

  20 comments for “Logical Reasons to Learn A Language…

  1. January 6, 2011 at 21:21

    I’ve translated your post (because it’s short and meaningful) to Czech and posted on my blog. I hope you don’t mind ^^;


    Ayuku, the AJATT follower since 2009

  2. Angeldust
    January 7, 2011 at 03:32

    I think this is my problem. I have a billion good reasons to learn Japanese (seriously!) but there’s no addiction right now. I must go find addiction…

  3. bubble
    January 7, 2011 at 03:36

    This is why my main criteria for picking a language have gone from the practical to 1) is there cool stuff and 2) is it easy to find the cool stuff. It also matters whether or not I like the language, but I like most languages.

    I almost envy English learners, because English has tons of widely-available cool stuff in it. But Japanese is pretty good for that too.

  4. Jason
    January 7, 2011 at 03:54

    It always bothers me when people say what’s a good reason or bad reason to learn Japanese. It’s the stupidest argument ever.

    The only good reason is a reason that works for you.

    A lot of people say knowledge of Japanese culture that type of nonsense…those are the people who probably will never learn.

    You think the average Japanese person gives a cahoot about that stuff?


    They just do whatever interests them….

    people just can’t figure it out.

  5. Raphael
    January 7, 2011 at 07:08

    “I almost envy English learners, because English has tons of widely-available cool stuff in it.”

    You’re definitely right! Just look at this website: it’s kind of paradoxical, but by reading this blog on a daily basis in order to improve my Japanese, I’ve learned so many new English words (English is not my mother tongue)… I love it: 一石二鳥 (2 birds, 1 stone)

  6. fandd
    January 7, 2011 at 12:19

    If I read this post last year, I would not have believed you. I always wanted to learn another language to be “more marketable,” but could not keep up with studying for more than a week.

    Then I got hooked on Korean dramas. I decided to learn Korean only because I did not want to wait for the English subtitles to come out. Yeah. It was all about the shows.

    K-Dramas led to K-pop, stepping foot in my first Korean restaurant ever (Korean BBQ where have you been all my life?) and a local Korean language group.

    I have no problem studying each day because I know that every bit I learn will make watching dramas more enjoyable.

    All that was written to say that I totally agree with your post and am now looking for Korean books that I can get addicted to.

    Also, love your site. It is very helpful and inspiring.

  7. Sandra
    January 8, 2011 at 23:45

    The most posts I read, the most I desire an “All Mandarin All The Time” site. Khatzumoto could be my beloved and overrated guru if only this site was about Mandarin with all the boxes on the left about Chinese XD His tips are for every language, but I want things made in the easier way for me XD

    A problem I have with Chinese is that I am fond of original Japanese anime songs of the ’80s and in those years China hadn’t enought time for cartoons. I find many interesting Chinese dramas and movies, but I can’t listen to the anime songs of my childhood and so I am unhappy. I’m not interested in Japanese language, but I miss those songs (and I need to stay focalized in a language with no interferences). It is all so hamletic! Anime songs, or Mandarin language, that the question!


    • Jason
      January 12, 2011 at 07:17

      There are lots of Chinese websites that have Chinese scans of Japanese manga. Don’t know if that helps but….you’ll probably love it.

  8. Chris C.
    January 9, 2011 at 10:56

    Great post. This reminded me of something a friend of mine once asked me “Where did you learn Japanese to get so good?”. I paused, and thought. and finally came to realize this: “I learned Japanese through reading manga”, much to my friends surprise. I remember those days just over 2 years ago when I would read my favorite Manga in japanese. I would sit for hours and hours with a large grin on my face, happily reading(learning) it with an online dictionary. Before I knew it was able to read pretty much any Manga. From there the only thing that stood in the way of fluency was higher level vocabulary. Like Khatzumoto said, don’t look for a “good” reason. What you do need however is sources of input that you love so much, it’s impossible for you to not learn your target language.

    • Jason
      January 12, 2011 at 07:23

      I’ve done that as well….and to my surprise. After reading lots of manga/novels. I was still somewhat intimdated by Japanese, simply because I didn’t think that manga was enough. So one day I tried reading an economics book. And guess what….it was even easier than the manga that I read!

      It’s ridiculous.

      I would read a science textbook and can understand mostly everything. You take away the scientific vocab, and most of it is a piece of cake.

  9. January 9, 2011 at 12:48

    I agree. I’ve seen so many people with ‘reasons’ to do something. Tony Robbins did say “all you need is a big enough why”, but I find Japanese content provides its own why.

    Stu Jay Raj just happens to be one of those people who found a way to be a “language junkie”. He figured out a way to “hook” himself on the “drug” of language. Thus, he can speak about 13 languages and read upwards to 17.

  10. Jules
    January 11, 2011 at 13:16

    I can totally relate… I took Spanish in school for about 5 years and I can’t speak it… at all. But, because of my addiction to everything Japanese, after only 3 years of classroom study I can speak much more than I could have ever hoped to with Spanish. I took Spanish in High School because it was supposed to be beneficial for me later in life when I got a job… and then right before graduating, my Dad told me to go to college for something I love, and the next day I had changed my major to Japanese. And now I’m heading back to Japan to teach English. So much for Spanish helping me in my future endeavors XD

    Thanks for all your great posts! I find I often come back here to reread posts as well as the new ones when I need to get back some motivation and relight that fire under my butt.


  11. Alyson (long time lurker on your blog)
    January 24, 2011 at 13:18

    Thank you for writing about this. I literally had this conversation an two hours ago with someone. I started learning Korean (though not for the dramas, as a poster above said, but because I love the way it sounds :D) and it is frighteningly addictive. I get a huge boost just knowing a few more words and understanding a bit more. When I tried to start learning Chinese (since it was more useful and all…) the fire wasn’t there, which made it near impossible to study. What’s more, I missed Korean, like an ex-boyfriend of sorts! So, I’m back to happily studying Korean. Despite the fact that useful reasons are all well and good, without the addiction, it is hard to continue.

  12. hayden
    January 24, 2011 at 15:24

    i dont even have a reason for learning Japanese, theres just a good vibe i get from that place. one thing that annoys me though is meeting other learners who do so for their ‘anime and manga’, i dont like that crap, and dont wanna talk bout it so it’s frustrating and not only that it gives allot of potential chat buddies the idea us western folk are just gonna talk their ears off about some low frame rate cartoons about robots with guns. BUT i can relate to this whole illogical reason thing, being as mines a vibe..

  13. Ryan
    January 25, 2011 at 09:11

    Let x be a good reason to do something and y be a reason that says x is actually wrong.∀x∃y y>x. Whatever reason you can find, its possible to find a contradiction. Be irrational and just do it.

  14. Embok
    January 29, 2011 at 02:26

    Definitely agree here. With that said, it’s always nice to have a ‘good’ reason to throw out at people trying to make things difficult. I’m going into business so if someone has a problem with me wanting to learn it for anime/manga(and I can’t just ignore them for clearly being the enemy) I make up something about cars and technology to satisfy them.

  15. EkkusuXI
    March 26, 2011 at 04:36

    I have an immensely good, more like great reason to learn Japanese, it’s the same reason crack addicts take one more it. For me it’s the drug effect, it’s all i think about (and try to think in.. I just started RTK less than a week ago and im at 300 or so in)it’s al i want to do with my free time, so next thing you know I’ll be making kanji-meth out of my basement because i could never stop the one more kanji(hit) feeling!

    So thank you Khatz, I have found meaning in my previously wasted free time and intellectual reprieve from my brainless work as a cashier!

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