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Japanese or Korean: Which One Should You Learn First?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

Learn Korean first if you find it hard to memorize grammar. Japanese grammar is one of the hardest in the world. Once you can fluently speak Korean, it will be easier to learn Japanese.

Should You Learn Korean or Japanese First

Learning Japanese or Korean looks easy, but in reality, it’s actually pretty hard. Many people wonder which language they should learn first. Japanese or Korean? Japanese grammar is extremely difficult. Japanese has no conjugation like French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

Most people just use a dictionary and memorize all the words. It can be learned much faster if you already know how to speak Korean. Japanese has three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.

Let’s take a look at how long it takes to learn Japanese or Korean.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Japanese?

For the majority of people that start without any knowledge, it can take at least 6 months to learn basic Japanese. This will be speaking, writing, and reading.

It’s very hard to learn a new language if you haven’t done it before. Of course, there will be people that can learn a language in less than 3 months, but that’s a small percentage of people.

I’ve been learning Japanese now for about 9 months and still find it hard to speak fluently in a conversation with strangers. The easiest and fastest way to speak fluent Japanese is by practicing it a lot.

Try to find a native Japanese friend and ask them to help you with speaking. Watch Japanese TV and movies. This can really speed up the learning process.

If you’re already watching Anime, then it should be easier to pick up Japanese. Since you already know some sentences and words, it will really benefit you in the process of learning Japanese.

Japanese Kanji is one of the hardest things to learn. You need to memorize lots of different characters. There are over 50,000 different Kanji’s

Learning Japanese requires a lot of practice, so don’t expect to learn Japanese in less than 3 months. Make sure to take your time and slowly progress.

Pros and Cons of Japanese

Here below are some pros and cons that I’ve found so far while learning Japanese.


  • It’s easy to get Japanese books and material online since it’s a popular language.
  • There are lots of Japanese songs with English subs available on YouTube too.
  • Japanese people are generally pretty nice too.


  • Japanese grammar is extremely hard and confusing at first.
  • Japanese books and materials can be expensive.
  • Japanese speakers are normally a bit shy, so it’s hard to try to speak.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Korean?

Learning Korean is much easier because it has less grammar. I’ve been learning Korean for about 3 years now, and I must say that it’s been way easier to transition it into Japanese rather than vice versa.

Generally speaking, it takes around 8 months to speak fluent Korean. This includes reading, writing, and speaking. Keep in mind that this would be a full-time program that would require you to learn Korean for at least 2 hours every day.

Most people that are learning Korean often start to focus on speaking first because they find it easier to talk rather than writing. Japanese is the complete opposite of this, where people would often start writing first because they find it easy to write Japanese characters on a whiteboard or paper.

Pros and Cons of Korean

Here below are some pros and cons that I’ve found so far while learning Korean.


  • Easily make friends and practice speaking with native Koreans.
  • Most people speak very good English to travelers because of tourism.
  • Korean has less grammar than Japanese, so it should be easier to learn Korean compared to Japanese.
  • Everyone speaks in a polite manner, especially when they are talking to strangers.


  • Korean use different honorifics to elderly people, which can be confusing at first.
  • Korean TV is hard to watch since it’s not subbed in English.

Frequently Asked Question

Here below are some frequently asked questions that might help you decide which language to learn.

Is It Easier to Learn Japanese or Korean?

In my opinion, Korean is easier to learn because Japanese has much more grammar. Korean culture is also very similar to Japanese, so Korean should be somewhat easier to learn.

Which Is More Useful to Learn Japanese or Korean?

Both languages are very useful to learn. Japanese is the 8th most spoken language in the world, and Korean is 14th. So if you can speak Japanese or Korean, you’ll have a nice advantage when traveling in Asia.

Is Korean or Japanese Easier to Learn for An English Speaker?

Korean is way easier to learn for an English speaker because Japanese uses a different writing system and grammar. Japanese is still very useful, though, since you can easily make friends with Japanese people.

However, it also comes down to personal preference whether you want to learn Japanese or Korean. Both languages can be very useful in daily life.

How Long Does It Take to Speak Japanese Fluently?

It takes about 1-3 years to be fluent in Japanese, depending on how you study Japanese and what methods you use. It can take longer or shorter than this time frame, but generally speaking, this is the amount of time needed to learn Japanese without full immersion in Japan.


Japanese and Korean are both great languages to learn. You should focus more on Japanese if you plan to visit Japan, and you should focus more on Korean if you plan to visit South Korea.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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