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First 'second' language learning... cannot decide...


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Hi all! 

I've been stuck with my choices a lot over the years. Here is a quick background of my language learning: 

I'm a native English speaker, I learned French in school and got a B in my GCSEs. A few years ago I started to learn Japanese, then Spanish, then Norwegian, then Esperanto, then Japanese again... as you can see, I have a lot of interest in many languages but I have problems committing to one. Part of the reason for this is that I have various mental illnesses that make concentrating difficult (bad excuse I know). However I don't want to give up and I strongly believe that I can learn a language if I try hard enough. 

I use the pimsleur or teach yourself methods, depending on the language. I also use duolingo and memrise. 

The main two I am zoning in on are:


- At first, I started this one as I know it's close to English and I wanted a language I could progress quickly in. I ended up absolutely falling in love with the language and culture. 

- I have various friends in Scandinavia. I found that I was able to understand Swedish and Danish to a degree, and even had a conversation in Norwegian at a few events! 

- I am still a beginner of course, but I feel I can progress really quickly in this language.



- I have different reasons for learning Japanese. I am a member of the Shinto faith and wish to fully immerse myself in the rituals and such involved. I also wish to visit Japan and go to Fushimi Inari Taisha. 

- It's a dumb reason, but I also watch a lot of anime and read manga. Therefore I would love to be able to consume the media in the original forms, without subtitles. 

- My main problem with Japanese is the commitment level needed. I've tried so many times and failed, and although I really want to learn it and it would be a great advantage for me, learning it without a teacher or such is difficult. 


Really what I am looking for is some advice... I am sick of moving from language to language and I want to commit myself. I know Norwegian is a lot easier and is a gateway language to other Scandinavian languages, but as Japanese is a goal also I feel that I could be spending my time learning that instead? On the other hand I feel that learning Norwegian may give me the confidence I need to tackle Japanese.

Any advice is welcome! This has been eating at me for so long! 

- Matt

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Decide on it my friend because it is really hard to not make our minds on anything and I think this goes for trying anything new. And if you continue to do the same thing you are trying, I think you will have little to no progress at all. So, given the reason, I think it would be best to learn one that is closest to your heart and then learning the next as a next step. I hope this helps. Thank you for the time and more power to all of us.

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It's clear your favourite out of the 2 is Norwegian, reading how you describe both (friends vs anime/manga, loving the language and culture vs being a member of something, etc.).
Ideally you could learn both, but don't do it at the same time or you will be overwhelmed, no matter if the struggle point would be Norwegian or Japanese.

Admitted, I'm currently learning Japanese and Spanish at the same time, but:
1. I started learning Japanese since May 2015 and I could speak it quite well by the time I started learning Spanish.
2. Spanish shares similar vocabulary with English here and there, which is both good and bad. Good because I would know those words immediately. Bad because I always tend to ignore learning words I find similar to English, Dutch or Polish, assuming I will be fine any way.

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Thanks so much for the advice guys! When I think about it, I do think that I have a lot more fun with Norwegian and it is closer to my heart in many ways. I want to learn it because I love the sound of it and everything about it, while with Japanese I feel like I need to learn it because I 'need to'.

So things have become more clear to me now, thanks so much for the help guys :)

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I can tell that you like Norwegian just by reading through your post. Why not go for it you said it yourself it will be quite an easier transition. Japanese on the other hand is very difficult for me just by looking at those characters. You have some issues as you have said so go for the one that is easier for you. 

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I think Norwegian would be a great first second language choice for you too. Its pronunciations are more familiar with English speakers. It is actually an easier language than English when it comes to grammar, verb tenses or conjugation. So it would be your best bet. I think that once you have mastered a language, you will be better able to tackle another one. When you finish mastering the Norwegian language, you will sure feel great and ready to go into the Japanese language.

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I know how hard it is to focus. I'm not as bad as you are - most likely, but I kinda understand where you are coming from. For me I have deep love for several languages too and I faced the same problem as you - decide which one. I kept going in circles (for your info, I was doing pimsleur as well, not the other stuff you've mentioned though). It wasn't going anywhere.

Every time I focused on one language I quickly started to forget the other ones. At the time these languages were Japanese, Chinese, Korean.

My final solution - which has been working amazingly for almost a year now, was to drop one language and study two at the same time. Since Korean was the last on the list it had to go (this is temporary though, I'll master it yet) and now I'm studying both Japanese and Chinese.

It was painful to let Korean go but now I feel like I'm really fully utilizing my time when I study both J and C. I feel the progress being made in both of the languages.

So my recommendation would be study both at the same time. Just try it out, you can always drop one at any time and come back to it later in the future!

Either way, good luck buddy on your journey!


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Wow Neonpossum, can I just say well done on learning all those languages! I'm totally blown away by your passion. Plus I can see you're very interested in the cultural aspect of these languages too. kudos to you.

Well, everyone's said it all. It's clear to me that Norwegian has won your heart, so I say go for it :) 

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If it was me i'd pick Norwegian. It's s easy to learn ,specially for an English speaker :)   After you are done with it (after one year or less) you can learn Japanese ;)  I've been dreaming of learning Norwegian for such a long time! Norway it's such an awesome country <3 Plus you do have Scandinavian friends ;)   You have nothing to lose, I bet you will end up mastering it in one year or less if you choose it. 

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