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Is it possible to learn both Japanese and Chinese at the same time?


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Whilst I'm currently starting to learn Japanese using JA Sensei, my girlfriend is studying Mandarin at University. She's going to be staying in China for a while so I'd love to be able to learn some basic Chinese to (mainly) entertain her. Would it be difficult/confusing for me to study both at the same time, or are they far enough from each other to be able to study both?

I know that Japanese uses some Chinese characters, so I feel like it might ruin my Japanese learning if I try to learn both.

Hope that somebody can help! Thanks :smile:

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Yes and no.

Japanese and Mandarin are completely different languages in every single aspect, so confusion is not as much of a problem as if you would learn German and Dutch at the same time for example.
Both languages are quite easy to learn when it comes to logic, pronunciation, etc.

On the other hand, seeing you're a native English speaker and only have fluency in German (according to your profile), you'll need to learn both languages entirely from scratch.
While Japanese has a whole lot of English loan words, not everything will be understood by Japanese natives.
Like "キーボード" (kiiboodo) will be understood as "keyboard", while something like "マイオーンハウス" (mai oon hausu) will not be understood as "my own house".

But on the bright side: if you're planning to learn Japanese kanji and most of the suggested jukogo words first, you'll notice how much easier learning Chinese will become.
I was randomly browsing the Chinese course at iKnow.jp, looked at a couple of words and I was happily surprised by how many Chinese words I already know, even though I've never heard of these words before (in Chinese that is).

Like let's say the word for "time".
In Chinese, that would be "时间" (shíjiān).
In Japanese, that's "時間" (jikan).

It's quite possible you won't see any similarities at first, but if you just pronounce the Japanese one first and then you pronounce the Chinese one (or vice versa), you'll see what I mean.

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I guess you gotta give yourself a genuine answer. Why do you need these languages in the first place? Sure, it's cool to speak both of them almost perfectly. However, it takes time. Lots of time to master them. Yep, it would be kind of confusing. I tried that with Italian and Spanish. Eventually, I picked the first one. So, you should decide which one is right and more important for you at the moment. The results will be way better. Just believe me. Don't involve yourself in that multitasking kind of thing.

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@reverserewind
Everyone has their own reasons/motivations to learn a given language.
He wouldn't want to learn these languages otherwise.

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Depends on you completely because it needs concentration and catching power. If you have a good catching power and can concentrate on two different languages at the same time, then it's not a big deal to learn two languages at the same time. You just need to focus on the learning process and try to watch some videos which will be helpful for you to understand the correct accent of the language. 

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Well anything is possible if you put your mind to it, so of course it is possible, but I would have to think that it would be incredibly difficult to do.  I have not tried learning either, but I did have a good friend who took Chinese in college and he said that it was the hardest class that he has ever taken by a long shot, so I guess that is saying something.  Maybe it is helpful to learn both at the same time though, and maybe I am wrong, it would certainly not be the first time.

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On 17/3/2016 at 8:12 AM, reverserewind said:

I guess you gotta give yourself a genuine answer. Why do you need these languages in the first place? Sure, it's cool to speak both of them almost perfectly. However, it takes time. Lots of time to master them. Yep, it would be kind of confusing. I tried that with Italian and Spanish. Eventually, I picked the first one. So, you should decide which one is right and more important for you at the moment. The results will be way better. Just believe me. Don't involve yourself in that multitasking kind of thing.

Although, at least with Italian, Spanish, French and other Latin-based language, there is a lot of grammar, structure and especially etymology (A.K.A. the source of the vocabulary) in common, which can be shared between all those languages when you've mastered them. However, learning any two languages at once seems like a really fast way to get completely confused.

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It is possible to learn both, but I think you will just end up getting really confused and mixing up the two languages. It depends on what type of learner you are. I tried learning French and Spanish at the same time and I would get the words so mixed up that I felt like my head was going to explode! Best of luck learning! 

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I think it is entirely up to you if it will be difficult or not. You said you just want to learn the basics in Mandarin to entertain your girlfriend. In that case, it may not be as demanding as the way you want to learn the Japanese language. I cannot see any confusion with the objective you have in mind. Perhaps it will be difficult if you will learn both seriously. I think it will be even fun. Anyway, if you do get confused in the process, you can always drop Mandarin. ;) 

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