Which East Asian language to learn? Mandarin Chinese or Japanese, or Korean? Which is more useful or valuable, or easy? This article will help you to choose between three!
Table of Contents
- Why Learn East Asian Languages?
- Chinese or Japanese or Korean: Which one to learn?
- Which is the easiest to learn?
Why Learn East Asian Languages?
Learning a new language has become an essential aspect of the career and economic life of most career-oriented people.
Globalization has made it impossible for people to rely solely on their mother tongue. That’s the reason career choices in languages are higher today than ever.
The countries are now closer than ever, which has resulted in the integration of the Indian economy with the outside world, particularly with East Asian origin countries.
With so many options, choosing the right foreign language to learn is more crucial than ever. The three most sought-after East Asian tongues are Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean.
The East Asian countries are some of the most vibrant, dynamic, diverse cultures, and intellectually rich regions globally. Realizing the Asian Century, the rising importance of East Asia in the 21st century offers exciting career opportunities.
Thanks to the emergence of Japan, South Korea, and the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the East Asian economic powerhouses, with their giant international companies, expanded their business footprints in India and globally.
They took advantage of India’s new economic liberalization business policy of the Government of India. It has brought these countries and the need to learn these languages in preference to the famous European languages into sharp focus.
China, Japan, and South Korea are among the top five countries with the most international patent applications. East Asia’s growing importance in the 21st century offers exciting opportunities and challenges to students seeking successful careers across every field of endeavor.
It enhances your potential business and job opportunities, not only in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese firms. But it also helps in the markets deal with companies in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and other East or Southeast Asian countries.
The reason is the excellent pay package and comparatively lesser competition.
Language Jobs are paid well since there aren’t many people who know it. Learning might help you to get a job in various sectors and industries.
Today, there is an ever-increasing demand for translators and interpreters in many businesses that operate internationally.
The need to learn East Asian Languages couldn’t have been higher than it is today. It is the reason several Indian Universities and learning centers are offering Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean.
Chinese or Japanese or Korean: Which one to learn?
If you wish to study one of the East Asian languages, the first few questions that come to our mind are: “What is easier to learn: Mandarin vs. Japanese vs. Korean?”
Is Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or Korean the same, or what is the difference? Is it hard to learn any of these languages?
1. Popularity, and Where is it spoken?
More young Indians are studying Chinese these days for obvious reasons. Chinese is a group of languages spoken by over 1.3 billion native speakers worldwide.
Mandarin is considered a native language by about two-thirds of China’s inhabitants, and it is the single most commonly spoken language on the planet.
Not only in mainland China, but it is also widespread in Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Mongolia.
The vast population means new business opportunities for you as you are most likely to meet one Chinese in every three Asian people.
Many countries worldwide are interested in business with China and are actively involved in learning the Chinese language to understand and enhance business opportunities.
The Japanese language has 127 million native speakers, most of whom love to travel and invest in the Indian market.
Japanese is the most popular in India, followed by Chinese. Learning Japanese in India will certainly help to enhance your career prospects in the global job market.
On the other hand, South Korea boasts 80 million Korean native speakers. It is a figure that would go up to above 100 million if North Korea’s 25 million indigenous population are added to it. The Korean language comes as a third choice in India.
Learning a second language, such as Korean, is an intellectual and personal achievement that will provide many advantages to your professional career.
2. Economic strength and importance on the global stage
China is a superpower when it comes to economics. The Chinese economy is the second-largest in the world in terms of GDP, after the United States. And it’s the largest economy in the Asian continent and the largest in the world in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).
The Chinese market is enormous. The ‘Silk Road,’ ‘One belt,’ and ‘One Road’ are significant components that define the extensive network of the Chinese economic global reach.
China’s trade with India rose to $18.7 billion in 2017, and the country is already poised to take over from the US as the world’s largest economy in the next few decades. The export drive of China makes it a priority for people to learn the language to compete in the global economy.
China’s economic and population strength puts it ahead of Japanese and Korean as a preferred language to learn. The future of Mandarin is full of career opportunities.
On the other hand, Japan is another economic powerhouse in Asia and the world, as well. It is among the fastest-growing economies and one of the top 5 largest economies in the world. Most of the leading Japanese MNCs, especially those in the automobile and electronics sectors, directly invest in India.
If you are fluent in the Japanese language in India, not only could it help you if you are established in a career. But it could also open doors to new jobs for you.
The Korean economy is widely known for its ultimate contribution to high-quality consumer goods enjoyed by millions of people in India and worldwide.
Even a child in the belly knows something about Samsung, the world’s biggest mobile company. The Posco Giant – talking about the most significant Foreign Direct Investment in India, Hyundai—the second largest car manufacturer globally, and LG. the Korean economy has a strong presence in virtually every home in India.
Looking for courses? → (i) Japanese classes in Delhi (ii) Learn Japanese in Bangalore (iii) Top Korean institutes (iv) Korean learning centers in Delhi (v) Mandarin institutes in Delhi (vi) Chinese programs in Bangalore (vii) Study Chinese in Mumbai.
3. Career Scope associated with Korean, Chinese, and Japanese
All three languages offer you an opportunity to improve your employment chances because the nations where they originate are tech giants.
So, if you are in the tech sector, either language offers you the best in technology. Translator and interpreter as a career option is the first choice due to limited supply and ever-increasing demand.
Japan has a better delivery of quality than China, which is one reason they are loved so much in India. These days, many KPOs and BPOs are present in India, and jobs could involve email writing, speaking skills, customer care, and more.
It is where the Korean and Japanese languages offer excellent job opportunities for Indians.
Hundreds of well known Korean companies have their presence in India.
These firms are operating in almost every sector, i.e., Information Technology, business research, consumer electronics, R&D, life sciences, media, automobiles, construction industry, trading, finance, tourism, services, etc.
Today, India and South Korea’s trade records have increased tremendously, and many Korean companies are operating in the Indian market.
Korean companies prefer fluent candidates as their head offices are in Korea, and they need to communicate with them regularly. In the last few years, Career options in Korean have gained momentum.
China is your best bet if you are looking for a more substantial and more vocal export and import market. With that, you need to learn Mandarin so you can compete effectively.
Mandarin is one language that is assuming a globally dominant position. It is gradually becoming a cultural force of reference and objectivity for the 21st century.
Furthermore, students can choose the Chinese language with the hope of secure employment in areas like banking, trade, financial, diplomatic work, academics, news media, tours and travel, content management, and many more.
For job seekers, Mandarin is the language of the future, and thus, job opportunities as well.
4. Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism
With such a large population, China rules in these sectors. Thousands of Indian businesses are raking in a considerable profit for setting up their businesses close to Chinese tourists’ destinations in India.
Moreover, more Indians are traveling to China than flying to Japan and Korea. Learning Chinese will make your journeys less stressful and more enjoyable if you plan to go to East Asia.
You can act as a linguist tour guide, translator, or interpreter to these tourists and make a massive profit from customer support personnel for businesses in the hospitality sector.
You can utilize your skills to work in the industry to assist the foreign traveler, communicate with them, and work in a wide array of travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors.
Notwithstanding, the Japanese and Korean languages also offer vast market opportunities for people in the Hospitality and Tourism sectors. If you want to visit South Korea or Japan for travel or living, you should be learning it.
You’ll see huge benefits in your everyday life almost immediately when you speak the native language. Thanks to simplified visa rules, More than three hundred thousand Indians visited these two exotic and fascinating countries in 2017.
5. Culture awareness, and for the love of Music & Movies
Once again, the population of China creates a wide variety of cultures all over the country. The Chinese Dragon festival, the Great Walls of China, Chinese film, and more are fascinating cultural reasons to learn Mandarin.
There is hardly anyone that doesn’t love Chinese karate and Kung Fu movies, especially those based on village settings.
The China culture is unique, colorful, and multi-layered that has evolved over the last 5,000 years. Good knowledge of Mandarin can allow you to watch these movies and TV series without needing a translation.
If you are in love with anime and manga, you need to learn Japanese. The Japanese culture is governed by a spirituality principle known as Shinto, which states that all in nature has a kami (god). As a result, environmental preservation and turning of the season are widely cherished.
Ability to Speak Japanese can open your perspective on the values, customs, religious beliefs, ethics, manners, traditions, and aesthetics. No discussion of Japan is complete without mention of its unique and delicious cuisine.
You might find a new way to order your Sushi or Yakitori, or Tempura. There are temples to visit, sumo to watch, mountains to climb. The list is virtually endless!
But if you are one of the millions of people worldwide that are thrilled by Korean K-Pop, then you have reasons to learn Korean. You will understand better and enjoy every piece of it.
Korean E-sports scene, like League of Legends, as well as Korean dramas, songs, and movies, are people’s favorite across the world. Knowledge of the language will make it more exciting for you to learn.
Which is the easiest to learn?
When it comes to computers, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean scripts share a common background, collectively known as CJK characters. Occasionally, Vietnamese are included in making the abbreviation CJKV since Vietnamese historically used Chinese characters as well.
While they are linguistically unrelated, all four can be written both horizontally and vertically, and all four use Chinese characters.
The CJKV characters often include hànzì in Chinese, kanji, kana in Japanese, hanja, hangul in Korean, and hán tự or chữ nôm in Vietnamese.
Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. Pronunciation in Mandarin Chinese is quite complicated only because there are four different tones and one neutral tone.
For distinct meanings, the same syllable can be pronounced with different sounds. One has to practice lots of listening to acquire the intonation and rhythm of the language.
You’d have to learn a staggering 3,000 to read a newspaper (out of around 50,000 in a Chinese dictionary).
Nowadays, the Chinese media is using fewer characters. To understand 90 percent of the content in publications, you need to know about 1,000 of around 50,000 individual hanzi made up of Written Chinese.
While the Chinese language has only one script, i.e., hànzì, at least two different versions are in active use across the world; traditional and simplified.
The simplified form is officially used in the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, and Malaysia. On the other hand, the Republic of China, i.e., Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, overseas Chinese communities, tend to use traditional characters.
Well, you will only need to show knowledge of 2,600 characters to pass the exam at the highest level, i.e., HSK Level 6 (Advanced). With 2,600 characters, you can read almost 98% of everyday written Mandarin Chinese language.
Chinese grammar and vocabulary are much more straightforward if compared to pronunciation. Each word has a fixed and single form. Nouns or verbs do not take prefixes or suffixes, showing the tense or the person, number, gender of the subject, or their case.
The Mandarin language has little or no bound morphology, and there are no grammatical paradigms to memorize. Now, would this relieve you a little bit in your Chinese language study? Hope so! Try the HSK exam in India.
Japanese writing is also an exquisite script, and it has evolved from its original Chinese script beginnings to become something intrinsically Japanese.
It has three alphabet systems. Hiragana (ひらがな) for native Japanese words, Katakana (カタカナ) for foreign words, and Kanji (漢字) adopted classical Chinese characters.
One can speak the language, at least a basic level, with the help of Rōmaji (Romanized Japanese). It was developed to describe Japanese sound in the Roman alphabet for those who have not mastered the three main scripts.
Nouns have no gender, no articles, and no plural forms: only two verb tenses, present and past.
With only five vowel sounds and consistent phonetic spelling, the language is relatively easy to pronounce.
Contrary to what most people are saying, Japanese isn’t that tough language to learn. The pronunciation is moderately simple, and the basic grammar is not too complicated either.
Like any other language, One needs to practice lots of listening, reading, and speaking. You can pass level N3 of the JLPT in 2 years.
Hangul is known as one of the most scientific and logically designed writing systems in the world. The alphabet’s hangul (한글), grammar, verbs, and pronunciation makes an incredibly straightforward tongue to acquire.
While the higher levels are difficult, but you can crack Intermediate level 4 or Advanced Level 5 of TOPIK in 2-3 years and not a decade as many imagine.
You do not learn the language by memorization. When the learning process is less stressful, you can take the information in and retain it. Thus, studying the Korean language with greater ease than you thought possible.
- Chinese: Pronunciation – Hard, Grammar – Easy, Listening – Hard, Writing – Moderate, Honorifics – Easy
- Japanese: Pronunciation – Easy, Grammar – Hard, Listening – Moderate, Writing – Hard, Honorifics – Hard
- Korean: Pronunciation – Hard, Grammar – Moderate, Listening – Hard, Writing – Easy, Honorifics – Easy
So what are you waiting for? There is so much to learn from East Asian countries and their complex writing system.
Take Mandarin Chinese or Japanese or Korean classes and find out the fascinating new world. It will add both feathers and wings to the résumé to the more ambitious ones in any career planning.