Which East Asian language to learn? Mandarin Chinese or Japanese or Korean? Which is more useful or better, important, or easy? This article will help you to choose between three!
Why Learn East Asian Languages?
Learning a foreign language in India has become an important aspect of the career and economic life of most career-oriented Indians. Career choices in Foreign languages are greater today than ever. Globalization has made it impossible for people to rely solely on their mother language.
Countries are now closer than ever, and these have contributed to the integration of the Indian economy with those of the outside world, particularly with countries of Asian origin. With so many options, choosing the right foreign language to learn is more crucial than ever. The three most sought-after East Asian languages in India are Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean Language.
The East Asian countries are some of the most vibrant, dynamic, diverse cultures, and intellectually rich regions in the world. Realizing the Asian century, The rising importance of East Asia in the 21st century offers exciting career opportunities.
Thanks to the emergence of Japan in the 1970s, South Korea in the 1980s and People’s Republic of China in the 1990s, East Asian economic powerhouses with their giant international companies expanding their business footprints in India, taking advantage of India’s new economic liberalisation business policy of the Government of India, has brought these countries and the need to learn these languages in preference to the popular European languages in India into sharp focus.
China, Japan, and South Korea are among the top five countries with the most international patent applications. The growing importance of East Asia 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 companies but also companies deal with businesses in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and other East or South East Asian countries. The reason is the good 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. There is an ever-increasing requirement for translators and interpreters in India today, especially in many companies which operate on an international scale.
The need to learn East Asian Languages couldn’t have been greater than it is today and that is the reason there are several Colleges, institutes and private centres offering various East Asian languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean across India.
Chinese vs Japanese vs Korean: Which language to learn?
If you wish to study one of the East Asian languages, the first few questions that come to our mind is “What is easier to learn: Mandarin Chinese 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, Population, and Where is it spoken?
More young Indians are studying Chinese these days for obvious reasons. Chinese is a language, or 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 mainland China, but it is also spoken in Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Mongolia.
The huge population means new business opportunity for you as you are most likely to meet one Chinese in every three Asian people. Many countries around the world 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 which love to travel and invest in the Indian market. In fact, the Japanese language is the most popular in India, followed by Mandarin Chinese. Learning the Japanese in India will certainly help to enhance your career prospect in the global job market.
On the other hand, South Korea boasts 80 million native speakers of the language (a figure that would go up to above 100 million if North Korea’s 25 million Native speakers are added to it). The Korean language comes as a third choice in India. Learning a second language such as Korean is an intellectually and personally improving 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 terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). The Chinese market is huge. The ‘Silk Road,’ ‘One belt’ and ‘One Road,’ are major 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 largest economy in the next few decades. The export drive of China makes it a priority for people to learn the language so they can compete in the global economy. The economic and population strength of China puts it ahead of Japanese and Korean as a favorite language to learn. The future of Mandarin Chinese Language is full of career opportunities.
On the Other hand, Japan is another economic powerhouse in Asia and in 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 have a direct investment in India. If you are fluent in the Japanese language in India, not only could it help you if are established in a career, but it could also open doors to new careers 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 the world over. Even a child in the belly knows something about Samsung, the world’s biggest mobile company, Posco Giant – talking about the largest Foreign Direct Investment in India, Hyundai—the second largest car manufacturer in the world; and LG. the Korean economy has a strong presence in virtually every home in India.
3. Career Scope and Job Opportunities after learning Korean, Chinese or Japanese
The three languages of Chinese, Japanese and Korean 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 Options is the first choice due to limited supply and ever-increasing demand.
Japan has a better of delivering quality compared to China, and this is one reason they are loved so much in India. These days, a lot of KPOs and BPOs are present in India and jobs could involve email writing, speaking skills, customer care, and more. This is where the Korean and Japanese languages offer good job opportunities for Indians.
Hundreds of well known Korean companies have their presence in India. These companies 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, the trade records between India and South Korea has increased tremendously, and many Korean companies are operating in the India market. Candidates who are fluent are preferred in Korean companies as their head Office are based in Korea and they need to communicate with the Head Office on a regular basis. In the last few years, Career Scope of Learning Korean Language in India has gained momentum.
But if you are looking for a larger and more vocal export and import market, China is your best bet, and with that, you need to learn Mandarin so you can compete effectively. Mandarin Chinese 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 a hope of getting easy employment in areas like banking, trade, financial, diplomatic work, academics, news media, content management, tours and travel and many more. For job seekers, Mandarin I the language of the future and thus, future 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 huge profit for setting up their businesses close to Chinese tourists’ destinations in India. Moreover, there are more Indians traveling to China than you have traveling to Japan and Korea. If you plan to travel to Asia, learning Chinese will make your journeys less stressful and more enjoyable.
You can act as a travel guide, translator or interpreter to these tourists and make a huge profit, also from being a customer support personnel for businesses in the hospitality sector. One can be utilized in the industry to assist the foreign traveler, communicate with them and to work in a wide array of travel, tourism and hospitality sector.
Notwithstanding; the Japanese and Korean languages also offers great market opportunities for people in the Hospitality and Tourism sectors. If you want to visit South Korea or Japan for travelling or living, then you should be learning it.
With the ability to speak the native language of the country, You’ll see huge benefits in your everyday life almost immediately. Thanks to simplified visa rules, More than three lakhs Indian visited these two exotic and fascinating countries in the calendar year 2017.
5. Culture awareness, Vibrant history and Music & Movies.
Once again, the population of China creates a huge variety of culture 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 a unique, colourful 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 that is in nature has a kami (god). As a result, environmental preservation and turning of the season is 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 need to learn the Korean language to better understand 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 interesting for you to learn.
Which is easiest to learn: Mandarin, Japanese, or Korean?
When it comes to computers, The Chinese, Japanese and Korean scripts share a common background, collectively known as CJK characters. Occasionally, Vietnamese is included, 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 difficult and complicated only because of the fact that there are four different tones and also one neutral tone. In order to differentiate meaning, the same syllable can be pronounced with different tones. One has to practice lots of listening in order to acquire the intonation and rhythm of the language.
You’d have to learn a staggering 3,000 just to read a newspaper (out of around 50,000 in a Chinese dictionary). Nowadays, the Chinese media is using fewer characters, and to understand 90 percent of the content in publications, you need only to know about 1,000 of around 50,000 individual characters that are 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.
If you learn Chinese and take the official Chinese Proficiency test in India called the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试 (also known as the HSK), 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 simpler 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. Mandarin Chinese 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 HSK exam in India.
Japanese writing is also a very elegant script and it has evolved from its original Chinese script beginnings to become something that is 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 the sound of Japanese in Roman alphabet who have not yet mastered the three main scripts.
Nouns have no gender, no articles, and no plural forms. Only two verb tenses, present, and past. With only 5 vowel sounds and consistent phonetic spelling, the language is fairly easy to pronounce. 2000 kanji gives you almost complete coverage for Japanese and one can pass Japanese Proficiency Test i.e. JLPT in India.
Contrary to what most people are saying, Japanese isn’t that difficult to learn. The pronunciation is fairly simple and the basic grammar is not too complicated either. Like any other language, One needs to practice lots of listening, reading and of course speaking. You can pass JLPT level N3 in 2 years.
Hangul is known as one of the most scientific and logically designed writing systems in the world. The alphabets hangul (한글), grammar, verbs, and pronunciation is incredibly simple and very straightforward.
Armed with the right language learning approaches, materials, and motivation, one can master and can pass Korean proficiency test in India i.e. TOPIK Intermediate level 4 or Advanced Level 5 in 2-3 years and not several years or decade as many believe. Read more about TOPIK Exam in India.
You do not learn the language by memorization. When the learning process is less stressful, you are more apt to take the information in and retain, thus learning 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. This will add both feathers and wings to the résumé to the more ambitious ones in any career planning.