9 In Japanese learning journey (:/ Korean learning journey (:

Learning a SECOND foreign language

Previously, I’ve blogged about the benefits of learning a foreign language. That’s one of the questions that I get quite a lot.

These days, I’ve received many questions about this topic.

  • should I learn Japanese even though my Korean is still at a beginner stage?
  • when I should I dive into a second language?
  • do you think that I can manage to juggle between both languages?
  • should I learn Korean and if I do, will I forget my Japanese?

The list goes on. Even though I have been ‘officially’ learning both languages since Jan 2012 (in that I mean that I decided to take on Japanese as a 4th language / 2nd foreign language then), it’s still something that I’m still experimenting with and learning about. There are no fixed answers to the above question, it all boils down to a it depends. Of course, none of us like that answer. I can’t give you a correct answer, but I can share my opinions on it.

Should I learn Japanese even though my Korean is still at a beginner stage?

From my personal experience, no. I don’t believe in short term language learning and taking on a new language is not a light commitment. I highly doubt that you can juggle both at one go, particularly two languages that are similar. Because they are similar, you get more confused instead of reaping the benefits of ‘short-cuts’. I recommend learning a 2nd language only when your first language has kinda stabilized, around a high intermediate stage. It’s not to say that you can’t try. I did and realized that it doesn’t work for me. So I only started Japanese when my Korean is already at the advanced level.

Do you think that I can manage to juggle between both languages?

This is a question that I’m asking myself too. hahaha. I think I’m doing fine, although I think both of my languages can’t progress at the same speed. I think I’m improving faster in Japanese these days. Since I’m spending a lot more formal time on it. Because I’m pretty comfortable with Korean right now, I’m starting to reap the benefits of the similarities between the 2 languages.

Should I learn Korean and if I do, will I forget my Japanese?

I don’t think language attrition is a problem if you are already of an intermediate stage and above. Personally, I can’t imagine the day I will start to forget Korean. Of course, it’s your own responsibility to ensure that you expose yourself to the language and keep immersed. With the internet, it’s really hard to find an excuse and say that just cos you are not in the country and not really speaking the language, you forget some of it. I’m not in Korea right now and I don’t speak to Korean to anyone these days. I normally spend my days in school where I don’t even hear any Korean around me. But I’m always listening to podcasts, reading Korean news, listening to Korean music etc. I think I spend too much time in front of the computer, but I think you will able to squeeze in just an hour a day or so listening to some Korean stuff ^^

For me, I’ve gotten around the problem by learning Japanese in KOREAN. Most of my Japanese learning materials are in Korean and without spending extra time on Korean, I’m actually revising and getting better in Korean ^^ It’s really up to you to come up with innovative methods to combine the two languages together in your lives.


I don’t think anyone is very interested in my private life, but I’m reaching a crossroads in my life. I have no idea what I’ll be doing next time – going out to the corporate world, staying in academia or rotting my life away. But one thing I’m sure of, this blog is here to stay (:

Before I think of my future, I should start thinking of the assignments that are piling up xD Okay, back to my readings.


If you are learning a second foreign language or just starting on your first foreign language, share your experiences! ^^ 

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  • Reply
    26 September, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    The thing about “forgetting” a language is that you don’t so much forget it, but need to refresh it.
    Basically what was once an active language becomes passive.
    Right now, I’m focusing hardcore on Korean (since I’m in Korea ㅋㅋ), so I can’t ACTIVELY use Japanese or French which I learned before. But if I read it, or listen to it, I can understand it. In order to use those langauges actively, I think I would just need to get back into them, start reading newspapers/books, watchign dramas (or whatever it was you did in the first place).

    Learning one foreign language by means of another foreign language is great. And, in the case with Japanese and Korean, definitely helps you see the simliarities. I know since I studied Korean at first through Japanese ㅋㅋㅋ

    And finally, of course we (or at least I) care about your personal life 😀 Not in a creepy way. But in a.. I can worry about you if you’re in a difficult time or be happy about something you’re excited about. I don’t need the blog purely for information ㅋㅋ It’s not like you’re writing a scientific paper~ I hope you can figure out your whereabouts. But you can also look at it as a good time in your life, to have some options out there. (And whatever option you end up choosing, don’t beat yourself up over opportunity costs!)

    • Reply
      27 September, 2012 at 8:35 PM

      How’s everything in Korea? 😀 Hope your Korean will improve by leaps! (:

      • Reply
        27 September, 2012 at 10:10 PM

        It’s amazing.
        I have no doubt my Korean’s going to improve. Although, the Yonsei classes are .. eh, just okay. But, I have lots and lots of 선배 in both research lab and in 검도부, so I speak pretty much only Korean to them (at first they speak in English, but once they realize that my Korean is good enough for casual conversation, they switch, since it’s a lot more comfortable for them hehe~) Plus I live with a host family, so, not break for me when I come back home.
        Class time (Besides Korean class) is pretty much the only time I’m even using English nowdays ㅋㅋㅋㅋ

        • Reply
          27 September, 2012 at 10:11 PM

          which level are you in? ^^

          • Sojin
            27 September, 2012 at 10:49 PM

            I’m taking the afternoon classes, so it’s intermediate 2, aka Level 3 textbooks.
            I was originally placed into Intermediate 3, Level 4 textbooks based on my speaking test, but after sitting in in the class, I thought it seemed a little over my head. I’m not sure anymore if it was the right choice – because the day I sat in had some people who needed more advanced classes so they automatically made the level seem higher than it was. It was also the reading day – not grammar.
            So the current class is a little easy. And also, the higher class used exclusively Korean, but my current class the teachers occassionally use English rather than trying to explain things in Korean first.
            On the other hand, I’ve never studied formally, and I’m bad about sitting down with grammar books – so I’m actually learning a lot of new grammar… (in the past, as a self study, I just picked up grammar points as I encountered them a lot, and would occassionally look them up). But I don’t like learning a grammar and being forced to use it right away, when I haven’t actually heard a Korean use it in a natural context yet (or read it in a natural context).

          • hangukdrama
            29 September, 2012 at 11:38 AM

            haha those choices are difficult. It’s great that you are picking up loads of stuff in your current class too! Enjoy your stayyy 😀

  • Reply
    27 September, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    I’m learning Japanese and Korean at the same time right now. Some times this works and other times I’ll slip up doing the old switch-a-roo with words, but so far I’m good with remembering which specific rules lie with which language (maybe this will help me out). I’m more enthusiastic about learning Korean at the moment, but I’m taking a language course, Japanese, in college for the requirement. Korean wasn’t offered, sadly. TToTT

    I’ve been thinking about waiting until I’m at least intermediate in Japanese, but that wouldn’t be until two years from now based on how they offer the levels in my college. It may happen sooner since I catch on to languages quickly. And the problem of me being more enthusiastic about learning Korean doesn’t help. XD I mean, I used to study Japanese and Spanish at the same time and did okay, but they’re completely different languages. >.> (I feel like this post is just me blabbing.) Hopefully things will work out.

    Decisions for the future always make us go @.@ don’t they? XD Most of the time, we know what we want to do, but we’re afraid of the consequences or how unsuccessful the choice may be. Take your time with deciding. If you don’t have a lot of time, try clearing your mind a little and letting go of any stress before you think of what to do. Clear mind = so much easier to work with. DX

    My assignments are piling up too… *looks back at assignments* …….. *looks away*

    [Off-topic: (I love your blog by the way. I found you when I saw one of your beautiful notebooks through Google images. I think I’m going to go back to taking notes in colored ink so things look more exciting. XD)]

    • Reply
      27 September, 2012 at 8:34 PM

      It’s funny how I’m now more enthusiastic about Japanese XD It’s awesome that you are learning both at the same time! ^^ Yeah, I need to clear my mind (: it’s awesome to relax and type away at this blog 😀

      hehe thanks for liking the blog!!

  • Reply
    18 March, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    This post is old, but everything she says is very true, and I wish I saw it before. Lol. Late last year I decided that I wanted to learn both Russian and Korean. I couldn’t really focus my FULL attention on one language, making it difficult to make progress in either. I ended up putting Korean aside to focus on Russian. And right now I’m approaching B1 level in Russian (intermediate). I will re-start learning Korean again this Summer once I am more comfortable with Russian. I was so excited to learn both Korean and Russian, so it was a difficult choice to set one aside…but I hope that it will benefit me to wait.

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