Why is learning Japanese so hard?

The Japanese language is extremely difficult. It routinely makes the list of "Top 5 Most Difficult Languages to Learn". Sometimes people ask us why it's so challenging. 

Usually it's helpful to illustrate the difference between Japanese and other languages using a statistic I came across once upon a time.

If you want to learn a foreign language, and be relatively fluent, you should be able to understand at least 80% of everyday conversation. The number of words required to get to 80% varies,…

Read More

Indirect Communication: Part 2

I thought that today I would continue on in sharing some of the things I've been learning from "Cross-Cultural Conflict", by Duane Elmer. As I'd mentioned before, two thirds of the world (including Japan) uses indirect methods as its primary form of communication. In fact, many of these cultures often find direct communication to be rude or cruel. 

Instead, two-thirds of the world uses passive and stative voices very prominently in their communications. If you're like me, and have next-to-no…

Read More

Indirect Communication: Part 1

In recent days, I've been reading a book called "Cross-Cultural Conflict", by Duane Elmer. We're not experiencing cross-cultural conflict at the moment, but I thought that it would be a good idea to proactively read this type of book. As human beings, conflict will surely come, whether tomorrow or a year from now. 

As I dig into the text, however, I've discovered that the title is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, there are examples and tips for dealing with cross-cultural conflict. However, in my…

Read More

Learning Kanji


Over the last couple of years, I have taken up several large projects: to name a few, writing a book, taking an online seminary course, and learning Kanji. Kanji are the Chinese characters which are used as part of the Japanese written language. The Chinese language has tens of thousands of characters, but after WWII, the Japanese standardized their linguistic procedures so that today there are about 2000 Kanji that are used for general purposes. A well-read person may know around 3000...

Read More

Language Learning Bloopers…

I thought I’d share a funny story with you today, and invite you to laugh along with us.

In the last couple weeks, I seem to have turned a corner in my language abilities. In conversations, I used to think of what I wanted to say in English, and then determine what vocabulary I would need in Japanese, then plan the most understandable placements of the words and grammatical particles before even opening my mouth. However, about two weeks ago something changed. In one conversation, I...

Read More