Well, I never lived in Japan and I guess I never will..
But, I have been studying Japanese as a hobby (4year in evening class, once a week). I think everybody should decide for themselves why they wanna learn the language and to what degree.
Although the article is correct up to some stage.. Japanese is hard.. not even talking about the kanji.. even the conversational stuff just because its so different from my language. Comparing to French, German, Dutch, English and Spanish... the ones I can speak and write already... (some very basic, other more proficiently) its day and night.
But that hasn't stopped me from trying... although the motivation is gone at times and I thought of giving up myself too. But I am confident to keep trying. My conversational Japanese is very basic still... (because of the way I learned it and other causes). Its true people talk English to me when I am there and see me as a tourist which is perfectly fine.. because I am. But usually they see the fact that I try as a bonus which makes me more confident to pursue it.
I am just so sad to see that some replies are really mind-boggling because I think when you live in a country I think at least you should try to speak/learn it. Foreigners that come to live in my country are considered to learn/speak the language. Of course not all do but I think they will never really integrate in the country and thus they will never really be a part of the society. Well maybe that is not their plan either... But that is a different discussion.
We would never be Japanese even if we would live there a 100 years but that is not the goal or even should be. But at least you need to try to blend in.
My goal is to be able to help myself when I am there and because I like the culture and history. . I started to learn it as a hobby because I travelled there and wanted to know more about the language and the culture.
I know that its get harder when you live there and other issues arise like some already mentioned before. But I think to some degree you will find that in other countries too. Try to live in France without speak French :-). At least show respect for the country you live in and try to learn it... It will surely help you understand better how people think and what they are about more.. to overcome the cultural differences a bit. It will show who you are as a person too...
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