Despite being overshadowed by the economic rise of countries like China and India, Japan remains the second largest economy in the world and hence learning Japanese can be an important skill. Japanese exports of automobiles and other manufacturing goods are increasing. Japan remains an economic powerhouse of Asia still exceeding China in economic output and second only to the United States in total gross domestic product. Japan is especially known for its engineering and manufacturing strengths which continue to buttress the importance of Japanese on the world stage. Over 140 million people speak Japanese. Japanese can open doors to employment in a variety of occupations such as in virtually any business related to the semiconductor industry, electronics, engineering, manufacturing, certain agricultural industries, teaching, translation, interpreting, and travel.
In the United States it can also lead to an increase rapport with Japanese employees especially in the engineering field, that may be learning English or with contacts with Japanese companies abroad. In a culture marked by a very traditional culture, learning Japanese greatly improves your chances of success in job markets dealing with Japanese companies. Studying Japanese can be a fun task, as well as an important one.
Even if your simply a casual traveler, learning it can also be beneficial since most of the sign boards and instructions in Japan are naturally written in Japanese, though English is common. Studying the language to order food, communicate with locals and talk with taxi drivers will enhance the experience of your travels significantly, if travel is your primary goal. Studying Japanese is one step to joining the ranks of businesses oriented toward the growing market of South America. Japanese is one of the great languages of the world. Studying the language is becoming part of a world-class education.
Japanese is spoken in Japan as well as in communities of Japanese émigrés. Japanese is not an easy language to learn and there is no single method can insure that the proficiency will be achieved without investment of time. This is especially true since Japanese is written in Kanji script. So it's important to vary your resources to insure that you maximize your language learning experience. Choosing the right course or methodology is of course critical and that can make learning the language a relative cake walk or much more difficult. Much importance should be given to the accent and pronunciations.
Studying Japanese doesn't require expensive personal tutors. So you want to be careful not to end up paying more money than is necessary. It is an ongoing process. While you can't learn the language overnight, you can find resources that may give you an edge time wise and simply the amount of effort you exert. A critical challenge to remember is that of vocabulary.
Having used different books and courses to learn to read Japanese I found several to be of benefit. The most valuable ones were those who made sure to present new vocabulary first. In the case of Japanese, the most time will likely be spent on the script. Then a story utilizing this new vocabulary in conjunction with previously learned vocabulary was presented.
In terms of audio, a variety of excellent courses are available.
Jacob Lumbroso is a world traveler and an enthusiast for foreign languages, history, and foreign cultures. He writes articles on history and languages for http://www.usedpimsleur.com and recommends Japanese Pimsleur courses to learn Japanese.