Is it Possible to Learn Japanese as an Adult?

Elizabeth asked,

“Do you think it’s possible to learn Japanese when you’re well into your twenties?”

Elizabeth K.

To give some helpful background on this question, we must understand why it’s not easy to learn Japanese when coming from the romance languages, and it boils down to sentence structure that everyone takes for granted in their respective cultural enclaves.

You can click the image above or watch the video below:

Subject Object Verb and Subject Verb Object

Japanese is an SOV language, meaning that sentence structure follows the pattern Subject, Object, Verb; this is in direct contrast with English that uses the SVO pattern, Subject,Verb, then finally Object.

If you grew up in a culture where SVO is the norm, such as the UK, Australia, the United States, or any Romance language country, you’ll likely find that switching your brain to the SOV pattern takes some brain retraining.

In this video, we explain how these two different patterns dominate the collection of languages on earth, and how it’s possible to pick up SOV languages such as Japanese as an adult — simply retrain your brain with the right techniques and approaches so it becomes second-nature.

SVO is English (Subject, Verb, Object) while SOV is languages such as Japanese.

Wikipedia has an excellent chart showing the languages that are SOV and those that are SVO:

SVO is English (Subject, Verb, Object) while SOV is languages such as Japanese.
Retrain your brain to adapt to expecting the verb at the end of the sentence, if coming from SVO and going to SOV.

So to answer Elizabeth’s question:

Yes, you can definitely learn Japanese as an adult! It does take some motivation to get your mind adjusted to the fact that verbs come at the end of the sentence, but once you have that reflex established you can really make swift progress in Japanese. You could learn any language that uses the SOV pattern at any age, as long as you master this reflex.

Learn more about how Japanese Complete helps you retrain your brain in record time.

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