Poll Analysis: “Why are you studying Japanese?”

By | March 10, 2014

I was very fortunate to get 89 responders for my first WordPress poll, “Why are you studying Japanese?”. (Thanks everyone!) In this post I’ll analyze the results.

(The poll is here and it will remain open so if you haven’t responded, please consider doing so. If the results change appreciably I’ll do another article analyzing the changes.)

Let’s take a look at the top four answers:

  1. [29 people, 32%] I’m interested in modern Japanese culture: Manga, music, and TV shows
  2. [19 people, 19%] I like studying foreign languages for challenge and enjoyment
  3. [13 people, 14%] I’m interested in classical Japanese history and culture
  4. [10 people, 11%] I’m romantically interested in Japanese women/men

The top answer is really no surprise, given the recent upsurge of interest in Japanese comic books, anime, and other forms of entertainment. This is definitely one of the reasons I started learning Japanese.

The second answer, where around 1/5th of all responders said they study foreign languages for challenge and enjoyment, was a big surprise to me. This is one of my other main reasons personally – the pure enjoyment and satisfaction of learning such a difficult language – but I thought that there wouldn’t be too many people in the same boat as me. I’m happy to know there are others like me, but in some ways it’s a disappointment since I’m not as unique as I thought after all (:

That 14% of responders saying they were interested in classical history and culture of Japan was somewhat expected, and there was  a much lower percentage than those studying modern culture (less than 50%). I expected a little smaller number here but no major surprise.

The fact that 11% of people said they learned Japanese because of their attraction to Japanese people was  somewhat expected, but an interesting turnout nonetheless.  It’s clear that the Japanese, as well as all other cultures around the word, have an attraction all their own.

Another big surprise was the answers “I’m part or full Japanese by heredity” and “I am living in Japan due to life circumstances (job, etc.)” had very low response rate (with 1 and 2 votes, respectively). My guess is that people who are studying Japanese for these reasons are actually higher than the figures show, but they are less likely to stumble upon a poll in a wordpress blog. Those into Manga, on the other hand, are more likely to be into internet and blog-related resources since there is such a large fan base online.

There was a nice distribution among the different results, meaning that there were no super large jumps between one item and the next. You can see this in the bar graph representation at the bottom of this post. Its interesting that people are studying Japanese for so many different reasons.

A final observation is that 89 is not really a statistically significant number, though it’s higher than I expected to get for my first poll. Someday I’d like to do a larger scale poll and see how things change. (Again, those who haven’t taken the survey can do so here: http://selftaughtjapanese.com/2014/03/05/first-poll-why-are-you-studying-japanese/)

Bonus Japanese question:How do you say “survey” or “poll” in Japanese?

Answer: アンケート (ankeeto), which comes from the French word “enquête” that has the same meaning.




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3 thoughts on “Poll Analysis: “Why are you studying Japanese?”

  1. hopefullanguagelearner

    Interesting stuff! To the ten people learning Japanese because they are romantically interested in a Japanese person, good luck! 😉

    Hopefully more people will answer the poll over time! Would be interesting to see why people are learning Japanese these days!

    I’m glad you did this poll!

    1. locksleyu Post author

      Thanks for the comment! Actually the total responders is up to 104 at present. If I get a few more I may make another post about the results.

      Feel free to reblog this post if you want to advertise the poll (:

  2. Nana

    This is really interesting! I’m really amused by romantic interest motivated answer! The manga related answer is really no surprise. In my class the majority started learning Japanese, because they wanted to watch anime and read manga in Japanese.


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