I've been wanting to learn a new language for a while, and given I love a lot of Japanese stuff (like any video game player who owned a console) I might as well start with their native tongue.
I've heard there isn't much chatting in game, and I saw that myself in open beta, but I assume partly it's due to English not being the lingua franca of FF MMOing.
Do Japanese players chat? I didn't see much in open beta, so I assume they're primarily chatting in LS like everyone else, but are there a lot of chances for cross-cultural interaction once you get into crafting and partying? (I didn't do either when I played open beta.)
While watching Japanese players converse in game can be helpful to a degree after you;ve learned the basics, I think as far as actually learning the language your going to find it very limited in its usefulness. I would suggest, if your serious about wanting to learn at least some Japanese on the side (EG, by yourself and not through classes) you look into the following:
If you've got an Iphone (or even if you don't as there is a computer version for the first) I strongly recommend you look into these two programs/Apps:
First is a program for both the Iphone and computer titled Human Japanese (free Iphone version has nice parts and will teach you Katakana/Hiragana basics, paid is 10 bucks for Iphone, 30 for compy and imo well worth it.): it takes you through learning Hiragana in small chunks, showing you stroke patterns and pronunciations 5 characters at a time then repeats for Katakana. I found this to be an excellent way to memorize both syllabary, from there it proceeds into some vocabulary and basic sentence structure. All in all a great introduction with a very nice presentation.
Secondly is a Iphone App titled Tae Kim's guide to Learning Japanese. This one is a bit more text-bookish I find in presentation then Human Japanese but it introduces and explains Kanji almost from the start, as well as more in depth grammar. Memorizing Hirgana and Katakana is fine, but unless you work on learning Kanji you will never be able to read anything in Japanese that wasn't written explicitly for foreigners and/or children.
I've actually found my various (I have several and always look for more) Iphone apps to be extremely helpful in picking up Japanese, and many are either very cheap or totally free (of course, you gotta pay mind to reviews to make sure what your getting is correct). Last but not least, I do have Rosetta Stone: Japanese Lvl 1-3 but honestly..I'm less impressed with this much hyped program then I am with the far cheaper alternatives I mentioned above. Still it takes a unique means of teaching you visually that some may find helpful.
If you can find people speaking Japanese in game it can certainly aid you in learning, as the key to learning any language is constant practice. It doesn't matter if your reading the back of a tampon box, just read and you will start to learn. I've seen a few Jp players shouting in city chat, and I've yet to find anyone with the party recruiting tool who "wasn't" Japanese. The big problem here is, firstly many Japanese players tend to be a bit reluctant to group with non-Japanese speaking players, and even if you do you may find it hard to make heads or tails of any of it while playing. That said, nothing beats having a fluent speaking friend when learning a new language so it can't hurt to look around.
One thing I would strongly recommend is not to spend much time learning Romaji (Japanese words spelled using the english roman alphabet). It's fine until you can start reading Kana, but try to move on as quickly as possible as Romaji has extremely limited usefulness.
Good luck in your ventures! I personnally find Japanese to be a very interesting language, and it's lovely to write.