One of the biggest challenges of integrating with Japanese society is the language barrier. The obvious recourse to this is to get practicing, but working in a predominantly English-speaking environment, that’s easier said than done.
As such, Japanese lessons are highly advisable for getting the full value of your time in Japan.There are various ways to study Japanese. Finding the best form of study to suit you is of vital importance.
If your aim is day-to-day communication, the best way to develop is conversation classes. You will find many schools around Tokyo offering this service. Some of the major schools such as Academy Language of Arts and the Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute have been around for many years and have a variety of classes to choose from, catering for all levels. Most offer a free trial that you can take with no obligation.
Learning Japanese can feel like a serious business, particularly when you take into consideration the various levels of formality inherent in the language itself. However, many linguistic experts agree that, if you are having fun, you are more likely to absorb what you are learning. Some schools specialise in making language acquisition fun. Coto Language Academy is just one of these.
Not everyone is learning to facilitate idle coffee shop chit-chat, and you may feel that your professional life could be enhanced by a greater grasp of Japanese. For you, a business Japanese class could be advantageous. There are many courses available out there, such as at Tokyo Central Japanese Language School and Human Academy Japanese Language School. Many of these are for learners with an intermediate level and up. However, there are a few business classes at advanced beginner level such as OFIN.
As previously mentioned, different people learn in different ways. With this in mind, some schools can create customized courses tailored to your exact needs. These classes can sometimes be a bit pricey, but if done well can elevate your learning exponentially. Check out Japanese Lunch for example.
In regular classes you will be sharing a teacher with around five other students (though this can vary from place to place). For a more intensive learning experience, most places offer private one-on-one lessons. As you are monopolising the teacher’s time these classes can be dramatically more expensive, but if you are happy to shoulder the extra cost, the benefits of private lessons at schools like KAI Japanese Language School and ARC Academy can be huge.
For most, the ability to communicate in Japanese is reward in itself, yet others wish to have tangible evidence of their progress. This is where the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) comes in. You can find many schools in Tokyo such as Naganuma School and Tokyo Central Japanese Language School that specialise in higher level JLPT focused training.
In a busy life, finding the time to get to a school, or being able to match corresponding schedules can be a challenge. This is why schools such as Language Center utilise modern technology and offer one-on-one classes through social media such as Skype.
Schools are not the only places to learn Japanese. There are plenty of people in the city wanting to meet and converse with foreigners. You can find them on websites such as conversationexchange.com, iTalki.com, or cafetalk.com. You can chat either online or in person. They help you with Japanese and you, as the name suggests, help with their English in exchange.
While some schools charge tuition per lesson, for the most, prices are on a term-by-term basis. There will also likely be an enrollment fee and course material fee. Most schools offer a free trial. Contact businesses directly for further details.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of Japanese language schools and, as it is to be used for information only, it is not to be considered as endorsement.
For a fuller list of language schools in your area, see the Japanese language school database.
By Mark Guthrie