Written by Chiara Mischke
Japanese Language Schools In Japan - Finding The Right One For You
If you want to learn Japanese, taking Japanese classes can be a decisive step. Choosing a language school that answers your needs can be difficult. We gathered five points to keep in mind that might help to make it easier for you to decide.
Finding a Japanese Language School that Answers Your Needs
If you are planning to stay in Japan for a long period, learning Japanese is essential. Most Japanese services are rarely provided in any other languages and learning Japanese will help in many different daily aspects as well.
Fluency in Japanese can open the door to a wider variety of job opportunities, as well as help you to making friends in Japan. However, taking into account the large number of Japanese language schools, it can be hard to choose the one that is right for you.
5 Points to Consider when Choosing a Japanese Language School
- 1. The Duration of Your Stay in Japan
- 2. Your Budget
- 3. The Time of the Day when You Can Attend Lessons
- 4. Daily Conversation vs. Business Japanese
- 5. The Goal of Taking the JLPT
1. Learning Japanese Depending on the Duration of Your Stay
The first thing to consider is how long you are planning to stay in Japan. If you stay in Japan long-term or even live here, you have a plethora of possibilities and can take as much time for your studies as you wish.
Short-term visitors might want to consider an intensive course. This type of language course requires you to attend lessons nearly every day for a couple of hours a day over a few weeks to several months.
Most of these schools can also be attended by individuals on a working holiday visa. Intensive courses are a great way to attain the largest amount of knowledge in the shortest time possible. They also provide a great basic experience to prepare you if you plan to study in Japan.
The Yoshida Institute is another popular choice.
2. Choosing a School Depending on Your Budget
Studying Japanese can become very expensive. For many people, this might be a reason to refrain from considering taking Japanese classes.
However, if you don’t mind a slightly slower speed on your road to Japanese fluency, there are a few budget-friendly options. The most affordable but also least known are the ward office Japanese language lessons. Most ward offices offer classes that are held once or twice a week, starting from around 3,000 yen for a month or even a whole term.
An example of the ward office lessons in Shibuya can be seen here: https://www.city.shibuya.tokyo.jp/eng/japanese_classes.html
A downside to theses lessons is that you can only attend the classes in the ward you are living in. The staff consists of volunteers who usually don’t speak English, which can make these classes slightly difficult for beginners.
Also, ward office lessons are usually held on fixed days and times that might not work with your schedule. If you prefer more freedom concerning the time and place of the lesson, a group lesson at a Japanese school is another budget-friendly option.
Cafetalk offers online Japanese conversation-based lessons that you can purchase as-you-go (500 points is around 550 yen). Sign up via this link to get 1,000 extra points to use towards sessions (lessons start at about 500 points).
Also recommended is Japan Switch, which offers budget-friendly group lessons without any hidden costs.
3. Consider the Time of the Day when You Can Attend Lessons
Usually, most Japanese language classes are held from early noon to early afternoon. Generally, people living in Japan will probably be busy with work or school during this time of the day. One on one lessons tend to be more flexible but also much more expensive than group lessons.
The solution to this is to look into early morning or evening classes. The important point to look out for is the exact starting and ending time as even those options might interfere with work times.
The Tokyo Central Japanese Language School offers evening classes especially targeted towards working students. It starts at 19:00, which should be manageable after work for most people.
The online lessons and conversation practice provided by Cafetalk, mentioned above, also has tutors who can adjust to your schedule.
4. Daily Conversation vs. Business Japanese
The way we use the Japanese language differs depending on who you are talking to. If you a striving for a career in Japan, you might want to consider a school teaching business-appropriate Japanese.
Schools that teach business Japanese usually offer lessons of keigo, formal Japanese. Keigo is an extremely polite form of Japanese used to either convey humility or respect toward the person you talk to.
Most schools will mention if they teach keigo. The Coto Japanese Academy is one of the schools that focus on Keigo in their classes.
5. Recommended Japanese Schools to Prepare for the JLPT
JLPT is short for Japanese-Language Proficiency Test. Many people living in Japan strive to take this language test eventually as it heightens the possibility of being hired by Japanese companies.
Most schools are suited for learning the basics needed for the JLPT. However, if you want to be perfectly prepared for this very difficult test, look into special JLPT classes. Usually, classes are categorized according to JLPT levels, with N1 being the most advanced level.
KAI Japanese Language School offers many courses, including special JLPT preparation courses.
The Right Japanese Language School Provides a Good Base
Something to keep in mind is that even if you find the perfect language school for you, it can only provide a base. Self-study is essential to succeed in any topic, including learning a language. Make sure that you dedicate a sufficient amount of time between classes to review the material to get the most out of your Japanese lessons.
Even considering all the points mentioned above, settling for a school might be a difficult decision. Many schools do provide free trial lessons, so why not try out a couple of different ones to see what works for you?