What Going to a Japanese Language School in Japan is Like
Hello world if you've, ever wondered how to be like to go to Japan immerse. Yourself and learn Japanese, then, this video is for you this, video is going to be a chat with my friend Jess who's, both self studied and attended, a Japanese, language school for, a year I'll, just simply let her talk for most of the video but, before I get into that I, wanted, to tell you about one thing the, Japanese, writing system to. Put it in correctly it's a set of three alphabets, to, put it correctly. It's a. Single. Set of logographic. Kanji. So, these are icons, that represent ideas. And. Another. Two sets of kana. Are syllabaries. And this. Is hiragana and katakana. These, are syllabic, in that they represent, sounds, now, by the time a student graduates. From high school they, will have to know 2,000. Kanji so, no small task on the other hand when a student is first entering grade one they'll probably know both hiragana and katakana and, each, one contains. A set of 46, characters, so, most learners will have a big task ahead of them to, learn all the kanji now, the exception will be Chinese, and Taiwanese students. Who will already know what. The kanji represents, you know the kind of overall idea, because. Kanji, is derived from the Chinese writing, system they. Won't necessarily know, how to pronounce, it but they kind of know like what this symbol means what this symbol means what that symbol means anyways. Now, let's get on with the interview. Hi. I'm Jess I'm, from Melbourne Australia and, I. Came, to Japan just to experience, the expat, life really just wanted to live in another country, so. My husband and I decided to move here together and. We thought Japan, would be a pretty interesting place, to experience, living abroad because the culture and language is so different, and. Because of that of course we have to spend some time learning, the language so that's why I decided to study. Japanese at a Japanese, language school. Yeah. I did a lot of research when, I was looking at a Japanese, language school, there's, obviously a lot of options out, there and it took me around a year actually to decide on a Japanese language school and go through all of the application. Process and all of that in. The end the school that I chose I chose because, there. Were students, from all around the world I had, heard that there are some schools that really focus, on, particular. Cultural. Groups which. You know there's nothing wrong with that at all but I wanted to be in an environment where people. From all around the world were catered. For in the education, system so that's why I decided to go at the school that I did.
Yeah. They came from a wide range of different backgrounds, at the school I ended up going to actually. Surprisingly, a lot of them were from Sweden which. I wasn't quite expecting, but. Yeah there were quite a lot of Scandinavian. Students. As. An Australian, I was kind of an like, kind of a minority. But. There were students, from countries. All around Asia there. Were people from America, from Canada, England. Yeah, it was a really diverse group of people. So. We went to basically. Like a night school to, learn some of the basics of Japanese so, there we learned hiragana, katakana a few basic kanji, and you know basically a few survival, sentences. To get by when we first moved here so, I had that you, know a little bit under my belt but as you. Know most of us are aware when we move here that's, quickly. Not enough. So, basically. Once. We. Moved here and had been here for a while we. Needed to. Pick. Up some more Japanese, I didn't, actually study anything formally. In Japan before I started, studying at the Japanese language school that I went to so I spent several years in Japan just, kind of picking up stuff from. My surroundings. And trying to do a little bit of self-study. But, it didn't really I. Wasn't. Able to achieve the. Level that I was I was looking for I was having a lot of difficulty, trying to to. Learn a language that was so different from my own by myself and so, I was kind of seeking out some structure, in the, way that I was studying so. Apart from that first, experience, in Australia of, doing a little bit of Japanese and, also, I did do a few kind of community, classes and things like that in Japan, but I hadn't, actually studied, at a Japanese. Language school before and I was kind of looking for something with a little bit more structure, so, after. Having been in Japan for a few years and kind of being frustrated, with myself and, not being able to achieve, the level that I wanted, then I decided, to go to Japanese language school. So. When I first started at Japanese language school, obviously. It was like a big change for me from. The previous studies that I done I had. Classes every. Day Monday to Friday it was a full-time course, and every, day I had four classes of 15 minutes each, and, of course along with that comes a lot of homework and assessments, and things like that I'm. Not in Japan as a student, I'm working full-time here, so, I. Basically. Started, working. Full-time and, studying, on a full-time basis. So. That was quite tough for me personally I, know that's not the same journey for everybody, because, a lot of my classmates were here. As a student they've come specifically. To Japan to study Japanese at, a Japanese, language school. One. Lesson would be say kanji, and then we'd have three lessons of say, grandma or it's, really dependent on the day some days we'd focus on a particular skill, so we do that one our kanji, and then we'd move on to listening, and reading or, we'd have to write an essay and then give a speech on it something. Like that so there's something new every day although, I would say most, days we had kanji, and most, days we did some kind of grammar element. There. Was a lot of homework also, that. We had to do every day and there was also a lot of tests as well. They. Said at our school that to. Keep up with the course you needed to do at least two hours of homework a day, for. Me I found it was actually more, if, it was during the testing period you know I was studying something between like maybe. Probably. Five and six hours a day I. Think. At, the very beginning of the course I felt. Like I progressed, more maybe, that's because I. Started, off with like less and then, everything, was new that I was learning and, you, know it's still fresh and you're still like super. Motivated, at that point right but then as we moved, like, further into the course into the more advanced, levels it was really I had. A much, more it was much more focused on testing.
So, It, was basically. Whether. Or not you could pass the jlpt test. The Japanese language proficiency, test, and. So basically our, classes. Became very focused, on passing that and less, focused on you. Know everyday communication and. Perhaps language. That might be more beneficial for us. I. Feel. Like the jlpt isn't. Really, a good indication, of your Japanese, level at all I know, some people who have past high. Levels of the jlpt but, really struggle, in daily communication it. Really just is focused on very specific. And sometimes obscure, grammar, points, or things like that. I guess, the problem is for students, if you are actually, wanting to live. And work in Japan if you want to work for a Japanese company they, do tend, to want to know what. Jlpt, level, you have you, have passed so for, some of my classmates like, passing, the jlpt level, two and two was really important, to them to, be, able to continue, living. In Japan and perhaps, getting a job at a Japanese company but. From a practical standpoint. I, don't really feel like passing the jlpt really. Really. Says anything about your Japanese language ability, so. For, me personally it was a little bit frustrating, I know that you are going to a school and you know this is probably one of the areas they want to. Want you to study and they want you to be able to pass these tests, but. I, felt. Like most of us felt also that we, really. Wanted to be able to communicate in. Daily life in Japan and that, was something that was quite lacking from, the toughest style of the lessons that we were doing. I. Did. Take the jlpt and. Three in December. Last year just, to kind of see where my level was at and, you know to experience, what the test is like because, a lot, of people ask you, know what is the jlpt like, and you know since I had been studying Japanese I thought why not I'll give it a go without really much preparation just to see what. Is what is my genuine level, and I. Was able to pass the n3 and that was after one year at a Japanese, language school full time. Thank. You I'm. Not sure it means anything. As. I said at our school we had people from all around the world so I was able to kind. Of observe the different. Language. And cultural, and ethnic groups within. The class and, I. Guess. We all had different reactions, to. To. The learning style I guess, if you're used to more. Of AI you, know for want of a better word the the Western style of Education, where it's more two-way. Communication. Where you're expected to ask a lot of questions maybe. You do a lot of speaking and interaction, in the class and things like that it's. A bit more of a like lecture, style where. You're expected, to you. Know take notes and memorize, and. That. Kind of thing so there. Were some people in my class like for example there, was a guy from Taiwan, who felt. That that was quiet a usual, style for him whereas. For. Example some of the sweetest students. In the class were used to a completely, different classroom. Environment, and they found the lack of speaking, a little bit frustrating. So, I, guess it really depends, on where you're from like how you're going to react to this kind of style. Depending. On where you're from, obviously. You are, going to have different. Difficulties. With Japanese, I think for. Example some, of the Chinese students in, my class they they. Found kanji, relatively, easy because, they use it in their own native language, but. That said because you know Japanese, and Chinese. Kanji. Characters are not always exactly, the same and you. Know pronunciation. Can differ as well and so, while. It was easy for them to elicit. Meaning from a sentence. They. Also sometimes had difficulty, remembering the, differences, between how they dried that kanji, character, in their own language, as opposed to in Japanese, and so sometimes that could. Confuse them a little bit more although, they were much better at reading, I think because. They were able to quickly grab meaning, and be, able to answer like reading comprehension questions. Without too much trouble. When, it comes to like pronunciation. I would say maybe some of the Spanish students, had difficulty, with pronunciation. Particularly. Sounds like kind of Y and J sounds. They. Had a little bit of difficulty, with, some of the pronunciation, that we did I. Guess. Like for me and for people who come from a, country where you don't use. Kanji. Oh it's. Like a romanized, alphabet, the. Kanji was the most difficult because there are so many that, you have to remember not only like, how to say words but how, to, like read how to write and, all, the different strokes, and the stroke order I, would, say for most of the students the kanji was the most difficult. I'd. Say overall, like speaking. Was. The most difficult at least for me, because. That's, something that you really need to practice a lot, to be able to speak fluently so. Although I may have been able to memorize like, some grammar and some vocabulary, if it didn't quite come out when I needed it to, then.
Yeah That was that was a difficulty, for me. We. Generally, did very little speaking, practice in class I mean we did sometimes. And. It, depended on the the. Level that we were at like there were some classes. That. In. Which we did like very, short practice. Speaking. With our classmates, so. We'd. Have like a scenario, or something where we'd have to do some kind of role play or just like questions, and answers, but. This was contained, usually, to a very small amount of the class I, would, say maybe we might speak for, like. 15. Minutes of the. Four hours that we were there. Yeah. Yeah I can completely relate to that you, know as someone who's kind. Of I guess going back to school in a way I was. One of the, oldest. Students, in the class, there. Are a couple of all the students at the school who were kind of coming back, after. Having worked for like you know a decade or something, and then decided, they wanted to live in Japan and we're coming back but I think I was the only one, who. Was. There like. At least in my class and all the the students that I interacted, with who, was actually working at the same time, so. I really valued, my time a lot because I was taking a huge chunk, out of any free time that I had and. I guess being a little bit older and having a different perspective and, you know the fact that I was paying for all of this education, myself. You, know made me feel. A little bit frustrated. When you know students, were like. Kind of acting immaturely, or, the, teachers were treating us a little bit like children, or it was like a very controlled, somewhat. High schoolish, environment. And. I. Guess to a certain degree. Like. Looking at this some of the behavior that did happen it was a little bit necessary, but, for, me just personally, who wanted to be kind of an independent learner, and, you know like wanted to be trusted, and, that. Kind of thing it was a little bit yeah, it was it was strange, it was like going back to high school. Yeah. Yeah. When. I actually quit Japanese language school I had. Finished five, of the eight levels, at, the school that I was at. Basically. I decided, to, to. Leave, doing this full-time study because, I felt. Like I wasn't really getting as. Much. Out of it as I could be in terms of like for example the, amount of investment, that you're putting into the school, it's. You, know one one, aspect, is of course the money it's very expensive, to go to a full-time Japanese language school. Just, to give people an idea about how much it costs, like you'd be looking at at least around, like so, you're looking at around $2,000. A term and you. Know second of all was my time and whether, I felt like I was getting value, out of out of what I was doing and I. Felt like in the the later terms. That I wasn't quite getting the value, out of out of that and perhaps, there was a different, way for me to. Be, able to study Japanese more, effectively. And. It wouldn't cost as much either. So. Now that I've left Japanese, language school I'm, obviously having, to find other ways to study some. Of the things I've been doing have. Just been even, to. Kind of go back and revise some of the stuff that I was looking at because we did move through content really, really, quickly and. It's not like none. Of it was valuable of course there's value, in a lot of the things that we were doing but it was just a lot of memorization. Without. Actually, really practically, understanding. It or knowing how to use it so, I have been going back through, like some of those materials, and then basically, I've been using YouTube, a lot to. Look up various. Videos, there are so many videos online that, you know explain, grammar, points, and simple ways and give more examples. That. I felt that kind of aspect was really lacking in the course like we just basically learned, the grammar rule and then moved on and then, we're expected, to remember it in a test so, basically. I've been trying to actually, really understand, those grandma points, and really. Utilizing, especially. YouTube, to. Look at a lot of different videos on there. I've. Also tried to start like replacing. Times. When I might just be listening to music, at home or, like on the train with, just listening, to something, in Japanese so it could be anything I might just like listen to Japanese, news or. Just. Any, kind of like podcast. Anything. That I can find online that seems interesting, and. Just keep. My ear kind, of open to Japanese, of. Course living in Japan I do hear. Japanese, everyday but. My interactions. With people might be somewhat limited like on a daily basis, so on, a regular, day where I might just you know visit the supermarket.
Or Go, to a restaurant or something like that I'm having. The same types of interactions. Again and again and so while I feel confident, to order that, doesn't really help me kind of expand, my Japanese, level so to hear Japanese, that might be used like in different contexts. Or talking about a wide range of different issues really helps so, I've just been listening to japanese news and things like that as well. So. To be completely honest, it is much, more difficult to, to. Keep up with a study schedule now that I don't have the structure of a Japanese language school I mean one, of the benefits of going to a school is. The fact that you, have set classes, every day you have a set time and you're, paying for it so you go you know so if you you. Know just tell yourself I'm, going to do this much a day. You. Can very easily just, you. Say okay today I'm not gonna do it or you, know I'll do some more tomorrow and you know I I have, been guilty of that especially because you know I was like. Doing so many things every day before I had a really tight schedule when, I was at the school so it's kind of like wow I have, a little freedom now I don't have to do it every day so honestly. Like I haven't, been, studying. Every day about. What I when I do study, though, I'm able to focus, on the things that I feel matter most to me which. I feel is a little bit more beneficial, than studying, grammar points, for the sake of them, so. I'm able to like really focus on, the things that I feel I'm struggling with I usually, identify, those with my, communications. In everyday life so if there was a situation where, I just couldn't. Say what I wanted to say okay, I should. Try, to learn how to actually say that so, and. I find that those, are the things that stick with me more because, I know that, I will actually use it again in the future if it's come up already in my everyday life it's likely it's going to come up again so, I. Try, to focus on those things which is being I guess, I, feel it's been a bit more fruitful, for me. Another. Thing that I'm looking into is getting. A Japanese. Shooter so. You. Know the Japanese language school was, expensive, so, I. Thought, that instead of paying for that I can reinvest. Like that money or use that money instead for. Say a private lesson like, a couple of times a week and still, be far ahead. Monetarily. When it comes to when. It comes to my Japanese learning so, I am. Also looking into getting like a private Japanese teacher which, I think also might address some of the the, issues that you have with self-study right where you don't have someone like watching over you or expecting, you to do something, but if you have a you know a set lesson, time and, your, teacher gives you some kind of homework or tasks to do throughout the week then, I'm going to do it so I'm.
Thinking Maybe that kind of semi structure, is what I'm going to do going forward. Don't. Expect that Japanese language school is going to instantly just teach you Japanese you're not going to just be fluent in Japanese even, if you stay in Japan and study for a couple of years you complete a course from the start to the end you're. Not going to be fluent in Japanese without, putting in a lot of extra, effort, you're. Going to have to do a lot of speaking on your own outside of class I would definitely, recommend like, trying to make some Japanese friends, get involved, in the community getting involved in events and there are a lot of things out there that you can do international. Groups and whatnot so, definitely, try to get involved and use your Japanese, because if you're only using your Japanese in a controlled, environment you're. Not really going to be able to speak Japanese outside. And once, you have been in Japan you'll realize that a lot of the stuff in the textbooks, isn't really how Japanese people, speak in real life and. So learning, a lot of that stuff is part of the journey and definitely. Just really try to get involved and speak as much as you can and, I think you can get a lot out of your time here thanks. For sharing your story Jess I had similar, feelings to you so it's great to commiserate I've, also done interviews, with two Japanese, teachers as well as, another Japanese language student and I, also have my own experiences, to share so if you're interested there's a lot of content coming your way if you're not well. Hmm. Anyways, thanks, for watching see you next time bye, what's. Your experience learning, the Japanese language or any other language for that matter.