Studying in a Japanese language school in Japan may be a dream or a huge gamble for many international students keen on improving their Japanese. After all, for a Japanese language learner interested in mastering the language, textbooks and Japanese language films can only bring one so far.
To further enhance one’s Japanese proficiency, Japan is the perfect setting for loads of everyday exposure to all things Japanese, such as flyers, road signs, newspapers, and the people around. In Japan, you may even opt to study Japanese in a specialized language school, given the ubiquity of language schools all around the country.
That said, the sheer variety of Japanese language schools in Japan could make it challenging for you to decide on a school. To complicate things, many of such schools are offering you similar packages at competitive prices. To assist you in narrowing down your ideal language school of choice, we have prepared a useful guide for you here below.
1) Know Your Japanese Language Learning Goals
As cliche as it sounds, knowing why you want to study Japanese is crucial to selecting the most suitable school. Knowing your end goal for learning Japanese in Japan would help you narrow down the language school that would best help you attain that goal. Know why you wish to improve your Japanese proficiency. Perhaps you hoped to establish a career in Japan; thus, learning Japanese seemed like a no-brainer.
Also reflect on why you decided to uproot yourself from your home country to study Japanese in Japan. This reason to relocate to Japan, investing effort, time, and money in learning Japanese should be factors for your choice of language school.
If you want to learn Japanese for casual conversation, opt for a school that includes cultural exchanges in its formal curriculum. If you are learning Japanese for possible employment in Japan, you may wish to study Japanese at a government-accredited Japanese language school meant to gear you up for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Besides, some of these schools prepare their students for employment in Japan, through Business Japanese language classes, mock job interviews, and even specialized courses in fields like engineering, science and history. You can expect a lot of potential job opportunities in Tokyo, with language schools in the capital providing quality language education for foreign students hoping to land jobs in Japan upon graduation.
Cities like Fukuoka have been preparing to become key start-up hubs in Japan, making obtaining investor visas more fuss-free to attract foreigners to live and study Japanese here.
As language learning takes time, your initial reasons for learning Japanese might change once you start studying and living in Japan. You may be surprised to discover additional interests that could propel you further in mastering it. For instance, you might have developed an interest in Japanese because of Japanese food. When learning Japanese, your increased language proficiency might spark additional academic interests, such as Japanese history. What more, you might even relish your learning experience in your language school so much that you might be inspired to become a teacher of a foreign language, say English, to non-native speakers.
2) The Duration and Intensity of Your Desired Language Learning Program
Another important factor to consider is how long you plan to study Japanese, as well as how much information you can take in at a given time frame. In other words, determine how long you’d like to study Japanese in Japan, and the intensity of the language course. Many Japanese schools offer language courses for long-term students, who attend classes once or twice a week for at least half a year. Nonetheless, there are other schools offering short-term intensive Japanese language courses for a couple of weeks!
If you thrive in a classroom setting, ensure you are disciplined and able to catch up with the rest of the class. Otherwise, you may opt for one-to-one Japanese lessons with a dedicated language tutor catered to your needs and learning style.
Attending daily Japanese language classes can be tiring, even if Japanese is your passion. You may still hope to enjoy some free time in Japan and travel around the country in order to motivate yourself.
3) The Location
The third factor to take into account is location. Consider the type of environment you would like to live and study in. Tokyo, Japan’s capital, may first come to mind. There may be various language school options even within Tokyo, owing to a huge demand for schools. Some schools are nested right in the heart of Tokyo, in places like Shibuya and Shinjuku, while others are tucked away in suburban areas, such as Hachioji or Kunitachi. Other language schools are situated in Japanese cities like Osaka, Kyoto, Nagasaki and Fukuoka that enjoy a cheaper cost of living, as well as a more relaxed pace of life.
4) Your Budget
It’s about the money, money, money, right? Relocating to and living in a foreign country is a costly affair, so determine and stick to your budget when choosing a language school to obtain a quality education while maximizing your budget.
Language schools with costlier tuition fees may have high-end language facilities, such as language learning software and additional Japanese language materials to supplement your class notes. Schools that charge lower fees may simply concentrate on the basics of the Japanese language for casual learners.
Moreover, your budget would also determine if you can study and live in an expensive district in Tokyo, or choose to move to a cheaper city like Fukuoka to pursue your language learning goals.
Studying in Japan might be a huge leap of faith for you, so make the best of this opportunity and maximize your stay there. Know your reasons for studying in Japan, as well as your ability and willingness to push yourself to meet your language learning goals. Do make an informed decision when finally selecting the perfect language school in Japan that meets your needs.