I Tried Japanese Language School for a Day in Tokyo

What is the most effective way to learn Japanese? I’ve only ever studied through teaching myself and having conversations with friends and colleagues But I often wonder what life would have been like an alternate reality had I’d gone to a Japanese language school. Well today, we’re gonna find out. Language skills are one of the most popular pathways into living and working in Japan and yet I’ve never set foot in one. Today, though we’re gonna go into a school, join the classes and understand how the environment and the techniques lead the students towards language proficiency, and hopefully along the way I’ll try not to embarrass myself. … That’s optimistic Now obviously one of the most daunting aspects of doing anything in Japan is the paperwork and this video is a collaboration with Japan’s largest language school aggregated ‘Go!Go! Nihon’ a fantastic free service that helps you decide which school is perfect for you and assist you on every step of the journey from choosing a school and filling in the nightmarish visa documents, to sorting out your accommodation from the moment you arrive in the country. Normally, this is the bit where I’m supposed to offer you some kind of 20% discount… but I can’t, because it’s free. Go!Go! Nihon is actually supported by the language schools themselves across the country, as it means they get more students and Go!Go! Nihon can focus on encouraging people to come to Japan and fulfill their dreams of mastering the language. You can find the link to their site in the description box below. And a special thanks to Go!Go! Nihon for getting us access inside a school today. Right then! Let’s go and see what a Japanese language school is like. [Music] So this is the language school that Go!Go! Nihon set me up with: ISI. They’re a big language school chain across all Japan. I chose this one because it’s conveniently in the middle of Tokyo. I’m here for the whole day. They’re gonna be teaching me Japanese, I’m gonna sit in on the classes and be one of the students. So, wish me luck, here it goes. First time for me. With 1,300 students from 50 countries, this is one of the largest Japanese language schools in all of Tokyo Students are separated into 40 classes of varying proficiency from beginner and intermediate through to advanced learners. And because I’m so brilliant and sneaky, I’ve decided to jump in on a beginners class. I’ve been very clever. I’ve chosen the beginner class. So hopefully I can look like the best kid – the kid that’s learned everything, the kid that knows what they’re doing. Something I never was when I was at school myself. This is the library. Traditional… Japanese book ‘Antiques and Their Prices’. All in English. Don’t know why that’s there. It’s a pretty cool selection. Obviously one of the best ways to learn Japanese, and I used to do it myself, is just reading manga comics. This is… Detective Conan, one of the most popular ones. Oh yeah, we’ve hit the mother lode. Harry Potter in Japanese. ‘Harī Potta’. To be honest this’d probably be quite difficult for me to read. Sounds like class is starting. We better get going. Japanese language skills use the full immersion study method whereby the teacher only ever uses Japanese in the classroom. In the early stages they communicate using simple expressions and phrases and gradually raise their level as the students progress. As many students come to study with the hope of landing a job in Japan, this method helps to accelerate proficiency in the language and enable them to hit the ground running when they find work in a Japanese company. And as the new kid in the class, it’s a good excuse for everyone to introduce themselves with the standard ‘jikoshoukai’. Next it was my turn and suffice to say my nerves got the better of me. It was the perfect self introduction … except I’d forgotten to say my name. This is uh- this is Brian. He’s a little bit nervous ’cause we just turn up with loads of cameras and started filming his day. Anyway.
— I’m nervous. Let’s do it. So we’re doing- we’re doing like a bit of role play at the moment practicing for a speech contest roleplay. What textbook are you using? ‘Minna no Nihongo’. Yeah, this is the second book. This is pretty popular. It’s quite daunting. I remember when I started learning Japanese six years ago I got this, but I couldn’t understand anything ’cause there were loads of kanji characters right? And not enough pictures! In a moment that reminds me of why I was always such a bad student It turned out we’d actually read the wrong bit as I hadn’t been listening to the teacher. I had completely blown it. Fortunately, though I was able to blame it all on Brian. My attempts to shine failed once again when I was asked to define a proverb … that I’d ever heard of. But probably should’ve. It turned out the phrase ‘Amefutte, jikatamaru’ meant ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Although in my case it felt more like ‘what I didn’t know made me feel more stupid’. The next stage was listening in comprehension and by now, you can probably guess who got to read it all out loud. Having failed to impress my classmates with my lackluster skills, I sneak into a neighboring beginner class for some listening and writing practice. So we’re doing some writing practice now and uh… I’m actually struggling- borderline, I’d like, um… These days, right? I don’t do writing anymore. I just write on my phone. It’s up nicely daffodil de Conde I just write on my phone. It just pops up nicely – you don’t have to do all the kanji. The trouble with learning Japanese is, if you stop writing quite easily you can start to just forget everything. So you really need to practicing. That’s why in Japan, people still use a lot of paper as opposed to using computers and things because otherwise they’re going to forget their 2,200 kanji characters that you need to use in everyday life in Japan. So classes in this school have about 15 students. They’re all from different countries around the world. It’s quite multicultural – which I think is pretty cool. It’s pretty cool. A lot of people I know that come to language schools end up having friends from all around the world, by the time they’re done, so it’s one of the… the uh… the benefits of going to a language school. It’s not just Japanese – it’s meeting people from around the world. Tuition fees can often put a lot of potential students off going to language schools. So I asked one of the teachers if there’s more to the school than just being in the classroom. What else can a student actually expect? So the class is over – it went pretty well, went pretty well. Um, it didn’t all go according to plan. There was one phrase I didn’t know which was something to do with the calm after the storm… I’ve never heard that and that made me look bad. My knowledge has got loads of gaps in it because I was just not the greatest teacher when it came to teaching myself how to do Japanese. But, I’m not gonna lie. I’m a little bit envious of the people that get to study in this environment – to study Japanese. One thing that really stood out to me though was the atmosphere of the classroom. I remember when I was a teacher. There were always classes you dreaded going in and some you were really excited about, um. But the class I was in was really fun. Everyone seemed to be friends – everyone got on really well. So we’ve been in a class and we’ve seen how it works, I’d like to hear a bit more about the stories of the students themselves. So let’s go and ask them what led them to come to Japan to study Japanese. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to live here and be here. I have always kind of wanted to come back to Japan. When I was younger, I actually did live in Japan and on a military base. I was a kid though, and then I wanted to come back and be here as an adult. The speed at which I’ve learned Japanese in this period of time, I think I would not have- I would not be at this level trying to teach myself further on my own. –Just kind of take the chance, ’cause I feel like if you don’t, you’re gonna look back at it later in life and wish you could have done it. I’ve done things I would never thought I would do in my life before. For about the last 10 years I’ve been traveling back and forth to Japan just as a tourist and during that time I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve become good friends with some of them. I wanted to be able to talk to them in their language. I knew I wanted to come to Tokyo and Go!Go! Nihon was, uh- you can sort it up by the city and I- yeah, I searched specifically for Tokyo. Go!Go! Nihon had a bunch of options at first and I applied to one and then they- they actually said ‘Yeah, you know, these are- these are better for your options because you want to live in Japan’ and- and so then they recommended three other schools and then I chose out of those and… now I’m here! After arriving in Japan, Go!Go! Nihon actually did help me a lot. I would say especially with setting up a SIM card and, um, as far as getting like bank cards in Japan because that can be really difficult. So I think it really helps with me getting settled in. My speaking and listening has improved a lot since coming here. I think it’s definitely- coming to a language school has been worth it. It’s a full immersion, you definitely feel like you pick up more of the language because they’re constantly using it all the time. The stuff I’ve learned in class I’ve been able to literally go out and use it right away and a lot of instances. Sometimes it can be a bit fast. You really need to keep on the ball – like with your studies, with your homework. If you fall behind or you decide that you don’t want to do your homework for the next two days, like it really makes you struggle in class. If this is something that you’ve been wanting to do, like just go for it. Go for six months. If you don’t like it come back, do something different. But if you do like it, you can keep continuing with it. Best advice is just go for it. I would recommend it to anybody. Get out of your comfort zone and just go for it. Do it! I mean, You only have so much time to do so much stuff and if you really want to do something, just go and do it or else you end up putting it off, and putting it off, and putting it off… and then you end up coming here when you’re thirty. So that was it! That was my day in the life of a Japanese language school. It went pretty well. I think I- I think I held my own. Although, to be fair, it was the beginners class, so… I set the bar pretty low for myself. But if you’re somebody who is interested in coming to Japan and learning Japanese, hopefully this video helped push you over the edge, you know. Just listening to the students, that was the message they all had. Do check out Go!Go! Nihon. They are the biggest website for language schools in Japan. Hopefully you can find exactly what you’re looking for. And whether it’s Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Fukuoka – no matter where you want to be there is a school out there just for you. They even help you find accommodation and settle in after your arrival, and given accommodation will be scarce in the coming year due to the 2020 Olympics, that support will be just as invaluable as choosing your school. Be sure to take advantage of Go!Go! Nihon’s fantastic services on the first step of your journey towards mastering the language. If anything, today reminded me that I’ve got a lot of work to do with my Japanese. The last few years I haven’t been studying and I should have been because I enjoy it. I really do enjoy it. I just don’t make the time for it for some reason… Anyway, for now though guys, that’s all! As always many thanks for watching, and I’ll see you right back here on the Abroad in Japan channel to do it all over again next time. Have a good one.

100 thoughts on “I Tried Japanese Language School for a Day in Tokyo”

  1. Notification Squad: Well guys, I hope you enjoyed watching me make an absolute idiot of myself. I’ve decided my new goal in life is to be able to read Harry Potter in Japanese – it’s the dream I never knew I wanted. As I said at the end, the whole experience reignited my passion for learning Japanese – a passion that’s been replaced by studying filmmaking over the last 2-3 years instead. I’m considering taking JLPT1 (N1) next year though, in which case, I’d better hurry up and get studying.
    A huge thanks to the five students who opened up about their experiences studying at a Japanese language school and a big thanks to Go! Go! Nihon for getting us access inside to film!
    Definitely check them out if you’ve ever thought about trying a Japanese language school – you never know where it may lead!
    Go! Go! Nihon: http://bit.ly/GoGoNihonAIJ

  2. Holy shit I remember Tawapon-kun from the Minna no Nihongo books. It's been over 10 years since the last time I heard that name. 懐かしい!

  3. the first south korean can GET IT.

    also omg they are sitting SO CLOSE to each other. my IBS just triggered. i would love to be in a classroom but work is stressful as it is with my situation (lots of cramps, gas and toilet usage).

  4. Wow I used to study at isi school in Tokyo, takadanobaba campus (2013-2014)! Ah, what a memory! Thanks Chris for reminding me of it 🙂 it was nice experience, the accommodation they provided was hectic though, 4 tatami room at a dorm … I moved out real quick. Paid nearly same price for a studio not far from ikebukuro station

  5. Thanks your videos are amazing as ever. I will go and study in Japan just not sure when. I will find the occasion and make the leap using Go! GO! Nihon

  6. Omg lol I totally feel your nervousness / awkwardness on many levels, you can feel so confident until you have to stand up in front of the class, thennn your brain turns to mush

  7. I watch your channel almost every day. Especially, when I'm having a hard day at work. I study Japanese by myself and like to watch your videos to learn new things about Japan, or just to relax. I want to pass JPTN1 one day too. Keep up the good work.

  8. i went to a language school through gogonihon back in 2015, it was hands down the best year of my life. if you're thinking about doing this im sure gonna tell you to take the chance if you get it. its a lovely adventure to be on, and make friends from around the world and truly get to "feel" what its like living in japan. absolutely wonderful <3

  9. "kinda just take the chance. I feel like, if you don't, you will look back later in life and you'd wish you could've done it"

    That's exactly where I am currently; looking back and wishing I could've done it. If anyone who wants to go to Japan, do it. Don't be like me.

  10. I think I have become mildly obsessed with watching your videos. 

    Trying to psych myself up for my solo trip to Singapore/Japan.

  11. Japanese teachers seem like to teach children. English school in Australia wasn't like that and was comfortable.
    Putting subtitles, English and Japanese, must be hard for you but that's helpful for me to learn English. I don't get bored with your video even if I watch the same videos over and over. Great job!

  12. Ur such an inspiration as a person, I work in hotel business and really want to learn proper japanese so I can work abroad there at some point.

  13. The support these schools provide, as well as helping overcome the language barrier, is well worth the tuition in my book.

    I'd much rather have that lifeline than panic when I'm handed a piece of paper

  14. does anybody know a similar service but for art classes? let's say I want to take a short course in ink painting (sumi – e) in japan as a foreigner. I'd appreciate any leads. thanks

  15. your level is that of a entry level student? amazing. how long have you lived here again? maybe if you didnt use english in every conversation you have with japanese people, you'd be at a respectable level by now? Idunnolol.

  16. People say japanese is complicated… matter of fact… u can learn perfect japanese in THIRTY SECONDS.

    Number one: SUMIMASEN. Most important word though it never means anything.
    Number two: AH SO SO SO. Polite way of saying I give a s*** bout what u say but I am a polite person. A more clever way today is to say IC. More efficient.
    Number three: EEEEEEEEE. U figure that out urself.

    There u have it. All u need to get around in Japan.

  17. Honestly, this channel's level of content is superior. It's like watching high budget production on BBC, but without all the political correct bullshit and you can clearly see passion here.
    Great work Chris, gonna stay here for longer.

  18. Just realised the nifty play on words of your channel name. Abroad in Japan, A Broad in Japan. BROAD.
    I actually swore out loud. Only took me a month. Genuine lightbulb moment. I’ll see myself out 👍🏻

  19. I had a 3month intensive class when I entered University, after that I studied by myself for 1.5 years before passing N2. Now I work in a Japanese company and only speak Japanese, 9am-7pm, Monday-Friday. It takes immersion to improve!

  20. I have some questions. How often are the classes and do they offer short courses? I have no intention of living in Japan, but I can afford to go to Tokyo on a whim and I can probably stay there at most 3 to 4 weeks at a time.

  21. I hope someone can help me with this. I'm a senior in high school and would like to go to a language school in japan next fall after I graduate. I have not yet, but I was planning on applying soon. If I get rejected because I do not have a High School Diploma at this time can I reapply once I have graduated?

  22. Most Japanese don't use proverb that much normally. Many don't know how to properly use to say that. I don't think proverb is so important. Your Japanese is absolutely fantastic again and you well summarise it. You are great.

  23. From my first hand experience I can tell you that Japanese language schools are for the 99% just money machines that rips off students money. Low quality of education and a strict system that is always and anyway going to be unprofitable to the student. Here in Europe for the same amount of money language schools offers a way much more professional approach to the teaching methodology. The first school I reached during my stays in Japan the staff was composed by 70% (not actually sure about the percentage, could be less or more) by baito staff, or just random Japanese people whom took a licence for teaching Japanese, making them cheap labor for the school and totally unfit for the job.

    Don't be scammed! If there's something those schools can do really well is marketing.

  24. Thanks for putting these videos up, seriously. I'm in the military and I've been in around many different countries in the Middle East, but for some reason the thought of going to Japan by myself has me terrified. lol. I'd rather be in a fire fight then sit in a class with no Japanese language skills. This video has definitely give me some confidence though, thank you.

  25. I've lived in Japan for 10 years. Although I have N2, I haven't studied Japanese for years and my level has come down real hard. I might even struggle on my jikoshokai because I don't meet new people often. This was an eye opener for me. I need to work on my Japanese again.

  26. The fucking irony The time I dont watch one of your vids I find a website that You never talked about and here it is, when I just found the video

  27. They seem to have learned some basic Japanese. If this is only the basic class then this means god seems to be pretty good

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