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Japanese language schools in Tokyo - the good and the bad

#1
This topic comes up every now and then, but here it is again: what experience have people had with Japanese language schools (in Tokyo)?

After reading some of the threads, the idea of schools with students from mostly non-English speaking nationalities is attractive. I liked the sound of Yamasa until I heard about it's location.

In previous posts, the following have been recommended for various reasons:

*ARC Academy
(intensive (3h/5d)- 1m: ¥80,000, 2m: ¥173,000 | JP fluency for everyday life: 3m (2h/5d): ¥125,000)

*ISI Japanese Language School
(intensive- 1m: ¥78,750 etc... | long term: 1y: ¥766,500)

*Human Academy Japanese Language School
(intensive- ¥52,000/m + 31,500(rego) | long term- 1y3m: ¥874,750)

*Japanese Language Institute IEC
(per quarter: ¥190,000 + ¥20,000 (rego) ¥5,000 to ¥8,000 (material))


First hand/second hand experience is welcome, or links to other resources like Go Go Nihon.

[edit]
Another question: Is there room to negotiate on price?

[edit 2] added prices
Edited: 2011-08-22, 9:01 pm
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#2
tokyostyle Wrote:Lots of universities have language schools as well and you can apply for special student status so that you can take classes without being fully enrolled in their graduate or undergraduate programs.

I've never heard of their programs being better than the dedicated language schools, but you do get the benefit of being able to participate in various university activities including the clubs. This is also a much better option if you actually planning on attending that university later as a graduate or undergraduate student. The prices are also more expensive since you are generally paying a full semester of tuition.
Thanks for the advice. So if anyone has had experience in these sort of school, any advice would be welcome.
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#3
I know it is kinda obvious, but make sure that the course you choose doesn't cover things you already know. Some intensive courses start off from the very beginning covering hiragana, katakana, limited kanji and basic grammar and may spend several weeks teaching these things. So if you already know a fair bit of Japanese, the first month etc. could be a big waste of time and money.
Edited: 2011-08-25, 2:41 am
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#4
No experience with this one, but it's run through Stanford...so it should be pretty legit. Seems to be for advanced students only.

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/IUC/index.html

Not sure if you have to be an student to apply. Summer program is just shy of $5k...expensive, but maybe worth it? I know my study-abroad program was WAY better than the J-lang school I attended.

ETA: Also it's in Yokohama... so not exactly where you wanted it, either.
Edited: 2011-08-25, 4:08 pm
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#5
SendaiDan Wrote:I know it is kinda obvious, but make sure that the course you choose doesn't cover things you already know. Some intensive courses start off from the very beginning covering hiragana, katakana, limited kanji and basic grammar and may spend several weeks teaching these things. So if you already know a fair bit of Japanese, the first month etc. could be a big waste of time and money.
I just talked to someone who experienced the same thing. From what I have seen, the placement tests are just a few days before the term starts and the curriculum does not seem so detailed, so it might be difficult to judge...

Thanks to the others who gave advice, much appreciated.
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#6
bluemarigolds Wrote:No experience with this one, but it's run through Stanford...so it should be pretty legit. Seems to be for advanced students only.

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/IUC/index.html
You have to be in a graduate program to attend IUC. But it is very legit and largely considered the best Japanese language school in the world. By far.
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#7
Back online after being disconnected from the world from a while.

I am still looking for advice on this subject. I am going to do more research myself and create a wiki page of what I find and of the advice I get. Maybe here
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#8
Not in Tokyo, but I am currently in my last few days at Kyoto Institute of Culture and Language, connected to and next to the University of Art and Design.

The course was pretty good, and the teachers are really nice, funny, supportive and great, though it is *very* focused on tests, to the point where they sometimes practically make you study how to take their own tests.. So it did have its fair share of friction between how I approach self study and how they teach.

That aside the school has an insane amount of Asian foreigners, probably around 90%+. My class is currently composed of me (Dutch), a Swedish girl, and 15 Asians. However, and maybe this is more personal, but I don't really connect that well with the fellow Asian students here. I have always been really the youngest guy in school and such, mastering at 21 last year and working for half a year to finally go to Japan. However while I am of age with the rest of the people here (for a change), most of them actually came to Japan out of high school and not university, and still have that typical high school attitude. "I have to do my homework because I am told so", "I don't want to be late because I will be scolded", etc.
For me it really feels (too much?) like being back in high school again, which has really turned me off.

That cast aside as said the school does have ties into the Art & Design University, so you can use its facilities and go to their parties and join their clubs etc. Though I personally didn't found a club I was interested in so looked up an Iaido dojo nearby for some all Japanese fun Smile.
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#9
Good to see advice is still coming in - thanks.

I just found this the other day: Tokyo Nihongo Volunteer Network. You can search for a location (like a ward name) to see when and where the lessons are. Looks like the classes are free, or near enough. Seems like there are lots of them, but not sure how active they are.
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#10
Boy.pockets Wrote:Good to see advice is still coming in - thanks.

I just found this the other day: Tokyo Nihongo Volunteer Network. You can search for a location (like a ward name) to see when and where the lessons are. Looks like the classes are free, or near enough. Seems like there are lots of them, but not sure how active they are.
Nice find, I'll try to go there this week and tell you how was it.
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#11
Yes exactly. Well as you said there is no visa for a private teacher, and to be honest the main reason I went to this school is to A) be in, and enjoy, Japan, and B) easier practicing both listening and reading to real Japanese people.

Even with not that much one on one time or dedicated speaking classes, you are still constantly listening to, and answering in, Japanese. And when school is done you are free to use it on any Japanese you meet in the 'wild'. The classes here are luckily very informal, with most of the time being spent on making jokes and japes next to going through the material.

As I already learned a fair bit of Japanese through self study, I started right in their intermediate level. As I learned my fair share of self studying methods, I could just pick up and focus on the things I felt I lacked the most at, and cut out parts that I feel like aren't worth my time. For instance I skipped most to all of their useless exercises, and never care for learning for any of their tests nor about their results. Instead I picked up what I wanted and put that into Anki.

Lastly like tokyostyle said things like pronunciation errors are rarely corrected, even some people in the highest classes still sound ridiculous. I don't think anyone can really become fluent out of purely a language school, not without other practices beside. It is also definitely not the most cost or time effective method, though it is still pretty decent if you want to live in Japan for a prolonged time, all while getting just the juicy bits out of school.
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#12
Boy.pockets Wrote:Good to see advice is still coming in - thanks.

I just found this the other day: Tokyo Nihongo Volunteer Network. You can search for a location (like a ward name) to see when and where the lessons are. Looks like the classes are free, or near enough. Seems like there are lots of them, but not sure how active they are.
I've done quite a tour today but it was worth it! I live in Taito-ku so there are three events here, near Ueno station. Two of them have lessons on Thursday.

First I went to Taito Nihongo Lesson, very big classroom (I'd call it Japanese style/dojo like but with desks and chairs) and really nice teachers but most striking was that there was only one other student. Teachers outnumbered us 3:2 so it turned out to be a free one on one/two Japanese lesson, how awesome is that!?!? I think the other guy was doing JLPT3 Grammar (red book) and some speaking, I didn't bring anything with me and wrote in a questionnaire that my objective was conversation (my most lagging skill) so we just practiced that. After a while another teacher sat with us and it went to a different level, with me desperately trying to keep up with two native speakers Smile Still I was amazed a few times as I could understand quite sophisticated points but then again got lost in a few very simple ones Smile

Overall it was 2h of Japanese conversation, exactly what I wanted and needed.

Next was The Lunguage Bazaar A, this was in a more western classroom, but there were more teachers and students. Everyone seemed to be divided into small study groups (usually 1on1) and one teacher was doing some sort of lesson for 3 students with a whiteboard. Here I also got one on one conversation practice but we were later joined by a young girl from Philippines that was much better than me so it motivated me to try harder & do my best. After around 2.5h our teacher had to leave but she told us we can stay for another lesson (intermediate) after that with a different teacher. Being a good student that I am, I stayed and this one turned out to be more traditional lesson. There were 5 of us, I think 3 Chinese ladies/girls and what I'm guessing a girl from Thailand. We all read aloud a dialog from a textbook (forgot to look at the name) multiple times, with role playing etc. till everyone got a shot. Later the teacher went through the dialog and explained various expressions, asked us questions, how to rephrase some parts without changing the meaning etc. Quite a vivid lesson, lots of back–and–forth, got to listen to a few different and sometimes imperfect accents which was really nice since Japanese people also have their own accents too. I think overall the class was exactly at the level I'm at but some people there were much more advanced than me, I'm sure one Chinese girl had N1 textbook with her.

Overall it was 2.5h conversation, followed by 1.25h lesson that also involved quite a bit of speaking.

To sum up, I started ad 9:30 finished at 17:00, had a small break in between where I read a Japanese magazine (I cannot say no to a pretty girl on the cover and Ascii in the name) & got some info about the pool there (社会教育センター), during that whole time I was either speaking or being spoken to (quite different experience than even active listening to a TV etc.) in Japanese. If the other groups are active like these I figure a millionaire living in Tokyo could arrange a week consisting only from such events and travel between them and be fluent in year Wink Its a good place to practice your production skills with a high chance of being corrected if you make a mistake, you don't always get that from a friendly chat. Just from today I think I got better and more comfortable speaking Japanese (especially during last lesson). I'll definitely go to other meet-ups in my area too as long as I'm here in Tokyo and really recommend everyone to try it at least once.

I don't know why this doesn't have its own thread & a sticky in Language resources section, for a minimal effort on your part (going there) and practically no cost you could devise a production learning tool like no other.
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#13
I went to another round of meetings/lessons and from what I've seen all groups are quite active and the info on that page is up to date.

This time it was The Lunguage Bazaar A & B on Tuesday and got another 2h45m + 2h worth of lessons and conversations. Tuesday seems to be more classroom like but I think it also depends on teacher/student ratio. Quite a few students in both locations and since everyone is from a different background/country and English usually isn't even an option there is just no other way of communication except Japanese.

Now all that's left to check out is Saturday for another 3+ hours and together it will amount to 14+ hours of Japanese lessons each week!! I paid 400yen for this month and 650yen for ramen before lessons to put things into perspective.
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#14
thurd Wrote:I went to another round of meetings/lessons and from what I've seen all groups are quite active and the info on that page is up to date.

...

Now all that's left to check out is Saturday for another 3+ hours and together it will amount to 14+ hours of Japanese lessons each week!! I paid 400yen for this month and 650yen for ramen before lessons to put things into perspective.
I have been to a few and have had similar experiences. Many teaches and not many students. Free or cheap as ramen. ¥500 for a term - I also paid ¥545 after the lesson for lunch to put this into perspective Wink. I don't know why more people don't know about this.

An update on my search for a Japanese language school: I am trying to decide between two school:
* Technos College, and
* Manabi Japanese Language Institute Tokyo

I am going to update the wiki with more details.
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#15
Boy.pockets Wrote:I have been to a few and have had similar experiences. Many teaches and not many students. Free or cheap as ramen. ¥500 for a term - I also paid ¥545 after the lesson for lunch to put this into perspective Wink. I don't know why more people don't know about this.
So you've been there? I thought you just read about this somewhere Smile So you just need to find a school to get a student visa, right?
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#16
thurd Wrote:
Boy.pockets Wrote:I have been to a few and have had similar experiences. Many teaches and not many students. Free or cheap as ramen. ¥500 for a term - I also paid ¥545 after the lesson for lunch to put this into perspective Wink. I don't know why more people don't know about this.
So you've been there? I thought you just read about this somewhere Smile So you just need to find a school to get a student visa, right?
I did just read it somewhere (can't remember where now) - maybe on this forum. Anyway, I went shortly after you posted your experience (I bought my ¥545 lunch just yesterday).

This sort of thing should be more widely know. It would be very useful for people coming to Japan on holiday and just wanting to get a few free/cheap classes in. Maybe I will write it up on the wiki some day.
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#17
Boy.pockets Wrote:I did just read it somewhere (can't remember where now) - maybe on this forum. Anyway, I went shortly after you posted your experience (I bought my ¥545 lunch just yesterday).

This sort of thing should be more widely know. It would be very useful for people coming to Japan on holiday and just wanting to get a few free/cheap classes in. Maybe I will write it up on the wiki some day.
I see Smile How many meetings in Gunma are you attending? I wonder if just self study+these events aren't enough without doing additional (paid) Japanese lessons.

Today I had another marathon 9:30-17:00 (1h break in between devoted to 朝日新聞) and after that I had a chat with another student for additional 2h. Completely different experience since we're both learning but there is just no other language for us to communicate while usually with non-Japanese there is always this English safety net.

Tomorrow there is another one so I just can't say no to more Japanese. I only regret I didn't know about this earlier but then again I was quite busy exploring Tokyo Smile

Overall if this doesn't help my Japanese I don't know what will. But I feel more confident and even got feedback from one of my teachers that just this one week made me more スムーズ. Just have to press on and be sure to read a lot too & look up grammar. Maybe I'll even try to tackle my 3.5k (and rising) due vocab cards in Anki Big Grin
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#18
thurd Wrote:
Boy.pockets Wrote:I did just read it somewhere (can't remember where now) - maybe on this forum. Anyway, I went shortly after you posted your experience (I bought my ¥545 lunch just yesterday).

This sort of thing should be more widely know. It would be very useful for people coming to Japan on holiday and just wanting to get a few free/cheap classes in. Maybe I will write it up on the wiki some day.
I see Smile How many meetings in Gunma are you attending? I wonder if just self study+these events aren't enough without doing additional (paid) Japanese lessons.
He he... I just moved to Tokyo...

I would say that they are enough without doing the additional (paid) lessons, but I have given myself a long enough to do self study and I don't think I have been progressing fast enough. So now I am going to shell out the money to pay for the lessons. I should have worked harder when I had more time. Oh well.
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#19
All I have to say is I learned more from self-study than I ever had from those schools. I actually went to one of those things a couple of years ago in Tokyo for about 3 months...then I quit. Just couldn't stand it anymore and came back to the US.

However, I would love to go back to those schools now with my much-improved Japanese and just mess with people, give crazy answers when they ask me stupid questions etc...


In fact, last Sunday I chatted with a Japanese person on Skype, it was the first time I've ever talked to a Japanese person (outside of classroom teachers), and I could talk to her without any problems. She didn't have to slow down her speech for me or anything...we could just talk like normal. So, if you have enough self-study you don't need those classroom stuff.
Edited: 2011-11-16, 1:31 pm
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#20
To follow up my initial posts, I ended up favoring "Technos Collage" in Yoyogi. I went to a bunch of trial classes and in the end that was the one that felt the best. The best teachers and the best students. I actually found the students are the ones that make the atmosphere good or not. Well, boring teachers are boring teachers still I guess. Here is the link: http://www.technos-jpschool.ac.jp/english/

Unfortunately something came up so I did not actually start, but it would have been nice to have the time to dedicate to it.

Realism Wrote:All I have to say is I learned more from self-study than I ever had from those schools. I actually went to one of those things a couple of years ago in Tokyo for about 3 months...then I quit. Just couldn't stand it anymore and came back to the US.

However, I would love to go back to those schools now with my much-improved Japanese and just mess with people, give crazy answers when they ask me stupid questions etc...


In fact, last Sunday I chatted with a Japanese person on Skype, it was the first time I've ever talked to a Japanese person (outside of classroom teachers), and I could talk to her without any problems. She didn't have to slow down her speech for me or anything...we could just talk like normal. So, if you have enough self-study you don't need those classroom stuff.
I feel that you don't need classes as well. But you need to look at the results. I was not happy with how fast I was learning. So I decided to sart class. But now I am back to self study...
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#21
Probably a bit late to reply to the original post but I have experience with Human academy and I would say best to stay away.

The classes are large, 20+ students, and > 80% of the students are Korean. The teaching method is rote memorization with very little conversation practice.

On a side note thanks to the person who posted the link to http://www.tnvn.jp/guide/!!
Edited: 2011-11-23, 2:44 am
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#22
thurd Wrote:First I went to Taito Nihongo Lesson, very big classroom (I'd call it Japanese style/dojo like but with desks and chairs) and really nice teachers but most striking was that there was only one other student...I don't know why this doesn't have its own thread & a sticky in Language resources section, for a minimal effort on your part (going there) and practically no cost you could devise a production learning tool like no other.
Thanks for this write up. I checked out the website and I will be hitting up some of these places this week.
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#23
Let us know how it goes.

I went to some in Naka-meguro and Futako-tamagawa. They were quite a lot a people making the meeting room quite noisy so not the best environment to study in. But considering the cost I can't complain too much.

If all you want is cheap conversation practice it's definitely worth it. If you're looking for something a bit more in depth or structured, then perhaps not.
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#24
Today I went to the めじろ日本語サークル (MEJIRO NIHONGO CIRCLE). It's about a 2-minute walk from the 目白 (mejiro) station (目白 is on the 山手線 between 池袋 and 新宿).
http://www.tnvn.jp/guide/tokyo-23-wards/...t-126.html

There were about 6 teachers and 3 students. One of the teachers left early, two of the teachers talked to each other the whole time, and the remaining three teachers worked with each of the students one-on-one. I mostly just practiced conversation and had my teacher correct my intonation.

The teachers all seem like retired Japanese people who live close by. It's almost unbelievable more people aren't taking advantage of this.

Tomorrow I'm planning on going to 早稲田奉仕園日本語ボランティアの会 (Waseda Hoshien Nihongo Volunteer no Kai).
http://www.tnvn.jp/guide/tokyo-23-wards/...st-76.html
I'll let you know how it goes.
Edited: 2011-12-06, 4:35 am
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#25
I live near Kyodo station and tried to contact several groups, and haven`t gotten a response at all. Does anyone know of any that actually exist on the Odakyu/Shinjuku area?
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