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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.
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.
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.