Inexpensive Japanese Language School in Tokyo

I went in for a trial lesson at a language school in Ebisu last week and I was really impressed. And I’m not very easily impressed.

Working as a foreign language teacher is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to taking a language course, in that I’m able to pick out the inexperienced or unprepared teacher almost immediately but I also spend most of my Japanese lessons either mentally critiquing my teacher’s lesson plan or else jotting down notes for games or exercises I plan on stealing and using in my own lessons.

But J’s Japanese Language School impressed me because…

1. It’s really, reasonably priced

2. There’s no registration fee (a lot of schools tack on a 20,000 + yen fee just to sign up).

3. The lessons are all taught in Japanese! No English. At all.

Beieve it or not, it’s tough to find language schools in Tokyo that conduct their lessons entirely in Japanese. I’ve found that even if they say that they have a “Japanese Only” policy, a lot of the time the teachers will use English as a fallback when students don’t understand their Japanese explanations or when explaining an aspect of grammar, and I just hate, hate HATE that. Sure, it takes a lot longer to get the point across and it might seem like a waste of time for the teacher to draw the word ‘car’ or pantomime ‘driving’ when those words could easily be said in English, but I think in the long run, full-immersion in the classroom forces students to use what limited vocabulary they have and make real attempts to communicate. When you know that you can’t rely on English, you learn how to come up with creative ways of getting the point of across. I also liked that kanji recognition is incorporated into the lessons, even in the beginner courses, (something else that language schools tend to shy away from).

PS Nihongo Instructor’s Club (in Azabu Jyuban) is another inexpensive school…Like J’s, they offer morning, afternoon and evening courses as well as private lessons and there’s no registration fee. The instructors use English a little more than I like, but the group lessons are at least 1,000 yen cheaper than any other language school in Tokyo, (only 2,100 yen per hour!). I used to take lessons there but had to quit because of a scheduling conflict. It’s a good school.

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5 thoughts on “Inexpensive Japanese Language School in Tokyo

  1. This is great, thanks for sharing. I definitely want to start Japanese lessons in Tokyo. Here in the rural mountains I have to use Japanese all the tiem, but I’m so worried my progress will slow down x a billion once I move to Tokyo in March because I have so many bilingual friends there.

  2. A soon to be Japan newbie here. Stumbled across your blog. Interesting and informative. Hope your lessons go well!

  3. When I first moved to Japan I enrolled in a Japanese speaking only class. However, this was at a point when the only word I knew of Japanese was “konnichiwa”. The class met once a week and there were a few students who were pretty loud and obnoxious, which is difficult to deal with when you’re trying to understand a new, super unfamiliar language. Then I heard from friends about a woman who was their private tutor who was really great. She agreed to take me on as a student and it was the best decision ever. We met once a week for 2 hours and not only was she a great teacher, but we became friends and she introduced me to a lot of traditional Japanese experiences(like calligraphy drawing) that I would have never been exposed to normally. It’s interesting how different people learn better in different environments, but one on one is definitely better for me. Your school sounds really good though, I might have gone if a J’s Japanese school had been operating in Himeji.
    Also, this is random but I really admire your courage to travel alone all the time. I’m 24 and I’ve only traveled alone once, to a writers conference in CO. I would love to travel alone more but I have such a horrible sense of direction I’m terrified of getting lost or missing a bus I need to get on etc. How old were you when you began to travel alone?

  4. Hi Beth,

    Tokyo is the worst place to try to learn Japanese! It’s such a slow slow slow process…so annoying. You really gotta be motivated because it’s so easy to go for days without needing to speak more than a few sentences in Japanese.

    You’re lucky you can tough it out in the mountains…I wouldn’t be able to do that. I love living in a big city.

  5. Hey there Sarah,

    But didn’t you travel to Japan by yourself…or did you come here with someone? Because that certainly counts. I feel like if you can live in Japan, you can live or travel almost anywhere. Well, I guess as far as developed nations go. The Third World is a different story.

    I don’t find traveling alone to be scary! But I’ve done it since I was a kid…the first time I flew by myself I was seven…and I went to summer camps and stayed with relatives all over the place. And I studied abroad in high school…So I guess exposure when you’re young is key. I was desensitized.

    But I find it scary to move places…because that seems a little more permanent…a little more difficult to get out of if the situation doesn’t turn out the way I expected. I definitely worried if moving to Japan was the right decision…I still do!

    PS I always get lost! That leads to the best adventures!

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