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.