Hi! I am looking for a less expensive alternative to study abroad. I’d like to stay in Tokyo for several weeks and wanted to take a few classes to practice my Japanese speaking skills. Any good leads on summer classes or classes that would be appropriate for this? Thanks in advance!
What is your current level of Japanese?
I think you will find that the majority of Schools in Japan emphasize passing either the JLPT tests or University entrance exams. They do NOT emphasize conversation, so while you may learn a fair amount of grammar, it’s not going to help your comprehension…
I have lived here for a year, have a DEGREE in Japanese (unfortunately from 35 years ago), and have been studying at one of the better known schools for a year - however my comprehension has improved very little.
I would recommend you invest in private lessons, which is the more expensive alternative, but will allow you to listen to conversations and then immediately ask questions about what you don’t understand. I think there is far more benefit to going out for a couple of hours in the real world, than to spend half a day in a classroom drilling verb conjugations and keigo…
This sounds like a great idea, and I can recommend a couple of places.
I study at Japan Switch. They’re extremely reasonable (3000¥ for a 2 hour group lesson or 3000¥ for a 1 hour private lesson), can offer lessons every weekday morning and have so far been excellent! There has never been mention of the JLPT or exams or anything.
My second suggestion is the school my boyfriend attends, Coto Academy. They’re a little more expensive - I can’t remember how much exactly but I think it’s about 3x as much as Japan Switch, but they offer weekend and evening lessons in addition to weekdays in case you need more flexibility. My boyfriend says he really loves his classes. Most of his classmates (and he) are N5 level but again, there’s never been any mention of exams or JLPT.
In both schools there is a clear focus on conversational Japanese and being able to speak if. I’ve got one guy in my class who can’t read hiragana but has no issue keeping up!
My recommendation would be do to 1-2 group classes a week supplemented by one 2-hour private lesson. If you’re looking for more intensive courses and have a bit of cash to splurge, I’d have a lesson every weekday (and alternate between group and private). Private can be great but I think sometimes you need to practice in group settings with other students rather than limit yourself to just your teacher.
Oh and the textbooks JS & Coto use are great, and very reasonable at 2000¥. Which one you use will depend on your ability.
Let me know if you have any questions on either!
Edit: forgot to say, both have branches dotted all around Tokyo. We go to the Shinjuku schools and my BF goes to one in Iidabashi once a week.