One of the biggest barriers faced by would-be Japanese residents is the language. With a triple threat writing system (Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana) and many levels of politeness, figuring out how to learn Japanese can be a difficult task. Furthermore, unlike some countries in Europe and the US, almost all University instruction is done fully in Japanese– requiring extensive skills.
I believe that the fastest and most efficient way to pick up the language is to constantly practise and use the language whenever you can. However, due to the close-minded nature of the majority of Japanese, it is going to be hard to find the right community to do so. (But if you insist, here is an article to help you find some Japanese friends)
The next best option is probably to enrol yourself in a Japanese Language School. If you manage to find the perfect combination of the right learning environment and a good teacher you are sure to be an expert in no time! But with all sorts of small schools popping up throughout Tokyo, it is hard to find the perfect one for you. So, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 Japanese Language schools in Tokyo with proven track records and test scores to boot.
1.Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute
Shinjuku Japanese School is one of the most famous (and expensive) schools on our list. Their innovative “Ezoe” teaching method sets it apart from many others by combining words and gestures with Japanese grammar.
Founded in 1975, over 40 years later they’re still improving on their performance, and recently developed a series of apps in accordance with teams at NTT Communications, one of Japan’s top companies, that students can access as part of their homework and practise outside of class.
This is a full M-F language school, taught as a half-day either in the morning or evening, depending on the level of Japanese. Terms last anywhere from about 6 months to two years. The two-year program boasts the ability to get you the coveted N1 on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), the highest level you can achieve. Student Visa Sponsorship is available for full-time students.
Official Website – https://www.sng.ac.jp/en/
2. Nichibei Kaiwa Gakuin Japanese Language Institute (JLI)
Nichibei Kaiwa Gakuin is also one of the old guards of Japanese Language Education. Founded in 1967, the Japanese Language Institute focuses on tailoring the Japanese education to your needs, with everything from classroom settings to private lessons; making it great for people with busy schedules or companies looking for corporate training.
They also do short term and part-time Japanese classes for people with short timelines of availability. You can be sure of teacher quality as well, as Nichibei works with several Tokyo Universities to train Japanese Language Teachers under their own program.
The longest full-time course they offer is two years, with the shortest being under 10 weeks available on a case-by-case basis. This school focuses mostly on daily conversation practice, though JLPT test prep is available in part-time coursework. Student Visa Sponsorship is available for full-time students for up to 18 months.
Official Website – https://www.nichibei.ac.jp/jli/
3.Genki Japanese Language & Culture School (GENKIJACS)
This is our most expansive listing, with branches located in Tokyo, Fukuoka, and Kyoto. GENKIJACS is a little less rigorous than the previous two, but that doesn’t mean the quality suffers– this is the only Japanese Language School to have been offered a Star World Language School award, which is the top award available to second language learning institutions.
Classes are exceptionally small at GENKIJACS, ranging from 6-9 students. Classes begin every Monday and students are welcome to join at any time (the exception being true beginners, who can only begin classes on the first Monday of the month).
By having multiple classes with different skill level, students can progress with their own pace allowing them to not be stuck in a group inappropriate for their skill level. Student Visas are only available at their Fukuoka Campus.
4.Shibuya Gaigo Gakuin (SGG)
This offering is unique among Japanese Language Schools, in that Shibuya Gaigo Gakuin isn’t just a Japanese Language School. SGG offers multiple courses in 12 languages, which brings students from all over the world and all over Japan.
This attracts and brings together students wishing to study Japanese together with Japanese students wishing to learn a foreign language. SGG uses this melting pot to encourage language exchange and conversation practice.
Located in the heart of the famous Shibuya district of Tokyo, they offer a multitude of courses from full time- JLPT prep, including their popular summer Japanese language course, packed full of cultural experiences and 30 hours of instructional time. Student Visas are available for full-time students for up to 2 years.
5.Your Local Community Center!
Many people don’t know this, but for Tokyo residents, your local community centre likely offers Japanese classes! These are often taught by volunteers in the community, but can be a great way to interact and speak Japanese with other expats or foreign residents in your neighbourhood and contribute some time and money to your local area.
This is no replacement for University or JLPT preparation courses but is perfectly fun and a great option to learn some basic Japanese language for individuals or families looking for ways to integrate more into Japanese society. Since this is not a full-time course, student visas are not available.
There are many choices out there but these are some of the best Japanese courses we believe will boost or kick start your learning journey! But, as mentioned before no matter how you decide to study, the most important thing is to practice out in the world and to find a community of people willing to interact with new experiences and live their life in Japan to the fullest.
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