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Learning Japanese in Japan.

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Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Feba » Mon 09.24.2007 4:02 pm

I've been looking into this. Partially because it would be the quickest way to learn the language, and partially because I have no idea what I want to do for college still and buying time helps.

So far, I've stumbled across http://www.incul.com/eng/school/course/long.html -- but of course you'd have to be insane to put down thousands of dollars and a year of your life, travel across an ocean, and not do a little more research than that.

So I have a few questions:
-Does anyone know of other companies that offer this? Especially if you have personal experience.
-How much Japanese is the 'bare minimum' to know before attending?
-How much does it cost-- the site above lists $6000 in tuition, which seems very cheap, but there's also travel, living expenses, spending money, and so on to be considered.
-How is age considered? I graduated high school a few years early, so I'm not 18 yet, would this make housing or travel a hassle or impossible? (Assuming I would probably either live in a homestay or a gaijin house, and not in my own apartment)
-Somewhat of a foggy question, and I realize it will vary from person to person, but how much faster do people typically learn in immersion than in hard study (living in Japan and studying Japanese compared to just studying Japanese, but possibly studying more)?
-How widespread/cheap is internet access? Are open/free wifi networks common? In coffee shops and restaurants? In neighborhoods? Libraries? Do gaijin houses typically have internet, and if so, how fast is it/quality? What are usage policies like in Japan-- based on minutes connected, speed, amount downloaded, etc? If I have a connection where I live, will I have to worry about going over a "you can only download xx gigabytes per month" limit? How much do net cafes cost? If you can't tell, internet access is somewhat important to me, although I realize this is another fairly foggy question with many variables.

I'm still just considering this, I don't have my heart set on it or anything, but I would like more information to look into, especially if people have some advice on companies, or just links to other ones. Appreciated.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 09.24.2007 4:11 pm

From my experience and it was 2 months intense training in the US and then 2 years in Japan, Immersion is the only way to really pick up any 'real' Japanese. I went knowing hiragana/katakana, not very many Kanji if any at all and quite a few grammar principles (the basics) and vocabulary (pretty basic as well).

I am a huge advocate of immersion learning when possible. I just don't see any other way.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Orcrist » Tue 09.25.2007 6:00 am

Ill be going to Fukuoka from the 29th of February to the 19th of May, and Ill be attending genkiJACS (http://www.genkijacs.com). They provide me with both accomodation and japanese classes and a whole lot of other stuff. Its a non-profit organisation, and get nothing but very positive reviews. However, as with any decent language school it will cost you some.
20 hours of japanese classes a week + accomodation for a period of 11 weeks will cost me a little less than 500.000 yen (3800 dollar). Ofcourse Ill have to add my flight to that, and food/drinking/going out etc.
This school also takes in people below the age of 18, however you might have to stay with a host family then I think. Thats a little more expensive tho, Ill be staying in a shared apartment myself which is just 10.000 yen a week compared to a homestay which is after 3 weeks up to 18.000 yen a week if I remember correctly.

I would advise you to read reviews about the school you wish to attend tho, make sure the quality of the education they provide is actually right for you. I have done alot of research and the moment I came across genkijacs I fell in love with it, so my advice is just to read trough their site for a moment. Goodluck. :)

/edit I also might add that genkijacs has very friendly people helping you. Whenever I mail them I get a reply asap with all the information I requested and more. I mailed some other schools aswell, but not all of them were as friendly and helpfull.
Last edited by Orcrist on Tue 09.25.2007 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Feba » Tue 09.25.2007 6:36 am

Orcrist: thanks for pointing them out, but they distinctly say they're a short term school. I'm looking for something more in the range of a few months to a year.

My problem is somewhat that I've only found one or two schools that would work for me.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Machina Maw » Tue 09.25.2007 7:04 am

if it helps any, i'm holidaying in Japan right now, and there is internet access everywhere and a lot of it is free. For example, in Takayama, there were about 3 different public places with free internet, as well as the hotel I was staying at. Probably way more places in coffee shops etc., but I didn't really visit a diverse range of cafes and restaurants.

And like, I'm on a public computer in a hotel lobby right now. This hotel also offers free internet for customers who bring their laptops, and I believe most (western-ish) hotels have free internet, available modems, or LAN cables.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby jt » Tue 09.25.2007 9:49 pm

For what it's worth...

Far be it from me to discourage you from your plans, but I think in general, you'll benefit from immersion considerably more if you give yourself a decent basis in the language (say, a year or two of study) before you go to Japan.

That's not to say that you can't go over there with zero background and just start taking classes and immersing yourself -- you'll definitely still learn something that way. But the constant exposure just isn't going to do as much for you as it would for someone who can already speak and understand the language at even a basic level.

When you start out, you'll probably be learning kana, basic greetings and fundamental grammar -- relatively simple stuff which can be learned just as effectively in a classroom, or even on your own with a good textbook. You'll get reinforcement from being surrounded by the language, sure, but 99% of what you're exposed to on a daily basis is just going to go completely over your head. On the other hand, for someone who's already achieved a level where they can carry on and follow even the most basic conversation, being in Japan will provide countless opportunities to make friends and hone their language skills in meaningful situations.

To put it another way... immersion can never hurt, but it will definitely help some people more than others.

Just my two cents, but this is something that many beginning learners seem to overlook. They just see immersion as an automatic, (relatively) painless path to proficiency -- when the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 09.25.2007 9:54 pm

Once again, a good post from jt. :)

I met people who had lived in Japan for 10 years and could still basically speak no Japanese, and they could write nothing beyond *maybe* their name in katakana. There's a common perception that immersion = fluency. But it's not the immersion, it's being put in situations where you are forced to speak Japanese. Even so, without correction and guidance, all you will develop is a sort of pidgin Japanese that lets you get some basic meaning across in daily situations, but is very, very far from real fluency.

Part of the problem is that most programs do not teach speaking. It's not impossible (as OSU's program and others show), but the failure of most programs to do so gives rise to the belief that classes cannot teach you to speak.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Tue 09.25.2007 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby jt » Tue 09.25.2007 10:18 pm

Yeah... in all fairness to the OP, though, Feba does mention going to Japan to _study_, so provided (s)he follows through with that plan, (s)he should be able to avoid being one of those 'lifers' who can only speak pidgin Japanese after years of immersion.

On the other hand, I think it's easy for beginners who go to Japan even with noble aims to fall in the trap where they're indeed studying Japanese, but _outside_ of class they spend all their time hanging out with their fellow students, talking _about_ Japan and Japanese in their native language. They may want to make Japanese friends and practice their Japanese, but they just don't have the ability to actually use it in a meaningful way. They're still at the stage where drills and structured practice are going to help them more than immersion -- in other words, they're at the stage where they'd be just as well off (if not better off) somewhere like OSU (or Cornell's FALCON Program) rather than in Japan.
Last edited by jt on Tue 09.25.2007 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby keatonatron » Tue 09.25.2007 10:39 pm

The school I went to could take total noobs and turn them quite fluent within two years. Although, it was required to understand hiragana and katakana before you show up, and if you really didn't know anything the first few months would be quite painful, as the teachers spoke only Japanese and in the early classes had to resort to lots of big gestures and pictures to get the meaning across.

Learning the basics before you go will be a BIG help, and really help you get the most learning for your money. If you were to, say, get to the JLPT level 3 before going over, you could be fluent in one year or so with an intensive program.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Feba » Wed 09.26.2007 3:15 am

jt: he.

Anyway, yes, I obviously don't expect immersion alone to be a miracle cure all. I do have very basic knowledge from reading a couple books and listening to various language tapes/videos, and I know most of the hiragana fairly well, along with a small amount of kanji and other various things. I just think it would be fun, and a good way to pick up the language at a faster pace than would be possible studying at home-- even if only for lack of practice or time here.

I'm thinking this probably won't happen for a few reasons
1- It's expensive. I can always get scholarships and such, but this is just pretty plainly expensive, and the chance of finding some way to fund it is slim. It would be much cheaper to simply *stay* there, but if I'm not studying it would be pretty much time wasted imo.
2- Kinda missed the deadline, again unless I wanted to just go there for the sake of going there. Most places I see start in October and April. October is already way too late, and April is too far off.
3- As mentioned above, it's perfectly possible to learn Japanese at home, although the pace will likely be slower since it's not full time.

Ah well, it would be a nice idea. Thanks for the info.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Oyaji » Wed 09.26.2007 3:22 am

Lots of good points in this thread. I certainly agree that the more Japanese one learns before coming over the better.

I think the main advantage to learning Japanese in Japan is the opportunity to bombard your ears (brain) with the sounds of Japanese. The first step in learning your native language was to be exposed to it by listening to your parents etc. Understanding came later, as did mimicking, which evolved into speaking. Being in Japan will obviously make it easier to follow that same process - enhanced, of course, with diligent study.

When I first arrived in Japan many moons ago I bought a cheap AM radio, and whenever I was alone (on the train, in my apartment, etc.), I would listen to talk-radio. Of course at first I didn't understand much, but the constant exposure helped me become familiar with the sounds and rhythms of the language, and I was gradually able to pick out words and phrases. Being able to try out the new words and phrases on people around me was another obvious advantage of being in Japan.


Orcrist: I live about an hour from Fukuoka City. Drop me a PM if you would like, and maybe we can get together - though I imagine they will keep you very busy.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby two_heads_talking » Wed 09.26.2007 9:09 am

I remember flying over to Japan and hearing the flight attendants speaking over the intercom. when one came by, I asked her why they were speaking chinese. she got a good laugh at that.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby keatonatron » Thu 09.27.2007 12:10 am

two_heads_talking wrote:
I remember flying over to Japan and hearing the flight attendants speaking over the intercom. when one came by, I asked her why they were speaking chinese. she got a good laugh at that.


:o That sounds horribly insulting. I'm really glad they just laughed, instead of kicking you off the plane--at 30,000 feet.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 09.27.2007 11:15 am

Insulting? hardly. She knew that the group we were in had just started Japanese, she said she thought the same thing when she first studied in America. She asked her friend why everyone talked to fast. Besides anyone insulted by a comment such as that is merely someone looking for a reason to get upset about absolutely nothing.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby keatonatron » Thu 09.27.2007 11:33 am

It has to do with the stereotype of "Looks Asian + not speaking English = Must be Chinese" that so many Americans hold. I know you don't think that way, but doing anything that might make it look like you do think that way makes us all look bad (i.e. doesn't help dissolve the stereotype).
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