It goes without saying that learning a new language can be hard, potentially one of the hardest tasks you’ll ever undertake. Especially if, like Japanese, that language requires to your remember three alphabets and thousands of kanji characters.
That said, it can also be a whole stack of fun too! If you’re planning on starting a new life here in Japan, or you’re just visiting for an extended holiday and want to pick up a few extra skills, here are seven Tokyo-based schools that can help lead you on the path to fluency.
Coto Language Academy
When it comes to movers and shakers on the Japanese language learning scene (and yes that’s a thing), don’t look any further than Coto Language Academy. The Coto group currently have two schools. Located in central Tokyo the main school offers a range of flexible courses designed to suit a number of purposes.
If you’re here for just a few months to brush up on your Japanese, and you’re looking to dive headfirst into the Japanese business world, or if you just want to be better at holding a conversation at the izakaya, there’s a class for you. Class sizes are always small, meaning you’ll get proper conversation experience, and won’t just be lectured from the front of a hall, which is super vital for maintaining conversational ability. All their courses and prices are available online.
Hidden right in the heart of central Shinjuku, you’ll find Genki Jacs, one of the city’s most accessible schools for beginners and more serious Japanese students alike. You can sign up for a whole range of course lengths from two weeks up to a year.
Classes here have a maximum of eight student super class, giving you plenty of conversation time and the opportunity to meet a broad range of classmates. If the study has been going well and you’re on the hunt for a student visa, you can contact the school’s Fukuoka branch, who can help you out in that department. 90% of the schools students are from the US, Europe and Australia, so if you’re looking for a support network of travellers with familiar experiences, this may be the place for you.
Established in 1948, this school is one of the oldest and is generally considered to be one of the pioneers of contemporary Japanese language learning. If you’re looking for a school with prestige, then this is the place for you, Naoe Naganuma, the company’s founder worked as an instructor for US Embassy diplomats. The school offers a variety of vocation and education-focused programs including JLPT (Japanese proficiency language test) courses, evening courses, business courses, university preparation classes.
If you want to experience a little more culture while picking up a few language skills, be sure to check out their summer and winter cultural courses which combine language and hands-on culture learning.
For those on the hunt for the ultimate flexibility in their language learning, it’s probably worth taking a look at Nichibei. They offer regular part-time and private lesson programs which can be tailored around your other commitments.
Also, if your dream is to become a Japanese idol, or maybe be on Japanese TV, the school hosts regular speech contests where you can put everything you’ve learned into practice. If you’re interested in the classes you’re welcome to go along and observe a lesson prior to signing up.
OK, although your ambitions may be good, it’s fair to say that in reality trying to force yourself to knuckle down and study can be difficult, especially if you’re studying Japanese, one of the most notoriously difficulty languages to learn – and a language that actually has three completely different alphabets.
This is where We comes in. It’s a casual Japanese language school, which offers relaxed conversations classes (as well as the more serious ones) and online learning for those on the go.
Located in Shinjuku, this central school has been helping foreigners become fluent since 1987, and during that time they’ve become one of the most popular go-to schools for long and short term residents. They offer a variety of courses for all purposes (business, fun, survival) and also have special accommodation connections if you still haven’t yet figured out a place to live. For a fully immersive experience, it may be worth considering a homestay with a Japanese family, this is something Kai can help you out with.
Shibuya Gaigo Gakuin
Running for 45 years now, this school is definitely one of the city’s most established educational hubs. Located in Shibuya, it offers a range of language courses, 12 languages in fact, but of course their priority is Japanese. You can sign up for a variety of courses offering different intensities and different levels, from chilled-out summer classes to year-long full-time courses. Hosting a broad range of international students, it’s a great way to learn about other cultures while learning all you can about Japanese.
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