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Breaking the Silence

Hello again. Remember me?

So it’s been a bit less than two months since I started attending a Japanese language school here in Tokyo. In that time, I’ve managed to attend three different class levels for varying amounts of time. The result is that, even though my time having attended the language school is still quite limited, I have a bit of insight into how things seem to work that I might not have noticed so clearly had I progressed in the normal fashion. So today I’ll tell you just a bit about how my Japan-based Japanese language school seems to work. I think we can assume that it many of the others follow a similar model, but I of course cannot make any claims regarding this matter.

First of all, the classes are conducted in Japanese, of course. Being one of the very few (or the only) English speaking students in all of my classes, it would be quite strange to conduct classes in English. And of course, attendance is not limited to any other nationality, either. Not to mention that immersion is a great advantage in learning a language. That’s why you study the language in its native country, is it not? So how do you teach a language (to non-infants) using the language itself? Unfortunately, I never attended the first class, so I can’t say definitely how they went about this. However, by seeing the textbook used, I can guess that many pictures, gestures, and so forth were used.

Beyond this, something peculiar that I noticed when reviewing the first book used by the school was that it seemed to progress so quickly. The same seemed true for the second book that I received. So I wondered, do they really advance this quickly? From my observations thus far, the answer seems to be both yes and no. Huh? Here is what I mean. When I left the first class that I was placed in, we were discussing the grammar for aida. During the second class I was placed in, we were discussing the grammar for aida. In the third, or my current class, we have at one time or another once again discussed aida.

So what does it all mean? To sum it up, things move very quickly in the language school. In a three month session, hundreds of words, hundreds of kanji, and a good number of grammatical constructions are covered. But rather than moving on completely, these words, kanji, and constructions continue to pop up again and again in addition to new material being covered. The result is that a very large amount of material is covered while constantly reviewing past material. I will have to spend more time in the class before I solidify any feelings regarding this method, but it is quite interesting and seems to make sense.

I should be advancing to a new class before long, so I’ll let you know if my conclusions turn out to be completely wrong.