Page 1 of 1

help is appreciated (language school in tokyo)

Posted: December 2nd, 2008 10:14 am
by elau1986
Hello Guys,

I've graduated from my postgraduate studies in Australia and decided to go to Japan to further study Japanese. Initially, I applied for the Intensive Japanese Language program at Waseda and Keio University as an independent full-fee student but unfortunately my application was unsuccessful. I am currently looking at different language schools in Tokyo that would provide a student VISA.

I often hear stories that language schools are generally targeted towards Chinese and Korean students, and Western students generally cannot keep up with their curriculum, because they expect you to be familiar with Kanji. This is what I am afraid of because my Japanese/Kanji level is only JLPT 2. I searched the forum, and came across a couple of similar topics, but there are just too many language schools to choose from. If possible, can you guys recommend good language schools (preferably in Tokyo). Also is it difficult to find an English teaching job once I'm in Tokyo?

I know there has been tons of posts like this, but your help is really appreciated.

Kind Regards,


Posted: December 2nd, 2008 11:39 am
by Psy
I'm probably repeating myself, but when I was first looking into this I found lists of all of the APJLE accredited language schools in the country-- went down the list, narrowing it to dozens, to a dozen, to 8, to 5, and so on... of all of the schools, of all of the options on curriculum, tuition, accommodation, location, cost of living etc. that were available, the Yamasa Institute in Aichi won. My only real regret is that I didn't study there for nearly long enough.

Granted, it isn't Tokyo-- but are you really sure you want to study long-term in Tokyo? From everything I hear the gaijin turnover rate is through the roof there. Neat to visit, yes, but can be a real headache to live. To each his own, though... if you're comfortable financially and thrive on the big-city lifestyle, you'll be right at home.

Good luck on the hunt. It can be quite frustrating sometimes.

Posted: December 2nd, 2008 12:42 pm
by Taurus
Just as a matter of interest, how did you go about paying the fees for your course?

Posted: December 2nd, 2008 12:50 pm
by elau1986
I'm luckily to say "money" is not that much of a concern, apart from my own savings, parents are willing to support me :D

I've actually planned to study in Tokyo for around 2 years now, but I didn't realize it was that hard to get into the "intensive japanese programs" at Keio/Waseda even as a individual fee paying student.

Psy can you recommend me a list of schools?


Posted: December 2nd, 2008 3:39 pm
by elau1986
currently I am considering Yoshida Institute of Japanese Language and KAI Japanese Language School

what do you guys think of these school?


Posted: December 3rd, 2008 5:14 pm
by Psy
Taurus wrote:Just as a matter of interest, how did you go about paying the fees for your course?

Blood, sex and drugs of course... isn't that how the world works? Oh, right: I've got a really nice family. 8)

elau1986 wrote:Psy can you recommend me a list of schools?


Oh how I wish I remembered the other ones! I also searched around online to try finding the list I used for accredited schools, but I couldn't come up with anything. Sorry! :(

elau1986 wrote:currently I am considering Yoshida Institute of Japanese Language and KAI Japanese Language School

what do you guys think of these school?


I can't say anything regarding KAI seeing as they have very little on their site about accreditation and curriculum, let alone anything about visa applications. For the Yoshida Institute, there's a considerable amount more detail, and since they can aid with visa applications they have to be accredited. However, as some have noted, you may have a hard time keeping up with a student body comprised primarily of Korean/Chinese people. What I would suggest doing is writing both of them and seeing what kind of responses they provide. The folks at Yamasa were always prompt and friendly, and that's one of the things that sold me-- paperwork was already moving along by the time I got a response from one of the Tokyo schools I'd been looking at.

Sorry I can't be of more help. Happy hunting, folks.

Posted: December 3rd, 2008 7:05 pm
by elau1986
thanks Psy,

I emailed KAI yesterday night and got a reply this morning. The people seems friendly and will send me all the pre-college and course applications by next week. I've checked a couple of forums and blogs and people have said positive things about KAI. Their site claims their students come from over 30 different countries, it seems like a good place to meet different people. So I think I'm going to go with KAI with their 1 year course.


Posted: December 19th, 2008 3:24 pm
by chorismos
Sorry for late reply only just read your post and you may already have committed to KAI.

June 2008 I visited KAI, AJALT and Naganuma after an exhaustive web/forum trawl and some emails.

KAI receptionist was friendly but a bit pushy re trying to get me to sign-up on the spot, their level check was pretty comprehensive and instant feedback from a fierce looking but sincere sensei there. Apparently the local Korean restaurants are ok for inexpensive Japanese Korean style food (going on Korean friends' advice). Also KAI takes credit cards which is no small thing in Japan and much more convenient. Rates well on forums by all accounts. They offered to let me watch a class but between the lines I was getting a strong sense of obligation to sign-up if I did that.

AJALT was more tailored and personal in their response and their level check more conversational but still structured and systematic. They let me watch a class the day I visited, two students in class getting 'man to man' teaching (hence hourly rate is more than the boot camp schools). Problem was they only run classes when three or more students sign up and they couldn't confirm the next class would be running. Also, there's only a couple of classes a week and you'd better like the textbooks if beginner-intermediate level (the Japanese for Busy People series gets mixed reviews, but there is a new edition out recently).

Naganuma reception, true to the school edict, only speak Japanese which can be challenging. The chap there showed me their learning material and an estimate of the ethnic make-up of classes. The Intermediate (JLPT2+) classes are 95%+ Chinese/Korean. Large classes (10-15 students usually) and the school has a factory like quality (it is big, it churns out graduates, and it is intense by reputation). I signed up for Naganuma and have been there since. Their methods are, on the whole, good (repetition of basic sentence patterns, grammar, kanji every day plus tape/reading practice) and the school has given me a good foundation for future study. Negatives are: large classes so few direct questions, competitive feel in classes so can be inhibitive/stressful, mixed level in class so some students are bored while others struggle, excessive number of tests/exams (pretty much every second day), and the 'direct method' they use for me didn't explain Grammar points very clearly. If you choose Naganuma be prepared for heaps of homework too. I've made a number of good friends there and had some fun social outings, plus some of the senseis are really involved and conscientious.

I'm in Tokyo for a while longer but will now focus on conversation practice and one-on-one plus immersion, my spoken Japanese is very stilted. One piece of advice I would have is not to get too absorbed in school/homework. The best way to improve your Japanese is by practice, especially workplace. You cannot 'buy' Japanese as a skill, and the best investment you can make is to get a part time job. Without exception all the gaikokujin fluent Japanese speakers I've met learned on the job, eg at a bar or flipping burgers. It may sound unbelievable (it did to me) but it is true. Unlike Jpod101, school book Japanese is somewhat lame, formal and lifeless.

Oh, one last thing- checkout your local Kuyaksho (ward office) as the free lessons are great (not what you'd expect if you're thinking 'too basic' either).

Some guides: ... /tokyo.htm

Posted: December 20th, 2008 11:22 am
by elau1986
thank you, chorismos for your guides

I have already submitted the application to KAI

I applied for their general course. I already have JLPT 2, I am aiming to get JLPT 1 by mid 2010 and hopefully KAI can help me prepare for that.

I don't expect to learn everything inside the classroom and I do agree that interaction with the locals is the best way to improve ones language, so hopefully I can find a good part time job when I get to Tokyo and meet new friends along the time.


Posted: February 5th, 2011 3:20 pm
by osaj
elau1986, how did you find studying at KAI? Which course did you end up taking?

Posted: June 16th, 2011 9:09 am
by clemencethia3522
I too am curious about Kai. I am a beginner and would like to take a business Japanase course once I reach JLPT2 so that it will assist in finding a job in Japan.

Re: help is appreciated (language school in tokyo)

Posted: September 13th, 2013 11:37 pm
by staccato1259442
I recommend "Babelingual" ( ) to those who want to study Japanese with native Japanese teachers one-to-one and cheaply anytime at your home. (This is an economical skype lesson service.)

I was looking for opportunities to improve my Japanese rapidly as well, and this Babelingual improved my Japanese (especially spoken) a lot. Teachers there are very kind and can speak English too, just in case you need help in English.

Re: help is appreciated (language school in tokyo)

Posted: September 19th, 2013 6:48 pm
by community.japanese
thank you very much for the info!

Natsuko (奈津子),