I get a lot of questions from people looking for language schools to study Japaense in Japan.
There are a few major options including…
- Studying abroad while affiliated with a Univeristy
- Getting into an academically focused institution, like IUC
- Going to a “regular” language school
Most people who ask me about this are looking for the third option. I have never done this myself, so I asked some Japanese teachers close to me and got some information.
The below schools are recommended, and are said to have quality instruction that should prepare you for the JPLT exams, and get you conversational at the same time. Also, there is the Japanese Language School Database here with information on a lot of schools.
Personally, I would recommend instututions which have small class sizes, instruction entirely in Japanese (it’s good for you, trust me), and a fun location so you can have a social life as well. Also, try to check where the other students are coming from. I beleive that schools with mostly Chinese, and Korean students, will have a different study pace, and areas of focus than schools with mostly Western students.
Good luck! Hope the information below is useful.
East West Japanese Language Institute
This school is located in Tokyo, and boasts a high number of students who pass JLPT levels 2 and 1 exam.
At time of writting their official webpage was under construction, but you can get details of the school on the Japanese Language School Database at the East West entry here. The Global Daigaku website also has information avialable on East West.
From what I see, it seems this school has almost exclusively Korean and Chinese students. From what I have experienced, Koreans will pick up Japanese grammar and become conversationally fluent much faster than the average Westerner. The Chinese students will of course, excel in Kanji and thus build large vocabularies quickly. If you are a serious Western student and throw yourself in here, I’m sure your Japanese language ability will make leaps and bounds, though it won’t be easy.
East West will sponsor your visa, class instruction is all in Japanese, and they’re located right in Tokyo.
KAI – Japanese Language School
Kai will get your visa, seems to be very multicultural, and they have a policy of only Japanese spoken while at the school. They’re also located in Shin-Okubo, which is a great place near Shinjuku for some good eats!
I’m curious about the nationalities of their students. They say they have students from more than 50 countries, and their webage is in Japanese, English, and Spanish. Usually, these schools have a large Chinese and Korean presance so their pages are also listed in those languages… So maybe KAI is more of a “Westerner-Friendly” place?
Their Japanese website has a photo album published. Looking at the pics the place seems pretty mixed. Looks fun!
Inter-Cultural Institute of Japan
The Inter-Cultural Institue of Japan is in a good location in central Tokyo within 10 minutes of Shinjuku station. The teachers teach in Japanese only. The Institute also has dormitories available for the students at a reasonable price. You can see the nationality break down of students on their webage, a lot of Asians study here, so I imagine that the pace is pretty quick in regards to Kanji and grammar.
Kokusho Japanese Language School
Kokusho Japanese Language School was also recommended to me by a teacher. Interestingly, the webpage is only available in Japanese and Korean!
The front page has a breakdown of the students home countries.
Out of 740 students, 50% from mainland China, 35% from Korea, 10% from Mongolia and in the “others” category we have Taiwan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Srilanka, Vietnam, and Russia.
Not many Westerners here, but I’m sure they wouldn’t turn you away if you decided to be different and apply.
Hokkaido International Foundation
HIF is a unique orgnization way up north in Hakodate. HIF offers an intensive summer program, which is equivilent to an academic year at most University Japanese programs. The compulsory homestay program, and the fact that Hokkaido is far enough out that you will likely find few English speaking Japanese to hinder your own Japanese language acquisition, this is a very intense and effective study opportunity.
While it seems that most students are in the middle of completing an undergraduate degree when they chose to join, the program is also open to professionals who are not currently affiliated with a university or graduate school.
Naganuma School has a long history of Japanese education and their processes are tested and proven. One of my Japanese teachers compared Kai and Naganuma by saying, they are both very good schools, however Naganuma is more traditional and set in their ways, while Kai is open to new ideas and teaching techniques. You can’t go wrong with either place!
That’s a wrap!
Alright, that’s all the information I have. If anyone has studied at a language school in Japan and has more information, let me know in the comments and I’ll integrate any relevant information back into the post!
Hope this was useful!
Kai looks like a good choice to me btw.
Here is a pretty comprehensive list of language schools in Japan. Thanks to @rich_pav for this link!