We make the process of applying for a student visa and going to a Japanese language school super easy, but there are still some basics you should know about how Japanese language schools work, what you learn and how the schools can support your language learning goals. Here are our top 10 most-asked questions about how Japanese language schools work!
1. How do language school terms in Japan work?
Official school terms in Japan start in January, April, July and October. You can study Japanese in Japan for up to two years with a student visa, but it’s important to check your chosen school’s available course’s length, as they vary by term, with some schools and terms only offering courses that last 15 months versus others that offer a full 24 months.
2. How do Japanese language lessons in Japan work?
Full-time Japanese language students study for 5 days a week, typically half a day Monday to Friday, either in a morning or afternoon class. Japanese language class schedules are prescribed by each school depending on their schedule availability and language level of the student. Japanese language class sessions are normally broken up into blocks of 4 x 45mins or 2 x 90mins focusing on different topics like vocabulary, grammar, Kanji, reading, writing, listening and speaking.
3. What do you learn in Japanese Language class?
There are different methods and school teaching methodologies depending on your current language level, your Japanese language goal and your desired intensity. Typically each school will teach a variety of topics to help you to achieve your desired language level using topics like vocabulary, grammar, Kanji, reading, writing, listening and speaking.
4. What are the differences between high and low-intensity Japanese language courses?
There are a variety of language schools available that offer high to low-intensity courses. A high-intensity school would expect you to attend classes, complete a significant homework load plus also do a lot of self-study, meaning for the first three months of school they do not recommend, or in some cases even allow, part-time work for their students. A low-intensity school will have a similar class load but will require less homework and self-study in order to keep up with the class curriculum and pass the course.
5. How can I pass Japanese language school?
All schools have regular tests throughout the term and at the end of each term (usually around three or six months) there is also a level check test to verify your language proficiency and allow you to move up a level if you successfully pass. In order to pass your language level test, you will need to ensure you have kept up with classwork and homework as well as doing any additionally required self-study recommended by your school.
6. What is the difference between JLPT vs J-test?
The JLPT, or Japanese Language Proficiency Test, is considered the standard exam to take for Japanese learners and its qualifications are more widely recognised. The test has been around since 1984 and tests vocabulary, grammar, reading and listening. If taking the test in Japan, there are two opportunities to take the exam each year – once in July and another in December. If taking the test elsewhere in the world, the frequency will either be twice a year or once a year only in either July or December.
The J Test, or the Test of Practical Japanese, started in 1991 and its levels are divided into beginner, beginner to intermediate and advanced. It tests reading, listening, writing and vocabulary. The exam is offered six times a year for intermediate to advanced learners in Japan and three times a year for beginners learning in Japan. This test is not administered globally – there are a select locations around Asia and Brazil where you can take this exam if you are unable to take it in Japan.
7. How long does it take to become proficient in Japanese?
If you study Japanese full-time, it typically takes students around 18 months to two years to go from a beginner level to advanced (N2/N1 level). This assumes that students also put in extra effort to study outside of the classroom in addition to attending their regular daily classes.
8. Will studying Japanese in class be enough to become fluent?
Homework and self-study are required for all levels of Japanese. Students who are committed to mastering the language are advised to attend every class, complete all required homework, as well as dedicate time outside of school to study the language. If speaking Japanese fluently is a goal, then students will also need to practise speaking the language often as well.
9. Why do Japanese language schools teach in Japanese?
It’s the best way to immerse yourself into the language. Teachers using Japanese daily in all lessons is the fastest way to become proficient. This can be difficult at first but don’t be deterred as all our partner school will offer support if you need it.
10. Is learning Japanese in Japan, the best way to master the language?
In short: yes! If you’re learning a language, nothing beats being able to study while also living in a country where that language is spoken. Learning Japanese and studying at a Japanese language school in Japan means you are fully immersed in the language, culture and society, making it a more rounded experience since you will be able to use the language all the time, as well as better understand cultural nuances in the language.
A note about school accreditation
It’s important to be realistic about how intense you want your studies to be and how much effort you’re willing to put in. Schools get penalised for poor student behaviour, such as students who overstay their visa or who work more than the 28 hours they’re allowed on their student visa.
They can lose their accreditation from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). This means applying for that school can be much more complicated and involve more documentation than usual.
For any questions about the student visa application procedure or which school would be right for you, contact our Go! Go! Nihon staff today. We will assist you during the whole process.