Combating the struggles foreign workers face in Japan

By Yoko H.
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Crowd of people crossing the Shibuya scramble in Tokyo.

Having the opportunity to work full-time in Japan is truly a dream come true for some. It offers a glimpse into a dynamic and intricate work culture. From punctuality and team collaboration to professionalism and dedication, Japanese workplaces thrive on these values but can sometimes be the cause of a few struggles foreign workers face in Japan.

If you are looking to start a career in Japan, or even someone who is no novice to a Japanese workplace there are some struggles you may face from time to time. In this article, we are going to highlight some of the struggles foreign workers face in Japan and give active tips to combat them for a better experience while working abroad.

A person displaying one of the struggles foreign workers face in Japan: exhaustion and sleeping.

Types of Struggles Foreign Workers Face in Japan

Building Meaningful Connections
One of the biggest challenges is forming deep connections with colleagues and locals. Language barriers can sometimes limit interactions and lead to a sense of isolation. 

Communication Struggles
The difficulty of tasks such as making appointments, filling out forms, and making phone calls can create miscommunication and misunderstandings and it can make you feel frustrated. 

Missing out on better job opportunities or promotions
If you lack the Japanese language skills needed to communicate with colleagues and business partners, you may have fewer job opportunities and not be considered for promotions.

One of the main ways to fight these struggles all at once, and enhance your experience in Japan is to learn Japanese!

 How learning Japanese can help full-time workers

Better career opportunities 
Improving your Japanese language skills can provide you with better job opportunities. Many high-paying positions in Japan require you to be bilingual. 

Better integration into local communities and the workplace
Having a better understanding of the Japanese language and culture can combat some of the struggles foreign workers face in Japan would help you enrich your personal life as well as your professional network. 

Improve confidence
Being able to navigate daily tasks would help you boost your confidence and enjoy your life in Japan.

How to Improve Your Japanese Language Skills

To excel professionally in Japan, you need to achieve a high level on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) either N2 or N1. These levels demonstrate your capability to understand and communicate effectively in various situations. It also helps remove some of the main struggles foreign workers face in Japan.

But, how do you improve your Japanese language skills while you work full-time in Japan without experiencing burnout?

Ways to learn Japanese while you work full-time

Take after-work classes 
There are many language schools that provide evening classes for working professionals. Try finding one near your home or workplace. Because language is one of the largest struggles foreign workers face in Japan, some companies offer financial assistance to learn languages so you can grow professionally. So ask your company to see if they do. 

Use learning apps 
Use language learning apps to practice your Japanese. These language apps are relatively cheap and often help you to keep on track while you enjoy learning with interactive tools. If you want to start from scratch, we recommend our Hiragana and Katakana learning app called Hiragana Quest.

While working full-time can be a struggle foreign workers face in Japan in itself, investing time and effort into improving your Japanese language skills can significantly enhance the life you live in Japan! It might take a while but it offers excellent benefits to your personal and professional life. 

If you are looking for online courses, we have a wide range of online classes made with Japanese language schools, professionals, and native speakers. We introduce some of our popular online courses below.

Open laptop and worksheets on a desk displaying a Go!Go! Nihon online Japanese language course and materials.

Take online courses 

Take advantage of online courses. Many online courses are flexible and they allow you to study at your own pace, making it ideal for those with busy schedules. Also, if you are tired of intense in-person classes, online courses might be a better option.

Akamonkai 12-Week Beginner Course
Akamonkai is one of the biggest Japanese language schools in Tokyo and is ideal for students who are serious about mastering Japanese. In the Akamonkai beginner course, you will be able to take their actual 12-week curriculum online and master all JLPT N5 basics in around 150 hours of Japanese studies including Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji, grammar, and vocabulary exercises. The language barrier is one of the biggest struggles foreign workers face in Japan, and taking a beginner course is the first step to overcoming it.

Akamonkai 12-Week Pre-Intermediate Course
The Akamonkai 12-week pre-intermediate course covers all materials up to and including the JLPT N4 level using real-life engaging audio and video lessons, worksheets, grammar slides, and even interactive pronunciation checks.

Japanese Intermediate Course
This 11-chapter Japanese intermediate course covers all materials needed to help you pass the JLPT N3, Created with engaging audio & video lessons, Kanji worksheets, long-form readings, quizzes, and more to help you learn Japanese effectively wherever you are.

If you want to learn more about our online courses, check our list of online courses here

Two collegues walking together on a crosswalk in Japan.

Want to keep up with Japan?

The best way to take action against the struggles foreign workers face in Japan, and make sure you are on the track for a successful and exciting future in the country, is to figure out how to take the next step in your Japanese language-learning journey.

Go! Go! Nihon offers a free Japanese language level check test to help you find the right course, program, or study plan. If you have already completed an online course and want to learn more about language school programs that full-time workers in Japan can enter, contact one of our student coordinators free of charge, to get started.

If you want to keep up with everything going on and want to find even more ways to fight the struggles foreign workers face in Japan, follow our blog for info on events, culture, news, and more.

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