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Jul 7, 2015
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Hi there, im interested in studying Japanese and I thought maybe talking to other foreigers in Japan might help me get a sense of direction.
This is my background:
I have a Japanese partner, I have already been in Japan for 6 months on a tourist visa, I already learned hiragana and katakana by myself and am now in the process of learning kanji. I am learning for my own interest, not looking to pass any exam.
From what I've seen online so far, all of the long courses (the ones that can grant a student visa) are strictly for passing the JLPT and are focused on preparing students for university. This is not my purpose (for now). I've also seen short courses which seem more 'for fun', but i would like to get a bit deeper into the language than that. I also cannot get another tourist visa (immigration said so :unsure:)...

This is where I'm a bit lost as to which course I should take, maybe I should do this JLPT anyway? Does it give me any benefit even if I'm not going to uni afterwards?
And can anyone recommend a specific school? They all seem the same to me online... The most important thing for me is to have a good teacher. And if it includes a bit about the language background it's a big plus. Like why some kanjis were formed they way they were formed and for example, why do the words 'rice' and 'America' have the same kanji?? This kind of thing really interests me.

Thanks in advance!


Apr 27, 2014
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Like why some kanjis were formed they way they were formed and for example, why do the words 'rice' and 'America' have the same kanji??
Before the introduction of katakana, "America" was spelled with kanji that sound like the individual syllables: 亜米利加 "a-mei-ri-ka". Today it's spelled アメリカ, but the association with 米 remains. There are similar kanji associations for other countries, such as 伊 for Italy (from 伊太利亜 i-ta-ri-a), 英 for the UK etc.


Jul 28, 2015
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Hello there!
I register on this website for the first time today to give you an answer!

First of all I started learning Japanese because I have also a Japanese partner. Good motivation, but Japanese is not easy I would say...

First of all, is JLPT necessary?

Yes if: you want a good incentive to learn (I have passed N3 and N2 and it really pushed me to study) and yes if you want to work in Japan (or even for a spouse visa later on,,,immigration appreciate it)

No if: you have enough motivation, don't want to study for a test, don't plan on working in Japan

Secondly: Japanese school

There are basically 2 types:
  1. More or less cheap one, crowded class, aiming at University entrance exam (curriculum is usually from 1 to 2 years, and you can enroll for trimester). I have done one of them, and felt it was the worst way to study ever. I could have been way faster studying bymyself.
  2. The second type are the school who provide part time lesson (= not student visa). I have tried 2, and I find THE best school of Tokyo. It is not cheap, but in 4 months of intensive class, I learn probably more than in 1 year of those crappy schools. I could pass easily N2 level thanks to them. The class are from 3 to 8 persons, but for 2 months we were only...3 students. The school has its own materials, teachers are experienced (they even wrote some Japanese language books) and lived abroad.
This school is Coto Academy (www.cotoacademy.com). You can research the reviews on internet, there are all excellent. They also have cultural events (calligraphy, sumo tournament, how to make soba, cooking class) in Japanese, to introduce us more deeply in Japanese culture.

My post was a bit long, sorry! But I felt I lost a lot of money in the previous schools...

Considering the visa, I am surprised. From which country are you if I may ask?

If you have any question, feel free to ask me!


May 12, 2013
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Since my last teacher, who I really enjoyed working with and who was well versed in the teaching paradigm I prefer, dropped off the face of the earth I had to switch. She was sporadic at the best of times, so I'm unsurprised...
Subsequently I've been pretty happy with japonin.com, which offers privates and small group lessons online. Reasonably priced conversation, grammar and JLPT prep courses. They're modular, so you drop into any class at your level and it focuses on a particular point instead of having to do a full course cycle. It appears to connect with minna no nihongo, though I haven't bought the book because I have other books, and so far I haven't felt like anything was outside my grasp.
I started with them pretty recently, but I'm happy enough to recommend them. Granted I've been out of learning for about 2 months between losing my teacher and some changes I've been making in my professional life, so I might just be really happy about feeling like I'm making progress again.