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Studying in Japan for a year

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I have been considering studying Japanese in Japan for quite some time now, i have been to Japan before in 2008 and this year i will be headed back in October for 2 weeks.

I have always had a fascination with Japan ever since i was little, i have traveled to other countries but every time i come back to thinking about Japan i can't help but feel it will always be special to me.
For seven years i considered going and now i feel i am ready!
I know it won't be easy and that it will be hard, but i feel i am dedicated to this and want to carry through with this for years to come.

I'm 23 now and i have been working at summer mining camps, for next year in October i could save up 31 thousand and put that aside for my schooling money.
I have been looking over go go nihon and have sent in a request for an application for next year.

For people who are studying in Japan or working, what would you recommend to a first time student coming to Japan to learn Japanese?

Do you have any regrets? Any sort of things you wished you knew before studying abroad? Any advice would be helpful! Thank you!
 

Mikawa Ossan

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I had a friend who went to a school named Yamasa in Okazaki City several years ago. He learned a lot there. He was there for at least a year, though.

The best advice I can give is avoid English like the plague while you're there. Two weeks is not a lot of time, and you can't afford to "waste" any of it on a language you already know.

EDIT: Sorry, I seem to have misunderstood your post. You are going for only two weeks to apply to schools so that you can study for a year at a later date, right? In that case, I highly recommend Yamasa in Okazaki City. It's located near to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture in the Mikawa area.

While you're there, I would recommend going to festivals whenever you can, and make friends with locals. A lot of people will come to you asking you to teach them English, but I think only a small number of those will actually expect you to do so. It's just an easy ice-breaker for people who want to meet you.
 
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Sounds good! I want to practice as much as i can when i can :) I'm not going to apply for schools, to tour from Tokyo to Osaka, then back to Tokyo for five days.
The schools i want to go to are in Tokyo, i was hoping to drop by them to pick up some information and talk to the students who go there.
I will look that school up :)
I will make as many friends as i can while i am there :) I hope to make some!
 

Mike Cash

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The only school I have ever felt confident to actually recommend to anyone is Yamasa.
 
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1. Have specific goals for studying. That can be grammatical, or number of vocabulary words, or (best) reasons to study.

2. As much as the allure of the country and its culture will attract you away from your studies, do your best to resist them long enough to put in study time. Of course, that could mean interacting with locals to practice, but I mean book work studying.

3. Ignore any foreigners who say it's not worth it or not needed.

4. Do NOT expect a boyfriend/girlfriend to be a good teacher.
 

Mike Cash

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4a. "Language exchange" seldom (if ever) works out like you would hope.
 
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I would say with any classes, to focus on things you couldn't do by yourself sitting at home. Speaking/conversation practice, for example, is something that's difficult without a teacher, and if you're actually in Japan you could both get the formal teaching and be surrounded by people you can talk to. I would recommend something with a strong focus on speaking/listening skills over reading/writing if you're only going for a year.

The point about putting in the effort out of class cannot be stressed enough. Both book-work and going out and trying to use what you've learned - and then coming back and asking the teachers for extra help when it goes wrong. (No person in history has ever been able to speak a language perfectly without making some errors along the way).
 

Mike Cash

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Nekojita's post above should be stickied somewhere.

That is essentially the same advice I gave to my students when I taught English. Students who follow that approach tend to do very well and actually end up with practical real-world skills, able to comfortably function in the target language. Students who don't follow it tend to fiddle-fart around never quite making much progress and spend their time wishing they could be like those "talented" students who have progressed so far beyond them.

I used to annoy them no end by pointing out that "talent" is "hard work" done when nobody else was looking....that while the slackers were watching tv, hanging out with their buddies, etc, the "talented" students put in long hours all alone at home in dedicated toil with textbooks, reference materials, and dictionaries....that while the no-progress gang comes to class unprepared, having done little or no study outside class, and expected to just magically absorb the language thanks to sitting in front of a native speaker, the "talented" students knew the material inside-out, actively participated, and made the best use of their limited contact time with the teacher by peppering the teacher with questions and even bringing their notes from independent study and asking prepared questions about points they were stuck on.

Some of the "talented" students did very well and later went to university in Canada or the US. I had one student who started in the lowest level the school had, appropriate for complete beginners, and who through hard work completed her bachelors degree by distance learning here in Japan and went on to get a masters degree from Penn State. She could have been a poster child for the type of study nekojita recommended.

The other type?.....they fart around essentially pretending to learn for a year or two, make no real meaningful progress, quit, and what little they did learn evaporates rapidly.

You can find both types wherever you go. You'd do well to emulate the "talented" students and stay the hell away from the others.
 
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All my advice is basically just "don't be dumb teenage me".

I spent two years being taught Chinese, while living in a country where the vast majority of the population speak Chinese.

Things I did:
1) Attended class
2) Sulked about being made to study Chinese
3) Felt hard done by because some of my friends had managed to wiggle out of the school's second language requirement by being already fluent in more than one language.
4) Decided I was "bad at languages", so why bother?
5) Crammed sufficient info into my head to pass
6) Forgot the lot once the exams were over

Things I didn't do:
1) Socialise with anybody outside my English-speaking, international school bubble.
2) Watch/listen/read Chinese language media, despite the fact that I was surrounded by it.
3) Attempt to use Chinese outside of class at all, despite the fact that I was surrounded by opportunities to do so.
4) Learn.

Folks, don't be dumb teenage me.
 

Mike Cash

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You remind me of posts we have had from people living and studying in Japan who complain they don't have any opportunity to speak Japanese to anyone. It's like falling into a lake and dying of dehydration.
 
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