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Japanese junior high school vs International school

Lisa-N

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Hello everyone!

I am a 14 year old girl from the Netherlands & I'm going to move to Japan in a few months (because of my dad's job).
We're still unsure if I should go to a local Japanese school or to an International school.
The main advantage of an international school is that I wouldn't really have any language-related problems.
On the other hand, entering a local public school will allow me to learn Japanese & have a more 'Japanese' experience. It's also cheaper.
I'm already taking Japanese classes though I am still at a beginner level.
I'd like to go to a local junior high school but I don't know if I'll be able to pick up the language quickly enough.

What do you guys think?
& what are local schools like compared to International schools?
 

Majestic

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Hello Lisa,
I think it would be quite difficult to succeed in a Japanese school. I think it would be hard to succeed academically, as well as socially. Both the language barrier and the culture barrier will be challenging for you, and my feeling is that you would do better at an international school where you will be with kids from similar backgrounds. A big part of junior high school and high school is socializing and having a network of friends to support you, and though it is not impossible to build such a network at a Japanese junior high, it can be super challenging.
It has also been said that Japanese schools are very well designed to prepare Japanese kids for Japanese adult society, but not so great for preparing kids for success overseas. So I would recommend international school, and use your free time to study Japanese and enjoy Japan life outside of school.
 

tomoni

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Hi Lisa

This is a good question. BTW I have 2 sones and the youngest is 14 (with a birthday soon) which puts him in 3rd year JHS (grade 9) and he will graduate in March.

So I think I can give you some help. Basically, I have to agree with majestic. All classes will be in 100% Japanese (except English class, but the language of instruction is Japanese- and most of the class would be in Japanese except perhaps for "read aloud", etc.) In Japan, you would not "fail" junior high school but you would not learn much unless you are fluent in Japanese.

I think that it would be easy to make "friends" but hard to make close friends at first because of the language barrier.

I would also recommend that you look at international schools for the reasons majestic stated. But, they can be quite expensive so that is something your parents need to consider- another possible option might distance education while going to Japanese school (if the cost is an issue), but that is something that you need to consider with your parents. Location is another issue if there is not a school close by- personally I am not a fan of boarding schools.


But if there are no cost or other considerations, I would agree with majestic. If you parents would like more information, from someone who has educated their children in the public school system, I would be pleased to help. BUT you need to ask your parents to open an account here, and then post in this thread (and later PM me).

Please do not PM me directly.

Hope this helps
 

Lisa-N

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Thanks everyone. I'll discuss it with my parents though I'm not sure if they'll open an account here. What is junior high school like in Japan? If I were to go to a local school, I'd probably be placed a grade lower so that most subjects will be easier & I can focus on learning Japanese.
 

Mike Cash

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Thanks everyone. I'll discuss it with my parents though I'm not sure if they'll open an account here. What is junior high school like in Japan? If I were to go to a local school, I'd probably be placed a grade lower so that most subjects will be easier & I can focus on learning Japanese.

It isn't a matter of what grade you're placed in. You would be linguistically totally lost no matter what grade they put you in. You would also be effectively completely illiterate. At your age you're just smitten with the idea of how cool it would be to go to a Japanese junior high school. Educationally, it makes no sense whatsoever in your case.

How long is your father's posting?
 

tomoni

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Thanks everyone. I'll discuss it with my parents though I'm not sure if they'll open an account here. What is junior high school like in Japan? If I were to go to a local school, I'd probably be placed a grade lower so that most subjects will be easier & I can focus on learning Japanese.

It sounds like you would be OK with a "gap" year. Actually, depending on the school board, they will likely place you according to your age. If they placed you according to your Japanese level, you would likely end up in elementary school. :emoji_wink:

But I have not heard of a case of that. If the cost or location of an international school are not issues, then I recommend that. If it is an issue, you will have to do your best (some schools do have J-language support for international students - but IMO, it is not enough).

If you are in a Japanese JHS, then you need to consider it a GAP year in terms of learning although you may be passed on to the next year.

As far as you interest in what Japanese JHS is like, I suggest you google, and look for JHS English clubs and try or email exchange groups and try to talk to a Japanese JHS student. I suspect that none on us here have attended J-JHS, (maybe some have taught there or have had their kids attend) .

So I think you are asking in the wrong forum.

if you know where you will be living, you could try contacting the board of education in that city- or asking your father to inquire from his future colleagues where your family might live and what school you might attend.
 

Emily1016

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Hi Tomoni,
Could you please explain a bit more about the GAP year? My daughter is 13 years old and an 8th grader in the US (October birthday). She is half-Japanese but was born and raised in the US so her Japanese is virtually non-existent (she knows hiragana, katakana and some kanji but that's about it. She is not fluent in conversation either).
Due to a family situation, we are considering moving to Japan to live with with her grandparents in Tomakomai, Hokkaido. Of course, we are very worried about her Japanese and are wondering if she would OK attending a local school. Is it too late for her to catch up? Would she be able to get any extra help with Japanese? The nearest international school is in Sapporo so it's not an option for us, and I am really not a fan of boarding schools either.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
 
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WonkoTheSane

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I work with a 10 year old child who started in Japanese school last year after growing up in the USA. He's doing well although kanji is very difficult for him. The thing that made it possible is that he goes to a Japanese school in Tokyo that has a lot of experience with foreign students and has a program for them to integrate.

I think it will depend greatly on the school, the approach you take, the attitude of the other students, and the attitude of the teachers.
 

tomoni

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Hi Tomoni,
Could you please explain a bit more about the GAP year? My daughter is 13 years old and an 8th grader in the US (October birthday). She is half-Japanese but was born and raised in the US so her Japanese is virtually non-existent (she knows hiragana, katakana and some kanji but that's about it. She is not fluent in conversation either).
Due to a family situation, we are considering moving to Japan to live with with her grandparents in Tomakomai, Hokkaido. Of course, we are very worried about her Japanese and are wondering if she would OK attending a local school. Is it too late for her to catch up? Would she be able to get any extra help with Japanese? The nearest international school is in Sapporo so it's not an option for us, and I am really not a fan of boarding schools either.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

Dear Emily:

Thank you for your question.

GAP year - what I meant by GAP year is taking a year off from the academic schedule. A GAP year generally refers to a year that someone takes away from school (often between high school and university) to figure out what they really want to do with themselves or travel, or work and hopefully mature.

BUT in the OP's case (Lisa):

If I were to go to a local school, I'd probably be placed a grade lower so that most subjects will be easier & I can focus on learning Japanese.

It seemed to me that if she were willing to take a year a lower grade level, then she would "lose " or "sit out" a year in her academic progress. i. e. Current Grade 8, Next academic year- Japan grade 7, Following academic year - Grade 9.

I am sorry if my post was confusing. But if I understand you correctly, it seems that you would be moving to Japan where she would continue her education in Japanese, and with no certain plan / date to return to the US. BUT I am not clear on that…

In that case, I must tell you I think it would be challenging, very challenging. A lot will depend on her, and how well she adapts and how good she is at learning kanji. I would not call it impossible, but it will be very, very hard. How hard will depend greatly on the situation at the school and the outcomes that you and she are looking for.

Can you tell us how long you would be staying in Japan for and what outcomes you are hoping for for academically (i.e. high school in Japan? University? National - private? Junior college, etc.?) Also it is very important if she has support from home, especially with language and adapting to Japanese life.
 
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