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Japanese Meetup @Singapore Message Board › Any good Japanese Language School to recommend?

Any good Japanese Language School to recommend?

A former member
Post #: 2
Unfortunately, going to Japan is not an option for me. I understand your point though. :D

I don't have any friends and relatives in Singapore so getting a dependent pass is out of the question. The people at Ikoma suggested that I get an extended social visit pass so that's probably what I'll do if I can't get a student pass. Just in case this pushes through, can you recommend any affordable yet decent hostels or apartments in Singapore? Thanks!
Frederick C.
user 13399881
Singapore, SG
Post #: 2
your country does not have Japanese schools?
Kotoko
user 13510259
Singapore, SG
Post #: 1
Dear all,

I'm looking for some advice on how I should pick up my Japanese again.

I learnt the language back in NUS, which has a pretty intensive syllabus, till Intermediate level but did not have much opportunity to practise conversation. That was 4 years back and I passed JLPT 3 then.

I have always toyed with the idea of picking it up again, but as a poor fresh graduate (still poor now), procrastinated for the last 3-4 yrs. Haha...

Assessment of my level now:
- hiragana - no problem. Still remember all characters.
- katakana - well, can read slowly. Can't spell words well though. My mastery of katakana vocab has always been slow.
- Grammar - more or less remember how dict. form, plain form, negative (~nai form) works. But lacking the practice in changing them fluently. My ~te iru forms, prohibition forms etc. are also a little rusty, not to mention receiving & giving. I think all these can be rectified with practice on paper.
- Listening and speaking/ putting sentences together - not good.


I think the grammar can be rectified with practice on paper, lots of it.
But my problem is that, I've make attempts to pick up or revise by going through my japanese textbooks (from NUS "Yookoso Japan"), borrowing "Japanese for Busy People bk2,3" from the library when the books are available. Although I admit that I wasn't dedicated in revising constantly (thus always have to refresh by going back old chapters), I got frustrated by being limited to just baby steps.

I can read, and even tried memorising dialogue conversations from these textbooks, and did some of the usual text practices to familiarise with converting to past tense, present tense etc. But it's a really dry way of practice. Maybe because I've got no one to practice with, and only have theory...it's like to the extent that theory practice doesn't do much for me. In other words, even if I have a really good revision plan, i can practice some exercises, but over time it dries of my interest and my absorption rate drops. Effectiveness of self-revision goes down. Learning Japanese becomes a love-hate affair coz it's like I know a little bit but not enough to do much for me and I'm stuck in a phase. So I decided to stop procrastinating and gather courage to be in a class again.

What I'm trying to say is that, you know how in primary schools we learn chinese by having to do the dreaded sentence construction/ zhao-ju? I want to have varied practices like this. Like how you can use a sentence or verb in its varied forms in different way. And someone to let you know if the usage is right or wrong. And of course, verbal practice....really patient verbal practice.

And so, I need advice on if this grand plan of mine will work:
-Registering with JCS to revise my basics. Thinking of taking Intensive Elementary to clear it in 5-6mths. Not sure if i'm killing myself, what with work and all.

- Then considering either Bunka or Ikoma. I think Ikoma will be able better for all-rounded practise? To tackle all my weak spots?
Cost-wise, I can't help fantasising about quitting work to learn Full time coz Ikoma's full time lessons come with...was it so many extra hours at lower cost!! More worth it!
Why is it that they charge once or twice a week lessons more, yet have lesser hours compared to full? Hmmm...

- Wonder what Ikoma's crowd or Bunka's is like? Lots of teens? Are there at least some mid-twenties working adults??

It's a long ramble I know.
Any advise would be much appreciated confused





wy
user 3349532
Singapore, SG
Post #: 72
It's a long ramble I know.
Any advise would be much appreciated confused

lol you're right, it's a long ramble.

You've gotta ask yourself what your motivation for learning Japanese is. Just wanting to learn and become better is probably too vague a goal, which is why you find yourself procrastinating and always having to refresh by going back through old chapters.

I was possibly in a similar situation as you. I took Japanese 1 and 2 in NUS in 2005/06 and then graduated, thus finding myself with no more 'free' lessons. I treated learning Japanese as a hobby, but I didn't have any specific goals or motivation (not a big fan of drama/anime/jpop etc.) and doubted that I'd ever use Japanese in my work. So I registered for classes occasionally here and there (have tried cc, bunka, hougang, jcs, ikoma) but never managed to attend class regularly. I'm not sure if you're as ill-disciplined as me and would end up skipping your classes, but I think that's something you might want to factor into your consideration :p

Personally, what really worked for me wasn't attending classes, but hanging out with friends who spoke Japanese and registering for JLPT so that I had a target to study for. I took JLPT2 in 2007 and JLPT1 in 2008. I just hung out and self-studied with some meetup friends whom I could ask if I had anything I didn't understand.

For JCS, I suspect you might be stupendously bored if you join the elementary class as you already know all those stuff, like I was with my cc class and jcs class.

Are you sure full-time class is cheaper? I thought it's $280 for 60hrs for part-time but $510 for 75hrs for full-time.

My impression is that Bunka and Ikoma have more teenage students on weekday classes but quite some working adults on weekends. There might be more teens now that it's school holidays. Basically, I don't think you have to worry about being too 'outstanding' if you join.

Another alternative you might consider is going to a private tutor. I went to one after JLPT1 for a few months to work on my conversation (that was seriously lacking as I mostly self-studied) and soon after passed an interview for a job in Japan. If you can find a good tutor, he/she can focus on your weak points. Of course, the cost will be higher, and you won't get classmates to practise Japanese with.

Hope my long ramble is useful to you :)
Kotoko
user 13510259
Singapore, SG
Post #: 2

You've gotta ask yourself what your motivation for learning Japanese is. Just wanting to learn and become better is probably too vague a goal, which is why you find yourself procrastinating and always having to refresh by going back through old chapters.

I was possibly in a similar situation as you. I took Japanese 1 and 2 in NUS in 2005/06 and then graduated, thus finding myself with no more 'free' lessons. I treated learning Japanese as a hobby, but I didn't have any specific goals or motivation (not a big fan of drama/anime/jpop etc.) and doubted that I'd ever use Japanese in my work. So I registered for classes occasionally here and there (have tried cc, bunka, hougang, jcs, ikoma) but never managed to attend class regularly. I'm not sure if you're as ill-disciplined as me and would end up skipping your classes, but I think that's something you might want to factor into your consideration


Hey Wenyan,

Thanks for taking the time to read my grumbling. Wow, I think you pretty much nail it on the spot and put into words the root of my frustration. I thought about what you said, and agree that there is a lack of motivation. Every now and then I'll have the urge to re-pick up my Japanese language, and I'll stick to books and go back to the beginning to revise my verb class 1,2,3 forms etc.; this will continue intermittenly for a week or two, before work, wanting to rest (like only 3hrs of free time every night) and mainly lack of proper structure or syllabus to follow - loss of direction kills off the desire and leave me thinking "Aw...i'm just not good at this. Still keep going back to the basics and not moving forward".
Like what you said, I've considered CC, bunka, ikoma, JCS, since 2 yrs back, just that I haven't spurged the $ on them. Probably I may have end up drifting from school to school like you said.

i'm not kidding about the loss of direction. I mentioned before that I was took courses up to intermediate, bordering on advance courses (although I didn't do so well in my final semesters due to other modules), so what i know is all mixed up. Not exactly elementary, but after 4 yrs lack of practice, I can't just jump with my eyes closed into intermediate too. And because of this, there's a lack of confidence in picking up the lang again. The saying goes that it's at times easier to learn from fresh from start than to peel off rusted layers and mend broken holes in the memory.


Personally, what really worked for me wasn't attending classes, but hanging out with friends who spoke Japanese and registering for JLPT so that I had a target to study for. I took JLPT2 in 2007 and JLPT1 in 2008. I just hung out and self-studied with some meetup friends whom I could ask if I had anything I didn't understand.

Really? That's pretty cool! After stopping for 2 yrs, you gunned for JLPT2 right away? And JLPT 1 a year later? You must be gooodddd! shock

And yes, I think having someone revised with me on a more personal/ one-to-one basis (private tutor or not) was what I wanted deep down.

I sort of knew that proficiency tests in schools would not have helped me much, as they would have placed me in elementary due to my rusty grammar, and that wouldn't have been what I want. Learning from textbooks and notes and the blackboard. Just me and myself (and well, some classmates). At least for the beginning goal of patching up, I don't think that would have been effective, and it would have wasted money and at least half a year or time (if going by JCS intensive course).


....and soon after passed an interview for a job in Japan. If you can find a good tutor, he/she can focus on your weak points. Of course, the cost will be higher, and you won't get classmates to practise Japanese with.

Envy envy...job in Japan? That's like my ideal goal since a long time ago...and it still remains very much, er, ideal. When I just graduated I almost took a admin job with a Japanese company, just to maintain contact with the language. It's almost hilarious how I communicated with the boss during the interview. He was most patient, but that's a story for another time. Last year I even went to read up on teaching english in Japan.
tongue
Are you still there now?


Hope my long ramble is useful to you :)

Definitely! Many thanks again. Hmm, should I go pin myself on the goal of JLPT 4? Or whatever levels they've now split into? But it won 't be a very satisfying goal. And thinking about how and where I should start? Back to option of self-study or schools again? sad
A former member
Post #: 26
Hi Wenyan !

As for passing the JLPT1 in such a short period of time, I believe you have indeed impressed most of us. It is an awesome achievement ! Good job ! I wonder how many of us can say the same.

However, I hope it doesn't give an 'average' learner in Japanese the wrong idea that we can learn Japanese PROPERLY by the way Ms Wenyan had achieved. Her case, to me, is more of an exception than as a rule. Please attend class regularly. Pay the school/teacher the necessary fees. Do your homework diligently. Remain focus, but ENJOY it.

Have I met & taught both undergraduates and postgraduates U students that scored well where it mattered, i.e. in examination/test ? I sure do, even now. Are they good students ? First of all, such students are very few by far. Secondly, they don't fall under what we academician consider as 'good' students. They skip classes often. When we teach/question them in class/clinics, they seem to know very little. But when it comes to examination/test, they seem to know 'a lot more'. Strange isn't it ? "Lucky ones ?" or "Genius?".

Of course, you can learn anything, but can you do it REALLY WELL ? For this reason, we need to PAY some professionals (i.e., individuals, in schools & in universities) to show us the rope first & hopefully with time we can really perform, especially when the rubber meets the road. If learning Japanese is our top priority, 'a die die we must do' thingy, then spending money & time on our joy and love should not be such a difficult and bad thing.

As for those who are are learning Japanese in a school & feel that they are in the first place' not so well educated', don't despair ! Stop comparing ! Enjoy your Japanese course & be happy ! I am sure you will do better. Maybe this piece of information will cheer you up a little. The faculties at NUS that I teach in ONLY take in every year the 'cream' of the GCE 'A' level students. They are 4 straight 'A's GCE 'A' level students. If you are not 4'A's, forget about the next stage of selection,i.e., the interview. Unfortunately, in my 15 years of teaching such students, many times, I just can't see why they deserve to be called the 'cream of the crop'. Are they only good for examinations ?

Best Wishes to everyone learning Japanese !
Always ENJOY the ride, that is our motivation! smile
wy
user 3349532
Singapore, SG
Post #: 73
And yes, I think having someone revised with me on a more personal/ one-to-one basis (private tutor or not) was what I wanted deep down.

I sort of knew that proficiency tests in schools would not have helped me much, as they would have placed me in elementary due to my rusty grammar, and that wouldn't have been what I want. Learning from textbooks and notes and the blackboard. Just me and myself (and well, some classmates). At least for the beginning goal of patching up, I don't think that would have been effective, and it would have wasted money and at least half a year or time (if going by JCS intensive course).

Yes, I would suggest you find one-to-one guidance to revise so that you can 'fast-forward' through stuff that you've already learnt before. It might be more economical that way as you would be going at a much faster pace than that of a normal class where everyone else is seeing that material for the first time.

Hmm, should I go pin myself on the goal of JLPT 4? Or whatever levels they've now split into? But it won 't be a very satisfying goal. And thinking about how and where I should start? Back to option of self-study or schools again? sad

You could say target JLPT N5 (old level 4) within one or two months, then N4 (old level 3) in another 3 months or so, then N3 (new level between old 2 and 3) for next Dec. You don't have to take the actual test, but just do the past year papers to gauge your progress.

However, I hope it doesn't give an 'average' learner in Japanese the wrong idea that we can learn Japanese PROPERLY by the way Ms Wenyan had achieved. Her case, to me, is more of an exception than as a rule. Please attend class regularly. Pay the school/teacher the necessary fees. Do your homework diligently. Remain focus, but ENJOY it.

I think you misunderstood me. I think classes are good for the great majority of learners. I was trying to give my advice to Kotoko in particular, who already has quite some background in Japanese. She took twice as many Japanese modules as I did in NUS! So I have grounds to believe that her foundation is stronger than mine was. Would you advise someone who finished Primary School to go back to Primary 1 to learn something that he hasn't used for very long alongside all the new Primary 1 kids? I know that I would be bored stiff if thrown into such a situation.

Of course, you can learn anything, but can you do it REALLY WELL ? For this reason, we need to PAY some professionals (i.e., individuals, in schools & in universities) to show us the rope first & hopefully with time we can really perform, especially when the rubber meets the road.

Sometimes it's necessary to get professional help, but for languages, I would beg to differ. There are many ways to learn, and personally, I believe the key to mastering languages is constant exposure rather than professional guidance. Children pick up languages and just naturally know the grammar without being taught. I would recommend going to classes for languages, not for the professional teaching, but for the regular exposure, and to instill discipline to practise the language diligently.

If learning Japanese is your hobby like it is mine, then I think as long as you keep exposing yourself to it, by doing things you enjoy (e.g. watching drama, learning lyrics of JPop songs, reading manga), you will improve with time. You can try attending classes, but it might not work well for everyone, and you shouldn't kill your interest by forcing yourself to attend a class that you don't enjoy.

It's not about penny-pinching on the course fees, but what works best for each individual. I think we should be open to the possibility that there are more ways than one to achieve a goal, and one man's poison might be another man's food.
Tsubasa
Tsubasa10
Singapore, SG
Post #: 448
There are some books available for N4 revision btw,

Book 1

Book 2

If you are motivated to start, don't wait le. Go enrol in a school or get a private tutor.
I have some contacts for private tutors if u need... =)
A former member
Post #: 27
Hi Ms Wenyan !

Thank you for the great sharing. I have enjoyed it ! Food for thought for everyone indeed......

Best Wishes,
VictorMature smile
A former member
Post #: 28
Hi Tsubasa !

Some of us here might like to know/use the tutors you are recommending.

Please give us some details about

1) their fees

2) their 'origin', i.e., educational/teaching background & country of origin

3) testimonies of students who have used/are using their services.

Thanks.

Regards,
VictorMature smile



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