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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:49 am    Post subject: Language Schools in Japan (Short Term) Reply with quote
One of the perks of my job (and benefits to compensate for being in Bumf---, Louisiana) is that my employer will send me back to Japan once a year for a month to do language training. Since this is the first time I've not been stationed in Japan (or in grad school) since I officially switched over to Japan as my specialty, this summer will be the first time I've had the opportunity to take advantage of this.

Looking around, there's a gajillion "language schools" available, from university programs to short 1-2 week "Let's Nihongo!" classes that look like they're out of the back of someone's house. Tokyo and Osaka, predictably, have a bunch, and Fukuoka seems to be a hub as well.

Generally, I was wondering if anyone has done a short (1 monthish) language improvement program anywhere in Japan, and could talk about their experience.

Specifically, I'm looking for something at a decently advanced level (While 4 weeks doing basic Japanese would be a nice vacation for me, it would be wasting money and not helpful to me in the long run), ideally focused on business-related skills and improving reading ability. By "business-related", I mean the social and linguistic requirements necessary to do such things as make business phone calls and business emails, conduct an office call, negotiate business proposals, give professional presentations, etc. These are all things I've done in the past, but have had little to no formal training on in Japanese. I've done well with them, but there's always room for improvement, and it's good to get instruction on the little but important details that are so key in developing business relationships. Keigo is also something I want to expand my knowledge of--I'm a bit beyond the keigo you get at a restaurant or store, but I find through feedback that in email/phone conversation I tend to over-keigo (probably due to my normal discussions being with people who severely outrank me).

I'm looking at Yamasa Institute in Okazaki:

http://www.yamasa.org/acjs/english/index.html

They have a 2-6 week (in 2 week options) Business Japanese class that I've taken the online placement tests for. The tests were difficult enough that I felt they accurately gauge where you are in the language (unlike the Army tests). The different test modules morphed to eliminate "test-taking tricks" like reading the question and A-D answers before listening to the passage, etc. A lot of the questions focused on matching the correct particle, direction of action, and subject object pair--things that in everyday conversation with friends you can blow by because you just gloss over the particles anyways, but in precise conversation with a superior you'd want to be saying accurately, etc. Looking at the class curriculum:

http://www.yamasa.org/acjs/english/programs/business_professional.html

it looks like I'd be able to hit a lot of what I am looking to cover in the 4 week class (which is all I'd be allowed by the Army, unfortunately).

And finally, the website and my interaction with them via email so far gives the impression that they're pretty well founded, professional, and this isn't a fly-by-night operation. All of the logistical aspects (housing, etc.) seem pretty well established and so on.

So, I guess this is roundabout, but my question is sort of A. if anyone has done this sort of refresher/advanced short-term language study, and if so where and B. if anyone looks at the Yamasa site, what are your impressions of how useful it would be? As I said, I'm not looking for an introductory summer "Let's Japanese!" elementary level class that a college student or Eikawa teacher might be dabbling in. If I'm going to spend a month in Japan, I want to get something out of it that I can't get elsewhere, improve my test scores, etc. Oh, and the fact that the Yamasa Institute is in Okazaki, only 20 minutes away from Nagashino, doesn't hurt Smile

So....thoughts?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
For business level Japanese I wouldn't go with anything short of a University program or specialty school, and the latter on those can be pretty hit and miss as, just like Japan's many English schools, many (in the Tokyo area especially) tend to hire just anyone that can speak the language, regardless of teaching ability, and is actually willing to do the job.

I've heard elsewhere that Yamasa Institute is a pretty good option, unfortunately that's all I know about it...
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
narukagami wrote:
For business level Japanese I wouldn't go with anything short of a University program or specialty school, and the latter on those can be pretty hit and miss as, just like Japan's many English schools, many (in the Tokyo area especially) tend to hire just anyone that can speak the language, regardless of teaching ability, and is actually willing to do the job.

I've heard elsewhere that Yamasa Institute is a pretty good option, unfortunately that's all I know about it...


University programs are out of the question, since I can't do more than a month-long program. Also, I've already got a BA in Japanese language and an MA that included advanced Japanese classes--not trying to say I'm too cool for school, just that most University programs are either going to cover things I've already done, or be too general to be of use to me.

Yamasa seems to fall in the second category (specialty school), and by all appearances seems to be on the good end of things. Again, my business level Japanese is good--I've spent 7 years in business environments in Japan, 2 years working as the only American on a Japanese military staff. However, everything I did was self-taught, so since the Army will pay for me to go back for a month, I'd like to actually take advantage of it and learn something. As nice as it would be, I can't justify a kambun workshop to the Army, but I can justify something like what Yamasa has in the link.

Thanks for the comment--2nd hand positive comments about Yamasa are better than 2nd hand negative ones. Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yeah, I don't know how many universities in Japan do that short-term programs, if any. Actually I'd be surprised if any had a program that short at all, and even if they did it'd likely be a workshop well below your level.

Doing a little searching out of my own curiosity, I found this blog that gives Yamasa a pretty rave review. The only negative issue he mentions is the cost. But you're not the one paying for it so who cares about that! http://gaijinhan.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/yamasa-institute-review/

EDIT: Actually do I know at least one that will do summer programs that are, IIRC, somewhere between 1-3 months. Temple University does one, but I'm certain the highest level they offer for it is Advanced, and probably not Business level. I also hear Temple is a joke of a school for tourists, so Yamasa still sounds like the better choice.
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Last edited by narukagami on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yeah, if they're going to drop $10,000 to let me go study Japanese for a month, who am I to complain? Compared to the programs others are going on, it's not that bad at all. Our Africa focused-guys who go to France to study French are spending more than that--not by much, but their actual tuition costs, etc. are less. It's the cost of living stuff (flights, lodging, per diem, etc.) that are more. As you said, cost isn't that big a factor for me.

That review was helpful--I think it points towards this being a good choice. If he was thinking about dropping the JBPP class, then it's probably a good choice as it should give me a challenge that makes the expense worth it.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yamasa sounds like a decent fit for what you want in and outside the classroom. たくさん 古戦場があるよ!

Just to cover some other bases for comparative shopping purposes, in Tokyo, have you looked into what AJALT can offer? AJALT publishes the Japanese for Busy People series up through Business Japanese. Their material is my favorite of all different ones I have tried. They are located in Kamiyacho and can structure a private class to suit your needs. I did attend both small group and private classes there years ago and liked it very much.

Secondly, and I do recommend them with some reservations, is the famous Naganuma School in Shibuya. I went there as an absolute beginner and failed in their system miserably. The experience left me bitter, frustrated, and poorer. However, although I think the school is not great for beginners, it maybe very good for what you need. You may want to see what they can structure for you.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The IUC Summer Course (in Yokohama) is, so far as I have heard, so far as I know, the best one there is. But, it's also a bit over 6 weeks long.

I've done the full-year version of the IUC program, so I can vouch for them.

KCJS, based at Doshisha, is the other one that I know of. I was there just for Classical Japanese, so I don't know from first-hand experience what their modern Japanese courses are like, but, I imagine it's pretty up there as well. Also, something like 6 weeks long. And, based in Kyoto, so, surrounded by tons of awesome history stuff.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
The IUC Summer Course (in Yokohama) is, so far as I have heard, so far as I know, the best one there is. But, it's also a bit over 6 weeks long.

I've done the full-year version of the IUC program, so I can vouch for them.

KCJS, based at Doshisha, is the other one that I know of. I was there just for Classical Japanese, so I don't know from first-hand experience what their modern Japanese courses are like, but, I imagine it's pretty up there as well. Also, something like 6 weeks long. And, based in Kyoto, so, surrounded by tons of awesome history stuff.


Both of those sound great for when I go back to grad school, but for now 6 weeks is 2 weeks too long. As it is, I'm trying to sneak in Yamasa in July even though it's 5 weeks, because one week of that is Obon and therefore we don't have classes. I'm hoping no one notices, and I get to spend a full week tromping around Nagashino.
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Last edited by ltdomer98 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Yamasa sounds like a decent fit for what you want in and outside the classroom. たくさん 古戦場があるよ!

Just to cover some other bases for comparative shopping purposes, in Tokyo, have you looked into what AJALT can offer? AJALT publishes the Japanese for Busy People series up through Business Japanese. Their material is my favorite of all different ones I have tried. They are located in Kamiyacho and can structure a private class to suit your needs. I did attend both small group and private classes there years ago and liked it very much.

Secondly, and I do recommend them with some reservations, is the famous Naganuma School in Shibuya. I went there as an absolute beginner and failed in their system miserably. The experience left me bitter, frustrated, and poorer. However, although I think the school is not great for beginners, it maybe very good for what you need. You may want to see what they can structure for you.


I'll check both of those out, but I'd rather not be in the Kanto area, to be honest. Though at least I could see my old boss and some friends, but those are personal and not really anything to decide a program on.

With the private stuff or one-on-one, my impression is that while that could be good, there's a lot more justification I'd have to go through on the Army side as opposed to going to an actual school. I do have the Business Japanese book by AJALT, we got it for the wife and I to work through as she starts her RV industry work, and I figured it'd be a good refresher for me. Thanks for the additional tips!
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just got word tonight, I've been approved for 5 weeks in OKAZAKI!!!!! Party time! Happy Dance

Bonus: It's 5 less weeks in Louisiana!
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I am frequently in the area so we will have to have a tamer sequel to our last night out. When do you arrive in country?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Just got word tonight, I've been approved for 5 weeks in OKAZAKI!!!!! Party time! Happy Dance


Congrats!!!!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
I am frequently in the area so we will have to have a tamer sequel to our last night out. When do you arrive in country?


I have to confirm that, as at one point I was given a restriction on the dates I could go, but the approval email gave the original dates I'd asked for. But the course dates I want are 18 July through 22 August, so I'd be there a day or two before, and a day or two after. I'll probably pass through Tokyo the week of 10-17 Aug, as we get a break for Obon.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Glad that you were able to get it.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Congratulations Domer. Nagashino is waiting for you. Smile
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