This year one of my goals was to start working toward learning Japanese. With that in mind, around mid of a year, I joined Nihongo Online School to complete 150 hours of studying Japanese. If someone is curious why, specifically 150 hours, there is an excellent blog on GoGoNihon’s website here that I recommend reading. In this article, I wish to share my experience studying at the school mentioned above.
When I started looking for Japanese schools, I noticed most required 150 hours of study. Therefore, I started looking into online schools that accept beginner students completely. My search was mainly based on the fact that I wanted to avoid attending a school or class where there are a lot of students, as that usually leads to poor communication between the teacher and student. Establishing a good connection with the teacher goes a long way, as you can only grasp the experience a teacher can share.
After looking around for a while, I decided that Nihongo Online School was the best choice. It offered 1-1 skype calls for classes, was remote, and had no requirements for learning Japanese. So, I reached out to them via the form mentioned on the GoGoNihon page. I was soon contacted by Kotaro Muramoto さん, who is the school’s principal. He shared the school’s prospectus with me and responded to my questions, such as providing certifications, how I can pay the fees, and other questions.
For some reason, this email went into my spam which was most likely a fault of mine. Yet Kotaro Muramoto さん was kind enough to ping me again.
Before registering for the course, the school provides an option for a trial class with the teacher handling the 1-1 studies going further. In my case, it was Yuki せんせい. During the trial class, Yuki せんせい and I discussed my details, the course’s goal, etc. Afterward, we started studying hiragana as well. At the end of the trial class, I was pretty happy with the pace and teaching method. Therefore, I chose to go ahead with the 150 hours study package offered by the school as that was my initial aim. However, it is essential to note that there is an additional first-time registration charge of 25,000 yen and a 10% tax. Nevertheless, I registered and paid the fees via Flywire after discussing the schedule.
Due to my busy work schedule, my study schedule was limited to 2 one-hour classes per week with minimal homework. This is one reason why completing 150 hours of study took me a long time. However, I tried to keep studying as per the schedule because, as they say, little drops make the mighty ocean.
The school focuses more on the conversational aspect while studying, which is good if you want to get better at conversing soon. In our classes, we started with learning the kana characters (hiragana & katakana) and moved to grammar afterward. Each new lesson introduced 10-20 new words and a similar number of sentences to showcase how to use them with appropriate context. せんせい was helpful and cleared a lot of my doubts that included questions such as using another word instead of the given answer in the book and so on. Not limited to just the books, せんせい also shared videos from YouTube and images from Google to provide the context of various words and sentences.
While we started communicating in English within the class, we slowly switched to mostly speaking primarily in Japanese as time passed. In case I failed to understand specific words during our lessons, せんせい sent them with an explanation as messages in the chat. Then, for one month, Yuki せんせい went on vacation. During that time, Hitomi Lee せんせい took over the classes. Just like Yuki せんせい, Hitomi せんせい also continued the lesson in the same way.
By the end of the course, I could see myself making improvements. I could read hiragana and katakana slowly, chat about daily work and personal life, and, more importantly, understand many words being spoken in videos, animes, and movies I watched in Japanese. While my Kanji vocabulary still needs improvement, it is also slowly improving.
My overall experience of the Nihongo Online School is positive. I am by no means an expert who can rate this experience and compare it with other schools and packages. However, as someone whose native language is not English, I find my learning experience exceptionally good. I have continued my classes at Nihongo Online School and aim to keep learning Japanese by slowly increasing the intensity. While writing this article, I have decided to move for a three days schedule and hopefully four if things go smoothly.