If you made New Year’s resolutions, you’re either involved in working toward your goals,
or trying to forget about them altogether! While in Okinawa, learning Japanese may be near the top of that wish list, whether it’s to be able to read menus and signs, or to engage native speakers in conversation beyond “konnichiwa” and “arigato gozaimasu.” We break down three different companies that could help you reach your specific language goals.
You may have passed the baby blue signs wandering around Okinawa, or even the U.S. Kumon is an international language (and math) program. If reading that Japanese sign or menu is your goal, Kumon may be for you.
Learning Objectives: Reading and writing Japanese
Method: CDs, reading worksheets, writing workbooks, using your native language (English) in instructions
Class environment: correspondence course at home, or twice a week at a center
Teacher instruction: minimal; teachers advise on areas you need to repeat, but mostly support and encourage
Course schedule: self-paced
Cost: Adult correspondence course starts at ¥9400/month; Class course starts at ¥8400/month
Rosetta Stone: http://www.rosettastone.com/learn-japanese
The famous computer-based language program in the yellow box has done a great job of marketing itself as an “immersion” language program—you learn without grammar lessons and without translation into your native language.
Learning Objectives: Understand and speak conversational Japanese
Method: The software presents sets of images, as a voice uses target language words and phrases to describe those images. You repeat the phrases into your headset microphone, and voice recognition software compares your speech to the original. Or, native speaking tutors lead live practice sessions.
Class environment: Self-paced, computer-based or online
Teacher instruction: minimal, unless you enroll in a live practice session. The software is meant to gauge your progress.
Cost: starts at $179 for one level to $399 for three levels
Tokyo Mokyo: http://www.tokyomokyo.com/
Based out of Tampa, Florida Paul Stevens started teaching Japanese classes in 2003, and has since expanded to offer online courses that are not only equivalent to college courses, but are also as engaging and interactive as if you took his face to face courses If your goal is fluency in Japanese reading, writing, and conversation, Tokyo Mokyo is the way to go.
Learning Objectives: Reading and writing Japanese characters, improving conversation and comprehension, Japanese culture
Method: Live online courses, following the textbook Japanese for Busy People. The three writing systems are taught: hiragana, katakana, and kanji; plus cultural tidbits, extra grammar worksheets, and lots of conversation practice in class. . If you miss a live class (which is possible, considering the time difference), Paul edits and posts classes so you can watch as many times as you want. Chapter and Japanese character quizzes are given as you progress through the course, and like a college class, a final grade gauges whether you’re ready for the next class.
Class environment: 2 hour class once a week online for 14 week beginner course, 16 weeks for other courses; students start the course at the same time
Teacher instruction: Hands on; regular feedback and engagement
Cost: starts at $99 for 14 week beginner course plus cost of textbook