Learning a new language is hard. But the ICLC Japanese Language Institute makes it… well, not easy, because really, how easy can it be to learn hiragana, katakana, and thousands of kanji? But don’t let that put you off – the instructors at ICLC make it fun, you progress fast, and with virtually no English in the classroom you are truly immersed in Japanese.
Starting a course at ICLC is not for those just looking for a casual conversational class. When you embark on this journey, you are committed to studying Japanese for three hours a day, every day, in the classroom.
The shortest course, which runs for a minimum of three months, is available for visitors/tourists, residents, and people on work-holiday visas. If you are a foreign student, you can get a student visa for up to two years, and school accommodation is available.
To start a course, you must take a placement test to gauge your current level. If you have no hiragana or katakana reading ability, you start with the Beginner Class in order to learn how to read and write. The Japanese textbooks, Minna no Nihongo, are all in Japanese, and come with an accompanying translation and explanation book in English (as well as other languages, such as Chinese, Russian, Spanish, French, and Vietnamese). Almost all of the students are there on student visas, and many of them do not speak English, so everyone really tries their best to only speak Japanese while at school. It’s really interesting to watch a group of people from places like Kyrgyzstan, China, Indonesia and France all speaking Japanese together as a common language!
Daily class life involves learning and practicing grammar and conversation, memorizing new vocabulary, and once you’ve mastered hiragana and katakana, you have kanji practice. With frequent short tests during the week, periodic longer tests, and homework assignments, you progress quickly. Those who do complete a long-term course and pass the JLPT exams may be able to attend a local community college or get a work visa. By the time you reach that level, students are expected to be truly fluent in Japanese.
If you’re really serious about learning Japanese, and intend to stay in Japan to live, work or study, then ICLC is a great place to stick your brain in that Nihongo blender and turn it up to full speed.
From my experience, being a student there for just six months, it was incredible how much you learn in a short period of time. Before you know it, you’ll no longer be afraid to pick up the phone to make a reservation at an izakaya. And you’ll go into a doctor’s office feeling confident about your language skills instead of nervous about the language barrier. Learning Japanese is not an impossible task – take it from someone who only spoke English the first 35 years of her life!