Living in Japan is a wonderful and very exciting experience. Japan is such a different world and a bit of a culture shock for new arrivals, but its history, tradition, festivals and wonderful food will soon make you a very happy resident!
However, what foreigners also quickly realize is that English is not a frequently spoken language in Japan, which means that you are likely to face a few obstacles if you do not speak any Japanese. You could of course find a private teacher or a paid course for learning the language, but what many residents in Yamaguchi don’t know is that you can take FREE Japanese classes at Yamaguchi University!
The courses are held by Japanese volunteer teachers, and they have different levels depending on how much Japanese you already know. So you can start as a complete beginner, or you can enroll in a higher level course if you already have a basic command of the language. This is quite an intensive course, which means that you will learn the language at a very quick pace, and will be able to communicate with people in a short amount of time.
When you first arrive at the beginning of one of the classes you will be given a small test to complete so that they can place you in the appropriate group according to your current level. If you do not speak a word of Japanese, then you will of course start as a complete beginner, but if you do have any command of the language, take the test seriously and do your best on it, because a placement in a higher group will be very beneficial and will speed up your learning time considerably. After you have been allocated to your appropriate level you will be asked to pay a one time fee of \ 500, and another \ 500 for the book which you will use in class. After that all lessons are free of charge. The classes are always held on Saturdays at the Faculty of Humanities building.
What is really wonderful about these classes are the great new people that you will be able to meet and make friends with, and also the fact that there are always about three teachers present in the classroom at the same time. One of them will be the main teacher for the day who will spend the most time explaining things and organizing the lesson, while the other two will walk around the classroom and provide you with additional help. They may sit next to you and check your work, start a conversation with you in Japanese appropriate for your current level, and generally provide a fantastic environment which is interactive, fun, and very energetic.
The volunteers are very dedicated to teaching Japanese and they will not only provide you with great knowledge, but also with wonderful advice about their country and the different festivities that are coming up and how you can participate. I would strongly encourage you to make time for these festivities, especially the ones that are organized by the University, because it is a wonderful chance to meet new people and to develop you language skills even further.
If you would like to contact the volunteers over the phone, you can call Ms. Fukiya on 083-925-2969. Although it is probably best to go straight to the Yamaguchi University Information Desk and apply for the course there as they will provide you will all the information you need and will also tell you when the next class starts.
This volunteer teaching network is organized by the Yamaguchi International Exchange Association, which you can contact at the following address:
The Yamaguchi International Exchange Association
4-17-1 Yoshiki Shimohigashi
Yamaguchi Prefecture 753-8511