Finally, March has arrived. This is the moment that everyone starts to look out for their possible plans for this summer vacation. With spring coming closer, we’re starting to forget the tiredness of the winter.
“Maybe this year you
can finally make that
one big trip to Japan
that you wanted to
You may even combine this with a language course to make the experience more intense. This is why I decided to write about my experience with both GenkiJACS in Fukuoka and Tokyo in the next two weeks.
GenkiJACS part I
This week I’m going to write about the general aspect of the schools; their teaching method, the books they use, etc. Because of these similarities, you can decide to spend time first in one school, and afterwards switch to the other school. There are also a few differences in both schools. These difference I’m going to describe in next two weeks. I hope to make a good comparison between both schools and cities. Because they are, in my opinion, for different kinds of personalities.
Before your first day at GenkiJACS
When you arrive at your residency (host family or dormitory), you will receive an envelope with information. Inside this envelope you will find information on the hour you will be expected on your first day. You also receive information on how to get to school and a few tourist brochures of the city.
On your arrival at GenkiJACS, you will be asked to take a test. This is for the people that have knowledge on the language already. If you are a complete beginner, you don’t need to take the test.
Prior knowledge Japanese?
‘you need to
learn to read
You don’t need to have prior grammar knowledge of Japanese when you want to attend GenkiJACS. But, you do need to do one little thing beforehand:
You can compare hiragana with our alphabet. It consists of a fixed number of characters that represent sounds. Before you start, you need to be able to read this alphabet, being able to write it is not a requirement. This will be explained in your first week.
Don’t be discouraged by this. The pronunciation of hiragana is logical. You can find it on the internet and in books, many useful tips and tricks will help you with memorizing the different characters and their sounds.
If you are a beginner….
If you start as a beginner, then you need to take into account that you can only on the first Monday of the month. At the start of each month GenkiJACS creates a new beginner class. In this class they will slowly start to teach the basic rules of Japanese. This way everyone can start learning the language.
Your first day at GenkiJACS
Every day, you’ll have four hours of classes, from Monday to Friday. The hours vary depending on the school, Fukuoka or Tokyo and the season in which you are attending.
GenkiJACS tries to teach in two blocks of four hours in the high season (the summer months). Because of this some student start in the morning and others start in the afternoon. You cannot decide this yourself, it depends on the level of the class you’re in.
When there’s a national holiday, there are no classes. GenkiJACS usually organizes a school trip instead. This is the perfect time to explore new interesting places which you won’t easily visit by yourself.
The books used at the school are of the ‘GENKI: an integrated course in modern Japanese’ series. This series of books is focussed on daily conversations and not so much on grammar.
Genki I and II are the books you will use as an beginner. These books are complemented by practice exercises from”Minna no nihongo”. You don’t need to buy this book separately, it is included in the registration fee. If you already have this book at home, you can bring it with you. It will be refunded from the registration fee.
Once you’ve completed Genki I and II, the school switches to ‘Nihongo Chukyu’. I can’t say much about this book because I haven’t used it yet.
How much do I learn in a week?
Every week you start a new chapter. Each chapter is composed of some grammatical structures, drill exercises, new kanji, a reading exercise and a glossary of new words.
Of the four hours of classes you have, the first two hours focus on practicing the new grammar learned the previous day. The other two hours, after the break, are mostly dedicated to new grammar. First they explain the new grammar, afterwards this is practiced through drill exercises.
The class and teaching language
‘The language of
instruction for beginners
is English, but …..’
GenkiJACS tries to make small class groups, so most groups consist of no more than 6-7 students. The language of instruction for beginners is English, but the further you progress, the less English the teachers will use. After completing the first Genki book, the teachers mainly use simple Japanese to explain new grammar. They also use a lot of visual material to minimize the language gap. At the end of the day you get a little bit of homework.
Do I need to pass tests?
A few days a week you get small vocabulary tests, to make sure you study the new words of the chapter.
When you arrive at the end of the first book, there is always a test. This test checks if you understand the grammar from the first book. The test is comparable to the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). There are a grammar part, a kanji part and a listening part. You will need to do a small interview as well, to check your speaking skills.
Do not give up!
If you experience problems with keeping up, do not let this get you down. Everyone has their own learning speed. Some people simply have a gift for languages. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn Japanese. Discuss this with your teacher, you can opt to go back a level. This way you will study the grammar once again, and you will get back you confidence when you arrive on the point where you started having problems.
If you want to improve your conversation, or want to learn more kanji, then you can choose to take extra classes. In the conversation classes you talk about a subject with students of about the same level, using as much new grammar as possible. The extra kanji classes focus on learning more kanji than the ones that are in the books. This extra class focusses on students that are going to take the JLPT.
so …. next week…..
This was the first part on GenkiJACS. Next week I will be talking about culture activities, extra events and a few differences between both schools in Fukuoka and Tokyo.
If you have remarks, suggestions, or questions you can always post them in the comments section, on my Facebook page, Google+ page or through Twitter. See you next week.