Daily Life & Schools
If you plan to study Japanese in Japan, you must be curious to know what a typical Japanese language school day looks like. Knowing in advance how your time is split between in-class studies and free time helps you figure out how much time you can dedicate to your homework, a part-time job and your hobbies.
The Daily Routine
All Japanese language schools follow the same general schedule.
Japanese language schools must offer the same total volume of study hours per term and roughly gives three hours of classes for half a day, every Monday to Friday. The classes are usually divided into two 90-minute or four 45-minute sessions, with small breaks in between.
Morning classes start around 9 a.m., though some schools can push the start to 9:15 or even later so students aren’t caught in the morning rush hour. Afternoon classes start between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., ending around 4:30 or 5 p.m.
During your application process, you can prefer morning or afternoon classes. However, your school may not be able to accommodate your needs. Morning classes are typically offered to intermediate and advanced students, while beginners study in the afternoon. Students with a higher level of Japanese often need the afternoon off to prepare for university entrance exams and job interviews.
Come to Class Early
Try to arrive five to 10 minutes before class. Take the opportunity to arrive warmed up with a couple of self-study hours under your belt. If you have a question for your teacher, you can go by their desk and let them know. They may not be able to answer on the spot, but they can spare some time for you after school.
The first hour of class is typically dedicated to vocabulary and kanji building, leaving grammar and practice for later. Audio materials are used to train students with pronunciation and listening practice and dialogue repetition. After a few weeks in school, you’ll find that this routine helps with memorization.
Breaks last five to 15 minutes (depending on the school). It’s a good time to chat with your classmates or ask the teacher a question—though do let your teacher get a break, too! You can bring drinks in class but try to keep snacking for your break times. Some schools may be more or less lax about bringing food into class. It’s best to avoid chewing while learning.
If you have afternoon classes, it can be hard to stay focused when the mid-afternoon slump strikes, so stand up and move around so you don’t get sleepy in the last hour.
Strike while the iron is hot and review your class content after a well-deserved break. Homework can take one to two hours and often consists of memorizing vocabulary, writing sentences with new kanji, grammar exercises and speech writing.
It can take a lot of work to return to your textbooks after an entire morning or afternoon at school. But pushing through will pay in the end—if you wait until the following day to do your homework, you may rush.
Depending on the school, you have tests at the end of the month or term, so as exams come closer, you will have to dedicate more time to review.
Don’t Burn Out
You may be very motivated to study longer, but schools won’t let you study in class all day. While three hours a day may sound short, you should also set time aside to review daily content and complete your homework.
With morning classes, it can be hard to squeeze in some review time before coming to school. Early birds, however, may enjoy the opportunity to check their vocabulary list for the day, practice a couple of kanji and have a quick look at the upcoming lesson content.
Commuting by train offers a good opportunity to play with flashcards (the old-school handmade ones or an using a Japanese language learning app). If you live nearby and walk to school, nothing beats listening to audio recordings or quizzing yourself with street signs and ads.
In Japan, language school students can work up to 28 hours a week, but it can be hard to squeeze in work between classes and homework.
Your priority should be your classes—with this visa category, you are not allowed to miss classes for work and school attendance is controlled. Students in morning classes can more easily schedule work shifts in the afternoons and evenings, while students in afternoon classes have better luck with weekend hours.
Schools discourage students from working in their first two to three months in Japan. It’s not a hard rule, but remember it’s for your well-being. The hardest period when studying abroad in Japan is often the first two to six weeks, so you don’t want to add the pressure of work when getting used to your new life and school environment.
If you have any questions about studying in Japan, contact us at the GaijinPot Student Placement Program.