Daily Life & Schools
One big challenge you may face with your Japanese language school is your course pace. The school description, former students, and our GaijinPot Study team can help you determine a school’s general tendency—fast, medium or slow.
Still, everyone learns differently, and you never know how you will feel once in class and throughout your course. Perhaps the course pace will be too fast and then too slow once you’re accustomed to your studies. On the contrary, you might feel frustrated with the first few terms before difficulty ramps up, and you’re suddenly swamped with homework and review.
Here are a few tips to help you when your lessons feel too easy or too challenging.
My Class Is Moving Too Fast!
Most Japanese courses are about cramming as much knowledge and content as you can, as fast as you can. If you have specifically picked a fast, intensive school, you’re probably in the right place—but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.
If You’re Just Getting Started
The first weeks in Japan are challenging on many levels; feeling overwhelmed in class is almost a rite of passage—particularly true if you are a beginner with little to zero knowledge of the language and have never formally studied the language.
Our first advice is to accept that it takes four to six weeks to get used to your schedule and class rhythm and even to figure out how to interact with teachers. Things will eventually get easier, and you will most likely forget the tough beginnings.
Secondly, anticipating your lessons is key to feeling more in control during class. We know the homework can already be a lot on your plate. But reading future lessons ahead of time and learning key vocabulary the day before ensures that you can follow your teacher more confidently—even if you are unsure you understand instructions or exercises.
If you fall behind, don’t panic, and ask for help. The worst that can happen is repeating a level or a full term, which can be a blessing in disguise. Repetition is key to memorization and building solid foundations when learning a new language. If fast pacing is stressing you out and affecting your studies, contact staff, teachers, friends or your GaijinPot Study coordinator if you’re with us in Japan.
If You’re Mid-way Through
You rocked the first few months of school, but the difficulty ramped up to the point where you have difficulty following. Or perhaps teachers now go faster through the chapters, assuming you’re ready for a faster pace, and perhaps they spend less time on explanations. If that’s the case, and you feel there’s a distinct pace difference between previous and current terms, we recommend seeking support from the school.
Most of the time, feeling the pace is faster in intermediate and advanced classes can also stem from not having quite digested previous levels. Japanese is easy at first, but the difficulty level goes up quickly. We recommend setting some time aside to revisit easier, past lessons whenever you feel overwhelmed again. There’s also no shame in repeating the same term if needed. Learning Japanese is not a race but a marathon!
Whether you just started or are up a few terms, schools may have additional slower classes or suggest going down a level. But if none of these solutions work for you, consider a school transfer.
My Classes Are Way Too Slow!
You’re highly motivated, but classes don’t seem to teach you fast enough, and boredom is creeping by the hour. A course that is too slow can hamper enthusiasm and frustrate you soon enough that you may feel like you need more time.
If You’re Just Getting Started
This is typically an issue for students who have studied Japanese and are in between levels and for students blessed with strong learning skills. Our first advice is to determine if you’re in the right class level—never hesitate to ask the school to re-evaluate your class placement.
If you just arrived, give the school a few weeks to see how things are going. Take the opportunity to increase your self-studies and prepare for class, so instead of learning in class, you take the chance to review and practice. Japanese language schools are excellent at giving students foundations and what they need to take the JLPT. But add self-studies in the mix, and you will reach higher fluency.
If You’re Mid-way Through
After a few well-paced terms, you feel the speed drop a little—a rarer situation, but not unheard of. The school may have planned for a review term at a key level where many students stumble, or teachers simply turned down the pace to stretch the program. It can be hard to pinpoint what is the root cause! If you’re at an intermediate or advanced level, we recommend adding some challenges through self-study, such as preparing for the JLPT or even the BJT. Use the school as a baseline for your studies and a place to review your knowledge.
Whether you’re frustrated at the beginning or during your studies, if switching classes or self-studies aren’t enough to satisfy your need for a faster class, perhaps you will need to consider transferring to another school.
Can I Transfer to Another School?
If you talked with your school and no matter what option you tried, you are still not satisfied with your classes, you may consider a transfer. However, remember that your Japanese language school submitted your student visa. So, you must meet a few requirements.
First, you need a high attendance rate (over 90% is ideal). You also need to have enough study time left in the total of two years allowed in Japanese language school—so you must have studied for less than one and a half years by the time you want to transfer.
Finally, you need a valid justification for wanting to transfer. Reach out to our team if you have any questions about transferring schools.
If you’re new to this topic, you can get started with our article on what to look for when choosing a Japanese language school. Our GaijinPot Study team is also here to help you make the right decision.