きょう は とても いい です! わたし は ごがつ に にほんご の べんきょう を します!

Today is good! In May, I will study Japanese!

A portrait of Ali Muskett

I went for an interview at IPE Academy in Imaike today. It was pouring down with rain and, of course, I got there early. So I decided to be brave and go to the little coffee shop below the school. I usually stick to big chains, like Starbucks, because it’s easier to make myself understood. But how difficult can it be to get a coffee? Hmm… Well I did manage to get what I wanted in the end, but the lady in the coffee shop asked me a whole bunch of questions I didn’t understand, and so in the end I had to do the typical foreigner thing of repeating myself until I just got a coffee. Well, if I needed any more motivation to learn Japanese, that was it! I finished my coffee, and went up to meet my potential new teacher.

After 30 mins or so I knew I had come to the right place, and I signed up for some lessons.

It was a rocky beginning. I walked in, and immediately stepped into a “no shoes” area without realising! Oops! I apologised a lot, and she didn’t seem to mind, but i felt terrible! I felt worse, actually, not for the shoe faux pas, but for forgetting “ごめないさい” and just saying “すみません” over and over. Anyway, clad in my rainbow slippers from the entrance hall, I entered the interview room. Only slightly terrified, and slightly embarrassed. But I had no reason to be scared! The teacher was lovely, and I immediately felt very comfortable! We chatted, mostly in Japanese (amazingly) but also at times in English. She helped me when I got stuck on a word (I really need to brush up on my numbers and dates!) and let me explain my reasons for wanting to study Japanese in English. After 30 mins or so I knew I had come to the right place, and I signed up for some lessons. My teacher also teaches in Kurokawa, right near to where I live and work, so I will be taking private lessons there, once a week. I’m really excited, and can’t wait to go out and buy the text books! I will be working with Genki 1: She said we will skip the first bit and just do a review, and then I can start properly with verb conjugations and basically pick up where I left off from my old classes. I explained that I wanted lots of conversational Japanese, and things that will help me when living here, so hopefully she will tailor the lessons to that. I’m really excited to be signed up to a course, and can’t wait to begin! It’s great to feel like I’m doing something for myself too, and not just working. Talking of work, I’d better get some lessons planned!

See the original blog post on Haikugirl’s Japan.

Ali Muskett

A portrait of Ray Larabie

I moved to Japan in 2008. After trying to learn Japanese on my own for a year, I wasn’t making much progress, so I looked around for a school. I absolutely hated school when I was a kid so I wanted to avoid the typical classroom situation: buzzing fluorescent light, rows of desks, dusty chalkboards and endless boredom.

These teachers are really skilled at, not only explaining the mechanics of language, but helping you get a feel for it. That’s something that you can’t really get from a book or app.

After looking around, I found a small, friendly school that looked like the kind of place where I could get more personalized lessons that didn’t make me feel like I was in school, if you know what I mean. I had already studied some hiragana, katakana and a little kanji so we were able to skip ahead in the textbook a little bit. These teachers are really skilled at, not only explaining the mechanics of language, but helping you get a feel for it. That’s something that you can’t really get from a book or app.
I took a trial private lesson, and I was hooked. I’ve been attending private classes weekly for a few years now. It’s almost the same price for private vs. classroom lessons so I never felt like I needed to switch to a classroom situation. At some competing schools, the classroom lessons are priced quite a bit higher . . . not that it was a big factor in choosing IPE but it makes private lessons affordable and some weeks I even take an extra lesson. All their teachers are very good at what they do. I never feel like I’m just getting an out-of-the-book lesson. They always manage to make lessons fun. I think when you’re laughing, learning doesn’t feel like work. If you live in Nagoya and the thought of heading back to the classroom fills you with dread, you can’t go wrong with IPE Academy.

Raymond Larabie