Japanese Courses at a University

I had a question about learning Japanese at college (in the U.S.) and if it is worth it or not. The reason why I’m asking is because I’m a fast learner and I really enjoy going at my own pace. That said, I hate sitting through a lecture, I’d rather be given the content and learn it myself because I can finish in half the time. My plan, as of now, is to continue WaniKani until I reach level 60 (obviously) and keep studying 25 hours a week until June (六月:)). After that things may change due to me not having any classes. Next fall I was considering taking some Japanese courses after I’ve learned a good amount, but once again I’m not really sure if that is going to help me out at all since I’m good at learning on my own.

Anyways, my main question here is if taking a Japanese college course is worth it or not, is it worth getting exposed to a different teaching method/ is the teaching method they do worth getting myself involved in?

Thank you.


I hate them personally. In my school it ends up being a lot of group work and if you find it awkward speaking in Japanese then it’s pure suffering. You get a lot of speaking practice in but you’d get even more if you just signed up for a tutor on italki or something. Plus I don’t think speaking with other students could ever be better than getting feedback from a native tutor.

Anyway it’s more expensive and worse than tutoring imo but if you want to meet people who have similar interests in Asian culture then it’s great. It’s also great if you want to talk to Chinese people. There’s so many Chinese people I don’t know why.


I took an online class a long time ago. I skipped the 101 after an interview and did the 102 class so they can place your level. We essentially finished the second half of Yookoso text book and workbook (~200 pages of written exercises). There was a written mid-term and final with oral section along with a special presentation project at the end. Weekly, there was a main assignment with reading/listening/writing due and I had to do conversation with the teacher monthly I believe and scheduled Skype time a classmate weekly. It was a community college so the price was affordable and it gave me college credits. Here is the link the class I took which appears to be still around. They say to expect 13-15 hours a week and that was probably right. The book is just ok, but it’s an intro book and I still learned from it.

I say this was better than a hybrid or on campus class since that pace can be too slow. I needed time flexibility and it gave me structure in some areas I had ignored. Some pressure is good to help focus learning too. Mainly, I needed the extra credits and unfortunately I didn’t have the time to continue my studies for several years thereafter. It does require organizing with scheduling everything and keeping pace just like any other online course work (organizing proctors for exams too). I don’t know your goals, but with platforms like italki, you can custom your goals with private lessons in a variety of ways. I started this past summer and the experience has very good thus far.


It seems that online tutoring would be the way to go then, I honestly don’t want to be graded on my learning. I’d rather be driven by my abilities rather than a grade. Eventually I want to be fluent in Japanese, so would you suggest italki then? Also, if you do suggest it when would you suggest signing up for that? Currently I’m using WaniKani+KameSame to get the Kanji (and vocab), and then I’m using Genki + Bunpro to get grammar. I’m also getting vocab from Genki and Kitsun.

I am similar to you in that I work pretty fast, but I’m taking a class and I’m enjoying it. I work way ahead of the class, learning everything at my own pace. I’m about 9 chapters (in Genki) ahead of class so far, but that’s fine because most of the time in class is spent on speaking practice, which is hard to get on my own. I need the credits for the class anyway and it’s free writing, speaking, and listening practice, and I can get my questions answered and mistakes corrected. And since nothing is stopping me from working ahead, I see no issues with the class. If you don’t need the credits and/or paying for the class might be a struggle for you, then you may not want to take the class. But if you need a class anyway, I recommend it just for the extra practice.

Edit: I see people recommending italki, which may be a better alternative for you. I personally needed the credits and love classroom environments, plus I feel more comfortable practicing speaking fellow students rather than a tutor, although it is probably more efficient and useful to have a tutor. You’ll have to determine what’s better for your current situation and learning preferences.


I learned Japanese by myself and then more when I moved there however I do think the Japanese class is worth it in many ways as I recently enrolled in a University class. Group work sucks for sure but you can get a lot of practice with writing and grammar that you would not normally go through. You can bring in any extra materials and get the teachers help during office hours and it will help motivate you because there will be a lot of tests and homework because at some point you will hit a wall and/or start to lose motivation.


If it’s a large class that will limit the amount of time you have to speak and be corrected, don’t bother.


I think it’s just perspective because structured learning gives an institutionalized feeling. But you can exchange the word ‘grade’ with ‘performance feedback’ which is essentially the same thing as any SRS or any exam. But best to be honest if it’s not the right fit.

My suggestion with italki is 1) bring clear short term and long term goals 2) shop around for the right fit for partners 3) you may be able to balance cost between tutors and pro teachers depending on the activity (or just language partners). It does get expensive and living in US, seems most tutors are in Europe or Asia so scheduling is never mid-day.

Fluent means a lot of different things, even in this community. So if you are looking at anything from getting work overseas to comprehending media (books/video games/movies), JLPT passing or developing conversational skills. They sort of blend together but for italki just saying ‘fluent’ may not be enough since the teachers design lessons for your learning goal. For me lately, we just have conversation and then do JLPT drills.

Sounds like you have a plan. With BP/WK/Kitsun, the SRS can be a bit much sometimes in term of both time and interest. SRS vocab is great but the more outside exposure from either listening or reading has most helpful for me lately. Best of luck!

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I love to see people thinking I’m the stereotypical learner; I’m not. I’ll be sure to update on my progress, but I’ll tell you that me losing motivation isn’t going to happen.

Thank you! I’ll be looking back at this later on. Once I learn more I’m going to definitely change what I spend my time on - more listening and speaking practice, etc. I just need the base to get there.

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I actually assumed you were not the stereotypical learner. I you were I would not recommend taking the class. I find my lectures usually boring and my conversational class redundant because I am way farther however I use that to hone on getting everything perfect.

Ex I wrote a paper in Japanese and sent it to 3 Japanese people and asked them to correct it most just corrected a little and said great job I understand it. After I sent it to my professor and she basically said it was not good and it had a lot of corrections to it, she wont let anything slide which is what i need.


I’m fairly good at teaching myself as well, but my college has a foreign language requirement, so I signed up for Japanese classes. I’m learning a bit ahead of the class, so I started leading a study group to help folks catch up. It also helps you get to know the Japanese staff, who could potentially serve as a reference if you’re looking into JET or something. Sometimes I go to my sensei’s office hours for a little speaking practice. I don’t know where you go but my college has an annual Japanese speech contest which I hosted last year, so if your language department does events it might be fun!


I agree it is also a good way to get connections! and events ect… I did a volunteer and learned Japanese cooking ect…

Off topic sorry :frowning: however I was thinking of doing the speech contest coming up in February how hard is it? and can you read off a script? do most people talk about what they like about Japan? again sorry hard to get much info about it and can not pm…

I have mixed feelings. I took about 2 years of Japanese courses at my college, and I think the pace just didn’t match up with my own. Like others have mentioned, there’s a lot of group work and projects, and I often felt like I didn’t get enough time really solidifying new grammar and vocab before we moved on to the next thing. I was able to take a summer study abroad trip to Tokyo through my college though, and that was obviously very helpful!

Granted, I was also fresh out of high school and still trying to figure the whole college thing out. I wasn’t as focused as I should have been–I had other classes that counted towards my major that ended up taking up a lot of my attention. I think if I would have been more committed and participated more I would have a different experience.

If you feel comfortable, I’d recommend reaching out to the Japanese program and asking to see the syllabus for the class you’d be taking. That way you can kind of judge the pace, textbooks, etc to see if it’d be beneficial to you. My college also let people drop classes within the first two weeks or so, so you could show up for the first class if your college has a similar policy.

I will say that I do think there’s a benefit to in-person learning as opposed to online lessons. I’ve done both, and for whatever reason I tend to do better with in-person lessons. My college course was also beneficial in that it was 4 days/week with consistent homework, so I had more exposure to Japanese compared to a once/week lesson. Plus I was getting a grade, so there was pressure to study! And my professor was cool and very helpful, so it was nice having that resource as well.

All of that being said, you know yourself best! If you really feel like you can self-study well, that would be fine too of course! Classes can be really expensive, and a lot of people have self-studied successfully. I used CafeTalk for tutoring on and off lately–they’re pretty affordable and my teachers were kind. For learning practical (speaking focused) Japanese, I’ve been studying using the “つなぐ日本語” books, and so far I really like them.

Good luck! Let us know what you end up deciding!


My apologies, I read it wrong. I see what you mean now.

We don’t have lectures in my school. We read the material (genki) on our own and have written homework, then in class (5 days a week) we have conversation, speaking, and listening practice.


No worries! So basically this speech contest is directly within my college’s Japanese department, there’s one statewide but I don’t know much about it. So for us, the topic varies by which level you are. For first-years, it was “a special person in your life”, and second-years talked about an interesting event. I forgot the others but higher level folks get more freedom with their choice of topic. One guy did a whole slideshow on the Yakuza. I personally couldn’t participate because I wanted to be the MC, which was fantastic 10/10. From what I witnessed, most folks had notecards, and one guy told me he literally wrote the entire thing in romaji on his notes and read them. Not too hard if you’re comfortable speaking in front of people.

They aren’t worth it. You pay a huge price and you won’t even really learn how to speak the language. Enroll in a Japanese language school in japan if you want to spend money on classes. Don’t waste it in an American university

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What a joke.

Anyone that can get an actual class should do it.

I think it really depends on price and what I’m going to get out if it. I agree with what he has to say because I’m going to be better off finding people I can work with and learn through that at no cost. I also have four hours a day to study Japanese as well.