Japanese Courses at a University

Thank you @peekay and @orphen I’m actually really glad that you mentioned this. I’m going to look more into MIA now (and from the looks of it I will most likely use it or that same philosophy). I’ve realized that I don’t learn well without a solid base, which is why the grammar for me is frustrating and I’m not enjoying that part. With the immersion technique it seems a lot more my style, and more of how we learned our native language in the first place - which is what I eventually wanted to start doing to learn Japanese.

Enjoy! Here’s the stage-1 MIA quick-start guide. It’s long, but it expands on Peekay’s summary. As @peekay suggested, bring your salt shaker :slight_smile:

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KameSame is an Manga, right?

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I would think about it this way: If you do a degree in something else, or work a full time job, then the majority of your brainpower/time is now dedicated toward that. Regardless of your intentions or passion, if you’re drained from other things you won’t be able to keep proper focus.
Making Japanese study an official part of your weekly schedule, i.e. something that you are supposed to be dedicating time to, is very important in my opinion regardless of the content of your classes.

Of course this depends on your goals with the language. Also important not to underestimate legitimately how much time it takes to become even reasonably conversational.


Just signed up for University courses in Japanese for the spring, absolute beginner but might help to at least get speaking practice in a group setting. Looking forward to it. Sorry to not be much help, but wanted to share the excitement!


Just wanted to throw in at university you can take the skill test and they will put you into the level they believe that fits you.

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I think @bnheise has a point about the cost of US education which has serious problems. I looked them up and at Middlebury there is an 8 week immersion course for $13,000…that’s like over $200 a day and half the day is devoted to “cocurricular activities” :thinking:. At 55K a year (or over 70K if you live there), this is crazy expensive even with financial assistance.

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75% of people who apply to the immersion course get a scholarship that covers more than half of that costs. 200$ is reasonable when it is full immersion 24/7 during the eight weeks; people pay more for their italki lessons.

I took a Japanese class at the local community college (A large Community College in Texas). There were positives and negatives.

The positives: It gave me a good foundation. I had to get a textbook and workbook, and it solidified some things I wasn’t very solid with. The cost was reasonable, and the teacher knew her stuff, although she was very strict. All told, it was a good first step, but I hated it. I was a 43 year old guy in a class with teenagers, and it made me very uncomfortable. Many of them were in it for the grade, but I was in it for the education, and I didn’t feel like the environment was working for me. Every class I left in a really bad mood.

At the end of the class, in which I was one of the top students, I told my teacher I wouldn’t be taking the second class. She invited me instead to a small group that she teaches every week. It’s more expensive than the college class - about $250 a month, but it’s a very small group so we all learn at about the same pace. I like it a lot better because it’s all adults and we get to know each other every class. I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but I’d say that when it comes to Japanese, we kinda look out for each other. At least I’d like to think so.

I’d recommend private tutoring if you can afford it. It’s not as quick in many ways, and if you can keep up, the classes teach you a lot in a short amount of time, but all in all, I think it sticks better with private tutoring.


Wanikani doesn’t teach you grammar, listening comprehension, or speaking at all. Those are important aspects and classes do go over those things. You say you’re a fast learner, so I’d say if you’re at a big university (ex: Ohio State, UCLA, Florida State, etc), the classes generally go fairly fast and will burn through a book in 2 semesters. A lot of colleges make you take free electives so even if your major is completely irrelevant to Japanese, you still have to take generally 2 free electives in your whole 4 years. So take it for a semester, if you don’t like it, no harm no foul.

That being said, I took Japanese courses at two separate universities and loved every second of them. Because I was so into learning Japanese, the classes were extremely fun and even studying was exciting. I also made a ton of great friends with similar interests at both Universities that I kept in touch with my entire college life. I really, really cannot overstate how enjoyable the experience was. In my opinion, trying out the classes is a literal no-brainer.


Middlebury immersion courses are some of the best in the world. These are true (24/7) immersion experiences… you live in the dorm (segregated by language) and are required to only speak Japanese from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep. Aside from emergencies, speaking other languages may result in expulsion!

Considering the price includes room and board (3 meals a day), the 8-week immersion is not much more expensive than many courses in Tokyo if you consider all-in costs (flights to/from Japan, etc.), and is probably much higher in teaching quality + success rate, not to mention that Middlebury’s facilities are top notch.

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I personally wouldn’t pay $1300 for this program, never mind $13,000 or whatever scholarship I may or may not get. It looks like a summer camp for at a ‘prestigious’ private liberal arts school in New England but that is just my opinion of course :wink:

This ain’t Japan. Surrounding your self with other language learners versus natives 24/7 is not the same experience for immersion. If you can spend your afternoon playing soccer or martial arts as well…not exactly grinding your language skills.

No, I don’t. I could pay for over 500 hrs of private custom lessons and with personally assigned homework (let’s say an additional 2 hours so another +1000 hrs of learning and only talk with a native speakers at this same cost.

I’m not saying anything about the quality of their program other than it looks like a ripoff. I have no idea unless anyone here can attest to their experiences. But this model is antiquated and not cost effective compared the modern resources available today in my opinion

According to this, you can get a 12 weeks at around $1900 in Tokyo (converted to 8 weeks, that is about a ~10th of the price). Counting the fees, flight, room, board, food…you can still walk out ahead. Can anyone here who did immersion classes in Japan and say they spent over $13,000 in 2 months?


I’ve decided that I’m going to immerse myself in Japanese content - stuff that isn’t tampered. So I’ll be listening and fully active in my engagement for at least 2 hours a day. Along with that I’m going to be doing WaniKani and other things, but after reading into MIA this and knowing how I learn, I belive this is going to benefit me the most in my current situation (since I can’t go to Japan for at least another 7 months).

I’ll keep updates, probably after two months (60-100 hours of active listening) I’ll talk about my experience. I don’t expect a drastic change, but it won’t affect my studying that I’m already doing and this is how we learned our native language.

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One of the reasons Middlebury is so expensive is because they have a large number (20+) of native Japanese instructors who are there with you from the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep, every day, and ensuring that ALL of your interactions are in Japanese.

Ordering lunch at the cafeteria? Japanese. Watching TV? Only Japanese channels. Need more toilet paper from supplies? Japanese. Asking sensei in afternoon Karate class? Japanese. Birthday party at night? Japanese. Karaoke? Japanese!

I guarantee you, for the vast majority of students this is much more immersion than being in a Japanese course in Japan, where in reality most students speak English with their fellow classmates, browse the internet / watch YouTube or Netflix all day long (in English), and not using much Japanese (if any) outside of class.

8-weeks at Middlebury covers the same material as 12-weeks at a typical immersion course in Japan (they both cover 1-year of University Japanese). At a place like Coto Academy, expect to pay ~ $3200 for tuition, $4200 for accommodation (assuming cheap dorm), $1800 for food, $1100 for airfare. That’s already over $10k before any other expenses. Similarly, KCP (which is non-profit) estimates $10250 to $11050 for basic expenses (tuition, room & board, airfare). A typical student will spend much more on this (drinks / going out with classmates, excursions, etc.)

Now, I’m going to Japan in January to enroll in a Japanese language school – because I want to live in Japan. I’m budgeting $$$ since I’m going to live in a private apartment and take private lessons, etc. But I have no doubt if I solely want to improve my Japanese, I’m better off attending Middlebury and do their 24/7 immersion, vs. going to Japan.

I guess I have renewed appreciation when my in-laws stay with me for extended periods and what student have to pay for immersion classes.

I see so many young people with student debt in the US and so many avenues for language learning today. Admittedly, I haven’t researched this topic extensively (as I’m not in this position) but I’m taken back by the expense being thrown here unless this is less of a priority.

I didn’t see these prices for KCP, they appear lower here: prices for KCP. They were marketing $7k per semester and $21k per academic year w/ homestay which actually looks pretty reasonable considering.

I’m see much cheaper (even in Shinjuku), where are they charging this amount?

See the 2016 KCP Sample Budget:

If we take their low range estimate, that’s $1750 (airfare) + $2900 (non-credit tuition) + $3600 (dorm) + $1200 (meals) + $500 (expenses) + $50 (transportation) + $250 (visa issuance) == $10250.

Note: this is based on their 2016 estimates, and prices have gone up for 2019. E.g., tuition is now $3000 and dorm is $3700 per term. Realistically I’d say a student will spend $1000-$2000 more. E.g., that meal budget is really tight, averaging $13/day while $20 a day is more realistic for a (western) student in Tokyo (see here).

First, those prices are for “long stays” and you have to pay more for short stays (1-3 months). Plus we need to add utilities on top, as electricity in Japan is quite expensive.

Moreover, typically in Japanese language school dorms, “Asian” students are bunked together (2+ students in a room) while “Western” students are assigned their own rooms. Thus non-Asians effectively pay almost double for the privilege of single occupancy. That’s because Japanese dorm rooms are very small in comparison to dorms in US universities – and most Americans/Canadians/Europeans have different “expectations” and “needs” in terms of personal space.

For a realistic estimate, you can see that even KCP – which is a non-profit – charges $3700 per term, and their dorms are not even in Shinjuku. (They’re in Ikebukuro, a 30-minute commute each way by train.) So ~ $4200 for comparable accommodations in Shinjuku is reasonable, I’d say within 10%.

One item that I’ve been doing for a while is listening Japanese radio channels while commuting. For example FM Kitakata seems to have decent amount of talk (vs. all music) during my commute hours. I especially love when I spot a new word I had recently learned with WaniKani. So for me that’s extra ~30-60 minutes a day I get “background Japanese” immersion without really spending any effort.

I’ve been actually thinking I should visit the radio station to go say thanks. My wife thinks I’m an idiot. For many other reasons too, but especially wanting to go some boring town middle of Japan. But I think it’d be fun, right?


Wow thank you for this recommendation!!!

Thank you for sharing! The full year tuition cost in Japan do appear more reasonable than US education plus overall experience I hope be more enriching. But if the immersion is less than ideal…surprising but not the first time I’ve read it. If I were 20 years old again, I don’t think I would choose any formal education path from what I’m reading here unless I had a clear goal or needed to break the ‘intermediate plateau’. Sounds like you have creative solution to save money and get a great experience though, best of luck!

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