Language tips after my first week in Japan at a language school

Hello from Japan. I finally made it and finished the first week at the language school in Kobe to reach N4 (I am N5). I wanted to write down some impressions and tips for others.

  • I am staying with a host family and would super recommend it. Of course, if they turn out to be bad, that’s bad. Mine are extremely great and practically don’t speak English. They spend a lot of time with me and speak slowly. I get conversation practise for like 2-3 hours every day just from eating and sitting afterwards and drinking tea. This is the best aspect of the whole stay I think.
  • I know that Tokyo is very popular but the farther away from internatonality you go, the better in terms of people not speaking English.
  • The language school is tailored to a very average learner. I think this is the case almost everywhere and despite me having a very particular style, they can’t really cater to it. I am an academic in real life, so studying is basically part of my job. They can’t fulfill this hyper optimized way but the sooner you get over it and just go along, the better. Like, I don’t think that watching this video where I don’t understand anything or singing this song together is very helpful, but being grumpy about it or not trying at all, is also not helpful. Getting over that myself, certianly helped my progress a bit.
  • WankiKani wise (I am at level 20): I basically immediately stopped WaniKani when I arrived. I think WK is good if you are at home and slowly but surely hone your language skills. But it turns out, most of the time, it’s not important at the beginner level. What I am missing more is every day words that WankiKani doesn’t teach or only at random higher levels. I started doing more the core 2000 word list and JLPT N4 in Anki and it’s more valuable in my opinion. Of course I will go back to WK but for the time being, I’m not sure it’s the best use of time. Also, I know by far the most kanji of the people on this level. At level 20, we know almost all N4 and more kanji. Reading a bunch of L60-posts, you notice that many people say that in a way you reached the kanji goal but many things are still lacking. I hate that my reviews are ramping up to reach 1000 left but so be it, I am doing other things.
  • Keeping a notebook on my phone with words that I come across. I use this app called Aedict which is great for looking up offline (I don’t have mobile internet) and then adding a word to a custom list and export it to Anki.
  • I recommend more focussing on KaniWani. When you are here and should speak, it’s not enough to just understand or read a word but you want to produce it. My biggest bottleneck seems to be production of language at real time speed. Often I know that I know a word but because WK is only Japanese->English, it’s difficult to do the other way around.
  • Lastly, I think my level (N5+) is really the bare minimum to come here. For me, timing wise I didn’t have much choice but I think it might be slighly more effective if I was already at say N4 at least. It’s okay, but sometimes it really takes me a long time to piece together a sentence and it might be a bit more enjoyable for everybody if I was slightly more fluent.

All in all, WK level 20, N5-N4 is a good lower level to go to Japan, would not recommend much lower.

That’s it for now. I am going to enjoy Golden Week now. If you have other ideas or comments on my learnings, let me know.


Yeah, I feel that, though it’s not my ability to piece together a sentence that shames me (though I still have times that I draw a complete blank) but rather my ability to understand things said back to me.

Well, I’ve got ideas… for how to enjoy Golden Week. :stuck_out_tongue:

For starters, Nunobiki Falls, located right behind Shin-Kobe Station, is considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful waterfalls. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks for sharing! How long will your stay be in total?

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It sounds like you’re having an amazing and interesting time, good luck to you.

You can put your account on ‘holiday mode’ and it will stop any new reviews piling up, if you like.


羨ましいなあ!Thank you for providing tips from your language stay, this is really interesting and helpful (if you have time, please keep us posted)! I’m glad you’re enjoying your stay in Japan :smiling_face:

If I may ask, are you going to Japan as a trip organized/registered by your university? How did you find the time to do that?

That’s what I wanted to tell you as well @akira70000. If you don’t use vacation mode you’re going to have a huge backlog that will be difficult to overcome afterwards!

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Are you having to do much writing? I went to a language school and it was quite writing-heavy but that was nearly 20 years ago now so maybe things have changed, and different courses have different focuses too. I imagine that might be a bit of an adjustment if you’ve started with a self-learning/WK setup which tends to lean on recognition and reading rather than production.

Regarding this bit:

I’m not sure that’s level related so much as it is a matter of how much speaking practice you’ve had. If you were N4 or even N3 but had got there via a path that was heavy on reading and hadn’t had much opportunity to speak I suspect that you’d still be finding it took you a while to mentally compose and speak sentences. Personally I found that being in an environment where I had to use the language a lot all day, both speaking and listening, was really helpful for me in getting to where I could get my point across more readily.


If you don’t mind sharing it, it would be interesting to know the name of the school, how long a course you have enrolled in, how many other students are in your class (and their backgrounds, if you know), and any other details of the daily routine that you may wish to share.

Really interesting to read your experience. Please keep us updated!

I agree. For me it’s like Reading > Writing > Speaking > Understanding. In real life, where speaking and listening is super important, I agree with you, that I find ‘sending’ easier. Then they reply and I’m like please slow down, haha.

I checked them out and they are gorgeous, thanks for the tip!

I stay about 1.5 months. As I hinted at in the top post, it’s a constraint from my job. Of course I would like to stay longer and I think I would’ve gone a bit later into my studies. But I take what I can :slight_smile:

I booked it via a company that offers language exchange. I think the school and the home stay organisations are two different things. I guess it would be possible to do book it yourself and all but I indulged in the service a bit, haha. So it’s not organized by my university.

I’ll try and make another post laster, maybe a bit about the Golden Week that just happened.

Thanks for the attention and see you later!


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