Short stay in Japan at low level

I am considering doing a rather ‘short’ language course in Japan, I think about 4-6 weeks with a host family and intensive course (26h a week?). I have a few questions about this and would appreciate some inputs or ideas from others:

  1. There is no ‘optimal’ language level to go abroad, but for example when I learned English abroad, I was certainly around B2 level and could benefit a lot. My Japanese is about A2 (N5+) and I’m not sure how effective the approach is yet. I feel it could either help me jump start my learning a bit but it could also be not very effective because looking up stuff or resorting to English might take away a lot of time.
  2. What is the feedback from people who have only been abroad for only around a month? It seems a bit on the lower end in my mind, but it’s hard to say. I am a bit constrained by my job and I guess 4 weeks is better than nothing.

I’m aware that it is very much dependent on what you make of it. Just curious on the experiences of others.

Thank you very much for your comment :slight_smile:


I’ve never been in Japan for more than two weeks at a time…

It’s never enough.


Did you explicitly go for language and a language school? How was your experience with that? Some people so far told me that they think less than a month is very short for a language stay, but I’d be interested in your take on it.

Nah, only for sightseeing. So possibly my input is not entirely relevant.

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Hi! This sounds like what I did for a summer study abroad but I was in special dorms instead of a host family so I can’t offer any advice for that area.

I will say I was sitting at N4 level when I traveled abroad and it helped me skyrocket, but I cannot say for sure how it’ll affect your N5 level of Japanese.

A big thing that was a hinderance to my learning was staying within the confines of fellow classmates who were also learning Japanese. We all spoke English, and many would refuse to speak Japanese unless it was during class. (Which I found to be a waste, but I didn’t want to not hang out with friends).

Try your best to join a club as a short term member, or do something that would make you have to use Japanese (since I lived in a dorm, my suitemates all spoke English so I had to fight to speak Japanese outside of my living space, so this might be a moot point). I attempted to join a yosakoi group, but ended up leaving it due to being afraid of being the only foreigner in the group, but others within my intesive language courses joined other clubs like kyuudo and such.

If full immersion gives you a migraine, or puts you into a rough spot, befriend someone who’s taking a similar course, but maybe a higher level of Japanese than you, so they can help you out while you go around town or campus. Having someone you know will understand what’s going on can alleviate some stress, but also give you a goal of what you want to achieve too.

In the end, don’t forget to have fun and make the most of your experience!! Try many new things! Explore! Try not to turn down any offer you’re given to interact with classmates and other Japanese people! Good luck!!!


Thanks for the nice and informative reply! It’s encouraging to hear that even a short stay helped you ‘skyrocket’ :smiley:

Yeah, I get that. I feel that was one funny and important aspect of learning English: it is already the most common denominator. I hung out with a lot of Koreans so our overlap was very small and we could literally only resort to broken English. In most other languages, this seems to be a problem. Some of my friends who also were learning English at the time abroad flocked together with other natives of my mother tongue and didn’t learn as much. I will try very hard to avoid that. I’m not gonna go almost bankrupt for a language stay where I don’t learn the language, I will try to learn as much as I possibly can, haha.

I guess the difficulty apart from people just refusing to speak Japanese (or any target language) is that in an every day situation, it’s less cumbersome to speak English. Like, I don’t want to be a bother for Japanese people when I start piecing together my sentences. In a way, speaking Japanese if it’s not most efficient it a bit like wasting time of other people that didn’t ‘agree’ to ‘teach’ me Japanese or anything, they just want to communicate as efficiently as possible. Not sure. I mean, of course people are kind but sometimes I still feel like a bother. :woman_shrugging:


I totally get that. I think that for such a short stay though, forcing yourself to just try to talk in Japanese as much as you can will help aid the “skyrocket” effect. Especially because you don’t want to be a burden to others. I found that by talking “around the subject” or vaguely describing things and using a lot of gestures, I could make it in Japan. For example, ホットのみものを持つボットル for a Thermos. yeah I know two of those words are katakana Japanese, but they’re still words that are easy and gets you to your goal! Then once that person got what I was trying to say, I asked what that was in Japanese and made notes and took many pictures for vocabulary reasons and studied them later in my room.

For talking around things too, (and this is not necessarily the best approach but there’s so much overlap it’s worth a shot) try saying the English word in a Katakana way. There’s a lot of loan words for small things and also most Japanese people (this also depends if you’ll be in a big city or in the countryside) should know some basic items in English. Just ask what the Japanese word is for it after you confirmed that’s what you mean!

It’ll be hard to have deep conversations at first, but once someone gets used to your way of speaking it doesn’t have to be a huge barrier. Many people appreciate you just even trying to learn Japanese. It’s hard to break out of your shell and be prepared to look a bit silly, but for the sake of learning and not ending up just staying in your room all day upset at yourself for not being able to try and talk to others just get out there and use that beautiful immersion experience!!


this is how I went from a one week school trip…
to a two week solo trip…
to JET for “just one year”…

to still being here almost five years later


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