Blue House Okinawa | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs

It depends on your goals.  If you want to progress rapidly, you will need to devote a considerable amount of time studying, practicing, and generally exposing yourself to the language in as many ways as possible.  However, if you’re like most people, you are juggling various other commitments including work, family, school, etc. and you probably don’t have endless time to devote to Japanese.  Don’t worry, that’s okay!  Many people have made considerable progress without studying for 10 hours a day.  Ideally, we recommend finding a little bit of time every day (or even every other day) to practice — this will be much more effective than a multi-hour cram session every few weeks.  And this practice doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sitting at a desk staring at a book.  Reading road signs, playing audio flashcards while you walk the dog, watching youTube videos, and of course listening and speaking to locals are all great ways to practice!  Compared to others learning Japanese around the world, living here in Okinawa, we are fortunate to be surrounded with endless opportunities to practice Japanese, so have fun with it! 

According to the United States Foreign Service Institute, Japanese is considered one of the five most difficult languages for a native English speaker to learn, along with Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese & Mandarin), and Korean.  These languages require an average of 2200 hours of dedicated practice to achieve “professional working proficiency,” compared to a language like Spanish which averages about one quarter of this time.  So what does this mean?  Probably not a whole lot.  Language learning varies a lot based on the individual, previous language experience, dedication, interest, and countless other factors.  In addition, most Japanese learners don’t need to achieve “professional working proficiency.”  Your best bet is to talk to some of our current students and ask about their experiences and progress.  We think you’ll find that most students are absolutely amazed at how much they have learned in a short period of time!  It is incredibly rewarding when, after a few short months, you can walk out your front door and immediately apply what you’ve learned to your daily interactions with Japanese speakers.

No, you can join whichever class is most appropriate for your skill level.  You can even join a class mid-term; no need to wait until a new class begins.  To achieve the best fit, check out our course descriptions, the Japan Foundation’s online assessment quiz, and of course, talk to us during your initial consultation at Blue House.  We will work with you to ensure you’re placed in the best class for your skill level, which may even include sitting in on a class or two to gauge your comfort level with the material.  We recommend selecting your skill level based on your speaking ability, as this is usually hardest to master.

Yes and no.  We do not offer courses specifically designed to prepare you for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).  While the JLPT tests students on reading and listening, it does not include writing or speaking.  Our classes develop all of these skills (and more), with a particular emphasis on speaking and listening, so that you can actually use the language in a practical way.  Students completing our Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate courses should be well prepared to pass the JLPT N5 and N4, respectively.

No, we are very flexible with payments.  You can pay for an entire course upfront, pay monthly, or even pay in two-week segments.  For example, if you know you’ll be gone on vacation or work travel for a month out of your three-month course, you can pay for the first month and then pay for the third month upon your return.  However, unfortunately, we are not able to refund or make-up individual classes that you may miss after registering.  Please review our school policies for further information.

Two (optional) language exchanges per week are included in your tuition.  Currently, they are held on Mondays 1000-1200 and Thursdays 1900-2100.  These exchanges are excellent opportunities to practice with native Japanese speakers.  During our exchanges, we try to strike a balance between time for structured activities and time for open conversation and questions.  And if you cannot attend our language exchanges, don’t worry — we try our best to schedule English and Japanese classes at overlapping times so we can have language exchanges during class.

Nothing!  One of the most common challenges reported to us is how much difficulty students have interacting in their target language.  For example, despite perhaps years of dedicated study in Japanese, many students feel paralyzed and defeated in interactions with native Japanese speakers.  This challenge is largely due to the fact that language learning is multi-faceted.

Proficiency requires separate yet overlapping skills, such as reading, listening, writing, cultural awareness, speaking, pronunciation, etc.

Schools often emphasize grammar, reading, and writing over other aspects.  Thus, students become discouraged and feel as if they don’t know anything after years of study, when in fact they just haven’t had sufficient practice in a particular skill to make them a balanced learner.

At Blue House, we will help you develop all areas of language to build towards proficiency.  We provide practical listening and speaking practice with both peer learners and native speakers.  Ultimately, our goal is to build your confidence and put your learning to use quickly and often.

Unfortunately we do not offer a military discount.  However, we do offer tuition discounts up to 20% off based on your level of participation, and an additional 10% off for upfront course payment in full.  Please review our school policies for more information on our discount program.

Unfortunately our school is too small to support a student visa.  However, many of our classes are only two to three months long, so you can complete one on a tourist visa!

Unfortunately not.  We find that a community approach to language learning (practicing with classmates and native speakers) is most effective, and one-on-one instruction does not provide this same opportunity.

When registering for classes on our website, you can pay online via PayPal or you can select the option to “pay cash on delivery” and then pay in person using either credit card or cash (Yen).