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Japanese Gap Year Course

Studying Japanese in JapanBrett Smithson
12 weeks Japanese course/Okazaki
Academic Term programme

The course was actually very similar to what I had expected. However considering that it is an intensive learning course I had not expected it to be so much fun! I felt the Japanese only system in the lessons is equally good and bad. It does immerse you fully in the language, but if you cannot understand something it is quite frustrating not being able to tell them effectively. Also because it is all in Japanese they will explain it in Japanese too, and for a beginner it can take a bit of getting used to.

The staff and Japanese language school in Okazaki were fantastic. Students at the school are welcomed warmly (with an introduction ceremony during your first week) and help is always easy to find. I have no problems at all – even the head teacher comes out to greet the students in the mornings. It is like a big family. I particularly enjoyed the Kanji. Using the traditional brushes and ink to draw our names in Kanji was very enjoyable for me. Also I very much enjoyed the variety of learning techniques used – one moment we would be using a video, the next we would be interviewing teachers in the staff room!

Perhaps the worst part was the vocabulary learning. It was very difficult for me to keep up the pace, but then again I spent a lot of my time travelling and going out, so it doesn’t surprise me.

As I lived in the Student Village I met a lot of people and I frequently went out on trips with my friends and classmates, so I didn’t have to rely on the school arranged trips to see the country. Also if you ask the teachers there are lots of things that are available in the area to do. For example I asked my teacher, Sakai-sensi, if there were any language schools in the area that could use my help. Within the next week I was helping at a local private English School (were I had some of the best experiences during my stay in Japan) and an English teacher frequently took me out with her friends to practise their English with me.

Tip to future students: Do not hesitate to ask your teachers for links to people in Okazaki. My trip wouldn’t have been the fantastic trip it was if it weren’t for the local people that I met. It definitely pays to ask!

I think that Okazaki is an ideal place to study. It is very quiet, so when you want to study it is perfect. Also when you want to go out and have fun, Nagoya is about 30 minutes away by train and is a very lively city. Also supermarkets are easily found and very close by, the 100 Yen stores keep the costs down, and everything that you could ever need is within 20 mins on bike. It is a safe and friendly place to study. I couldn’t have been happier at the student village. Everyone was incredibly nice and helpful, and I made a lot of friends. The facilities were also very good – after staying in hotels around Japan I can safely say that the conditions in the Student Village are very good. Free Internet access was a great thing to have, and the caretaker and his wife were both very friendly and welcoming.

CESA’s planning and organisation were faultless. I had the time of my life and I am amazed at how smoothly everything went. My trip could not have gone better and that is a real credit to CESA.

Would I go again? Most definitely. I had the time of my life and I have changed from a boy to a man, thanks to this trip. As I say though make sure that you ask around and get involved. If you do you are greatly rewarded. I would recommend CESA and the Okazaki college to anyone. It was fantastic.

PS I have some good stories to tell but I couldn’t really fit them on this questionnaire.

Thanks Again – Brett.