Do Classes Make you Study Japanese More or Less?
Sometimes it can feel like there is a large divide between people who take Japanese classes and those who self-learn. But it’s really just all part of the same spectrum. People that take classes usually also self-study, and people that self-study often take some kind of formal lessons (whether that is a live class, online live class, recorded class, or through a tutor).
If you take a class, you assume it is going to make you study more. But what if it doesn’t?
It’s not as obvious an answer as you might think. Classes can have one of two effects on the people attending them.
Japanese classes make you study less
This was me, and I didn’t realize it until much later after I finished the class. When I first started studying, I went to a book store, bought a kana book, a kanji book, and a beginner textbook. For a few weeks, while still on my initial Japanese learner’s high, I was studying intensely.
Shortly after, I managed to sneak my way into Japanese 102 at my university, the semester before graduation. This class did made me study a lot. But as all classes do, they have to be set to the pace of everyone. This became what was normal to me, and was how much and how often people studied. While self-studying strategy and information is way more abundant now, your environment can set your way of thinking.
Would I have studied more if I didn’t have the class, and just continued along my several week path of self-study? It’s a possibility. I may have gone much further, faster. Then again, I may have quit Japanese. What I do know is that it told me how much Japanese study was enough.
Japanese classes make you study more
When you take a Japanese class, there is a pretty good chance you are passionate about learning the language. It’s rarely a school requirement.
Some people use classes as just one source of motivation and structure. It provides you with specific things you don’t get elsewhere: a teacher to ask questions and correct you, study-companions and forced Japanese interaction on a daily basis. You take what you can get from this and then you go all out onto self-studying.
Many people here using Jalup take some kind of class, but are still intense J-J and immersion learners.
What did classes do to your study time?
The blanket statement “classes are bad” usually come from people who were super successful with self-studying. This can make it hard to see the value of classes, when the negatives feel so apparent. I fell into this mindset quickly, because while I loved taking an introductory Japanese class, my real progress (caused by a real increase in study time) didn’t come till way after that.
Though self-studying isn’t always the magic bullet that many people make it out to be. It takes motivation to do everything yourself. The person who fails at self-studying might have gone far in a classroom setting. This is why for people on the fence, trying it is always worthwhile.
I’d love to hear from those of you who have taken some kind of class. Did it make you study more or less?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
I did 4 years at Uni and studied pretty hard, but focussing on the text book and what I needed to pass the course. Uni goes for about 20 weeks a year, so there were 30 weeks I wasn’t studying at all. Once the uni course stopped, suddenly the scope of studying became the entire Japanese language and I spent way too much time studying. I have had to ration my study time. .^_^. So classes made me study less, but I may have been actually learning more because I was focussed on the small part covered in the course and learnt that well.
My daughter was learning Japanese at a government school called the “School of Languages” which holds classes after normal school hours. Unfortunately, last year she had a teacher whose idea of a class was to hand out worksheets and let everyone get on with it. After a year of that my daughter came home and announced that she could work through the text book just as effectively at home without the overhead of the commute. So the class time became her self study time and we employed a skype tutor. She studies a little more than she did when she had classes, and keeps it up through the holidays as well, and her study is much more effective. Its been great to hear her online lessons go from disconnected nouns to simple conversations.
So there we are. Two cases studies. Classes made us both study less.
Thanks for both case studies :)
That’s a great point I didn’t think of. Even if you study intensively in classes, you follow their vacation schedule, and it can feel like you only need to/should study while class is in session. I found that with my class as well.
And that’s unfortunate about your daughter’s program. Japanese teachers can provide real value if they teach right. Luckily it didn’t discourage her and she was able to find a different way to success.
I took classes early in my study of Japanese, and loved them! I only stopped when they ran out of classes at my level. For me I think it helped that I never stoped my previously established habits of self study- largely flash cards. The class really helped my work on pronounciation and let me ask lots of questions. It also helped me build a strong routine early and I continue to stick with it.
I took uncredited night courses, with very small class sizes, so the pace was pretty nice! I was also lucky to have some great teachers.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
It makes me think that people who self-study first, developing specific and strong study habits, get a bigger boost from classes than those who just go in with no previous Japanese experience.
Don’t forget that there are several different teaching methods/strategies that could be used in the classroom, and that can impact how well classes synergize with your self study. Before signing up, I would ask one of the teachers which methods are used in the class. Your experience may vary.
I took 7 classes from 2010 to 2015. I didn’t do any self study, and only did the homework.
When the class ended, I stopped Studying. So I spent $10,000 over 5 years, to then forget everything.
The pro and con of classes is the same, it gives you a goal and a reason to study. Since I had no other goal/reason to study- I stopped studying when the class ended. While I don’t do imersion like I should, with “homework” assigned everyday by the app I keep on pace similar to I would in a class. (finnish Jalup Beginner in one year)
So, classes made me study more. Until I met you, Adam Sensei!