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- What are the classes like?
- Wiki Wiki Japanese offers three types of courses: 1) Basics, 2) 3-Month Courses, and 3) Charter Courses. For detailed information on the differences between those courses, please return to the home page to see an overview, visit each course page on this website, and read the questions/answers below for more detailed information. Regardless of the course type though, our goal is to strike a perfect balance between teacher explanation and conversation practice to maximize both knowledge and actual speaking ability.
- I don't want to learn Japanese writing… Can you just help me with conversational ability?
- Yes! In our Basics course, students read and write Japanese using English letters, so they can spend more time focusing on learning basic vocabulary and sentence patterns, as well as practicing conversation. The goal is to get booted up as quickly as possible in basic conversational skills in order to, for example, travel to Japan. However, deeper study of Japanese is different. Once you go past the Basics with our 3-Month Courses, the goal becomes more long-term, and learning the Japanese writing system is required. But don't worry! Learning the Japanese alphabet and writing system is not as difficult as you may think, and it's integrated into our classes in a balanced, progressive way. It's fun, and we're here to help!
- How many courses are there, and what level should I start at?
- If you're a total beginner, you have two choices. You could start with either our 4-day Basics course, or level 1 of the 3-Month Courses, which we call Course 1. In fact, you could do both, as those two courses are highly compatible. You could, for example, get booted up quickly with Basics, and then still join Course 1 afterward. Although there is some overlap, in the 3-Month courses you will slow down a little, learn Japanese reading and writing, more securely establish a fundamental grasp of Japanese grammar, and generally learn far more content, building a foundation to move forward to Courses 2~5. If you already have a little previous experience and are thinking about skipping to a higher level, you might still benefit from starting from Course 1, because we may cover things in a different order than you studied, and if you are going to continue to higher courses, you may miss important fundamentals by skipping. Nonetheless, we have assessment exams for all courses. Please contact us for access to the assessment exams or to chat about your Japanese skills with us.
- Am I missing anything if I start with Course 1 instead of Basics?
- The Basics course and Course 1 of the 3-Month Courses are designed in a flexible way. As mentioned before, you could take one or the other, or both if you like. Basics is great for preparing for travel to Japan or just getting your feet wet with 4 class sessions of learning and conversation. Eventually, though, if you're serious about Japanese, you're going to have to take Course 1 anyway, because it contains more content that serves as a foundation for the higher levels (especially learning Japanese writing). If you're still in doubt about which class is best for you as a beginner, please contact us and we'll chat about it.
- What materials do you use?
- In our 3-Month Courses, we use the Japanese From Zero 5-book series, from YesJapan Corporation, and your book is provided at no additional charge. As a bonus, students are also provided with a Premium YesJapan.com account. This provides students with online supplementary materials that correspond to their in-class studies, as well as other fun things like games and videos related to Japan and learning Japanese. In class, we also use supplementary materials - like flash cards and worksheets - for drills, conversation practice, and writing practice. The Basics course takes a different approach. It is minimalistic with regard to materials. At the beginning of each class, students are provided with a few pages of simple notes in an outline format that we use a reference for that day's topics. We also use flash cards in class to assist in our conversation practice, and those flash cards are available in digital format on your phone as well for easy practice outside of class.
- Can children attend the classes?
- Yes, over the years we've had a few children take our classes. We've welcomed children as young as 12 as long as they are studying together with a parent, and we provide a 25% discount for the child in those cases. High school age children have been allowed to attend classes without a parent, though a permission form signed by the parent is required if the child is under 18. Regarding the level of the materials, the courses are intended for adults, but it always depends on the individual — there are a lot of talented youngsters out there and we depend on the parent's judgment of their child's learning abilities. However, please keep in mind that foreign language study requires serious effort in class and for homework. That goes for adults and children alike, so please carefully consider the commitment you are signing your child up for.
- Do you offer tutoring?
- Wiki Wiki Japanese does not provide tutoring sessions directly, but we maintain contact with local tutors and refer inquiries to them at no charge to either party, after which you work directly with the tutor (i.e. We take no fee and are not involved after the intial introduction). We encourage our classes over private tutoring in most cases (it's much cheaper, too!), although some students with restricted schedules or special circumstances may benefit from tutoring. Give us a call and let's chat about your particular case.
- Do you offer refunds if I don't like it or my circumstances change?
- Although we sympathize with your personal circumstances, we cannot offer refunds once a class has begun. As far as not liking the class, that's not likely (pun intended). We have a very high satisfaction rating with our students, but if you'd like to personally check out our classes before joining, please contact us and we'll arrange for you to observe an ongoing class for free. If a personal circumstance does come up during the course, please contact us as quickly as possible to see if there's anything we can do to help, such as providing make-up sessions or switching to a class on different days or locations.
- How long does it take to get fluent in Japanese?
- We get this question a lot, but it's one of the hardest to answer, because everybody's different. It highly depends on your interest, motivation and commitment. There are some people who can become fluent in less than two years, though it's not typical. In my case it took about five. But, if you're willing to consistently attend class and do your homework, you'll be conversing in useful Japanese right away! We get a lot of positive comments about the pace of our classes.
- Is the pace of classes fast or slow?
- True story... One day two different students came up to me after class on the exact same day, and one said she liked the slow pace of the class so she could get a lot of practice, and the other said he liked the fast pace of the class because we get to learn a variety of things. What does it mean? It simply means that everybody's perceptions and learning styles are different. What was slow to her was fast to him. At Wiki Wiki Japanese, we strive to help you learn Japanese at a quick pace (hence "Wiki Wiki", meaning quick), but since actual practice and follow-up review in pronunciation, sentence patterns, and conversation are equally important, we make the time for that as well. Balance is the key!
- What happens if I have to miss class?
Because of the progressive nature of our studies, we highly encourage you to try your best not to miss class, but we understand life happens. If you must miss class, please inform us as quickly as possible so we can advise you. For 3-Month Courses, in your student orientation e-mail you receive before the course begins, you will get a link to free class notes. Additionally, make-up sessions are also available (one free per course). We care very much about your success and work hard to help you stay caught up, because if you miss too much class, it can cascade out of control to the point you can't follow along and participate anymore. But you have to help us help you by keeping in contact with us and using the resources we've provided. Nobody will judge you for seeking help, so contact us and let us help you get caught up.