Learn Japanese – do a class or do it by myself?

Since late Jan I have stopped my Japanese class and planned to learn it at home. Not because that the class was not good, but because I was away till almost mid Feb and our Yuka (our Japanese teacher) was moving back to Japan. My self-learning actually didn’t start till last week and after doing it for one week I can notice some immediate difference already (between self-learning a language and going to a class).

Let’s start with good things about learning at home.

  • Time – apart from saving tuition fee, time is the biggest advantage with learning at home. Not only because it’s more flexible, but also because you can progress at your own speed. For example in my class it normally takes 2-3 sessions to do 1 lesson because teacher needs to make sure everyone is up to speed before moving on; doing at home I can go through a lesson in less than 2 days and I am confident that I have remembered the content well.
  • Research – learning at home forces me to do more research. Of course I can always do that even when going to class, but learning at home forces me to look up everything I don’t understand (compared to just asking teacher and taking notes in class). Research helps me to acquire deeper and broader knowledge.

Unfortunately there are some great things from attending class that I miss now.

  • Culture – that’s the most informative part of the class. Yuka shares lots of customs and culture and even reviews latest Japanese dramas during class. Those things are hard to find on Internet and nice to hear from local people.
  • Practice – learning in class gives more practice. Not only from the pair talk during class, but also from how Yuka asks questions by using vocabulary from previous classes. This is hard to do when learning alone. For example if I forget that I’ve learned word zoo, I cannot ask myself as I don’t remember I know that word (if it makes sense).
  • Pronunciation – surely there is a difference between accent and speaking it wrong. Yuka doesn’t correct accent but when things are spoken wrong, she will correct them straight away. It’s good because unless learning with someone good at a language, it’s hard for me to pick up my own mistakes.

Apparently there are some irreplacable benefits in having a teacher, and I really recommend it esp for beginners (so that you can get foundation right). What I might do later is that I will join a private class; it’s more efficient as I pointed out at the beginning and still gives you all good insights.

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