Surprisingly, it seems like a pretty unknown information : You can study Japanese for free in a real school in Tokyo!
“Human Academy” in Shinjuku provides free Japanese lessons, from beginner to intermediate level
It’s not only free, but you can even be paid to attend the class if you’re on Working Holiday Visa!
Why is it free?
This program is called “Model student” and the concept is simple: teachers are actually learning and training to become teachers.
You’re a little bit like a test student.
The class is generally recorded and filmed with cameras and some accredited teachers are sitting in the back to note and evaluate the trainee teachers.
You may wonder about the quality of the lessons provided, but actually, since they are learning and trying their best, there’s a really nice ambiance in the class and you can feel they really want to become teachers and like doing it.
The only thing is that you can only have up to 2 or 3 classes a week. One class is about 1h30, so you can have up to 4h30 lesson. But hey, when you even get paid for it that’s not bad huh?
Who is accepted?
First, you need to be a medium or long-term resident in Japan not only here for tourism. So if you have any visa such as Partner visa, Student visa, Working visa or Working holiday visa, this is fine.
In the case of the Working Holiday you will be paid and receive 1000 yen per hour! If you have this visa and wish to be paid you will also need a bank account.
There isn’t a real interview or selection, they take any applicants.
However, you’ll be asked to have some very basic level of Japanese :
Be sure that you can read Hiragana and Katakana.
What are the lessons like? Is it worth it?
Each lesson focus on a theme, for example “Traveling in Japan” “Cooking” “Business in Japan” etc.
They will give you some handout with lessons. All contents are made and wrote by the teachers.
Generally the class starts with a short lesson introduction, followed with a role-play game part:
You have to create a scene or imagine a dialog, and interact with each others.
This game allows you to work on the oral part a lot. It is in my opinion a very important thing, missing a lot in many programs where the conversational exercise is almost inexistent.
How long ?
You enrol for a trimester session, and you can enrol again every next trimester if there’s enough available places.
At the end of each session, they organise some funny activities like Origami or Tea ceremony class, and they throw up a little graduation ceremony.
Of course, this is not a state-recognised diploma, but you feel like you accomplished something.
And that’s also a great way to meet people from many different countries!
I met my best friends in Tokyo there, some cool buddies from Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and one other French creatures like me.
Non-Asian people are obviously a minority, especially in the intermediate level classes, so we were only 3 European students in a 15~students class!
This is a really eclectic and funny community with students from all ages.
A majority of the students are 15-25 years old, but some people about 40-60years old living in Japan for a quite long time and still struggling with Japanese language were also attending the class.
How to subscribe
If you research “Human Academy Japanese language school”, you will find their official website but they actually don’t talk about these free classes, only about their intensive programs.
They do talk about the training program for teachers here:
But no how to get in it as a student.
Therefore you’ll have to contact the person in charge of everything:
She’s called Mika Nishiyama.
You can contact her in English, or Japanese, at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
She organises class sessions every trimester, so you can contact her pretty much anytime to join the next session!
I cannot provide the actual address because it seems like they moved recently. But the area didn’t change: Classes are held in Shinjuku!
If you’re looking for very cheap ways to learn Japanese, or even other languages, check out also the 80s Cafe in Tokyo !