Student Interview - Jessica
Learning Japanese as a beginner with Nunawading Japanese School
We interviewed Jessica, a beginner student at 12 months study. Jessica attends a group class with 5 other students. We asked her what it’s been like so far learning Japanese at our school in Melbourne and also about her recent trip to Japan.
- Initial 12 month period of learning Japanese
- Previous Japanese learning experiences
- The first month as a beginner student
- Learning Japanese before going to Japan
- Favourite parts of Japan trip, travel tips etc
- Initial 12 months of lessons at our school
BEGINNER STUDENT – Learning Japanese in Melbourne
When did you join our Japanese school in Melbourne?
I started attending Japanese classes at Nunawading Japanese School in February 2017.
I did a huge amount of research into different Japanese language schools. I wanted to find the best place to learn Japanese in Melbourne. Somewhere that would cater to our level and cover all the different aspects of the Japanese language. This included reading, writing and conversational. I also wanted to learn Japanese in a fun environment in Melbourne where we could relax and learn at a reasonable speed.
Originally, we considered taking private lessons. We thought it would be faster and easier one-on-one. However, after attending our first Japanese group class, we completely changed our minds.
Learning with others who are just as passionate about learning Japanese as you is great. We’ve all become great friends and more focused with learning Japanese. In class, we have real conversations using the vocabulary and grammar taught in the Japanese course. Without a doubt, we’ve found the best place to learn Japanese in Melbourne.
BEGINNER STUDENT – Learning Japanese
Why did you start learning Japanese?
When I was in high school I discovered Anime for the first time and fell head over heels in love with the animation, story lines and the language. It’s an addiction I’ll probably have for the rest of my life.
Around this time, my family hosted Japanese students from Himeji Nishi High School. We had 3 students over 3 years and had so much fun! We really miss them all. They introduced me to Japanese music and food (my god the food…!) and I was basically hooked from that point onwards.
We started taking Japanese lessons at Japanese Tutor Melbourne Pty Ltd because we were planning on taking our first trip to Japan. We wanted to be able to get around, converse with people and have a good understanding of what we were doing. I’ve always thought it incredibly beneficial to be able to speak a second language fluently. I couldn’t think of a more interesting language than Japanese.
Had you ever learnt Japanese before?
Japanese has actually been a part of my life since I was very young, even though I didn’t realise it.
At my primary school, Japanese was the only language available to students and was compulsory from prep to grade 6. I continued with Japanese throughout high school until year 9 when I decided to stop taking the classes as I felt I wasn’t getting much out of it anymore.
After years of only having Anime as my main source of learning, I decided to start listening to audio book lessons and teaching myself . But after a while the learning pace slowed significantly and I needed more. This is when we decided to start attending real Japanese lessons at Japanese Tutor Melbourne Pty Ltd in Nunawading.
What were the first few months like?
The first month of beginner Japanese classes were great! In some respects, we found it relatively easy to pick up where we’d left off from high school. The Japanese lessons moved quickly on to other things we’d never learnt or been introduced to before which kept us engaged.
It’s so much fun being in a group class and being able to have a laugh with the teachers and other students whilst learning.
Did you learn Japanese before visiting Japan?
We went on our first holiday to Japan around 10 weeks after we started lessons at Japanese Tutor Melbourne Pty Ltd. It was my first trip overseas and it was so exciting!
We went in late March – early April for 2 weeks over the Cherry Blossom season. Starting in Tokyo, we then travelled to Osaka and took day trips to Kyoto, Hyogo and Kobe. After that we travelled down to Hiroshima for 2 days and then took the Shinkansen (bullet train) back up to Tokyo for the last part of our trip. We were able to see so much!
My favourite parts would have to be Dotonbori in Osaka – blocks and blocks of street food stalls and small restaurants with all the Japanese food you could ever dream of (I was in heaven and ate soooo much…) and Akihabara – the tech, Manga and Anime capital of Japan. Full of shops with thousands of manga novels, anime figurines and game arcades, we ended up going there twice just for the fun of it!
If I had to offer tips, my biggest suggestion would be to invest in a JR Rail pass if you’re travelling large distances across Japan. Costing approximately $550 AUD (for 14 days), usable on almost all shinkansen rail lines as well as all the local JR lines and covering ALL of Japan. It’s the best way to get around but make sure you buy a JR Rail Pass in Australia before you head to Japan as it becomes more expensive to purchase when you get there.
Did learning Japanese before visiting Japan help?
Katakana was the real hero for us when we went to Japan.
Once you’ve learned katakana, you can pretty much read it and understand straight away what it means as it’s mostly used for English or foreign words. This helped us in restaurants and cafes in particular.
My sister who came with us didn’t understand any Japanese and is a really picky eater. Whenever we went into a bread shop for breakfast, she’d constantly be asking me things like “What’s inside this?” “Does this croissant have chocolate in it?” and I was able to tell her every time “This one has cheese, this one is custard, this one has chocolate”. She’d take the chocolate one every time without fail.
BEGINNER STUDENT – Learning Japanese in Melbourne
Have you made any Japanese friends?
We were lucky enough to catch up with one of our Japanese students who we hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. Before we went, we got in contact with Natsuki via Facebook to let her know we would be coming to Japan. She was so excited! She’s probably one of the craziest and most energetic people I’ve ever met.
She even took time off work (which is almost unheard of in Japan) to meet us in Osaka and show us around Kyoto, Kobe and her home city of Hyogo. There we got to meet her Mum Kimiko-san and sit down to a family dinner with home-cooked karaage, korokke and yakisoba.
The following day she actually travelled all the way to Hiroshima with us so we could go to Miyajima Island together. A good thing too as it turned out it was quite tricky to get there and required multiple modes of transport. If we hadn’t had her with us, we definitely would have gotten lost!
We had so much fun, but saying goodbye was the worst and really upsetting. I wish we could have stayed with her longer! I still chat with Natsuki on Facebook (in as much Japanese as I can!) very often. I hope she and Kimiko-san can come to Australia soon so we can meet again!
Any final comments?
Whenever I tell people I’m learning Japanese in Melbourne they’re always really impressed.
Learning a second language is a big deal. It’s such a great thing to do but requires commitment and effort. I definitely recommend Japanese Tutor Melbourne Pty Ltd to everyone I speak to. The group classes are lots of fun, teachers are really lovely and experience and it’s just a great place to learn Japanese in Melbourne.
Within 12 months, I’ve learned 100 times more than I ever did in the 10 years of classes I took during my time at school. My confidence has grown significantly and I actually look forward to tests (believe it or not).
If you’re looking for a place to learn Japanese in Melbourne, I highly recommend Nunawading Japanese School