日本語ーok? On learning Japanese

My first time in Japan, I totally fell in love. With the country, with the culture, with the food, with the people. The language barrier was not a major issue, we never went hungry or got lost, however I felt that I was unable to understand many subtle, and many not so subtle, aspects of Japanese life, as I was unable to read the vast quantities of information on display, and unable to even get a feel of what people were talking about. Before I came home, I knew I wanted to learn the language in order to be able to come back and experience Japan on a different and deeper level.

This is not to say you need to speak Japanese to enjoy Japan. You totally don’t. It is possible to travel around Japan with zero Japanese and still love it. However, my kids were so delighted the second time around when I could ask where the English language manga were located in a shop or if a music store had the soundtrack of their favourite video game.

So, sitting in a lovely little apartment, in the beachfront town of Kamakura, about an hour South of Tokyo, I began my research. I looked for classes within a 50km radius of my home. (I live on the outskirts of Metro Melbourne). I found many classes at Tafe and other institutes, but they were all quite expensive and didn’t appeal. Then I found Japanese Tutor Melbourne. I sent an email inquiry then and there. My teacher responded very quickly. We spoke of the sakura (cherry-blossom) season I was experiencing and I made an appointment to do a trial lesson within a week of returning to Australia.

Coming home was difficult, but I was very excited to start a new adventure in language. My first class, the free trial, whizzed by so quickly, and I loved every moment. I felt an instant connection and understanding with my teacher and I knew I was going to pursue this goal.

Sixteen months later, and I am still learning Japanese. I have returned to Japan once, and was so excited when I stepped off the plane and could read all the signs in the airport bathroom. It was so wonderful to be able to introduce myself to people, to be able to order food in a restaurant with no English menus.

Japanese Tutor Melbourne is a wonderful and growing school located in Nunawading, in Melbourne. All of the teachers are Japanese native speakers, and they are kind, patient and encouraging. There are classes for adults and children and private or group lessons. I have made some great friends with other students, as, although I do private lessons, some conversation classes and other social occasions provide opportunity to meet like minded people. My teacher also organised a short term student homestay for my family. We had a wonderful Japanese boy, Ichiko, stay with us at Easter. Another student of the school has recently stayed with Ichiko’s family in Tottori in Japan, and my family and I intend to visit next year.


I couldn’t recommend the school more highly. It has been a wonderful and life changing experience for me. To contact Japanese Tutor Melbourne please click here.

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