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Semester or a Year? 2008/4/16 14:52
I am going into my Junior year of high school next year and at the same time I will be taking Japanese class at a local community college. I'm going to study abroad in Japan for a semester or a year in my senior year of high school and I don't know how long I should stay. Do you think I could become fairly fluent in Japanese if I stayed for a semester and worked really hard or is it too short of a time? By the way I will definately be working really hard learning Japanese at the community college.
by DiTomasso  

. 2008/4/17 10:35
If you are aiming for fluency, it's better to stay longer. Although, I don't know anybody who has become "fluent" within a year (fluent being at least JLPT2~ish level)
by Jay rate this post as useful

You're going to need... 2008/4/17 12:06
a lot more than 1 year of community college Japanese and a year in Japan to become close to fluent. It's a MUCH more complicated language than it looks/sounds. You can't simply understand grammar and vocab, you have to understand social relationships to speak properly, which depends on the situation you are in. I have been studying for three years at university level (these are top tier uni's, just to qualify my perspective), and although I would be quite comfortable living in Japan, I would not even dare call myself fluent (I would probably pass a JLPT2 with ease, but would really need to study for JLPT1). (For further perspective qualification: my research is in Japanese linguistics).

Nevertheless, spending a year there would be a great start for your Japanese. Just be careful you don't get stuck in bad habits/accents - be very self-disciplined and you'll do great! If you had the time, I would recommend at least 2 years (possibly 3, depending ont he pace of your course) of Japanese language before spending a year in Japan so that you could make the most (linguistically) out of your year. But clearly, you don't have such a leisure. Good luck!
by lonesoullost rate this post as useful

ok 2008/4/17 13:13
I will probably only be able to stay a semester if anything. My parents are being a pain about it. I don't know if they'll let me go. My dad has this impression that I think everything is better over there and I don't like what I have. He also goes on about how he doesn't think I'm ready to be living there. What should I do this is stupid.
Also are you sure I won't be near fluent because I've heard of a lot of people who can speak it very well and they went to Japan without knowing the language at all and stayed for a year. I am very smart and I think I can handle it. My Japanese teacher said I can get tutoring for free too so extra practice. Help will be deeply appreciated.
by DiTomasso rate this post as useful

sorry for the double post 2008/4/17 13:17
One more thing my dad asks me why I want to go and I say that I am deeply interested in the culture and want to learn the language. He says that isn't a good enough answer. What else can I say than how interested in it I am. I know this might sound really stupid but it feels like something is telling me to go there haha.
by DiTomasso rate this post as useful

Feedback 2008/4/17 20:21
My daughter spent 10 months in Japan last year on exchange. She was 16 when she went and had her 17th birthday about half way through her stay. Despite having learned the language in high school for 4 years she found the spoken language quite different (they speak fast!). The school students spoke in 'slang' which she found very difficult at first as she couldn't join in a lot of their conversations. However, after a while she learned to communicate well and by the time she left she had formed good friendships with several of the girls. She lived with a working couple whose children had grown and left home. They were very good to her but had ground rules like any family and if she broke them she was reprimanded (like any family!). At times she struggled with being homesick and missing her friends and family and she had to learn to live outside her comfort zone. She has now returned to college here a much more mature young woman who has gained so much more than improved language skills (by no means fluent but good enough to hold a decent conversation). She is about to attend a 'mini' University course each week to improve her Japanese language further and intends studying at Uni once she has completed college. We will be travelling to Japan in a couple of months to attend her host brother's wedding and she has said she will always return to Japan and stay in touch with her host family. I visited my daughter when she was there and had a fabulous time - the Japanese hospitality is wonderful. If you have the opportunity to go you should - if you are serious about studying the language you will have years of study ahead of you before you will be classed as fluent, but if the passion is there, go for it!
by The Mother rate this post as useful

Good luck! 2008/4/17 21:07
I've been in Japan for nearly 4 years and I wouldn't consider myself "fluent" by any means...
by Gaijinjland rate this post as useful

right now 2008/4/17 23:14
I'm studying abroad just like you want to be doing. However, my parents were much more happy to send me away.
Can you ask your dad for a good reason for you to not go? Cuz I have a lot of reasons on why you should.

It's sad to hear that he doesn't want to send you to a new place. It's more than just living alone. It's growing up, becoming more worldly and less ignorant while learning a new culture at the same time. And I think you'll be living in a dorm, so no worries about being all alone. Although, I don't think you will be fluent within a semester... you'll need a lot more time there, trust me. It's the kanji that's the most difficult.

Anyways, I'll give you a list on why you should study abroad so you can tell your dad:
1. More worldly people are more respected. No one likes an ignorant fool.

2. People who are bilingual have been shown to be stronger in work-related issues.
here's an article on the washington post:
Sure, "what good is being able to be not distracted?" he may ask. Well, what if you're in a work related situation where you need to focus on one task and finish it by the 11th hour and there's distractions everywhere you look? Other benefits apply.

3. Having experience in another country looks great on your resume. I don't know what kind of job you're looking for, but if you've studied in another country, the employer will definitely keep an eye on you.

4. Making connections. As in, lots of different people to meet and stay close to. These people may help you in your future as either a place to stay the night for when you visit again... give you a tip on a new job... help you find a place to live if you plan on living there... Or if you happen to meet an international business man with a high position, he can offer you an internship somewhere.

5. A new language means a new culture. This may relate to number 1, but learning a new culture gets you out of your own bubble/box and makes you grow up a little and see the world with new eyes. It really changes you for the better and you are capable of seeing your home country differently by the time you go home. Especially in a place like Japan, where ever you're from, I'm sure it's completely different. Tell your dad that what's a better way to make you more mature than spending a little bit of time in a new country?

Has your dad ever been abroad before? It sure doesn't sound like it. If you can't convince him then have him talk to your Japanese professor. I sure your professor knows a lot about studying abroad in Japan.
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

Yes 2008/4/17 23:21
I am sure you will not be near fluent (I hate to sound pessimistic, but I'm trying to be realistic so you don't get your hopes too high and have them come crashing down on you). I know people who have studied just as long as I have and have worked in Japan for several years who will not consider themselves fluent. This is no Spanish or French you are learning.

I think "The Mother"'s post above is a good example of what you can expect.
by lonesoullost rate this post as useful

ahh 2008/4/17 23:26
here's some more good ideas.

Sorry for the double post!! please delete the other one, admin.
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

could it be 2008/4/18 01:24
DiTomasso - could it be that your father is just concerned because you are still young?
You're only a going into your Junior year of high school next year. Also your focus is strong on going. I would think most parents would be glad that their is interested in being more worldly. Another thought could be your Dad thinking of the cost - money is tight all around.

If I'm not mistaken Miyuki aren't you college level already? Most parent want their kids out of the house by then. haha Just kidding. But you are a few years advance and plus its more likely that your parents wanted to you learn and enjoy that half of your DNA.

Any way I hope things work out for you - DiTomasso
by ume rate this post as useful

how much you know 2008/4/18 06:34
it matters how much you know now
of course you wont get fluent but you may get close. To understand how fast they may talk try to watch a Japanese drama or something....thats wat i do to help my japanese!
(you can also pick up some slang)
by Kat rate this post as useful

thanks for the feedback 2008/4/18 07:04
I've told him all the benefits but he just says it's the best thing for me then and to wait for college. I would just be going the first semester of my Senior year. He gets all mad about it and it's kind of ridiculous. He's never studied abroad. Money won't be a problem since I'm saving up for it with a job and by that time I'll have enough money. When you apply to the program they automatically apply me to scholarships and I have really good grades. He keeps saying it's not as nice over there as you think and stuff like your homestay family will be horrible people who don't care about you at all and just do it for the money.

Also I know it's hard to learn Japanese but several years working in Japan and you still can't speak fluently? When if you talk to people a lot? Believe me I know it's know easy task to become fluent.
by DiTomasso rate this post as useful

. 2008/4/18 10:56
He keeps saying it's not as nice over there as you think and stuff like your homestay family will be horrible people who don't care about you at all and just do it for the money.

Also I know it's hard to learn Japanese but several years working in Japan and you still can't speak fluently? When if you talk to people a lot? Believe me I know it's no easy task to become fluent.

OK.. the homestay family really depends on the family... but my experience with one and everyone else I know who did it (like 10 other people, meaning 10 other families) had a GREAT experience. The mother cooks the best food ever, they take you out to explore local areas in Japan and even places that are further out sometimes. They're the best way to practice your Japanese and get a rare glimpse of the Japanese culture of the home. (It's really rare to have a Japanese family member invite you to your home) Your dad shouldn't be talking like this if he's never had a host family. It sounds like he's never been to Japan either and he's taking advantage of your inexperience to tell you "no".

But what you can do is wait. I assumed you were in college level since you said "community college". And perhaps you should wait a few years until you go.

I've been talking to Japanese people everyday for the past 7 months of my stay here. The thing that mainly pulls me back perhaps is my job (i'm an English teacher) and my friends who are also studying abroad (they always speak English). But besides those factors, despite my long stay here (and a 3 month study abroad stay before in 2006) I'm still not fluent! I'm better, no doubt. Much better. But I'm not fluent. I've had 2.5 years of Japanese studying behind me too. One year and a half of it in America.... still not fluent.
So that's why when I graduate I'm coming back here again until I'm fluent.
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

My Experience 2008/4/18 21:40
I've been in Japan since I was 18 years old, I'm 22 now. I've done all of my university study over here and I've spent my entire adult life here.

Looking back now on when I first came to Japan. I realize what a little kid I was.

I had just graduated from high school and my parents didn't want me to go, but they supported my decision. I had no plan or direction with my life, I just knew I didn't want to stay in the States and Japan looked like an interesting place. Coming to Japan was my first time being abroad and it was also my first time living alone.

It was such a shock for me being in a country so different than America and in place where very few people spoke English. I imediately started to regret my descion and I became very lonely and I thought about going home everyday for about 8 months. My family didn't think I would stick it out in Japan and they even made bets about how long they thought i would stay. The only thing that kept me in Japan for the first 8 months was that I didn't want to go home and prove my parents right, I didn't wat to hear them say, "we told you so."

But after 8 months or so, it kinda just hit me and I didn't want to go home anymore because Japan started to feel like home. I graduate in a few months and I know my family would like me to go back to the states but I have know plans on leaving Japan...

I don't know if my experience will help you out at all but good luck!

Look, I'm guessing your only 16 or so and maybe your father thinks your too young to go abroad. If thats the case, don't give up on Japan and just keep talking to your parents and by the time you graduate high school they will see that your serious about Japan and they might just let you go!
by Gaijinjland rate this post as useful

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