I am very satisfied with my experience at GenkiJACS. After being asked to evaluate the school, the fact that I am taking the time to do so is the evidence to the previous. After scouring the internet for a program that would suit my needs for the summer, GenkiJACS seemed to fit the bill with it’s small class size, price, and personal communication. Before we begin, I would like to emphasize that although I do have Cons with the program, they are far outweighed by the Pros, and that, once again, I felt it was an excellent program.
-Excellent before arrival communication. Even when I requested last minute directions to the dormitories due to my unpreparedness, they replied quickly and got me the information I needed.
-Small class size. This is probably the biggest selling point of the school. The class size is small, very small, which allows for excellent communication and immediate feedback from the teachers. It also creates a, generally, more intimate environment, and I felt connected to the teachers on a more friendly level than I would have in a large class. Even outside of the classroom.
-Teachers. The teachers themselves are excellent, and prepare appropriate material for the level of class you are taking. They were very personable, and meet the requirements of each student very well. Teaching styles vary among teachers of course, and there were some I enjoyed more than others, but all performed excellently. More on the teachers later in Cons.
-Class Materials. Looking back on the experience, I found my time spent in the Conversation Class more interesting than my normal Grammar class; However with both classes I found the material appropriate, challenging, and a good use of the time spent in the class. Well in conversation class today we have a newspaper article about the water consumption of Japan, let’s read it.
-Accommodation. I chose the dormitories as my place of stay, and was mostly satisfied with my choice. The residents of the dorms are, for the most part, very friendly and personable. I had a lot of fun with them, and enjoyed participating in the occasional group activity that they offered. More on this in Cons.
-Space. It was cramped at times when large waves of high school students would come in. I would often come to the school early as I find it difficult to study in a room oftentimes. Perhaps a small room set aside for studying? I do realize that teaching a foreign language is a seasonal business, and thus it is expected that there would be a rush during the summer. I also realize that the school plans to increase in size soon, so this Con is non-applicable to students as of next whenever that move is complete, which I assume is soon.
-Time. Sometimes a class would start excessively late, or have an exceptionally long break due to straggling students and the occasional teacher. This was slightly annoying, as I was paying for my time in the program, however I do realize that flexibility and a calm atmosphere is a large part of the schools objective. Perhaps some slight reinforcement of the class time is prudent.
-Teachers. The only real problem I saw with the setup of having a different teacher every day for the same class was feedback. The question: How much feedback do you want? Was not asked of me, and I feel this is the only point that was missed in meeting the needs of students. Perhaps the beginning level students aren’t horribly serious about becoming completely fluent in Japanese, and would not like to be criticized as much. However, as I am completely serious, I wanted to be on every single tiny detail that I messed up. The primary way I learn is by making mistakes, and having them subsequently corrected. If I’m forming a sentence a particular way and it is not immediately corrected, I assume it correct and confirmed information in my brain.
-Accommodation. The walls of the dormitory are extraordinarily thin, to the point where one can even hear someone spitting in the sink in the room across the hall. The wireless internet connection was also exceptionally weak, and went out frequently. For me, who lives by his connection to the internet, this was particularly annoying. The dorms are also an hour away from the school, which makes for some early mornings depending on your schedule, but is nothing unbearable.
-I would recommend to the school to flesh out and update it’s Teachers section of the website. As the teachers are one of the large selling points of the school, I think that doing this would help give a better idea of what the students are jumping into with the program.
-As far as the website is concerned, I would also recommend pointing out some shopping / eating destinations around the school. As the students have never been to Japan before, being left to pasture when we first get there is a bit troubling. Of course, one can always receive recommendations from fellow students that have already been there, or the teachers, but I still think some basic info on the website would be of assistance. Here’s Shintencho, Mandarake, Tenjin Core, Junkudo, 100 En Shop, Post Office, Starbucks, and a few restaurants. Or maybe that info in the information packet that one receives upon arrival. That much would help.
And that’s basically it. I would recommend this program to anyone: ranging from someone studying for the 1st level of the JLPT, to a beginner taking his first steps into the language. You will be satisfied, I guarantee it.
Review of GenkiJACS by a former student
Overall, I am impressed with GenkiJACS. Before coming to study for the winter, I conducted a lot of research through friends and the Internet. GenkiJACS offered the best combination of price, small class size, and personal attention. I got more from the program than I expected, and I hope to come back again before I eventually leave Japan. The fact that I have taken the time to write a detailed review of my experience should indicate how happy I was with the program, and that I would like to see the school continue to grow and become a successful venture for all those involved.
– Fast communication. Almost every email I sent to GenkiJACS before arrival was answered within 24 hours.
– Flexibility. All my requests were met. The program allowed me to save on my home stay fee when I traveled for four days. It also found me a host family with children which I really wanted. I was pleasantly surprised to find a refund of part of my homestay fee to help pay for my travel expenses.
– Comfortable space. The GenkiJACS space is very comfortable, clean, and allows for easy access to the staff. Overall, it provides an intimate environment that is probably not found at bigger, traditional schools.
– Small class size. The intimate size of the program is the number one reason I came to GenkiJACS. I wanted to have plenty of speaking opportunities, and my class sizes ranged from 5 people to just me. The fact that GenkiJACS caps their classes at six people is the main reason I will continue to pick GenkiJACS as my choice of Japanese schools in Japan.
– Wonderful teachers. I primarily studied with four teachers ???g Harumi, Mika, Miyuki, and Akiko. All four were great teachers. They spoke at a pace that was perfect for my level, and only used English when absolutely necessary. Also, all four teachers navigated group classes perfectly. Sometimes I was the lowest level in the class, sometimes the middle, and sometimes the highest. In all cases I felt engaged and that I was learning new material. Particularly:
– Mika and Miyuki were always willing to talk outside of class, providing practice opportunities in a stress-free environment.
– Mika will never let a poorly constructed Japanese phrase go, always pushing students to correct the offending sentence.
– Harumi’s knowledge of the material was really impressive. I previously studied with Minna No Nihongo, and she knew what was covered in my previous textbook and what would be new material and repeat material for me.
All four had very fun and relevant classes and were all able to adjust the lesson pace according to the class, and did not ardently stick to a pre-made lesson plan. I can not say enough great things about these four teachers.
– Self-study pace. There were no tests and no schedules to meet. This means students can learn at their own pace and never feel like they are falling behind or doing poorly. This was very encouraging for my Japanese, as I was able to review the vocabulary and grammar I felt were important and not focus on a predefined curriculum.
– Conversation classes. These were well planned and provided a good chance to practice all the Japanese grammar learned to date.
– Scheduling. I read on the website that some students thought the scheduling could be improved. For me, I had no scheduling issues and was happy with the meeting times.
(Please note, these are only opinions and overall the program was great.)
– No hand soap in the bathroom.
– Aside from the four teachers I mentioned above, there were probably about four other teachers that I had instruction with. My experience with these teachers was mixed. One kept asking if I was familiar with a grammar point every time she used a new one. It drove me crazy to keep answering, especially since I showed her where we were in the text book. Another teacher followed her set lesson plan, even though it was obvious to me that that the other member of the class and myself were already familiar with the grammar point. I nearly lost it with another teacher who annoyed me with her constant use of English and immediate translations, even though I told her more Japanese would be better.
– The free tea has given me an addiction.
– It was a nuisance to have my classes in a different classroom than specified on my schedule. Often before class, I would set up my materials in the scheduled classroom to find that the actual class was held elsewhere. A lot of unnecessary repacking and packing.
– I also noticed a number of classes started late. The general cause were straggling students and the teachers waiting for them. I see no reason why classes should not start on time. As for breaks, I understand that many times we will not take our ten minute rest right on the hour, but in that case, the teacher should specify what time class will reconvene.
– It always feels impersonal to pay one’s host family. For those of us that plan to eat most of our meals with our host family, it would be nice to have an all-inclusive option that includes dinner. These were the only awkward-feeling moments I had with my family.
– A male teacher would be nice.
My experience at GenkJACS was much better than I expected, which is why I have taken the time to write this. Thank you for a good course, and I hope to study at your school again.
Above is the unedited words of the student. We wanted to also add a few comments of our own: we take evaluations very seriously, and we are constantly trying to improve. When we received this evaluation, we straight away called a meeting of teachers to ask them not to use too much English in classes, and put procedures in place to confirm with students in advance how much English they would like in class. We have also managed to find a male teacher! In Japan, Japanese teaching is a female-dominated field, but we are happy to have found at least one man to work with us!
We are also working on keeping classes on time, and in the specified classroom – teachers often like to switch if they need special equipment, etc., but we have set up procedures for this to be communicated to students effectively.
Finally, we are considering offering a set plan including dinners with the host family, to reduce any discomfort at the direct financial transaction.