People thinking of applying to GenkiJACS sometimes ask us why teachers speak English, and how much English people speak in classes. This is a valid concern, and there are many different theories of language learning. At GenkiJACS, we practice the indirect teaching method, which means we use English as necessary to explain grammar points, and to deepen students’ understanding. However, classes are still conducted mostly in Japanese. In general, more English is used at the lower levels, whereas at higher levels, classes are entirely in Japanese.
There are two reasons that we use the indirect method, and specifically English: because most of our students come from English-speaking countries, and because it saves a lot of time (time you are paying for!) in classes.
If your teachers understand your native language, they can understand the pitfalls, and the specific areas of difficulty for native speakers of English learning Japanese. For example, where the English word “sign” has at least two meanings, Japanese uses separate two words, 看板 (kanban, or billboard), and 標識 (hyoushiki, or road sign). If the teacher understands that native speakers of English will have difficulty distinguishing these two words in usage, the teacher can make sure to emphasize this in teaching, which leads to faster student understanding and fewer mistakes.
For those students who prefer an all-Japanese environment, teachers are happy to refrain from using English in class. And while having a population of mostly English-speaking students does mean that more English is spoken during breaks, teachers ask students to speak Japanese when possible.
At many other Japanese schools, the student body is mostly Asian students (Chinese and Korean). While this means the only way for you to communicate with them is in Japanese, this also means that lessons are not focused on your needs, but on the needs of people who already know kanji. This makes it a lot harder for you to keep up in class, and to progress.