There are many opportunities to learn Japanese in Sydney. From local and community language lessons to enrolling in a university course or taking private classes with a tutor, we have gathered all your options for studying how to speak, write, listen and read Japanese.  

First things first, the Japanese writing system doesn’t actually use alphabetical letters.

Rather there are three main scripts which you will learn: Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana (there is also Romaji used for reading Japanese in Latin characters).

Thankfully however you won’t have to memorise any genders for Japanese nouns, nor conjugations for personal pronouns! Karaoke, origami, tsunami, sushi…

Did you know that 10% of Japanese words actually come from English?

Incorporate Japanese text into your daily reading.
Learning Japanese opens you up to new cultural perspectives. | Source: Unsplash - Photo by Photo by Dhafin Kumarajati

There are also a number of loan words used in Japanese that will surely make learning how to speak it easier. 

It is also worth mentioning that Japan has the world’s third-largest economy, with a booming electronics, automobile, and innovation industry.

It even has one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors, and so learning its language will open a world of opportunity for you!

Not only will you have greater career opportunities being able to use Japanese, but also the freedom to live, work, study or simply visit Japan.

By knowing how to speak the language, you will also learn to further appreciate the ancient and modern Japanese history, the fascinating society, its vibrant art and music scene, the pop culture, and of course delicious Japanese food. 

So if you’re wondering where in Sydney to begin with basic Japanese, or whether you already know some Nihongo and want to refine your language skills, continue reading to discover where to find lessons in Sydney that will suit you!

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Enrol in Japanese Language Courses

A great place to start is The Japan Foundation in Sydney, a cultural organisation established by the Japanese government that offers a range of programs including Japanese language courses for beginners right through to advanced levels.

Those at a very basic level wanting to develop their speaking and listening skills should consider enrolling in either the 10-week ‘Taster Course’ or for something to last a bit more time there are the Starter and Elementary 1 courses which run for four terms. 

The next step up is divided into Elementary 2, Pre-Intermediate, and Intermediate 1 courses.

These classes are designed for students wanting to learn how to communicate or describe familiar topics and activities, use simple phrases, and write basic sentences.

Students will have the opportunity to build on their conversational, reading and writing skills.

Depending on your language level, you may be more suited to the Intermediate 2, Advanced, or the Upper Advanced course which is for students wanting to use Japanese fluently in both verbal and written interactions. 

Lessons are capped to ensure students have adequate support and attention from their teachers.

There is a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 14 participants per class.

They are held once a week and last for two hours.

The course fee will begin from $350 per term, which may not include textbook or new starter administration fees. 

The Japanese Foundation has also developed ‘e-Learning Minato,’ a Japanese language learning platform.

There are self-directed online courses for those wanting to study from any location at any time (perfect for students in Sydney who are unable to commute or have a busy schedule).

Alternatively, students may take virtual lessons with a tutor. Students can select courses on a range of skills including the four areas of language learning (reading, writing, listening, speaking) or they may want to focus on grammar, vocabulary, or culture and society.

The Foundation also offers the internationally recognised JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test) which evaluates and certifies the linguistic competence of non-native speakers.

There are five levels of the JLPT, the most basic level being N5 and the most difficult is N1.

Join a Local Language School

To improve your linguistic skills, why not try a nearby language learning centre that employs teachers whose native language is Japanese.

The benefit of such is that you not only have a chance to work on your reading comprehension and writing abilities, but also the skills which require one-on-one interaction with another person such as listening and speaking. 

The most effective way for students to improve their proficiency is simply applying their conversation skills, and having a discussion in real-time about language and culture with a native Japanese speaker.

Practising the language this way also allows students to mimic the pronunciation and rhythm of Japanese in a natural conversation, and train their ear to pick up on the sounds of the language.

A good idea is therefore to seek out an organisation that offers language education lessons with Japanese teachers.

From classrooms to online classes, there are many ways to have Japanese lessons
Studying in groups can help increase your skills and motivation. Source: Unsplash - Photo by Jaime Lopes

Sydney Language Solutions, for example, is known as the Asian language services specialist and provides interactive evening classes in Sydney for small groups of 4-8 people.

These are taught by a range of highly qualified instructors who have a minimum of five years of experience and at least a Masters in Education. 

If you are unsure of which Japanese class to enrol in, you may do an informal assessment over the phone to determine the right lesson for you.

The price of these language courses typically averages $300 for 10 weekly lessons but is based on the number of students participating.

This school also offers a 5-hour one-off language and culture workshops for travellers heading to Japan that covers basic greetings and useful everyday expressions. 

Another option for evening language courses is Sydney Community College who are also based in the CBD and offer Japanese classes for beginners right through to advanced students.

Designed to suit adult learners, the lessons are split across eight weeks and cost $375 for around 20 hours of education. 

Long or Short Term Japanese Courses at a University

Japanese is one of the most strategic and important languages for Australians to learn considering our close cultural, trading relations and proximity with Japan.

New South Wales, in particular, has the largest population of the Japanese community in Australia, and so it is no surprise that there are also several options available to learn the language at a university. 

Choosing to study Japanese at a tertiary level is a valuable investment.

Before you commence lessons, it is worthwhile considering the reason behind your enrollment in the university course.

Are you looking towards a career in linguistics, international business, academia, creative arts? Some professions will require a minimum language level, it is essential to keep this in mind as you are applying for jobs as well as selecting the right university to study Japanese at. 

First, there is The University of New South Wales (UNSW) with Japanese courses ranging from a diploma all the way to postgraduate study.

There are units available for those interested in contemporary Japanese literature, advanced writing, humanities or simply learning how to speak Japanese.

Alternatively UNSW Global offers a more affordable 20-week Japanese short course study program. These are priced at $395 and are divided into 6 levels of progression to enable students to select the right course for their learning needs.

Beginner lessons will cover basic expressions and communication, whilst the more advanced modules will enable students to achieve a proficient (or native-like) use of Japanese. 

Macquarie University offers a Diploma of Languages specialising in Japanese, which can be completed at the main North Ryde campus on a part-time basis for 3 years. 

This course is suitable for students looking to combine their Japanese studies with courses in other areas such as law or politics whilst still gaining bilingual and intercultural skills. 

Next, there is the University of Sydney based in Newtown.

Students can either complete a short course in 8 or 10 weeks or choose the ‘fast track’ option where learning is accelerated with twice-weekly meetings over four weeks.

Alternatively, students at the University may take up Japanese language electives in their bachelor degrees or they can study a more comprehensive program, with Japanese as a major or minor.

Similarly, Western Sydney University offers students at the Parramatta or Bankstown campuses a specialisation option to major in Japanese, this is ideal for those interested in professions such as teaching, international relations, business, or interpreting and translation. 

There are many benefits to learning Japanese
Travelling through Japan will ensure you pick up more of the language. |Source: Unsplash - Photo by Tianshu Liu

Private Lessons with a Japanese Tutor

The most flexible option for Japanese lessons is taking up private tutoring.

Whether you want to practice speaking Japanese, improve your listening skills, develop your grammar and vocabulary, or expand your reading and written ability, you can find a tutor to suit you.

This is also a much more affordable option for those not wanting to commit to a course that takes place over multiple weeks.

For example, a Japanese lesson with a Superprof tutor in Sydney will only cost about $29 on average. The first hour of tuition is usually offered for free by most teachers as well so you are able to see if you suit their teaching style. 

The great benefit is getting personalised classes tailored to your learning needs.

One-on-one lessons can be incredibly useful if you are finding a particular aspect of Japanese challenging and need extra support to build your confidence.

It is worth noting that language exchange meet-ups are also popular among language learners.

You can ask your tutor if there are any groups in Sydney they can recommend

. Perhaps you could suggest an outing to any of the Japanese Gardens in New South Wales such as those in Campbelltown, Gosford, Cowra, and Dubbo. 

Need a Japanese teacher?

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