Although our MBA program is fully conducted in English, many international students have significantly improved their Japanese by graduation. How do they do it? In this Byline ICS, we had a chance to hear from Pun, who studies Japanese at Hitotsubashi ICS and also at a Japanese language school outside of the campus.
Pun is a second-year student at Hitotsubashi ICS from Thailand under the MEXT scholarship
program. Before joining Hitotsubashi ICS, she worked in the auditing and accounting field at PwC and Agoda. She is in the middle of exploring many challenges to expand her experience and learn more about herself.
"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way."
It would be less meaningful if we had a chance to pursue an MBA at one of the world's most unique and interesting cultures but could not fully experience them or get a limited number of job opportunities because of a language barrier. Thus, I would like to share possible options and the experiences I’ve had for studying Japanese in Japan.
Japanese class inside Hitotsubashi ICS
Hitotsubashi ICS provides two levels of Japanese classes: beginner and intermediate. In the beginner class, the content covers the beginning to around JLPT N5. For the intermediate class, the content extends to around JLPT N4.
My Japanese language level was about N4 before I arrived in Japan in late November 2020. So, I decided to take an intermediate course to learn more and review what I had already learned. So far, I've found Hitotsubashi ICS Japanese language classes to be both relaxing and enjoyable. Miki-sensei and Jane-sensei are excellent teachers who engagingly offer grammar that can be useful in daily life conversations. The class size is small, with approximately 5 to 6 students per class. As a result, all the students can benefit from getting a chance to practice speaking in class. We also have Sai, the best TA and a super cool sempai from the Class of 2019, who helps us summarize useful vocabulary words we have learned. It is also fun to learn more about my Hitotsubashi ICS classmates through Japanese conversation. Above all, the best part is everything is free!
However, there are a few concerns about the Hitotsubashi ICS Japanese class. First, the school can only provide a 2-hour class per week to prevent scheduling conflicts with other courses. As a result, study progress is slow, and it may not be the best choice for people who want to significantly improve their Japanese quickly. Second, there aren't a lot of options. Students whose Japanese language level is already higher than N4 might lose an opportunity to have a Japanese class at Hitotsubashi ICS.
Japanese class outside Hitotsubashi ICS
My goal after graduation is to work in Japan. To achieve it, I need at least an N2 before graduation for my Japanese language skills to support my job-hunting. So, I decided to apply for a Japanese class at a private language school outside Hitotsubashi ICS to boost my Japanese skill. There are numerous private language schools outside Hitotsubashi ICS. The options are available from private online classes to ones in a classroom setting. We can choose what is most suitable for us in terms of time, workload, and tuition. For me, taking a class is a good way to make time to study Japanese.
The class I’m taking is twice a week and 3 hours for each session. The teaching pace is faster and has more pressure than at Hitotsubashi ICS as we have a quiz at the beginning of each class. Besides, since most of my classmates in this private school cannot speak English, the only way to communicate with them is to speak Japanese. This environment helps me improve my Japanese skill-specific ways, and I hope to pass JPLT N2 in the near future.
The trade-off is sometimes the tuition can be expensive, and we also need to work hard to balance the time preparing for courses at ICS and studying Japanese.
Japanese class from Kunitachi Campus
Another option is taking Japanese classes at the Kunitachi Campus. The classes range from beginner to advanced and other comprehensive courses, such as conversation or business writing. To me, the Japanese class from Kunitachi is also an interesting choice since it is included in the Hitotsubashi ICS tuition fee. However, I haven’t had a chance to enroll in the Japanese class at the Kunitachi Campus yet since it conflicts with my required courses at Hitotsubashi ICS. We can check the timetable of each class on the Hitotsubashi website
To future Hitotsubashi ICS students
Speaking Japanese is one of the keys to making your life easier when studying for an MBA in Japan. However, starting to learn Japanese after arriving in Japan might be difficult due to the demanding workload of the MBA classes at Hitotsubashi ICS. So, what I recommend is to study Japanese as much as possible before school starts. Clearing your Japanese studies out of the way will help you focus more on the next steps, such as finding a job after graduation or looking for an internship in the second year.
Read also the stories of Kin, Viola, and Yiwei.