Welcome to ITO Japanese School

Based in the heart of London on Oxford Street, ITO Japanese aims to make studying
Japanese fun and easy for everyone!

What our students say

Most of people decide to learn to read Japanese because of the culture or because they want to travel in Japan. For me it was purely because I found the language extremely weird and also because I though it will be cool to speak a language that for sure none of my friends talked. Well at least that how it started. At the point I decide to start studying the language I was living outside the UK and there were not many options for school or teachers so I decide to buys some self-teaching books and start teaching myself. This and the fact that my partner is a fluent Japanese speaker gave enough reason to focus on my studies. Sadly, I discovered I am a miserable teacher (I constantly cheated in all the tests hehehe) and after my first visit in Japan I decided that I would l really like to move there but first of all I have to get serious on my studies. That’s when we moved in London and I found out ITO Japanese school.

What made it stand out from the rest of the schools I found out is the fact that it gave me the feeling that first of all they do care and love a lot on what they are doing and also the fact that all the classes are done only in Japanese from start. And to be honest I could not be more right and lucky. ITO has helped me since the beginning to further a lot my knowledge in Japanese both in writing and speaking. I don’t just learn Japanese but I actual get immerse in the language and the best part of it is that our teacher always makes the best effort to make fun and easy to understand. All the teachers are always there to help you understand any questions you have and provide you with any additional help you might need. SO slowly and in a short period of time I have managed to start thinking Japanese – Which makes thing so much simpler.

I am happy to be part of this school and I would definitely recommend it for all that are interested and want to try out learning Japanese. I know for sure that every class for me is a fun 2 hours and I will continue furthering my studies with ITO in the future.

Ioannis 27/06/2016

After my wife and I enjoyed an amazing vacation in Japan, I decided to learn Japanese so that on out next visit, I could repay some of the wonderful hospitality we had experienced.

I investigated the courses available in other schools, but after a free trial lesson I quickly realised that ITO was the best out there.

The teaching employs a ‘direct’ method, where no English is spoken in classes or anywhere in the school - it’s daunting at first but you quickly assimilate and gain a much more intuitive understanding of Japanese as a result. I’d describe the way you learn as being ‘organic’ and it certainly payed dividends when I went back to Japan for a holiday this year! 

Because you work hard to try and express yourself in class, you become quite adept at explaining things simply when other teaching approaches tend to leave you bogged down trying to remember a specific word. Have to explain the difference between a Japanese pillow and a western one? Or to ask a hotel if you can leave your luggage there after checkout? It’s surprising how effectively you can communicate even before you’ve covered more advanced subjects.

The classes are very small and the other students are extremely friendly and supportive, especially when we’re trying to communicate in Japanese (no matter our level!) I’ve made wonderful friends in just the last year at ITO and I feel genuinely privileged to have them in my life.

Finally the teaching staff is wonderful, patient and great fun. There is a real sense of spirit in the school that’s hard to explain but easy to get used to.

John Louis 20/06/2016 (105 hours at ITO)

As a child of the 80s and 90's I grew up during Japan's boom and was constantly exposed to Japanese culture through media, tv and video games. I knew from an early age I wanted to learn the language but I wasn’t sure how to go about doing it.

I started studying Japanese at another London based language school but because the teaching of the classes was in English, I was learning a lot of grammar but unfortunately I wasn’t getting used to hearing spoken Japanese. This meant I was finding it difficult to reach a point where I could actually have a basic conversation despite knowing a lot of vocabulary and grammar. The teacher in my previous school actually suggested ITO to me as she knew the classes were taught completely in Japanese. I started at ITO with private lessons but then I moved to a Saturday morning class which, with only 3 other students, is much smaller than at my previous school.

I have been very happy with my move to ITO as I have finally reached a point where I can contribute to conversations with Japanese friends. 

Christian 08/06/2016 (51 hours at ITO)

I have been interested in Japan ever since junior high school and I always wanted to study Japanese. I want to live in Japan in a next couple of years and I believe that studying the language is paramount to be able to live in any country. Classes consist of three elements - speaking practice, usually at the beginning, homework - which is both reading and listening practice and then grammar study, going through different syntax structures with the book to prepare us for the Japanese Proficiency exam. I try to spend 30 minutes daily with kanji studies - although that does not always happen. I also save myself 1 hour the day after classes to run through the new material and do my homework as soon as. I have always struggled with kanjis but lately, putting more effort into that, I have noticed that I understand more just from reading. I also found watching Japanese movies and TV series to be a great help with listening and speaking. The biggest advantage of this school, comparing to different ones that I have tried, is that it makes you use Japanese - in higher level classes you should not ever use English to explain any words. Instead you are to explain it in simpler terms or give examples, for the understanding of your classmates.

Magda 03/06/2016 (157.5 hours at ITO)

It has been approximately 7months since I started ITO Japanese lessons. During this time I have learned hiragana, katakana and some kanji. I understand and find myself 'thinking' in Japanese. Though I am still lacking confidence to speak in Japanese effectively because the more I study the more I realise that I still have a lot left to learn. However by regularly speaking in class in a 'safe' environment and building on my grammar, I believe I will continue to improve in this area. The classes are fun and interactive which makes the learning enjoyable.

Diane 24/05/2016 (99 hours at ITO)

I was originally from Hong Kong. After studying and working in London for about 10 years I would like to go back to Asia Pacific to work for long term. That's why I believe learning Japanese will be a plus in my future career. Being able to achieve N1 in JLPT will be a basic criteria for me to work in Japan in order to gain Japanese customers confidence.  ITO lessons were well structured which include opportunities to practise speaking, listening as well as learning new 1-2 grammar patterns within each lesson. There is homework to complete after every lesson.  I usually did my revision when I was commuting to work as well as studying during weekends. I feel my Japanese improved after attending lesson, as speaking and listening used to be my weaknesses.

Jerome 20/05/2016 (42 hours at ITO)

If you're keen to learn Japanese and wanting to be fluent, then this school has one of the best methods I've ever encountered. I would recommend it to anyone who has serious interest about Japan. I was lucky to have found this course by chance. English was not my first language and I have particulars in looking for similarities of tutor's approach with regards to learning foreign languages.  I was nervous when I started the course in September, because of the "no English in class" rule. However, because our sensei is fun and relax, the class always enjoyable and full of laughter. Surprisingly, the materials are easy to pace with, only with little dedicated time for revisions outside the course. Other tutors at school have similar personalities, which motivate the students to come study and make progress. Our class almost finishes with the beginner term, and we all look forward to further our study into the next level.  I have been learning and understand Japanese a great deal so far through ITO, in comparison when I studied under school curriculum for 3 years.

For those who are thinking of joining us here, welcome *(^o^)/*

Airin 20/05/2016 (90 hours at ITO)

I've been interested in Japanese history and culture since I was young due to playing historical strategy video games. As I grew older I found myself enjoying Japanese cuisine in addition to film, music and TV which lead to me start learning Japanese in my spare time. I am currently studying with the aim of taking JLPTs (Japanese-Language Proficiency Tests) in the future. I have travelled to Japan only once and would love to travel there more as my Japanese continues to improve. 

The classes focus on pronunciation and speaking through conversation and reading aloud. Writing is generally practised through homework and reviewed during the next lesson and written assessments. The course aims to get you speaking and listening the moment you step through the door and eases you into new concepts, constantly revising and building upon previous lessons. The classes are small, ensuring everyone partakes in the lesson and receives a lot of attention from the teacher.

I generally do my homework and revise in the evenings. I have found that practising throughout the day (e.g. formulating sentences) especially when travelling helps with memorising vocabulary and has improved my conversational speed. Listening to the textbook audio files on my MP3 has improved my listening skills and helped to further reinforce vocabulary.

I find my Japanese improving every week, being able to more confidently converse in and after each lesson with the teacher and fellow students. Furthermore I have found myself understanding more and more Japanese when watching films and listening to music. I travelled to Japan (Tokyo and Kyoto) for the first time in May 2016 for a period of 8 days and, despite being relatively new to learning Japanese, found myself able to converse with those around me. It was especially useful when asking for directions and navigating the large variety of local dishes available. In addition to having a great time, I found that travelling to Japan helped improve my confidence speaking Japanese and taught me a range of new vocabulary.

Adam 18/05/2016 (93 hours at ITO

I’ve been studying with ITO Japanese School since around November of last year and I couldn’t be happier with the classes and what I’ve learnt. I started out with only a few words to my vocabulary and no idea of sentence structure or how to write hiragana, kanji or katakana. Now I’m able to hold basic conversation, discussing what I’ve done between classes, what my interests are and describing things that need context in more detail. I can now write hiragana with ease and write and read over 20 kanji without any issue. We have just started learning katakana and it’s already much easier to adapt to the new form of writing.

The structure of classes and the work and textbooks are very well thought out, effectively supporting the all-Japanese environment of the lessons. Even though my knowledge of Japanese was so limited, I never felt like the classes have gone too fast or that I’ve completely misunderstood the subject of that lesson. Starting out with hiragana we were able to learn the fundamentals of speech as well as writing by getting used to the range of sounds and pronunciations that span Japanese, practicing how to change the way we speak to aid in correctly pronouncing words. Along side this we used flash cards to memorize hiragana and to expand our vocabulary with words and pictures that represent them. The cards provided a quick way to practice, even when we moved on to sentence structure. We started with the basics of saying what something was and then how to describe it: what colour was it? Was they all the same? What kind of object is it? Who’s using it? This progressed into slightly more complex and varied sentence structures. As we went further through the textbook we have been slowly able to improve on conversation and asking and answering questions during class. We’ve learnt about family, counting, telling time, verbs and how to conjugate them and many more things to help support these subjects. The textbook and workbook are very well laid out, using combinations of different teaching and practicing methods to support what we learn in class. Personally I like the scripts with different characters speaking to one another that we can practice together in class to help not only with the subject matter but speed and intonation as well. It’s also very easy to look back and find out things you’ve forgotten or struggled with. The workbook gives you questions to answer and answer that you need to figure out the question for, pages you can use to practice writing completely from scratch using what you know and also to practice kanji that you learn as it becomes more relevant. In every class all the students have the chance to go over their homework, helping each other in correcting mistakes or figuring out something they haven’t understood with the teachers help. I’ve learnt a lot from having to figure out how to explain an answer to someone else without saying it directly; it’s a good way to practice the variety of things you’ve learnt.

Overall, the combination of lessons and learning material provided by this school as well as the cheerful, encouraging teaching environment has been an amazing experience and taught me so much more than I had expected. I look forward to everything I still have to learn!

Kelly 10/05/2016 (93 hours at ITO)

I decided to learn Japanese as I had a big interest in Japanese culture and entertainment.  Anime, Manga, Games and Japanese TV comedy/drama shows helped me decide to learn Japanese as I wanted to understand the language without the aid of subtitles or translations.

I goal is to be able to sufficiently understand, read and talk in Japanese.

The class is structured with practical speaking at the beginning of the lesson where each person talks about their week where the teacher encourages students to ask questions in Japanese.  The class is completely in Japanese with no English which helps with the practicing.

ITO have their own individual textbook and study book to help me study the language.

I find the time to study after work due to the lack of time.  Revision will take place during my travels to work and like all languages, time is required to practice the language.

Recently I have travelled to Japan for 2 week vacation and I was able to have a conversation with Japanese friends.  In addition I am able to order food without the need of English unless it is a kanji word I don't know.  I have brought manga and light novels in japan to aim to finish reading them.

Colin 04/05/2016 (127.5 hours at ITO)

I want to improve my Japanese in order to be able to converse about more topics when I visit my friends in Japan, and to be able to read Japanese newspapers and books. We have a small group lesson every Saturday and are studying N2 grammar - but in a fun way!  It's difficult to fit in homework and I'm often finishing it on the train on the way to my lesson.  The other day I looked at an old textbook from a couple of years ago and realised how easy it seems now. We must be making some progress. I think expanding vocabulary is really important and at this stage learning the nuances of different words is very important to achieving fluency. Our teacher is very motivating and encouraging. I am enjoying the classes at Ito Japanese School.

Patricia 30/06/2016

I started wanting to learn Japanese after my first trip to Japan, 6 years ago. This trip was a confirmation that I really loved this country, its people, culture, landscapes, music and language. I now have quite a few Japanese friends, and I would like to be able to talk to them casually in Japanese (as well as understanding my favourite singer’s lyrics!). My goal is, in a few years’ time, to have a sufficient level in Japanese to work in Japan.

I think we learn a lot during the lesson, we talk a lot and thus we can improve a lot and learn vocabulary. We sometimes can have quite a lot of homework to do, but I think it helps improving faster, to get the most out of the hour and a half in the classroom. We also learn the polite and casual ways of talking, which I think is the “real”, natural Japanese, not only the theory that you can find in the books!

When I look back at when I started at ITO last year, I can see the difference in level. When I started, I already knew the basics (I learned in an association in France), but now I can understand and talk more easily to my friends, I don’t need to think as much in my mother tongue before talking. I can read and write more kanji’s now as well (even if it’s still not my forte x) ). I think that lessons twice a week, 1h30, in Japanese only, with a lot of talking is the best way to learn quickly and good Japanese. The teachers are really nice as well! It’s always cheering me up, knowing that I have my Japanese class after a long day at work. We always have a good laugh, I think it’s the best compromise between having too much fun and not learning, and being too serious, hard-working and not having fun at all. It’s all about having fun while working hard!  I really love it and I look forward to my 2nd year in ITO!

Sophie 01/03/2016 (118.5 hours at ITO)

I started learning Japanese because of anime. Growing up I was an enormous Ghibli fan - I adored their themes, the way they were drawn and the overriding bitter sweetness, and this grew into an appreciation of the Japanese aesthetic of simplicity, beauty, efficiency and wabi-sabi. My goal was at first to be able to watch anime without reading subtitles, but soon evolved into the aim of wanting to be fluent enough to live and work in Japan. I hope to be able to go there this or next year! 

I have private lessons at ITO and look forward to them every week. ITO teachers are caring, warm and really vested in your improvement, and they always challenge me to do better, and I find myself improving faster than ever before. At ITO, only Japanese is spoken in class, and teachers find creative ways of explaining the meaning of words in Japanese - this creates an organic learning environment which I find tremendously helpful. 

As my work involves late nights most of the time, I study Japanese at the weekends, and make grammar and vocabulary flash cards on an app called StudyBlue which I revise on my phone while on the tube or before I go to bed. It’s challenging (especially because I think my memory has gotten worse) but rewarding when I found that I could start reading Japanese short stories (very slowly). I took the N4 exam in June 2015, N3 in December 2015, and will be taking the N2 exam in July 2016. It’s thanks to the wonderful teachers at ITO that I have been able to progress according to my goals!  

Cherie 28/02/2016 (57 hours at ITO)

I started lessons at Ito in late 2014. My wife is from Japan, and whilst she is fluent in English having lived here for years, her family don't speak much. I wanted to learn Japanese not only to communicate with them more, but also because I find the country and culture so fascinating.  

My goal is to get to a good level of speaking and reading to communicate well with my wife's family. Since I began at Ito, we've also had a daughter who we'd love to be bilingual, so this has given me more motivation to learn.. I'm sure once she starts speaking she'll catch me up quickly! 

The classes are twice weekly and are immersive, so are conducted entirely in Japanese. Initially, this takes some getting used to, but is definitely worthwhile as it forces you to think in Japanese.  The groups are a good size, which means you get plenty of opportunity to join in 

and there is lots of time for you to practice and ask questions - in Japanese of course!   

I've visited Japan 4 times now, and am due to go again this Spring. I love the country, the culture and of course the amazing food! I'd recommend anyone to visit, whether you're learning the language or not, as it's a beautiful country with great people! I would also recommend Ito - a friendly and safe learning environment which will really help you develop your skills. 

Dean 09/02/2016 (120 hours at ITO)

As an adult student I decided to learn Japanese because my children have a strong interest in Japanese manga, culture and language. My elder son is also interested in teaching English in Japan. So, I decided to take up Japanese lessons to support my children’s interests.

Also, my job deals directly with Japan and although my Japanese colleagues have excellent English and embrace the English/American corporate culture, it has been very helpful for me to learn and understand the Japanese culture which varies significantly in some areas. I now have a greater respect and awareness for my Japanese colleagues.

I honestly did not think I would last at my lessons because I am not naturally good at picking up languages plus due to a very busy work and home schedule, I do not have as much time as I would like to do my homework and consolidate my learning. However, I am still going and hope to progress to obtain a qualification at the end of it. I also watch the occasional J-drama to support my understanding of Japanese language and culture!

The course and classes are very structured building on foundational learning. They also use pictorial cards which I like as I am a visual learner. The classes are only in Japanese which means sometimes I do not understand everything. Though once I go home and go through the text book (which each class is centred on), then I understand and realise that it is better not to speak English in class because speaking only in Japanese supports faster learning, as not everything is directly translatable into English.

I genuinely believe that my Japanese has improved through the discussion within class and watching films/dramas. I feel I lack some confidence in speaking what I have learned though know that the more I continue with the classes and put in the effort required, I will continue to improve.

I recommend this style of learning to anyone who wants to really understand both the language and culture.

Diane 06/02/2016

It was Japanese Anime that brought me and Japanese together. I have always been fascinated about Japanese culture, and because it is beneficial to my current line of work, I have been presented with an opportunity to learn Japanese, and hopefully I can converse fluently in Japanese in 2 years. Ito has a very special teaching technique, we do not use any “direct translation” in the class, and instead, we learn it in a more “natural’ way, like how a baby learns how to talk. As this is how everyone learns a language from birth, this becomes a very natural method to apply as an adult. I do not actually have time to study (a lazy excuse, I know), but I watch a lot of anime in my free time and it helps. After 5 months of studying, I actually started picking up the simple conversational phrases from the Japanese anime and noticed I have been relying on subtitles less.

Chin 03/02/2016 (102 hours at ITO)

It's been roughly two years since I started private lessons at the ITO Japanese School. When I first started, considering how slow my progress initially seemed to be, I didn't think I'd have reached the level of proficiency I have in such a relatively short amount of time. Having few opportunities outside the weekly classes to practice with other people, I think it really speaks to the quality of the teaching that I've been able to come so far, so quickly. Recently, an average class for me starts with a short, casual chat with my teacher about current events in our lives; film's we've seen, holiday plans, eating habits and so on. Then, before focussing on a new aspect of the language, we'll go over the homework I'd been set the week before. At the moment I'm learning how to use Japanese more informally, while also delving into more complex grammar, and slowly but surely padding out my vocabulary and kanji. Even though I feel quite comfortable now using Japanese to talk about a wide range of topics, the lessons are still challenging, exhausting at times, and there's so much more to learn. But given how fun and rewarding the classes are, and how much patience and skill the teachers have,

Faisal 02/02/2016 (126 hours at ITO)

I have always had an interest in Japan and knowing the language is essential to getting a better understanding of the country. My goal is to be able to communicate with Japanese people when I travel throughout the country. Classes are really interactive and carried out 100% in Japanese, which is the best way to improve. My class always starts with a bit of conversation, then we read out loud sentences we have written as homework and, finally, we study new grammar. Tons of new vocabulary comes up at every class naturally. I tend to do my homework for an hour during the weekends. Then I use anki type repetition apps, such as Wanikani, to learn kanji. These are really, really useful and you can study whilst you're on the train or waiting in a queue.

If I'm preparing for the JLPT there will be lots more studying. I'd try to put in about 15 to 20 hours a week on top of lessons. But that's only in the two months prior to the exam.

Whenever I watch Japanese films I'm definitely catching a more sentences. Before my understanding was zero!

The Japanese-only method at ITO is great and the teachers are really dedicated to helping students learn. Learning Japanese is never quick or easy but if you sign up to Ito and stick to it you will definitely see a marked improvement in your Japanese language skills.

Carlos 01/02/2016 (78 hours at ITO)

I have always wanted to be able to speak another language to better myself and have more opportunities in life. As I have an interest in Japanese culture and I like the sound of the language, I decided that this language was the one I wanted to learn.  In the long run, I'm hoping that I'll become fluent in Japanese to achieve my career aspirations. However, as its going to take a long time,  my goal whilst studying at ITO is to get to a high enough level, so that when I go to Japan to study I will have the confidence to use and develop what I have already learned so far.  I had previously taken Japanese lessons and done a bit of self-study. Instead of starting at the beginning again, I was able to join a class that was halfway through their level. Their Japanese was a lot better than mine, but this helped me to push myself a bit more. I also took a few catch-up lessons so that I was closer to their level. It helped a lot. If there was an area that I had struggled with in class, there would be work prepared for me to do in that area.  The class I joined now has 4 students in it, including myself. Being in such a small class is perfect, you have no choice but to read aloud and answer questions as there’s no one to hide behind. It also makes it more comfortable to speak out if you don't what something is each week; I have 2 lessons on a Saturday. We usually start off by talking about a topic, like what we did last week or about what we like. These are my favourite parts as you forget you're in a lesson and it allows you to practice what you've learned previously without you realising it. After that we read through a text book, ask and answer questions about the section we just read and go through the homework.  Finding time for homework and further study can be a bit difficult, especially if you are also taking catch-up/private lessons as well as the group classes. I usually try to study each night after work, whether its reading, practising and learning how to write kanji or doing my homework. Sometimes I will even do a bit on my break a work or if I have a long journey to somewhere. I definitely feel as though my Japanese is improving. I can listen to a song or watch a programme in Japanese and understand a few odd words or phrases that I could before. I am looking forward to the day when I no longer need subtitles. I am so glad I decided to study at ITO, the total immersion method has made my Japanese progress quicker than the lessons I had previously taken and I come out of each lesson feeling great. You should give the lessons at ITO a try. I haven’t had a lesson yet that has been boring or hasn’t been full of laughter. You will be able to see your progress week after week and you goal get closer and closer.

Bryony 26/01/2016 (19.5 hours at ITO)

My first trip to Japan was awesome. I went in April last year and at the time had been learning Japanese at Ito for over a year already, still having not yet been myself - I think I felt that I would need more language than I did, though there were a couple of menus I looked at and literally had no idea what I was doing (some places have pictures though!) It felt good to be confident to try my Japanese with local people like train guards or shopkeepers to find out directions etc. and to see how much I could understand back. I can’t wait to go again. I feel like a lot has happened for my Japanese since then (last comment in Jan, 2015) though I can really put a finger exactly on what.. I think conversationally I feel more fluent though listening and understanding has really improved.

Laurence 25/01/2016 (238.5 hours at ITO)

I decided to start learning Japanese because I’ve always had an interest in anime, manga and Japanese culture. I wanted to be able to watch shows and read in the original form without the aid of subtitles and translation. Japanese is also the only language I’ve loved the sound of and been excited to learn, as I usually find learning languages very difficult. I want to be able to visit Japan and hold a conversation so I can learn more about the country. Our classes are structured so that every time you enter the classroom the language surrounds you. It’s very immersive and really encourages you to think about how to ask questions with what you’ve learned instead of default to English. The lessons start out simply, not focusing on grammar but the core basics of hiragana to help with reading a learning basic vocabulary. Once that’s been practiced we start to learn a variety of simple sentences that support basic conversation. Lesson’s that introduce new concepts also reinforce old ones as well by encouraging using a mixture of sentences to give more detail. The workbooks and homework are also very well set out. They keep the subjects simple and easy to understand and then push you to apply what you’ve learned in a variety of ways. Although I sometimes find it hard to study with a full time job, it does feel very rewarding and just doing an hour or so between lessons is enough for me to feel confident going into the next one. Listening to the CD provided can also be a great way to learn if you are quite busy and can really help with pronunciation. I’ve found as each week passes I’m able to start recognizing more words and even full sentences in the media I watch and can read hiragana and a handful of kanji with relative ease. It makes me really want to keep learning! I’m very grateful to my teachers and classmates, as they have been very kind and encouraging even when I’ve found things difficult and made mistakes. I look forward to continuing with ITO Japanese School.

Kelly 25/01/2016

First of all I decided to learn Japanese personally because I became interested in Japanese pop culture, such as Anime and Manga and I also love martial arts in general. I'm still a big fan of both Anime and Manga, especially the art style as I enjoy drawing and things of an artistic nature. As time went on I just had the feeling of wanting to understand the language I was listening to on such a regular basis. Therefore I decided to go ahead and find a place to start learning, nothing to strict or structured to formally, but in a relaxed and focused atmosphere. My main goals from wanting to learn Japanese are to just be able to fluently speak the language in a general friendly conversation, such as being in a shop or simply asking for help/directions etc. Japan is also at the top of my countries to visit, so being able to communicate myself without the help of others would be great and an awesome experience in itself.

The class was structured really well, especially as a beginner when you realize how much you really don't know! You may think you know some ins and outs of the language your learning until you really go ahead and do it, at least which was my experience, so I took everything with a pinch of salt and just tried to stay open minded with the teaching. I just tried to concentrate and remember the details where I felt I could the most. Early on you may be confused with the pace or flow of the teaching, but after your class you may find yourself going over the pattern of the class and realizing that thing you didn't understand, then realizing your error. I also found the language will string together in parts, so just keep your mind open to things and your imagination sharp!

With homework I didn't have masses of time to complete it personally at home, because I do a lot of training in martial arts along with other hobbies, martial arts being the sole reason I decided to put learning Japanese on the back burner for the time being, as I feel I will definitely revisit it in the future! But I mainly did a lot of my homework the day before, on the train on the way to class or before classes. Sometimes reading/writing homework in the textbook/workbook can get confusing if I wasn't sure what I did/covered last lesson, so make sure to pay attention to certain details in class! I would usually get kanji out of the way first as I always enjoy writing/drawing the characters, as it feels like more of an art to me personally. Vocabulary wasn't something I felt I struggled with either, it was always understanding the context of what I was learning with which I had a harder time with.

My ability I felt started to improve once I could form proper and natural responses to questions or things I was asked about, whatever the conversation topic may be, also being able to include what I had learnt previously within my responses. When your responses/answers start to flow and become more natural that's when I feel there has been progress made, as you’re not having to think about what you’re saying it just comes to you, also don't ever try to translate things back to English or your native language too much, as it will either give you a mental block or completely confuse you, unless your brain works that way, but mine definitely didn't! Constantly listening/watching/speaking Japanese when you’re at home, at work (if possible!), travelling etc. will obviously help as well, slowly but surely drilling it into your head, but do it because you want to, not because you feel you have to!

P.S. - Once again just keep an open mind, try not to relate back to your native language too much. Strictly keep your mind with Japanese while in class and studying, just keep your imagination sharp but don't try too hard as might make it even harder! Sensei may say to you (at least she did to me..!) "イメージ イメージ!" just imagine what your trying to "think"!

Lloyd 25/01/2016 (144 hours at ITO)

I joined ITO classes 7 years ago as an absolute beginner with no knowledge of the Japanese language at all. Now, at JLPT N1 level, I am able to use the language in the professional business environment and comfortable with using the language under any circumstances whenever I am talking to a Japanese colleague or a friend.  I would like to contribute my continuous interest and progress in Japanese language and culture to the small-classroom set-up of ITO's program set-up, the teachers' dedication and the interactive nature of every class.

ITO is definitely your top choice for learning the Japanese language in a truly enjoyable fashion.

Alice 19/03/2015 (613.5 hours at ITO)

I started learning Japanese at ITO 3 years ago. Back then I knew only 4 or 5 words and the あ-dan of Hiragana. Looking back it seems like so long ago, but the time sure flew by quickly. Today I can understand most of the dialogues in anime, read manga (luckily new kanji there usually have okurigana as well), write letters in Japanese and speak fairly confidently too. All of that thanks to kind and passionate sensei that have been guiding me on the journey. It was tough and challenging at times to get my head around confusing concepts of the language, but never even once I thought it wasn't awesome! We started off as a group, but then I switched to private classes and I liked those better. There are pros and cons for both types of course, but private classes certainly do help to match the individual learning pace and give more flexibility. The "Japanese only in classrooms" restriction certainly does help with the immersion effect. Whatever your level is, the sensei will find a way to give you more practice and a chance to learn something new!

Roman 06/03/2015 (337.5 hours at ITO)

I started learning Japanese because I have friends who have studied the language and knew it to an advance level. I wanted to be cool like them and speak Japanese. My goal changed recently and I am sure all I have learnt at ITO shall come in handy with my new job in Tokyo this Spring. I take group classes with four others twice a week. The classes concentrate on conversation which helps a lot with pronunciation but also acquiring a useful vocabulary which is necessary to having interesting conversations in a new language. The flash cards are very useful for quick revision whenever you have a spare moment. I love to do my homework at a café with some tea during my breaks at work.  I first came to ITO for their Calligraphy class which was held in complete Japanese as well but it is a lot of fun and allows you to practise Kanji in a relaxing environment. 

Aisha 21/02/2015

I became fascinated by East Asia when I was a little girl, and started teaching myself Japanese because I loved the way the writing looked and I thought the spoken language sounded very soft and melodic. After many years of very slow and intermittent progress self-teaching, I decided to try to get my language to working proficiency so that I might have more opportunities to travel to Japan through my future careers, and so I could experience more of Japan if I ever got the chance to visit again. My ultimate goal is to one day become fluent but I am happy taking my time about it. Because I had been self-teaching, I started by taking private lessons until I filled the gaps in my knowledge so I could skip the Beginner's classes. From the I stepped into the classroom to discuss lessons, I was greeted in Japanese and encouraged to speak only Japanese. This rule was strictly adhered to the whole time I spent at ITO and was instrumental to the progress I made. The teachers knew exactly what I was trying to say with my limited Japanese, and they knew exactly what vocabulary and grammar to use that I could understand. In my initial private classes, if I couldn't understand something they would use the whiteboard to help explain even complicated grammar using only Japanese and drawings. Once I joined a group class, we followed the JLPT books and if anyone struggled with a specific term or had something unrelated they wanted to learn, the teachers would make sure we understood it before they moved on. It really was a tailored experience. I was working full time but had few other commitments outside that. I set aside 2 evenings a week for Japanese homework and revision. The homework is always enjoyable and helpful. You are encouraged to take chances with more complicated questions and the teacher will correct you and explain why what you wrote was wrong so you don't have to try to 'stay in the safe zone' with your writing. A lot of textbook examples are over simplistic and do not tell you that you can't use certain grammar structures in all situations. I tried to do at least 2 hours of homework and 2 hours of revision every week on top of my classes. If you have use public transport, try to get some revision done on your phone or on a notepad to make better use of your time, or if you drive, record your own learning CD where you test your own vocabulary and grammar. From the first class I was genuinely surprised at having been able to hold a 2-way conversation in Japanese for a whole 2 hours. It made me feel a lot more comfortable about speaking Japanese. I still find it difficult to understand when Japanese is spoken quickly, but if I return to Japan this time I will be able to start conversations with the locals rather than just asking for directions or book hotels.  I honestly cannot recommend this school enough. I've always looked at advertised classes and felt like I couldn't spend money on Beginner classes when I already knew Hiragana/Katakana and basic Japanese, but then I wasn't sure whether I could handle the more advanced classes. With ITO they will assess your level and know exactly what to do with you. It might sound intimidating that everything is done only in Japanese, but believe me you will see the benefits immediately! Oh and the teachers are super-friendly as well! Classes are never boring, they're really interactive and that's what makes it so easy to learn!

Eleonore 15/02/2015

I first started studying Japanese because I was interested in the culture and wanted to travel to Japan. Going forward my goal is to be able to speak in Japanese with friends and to be able to understand conversational Japanese. Right now I am studying for the JLPT level N3. Lessons at ITO are fun and challenging at the same time. Only Japanese is used at all times and that means that you constantly make an effort to understand the teacher and your classmates. Teachers are very good at understanding what students are interested in and they use these hints as part of the conversational part of the lesson. All abilities are thought - reading writing listening speaking - so at the end of each lesson you feel more and more confident with using Japanese. A big part of the lesson is outside class in the sense that you have to practice with your homework and kanji drills. I try to read and listen to a lot of Japanese watching movies and trying to read manga to make learning fun. After one year studying at ITO I decided to spend three months in Japan. At that point I started to feel a bit more confident with my Japanese. After two years with ITO I passed the JLPT N4.

Gianna 13/02/2015

In 2012, we visited Japan for 3 weeks. This is one of the best trips we have done and food, sightseeing and people were extraordinary. In many occasions though, we found ourselves in situations where Japanese people were trying to discuss with us, but because of their limited knowledge of English and our ignorance of Japanese we were not able to discuss as much as we would have liked to. I started learning Japanese so that next time I travel to Japan, I am able to discuss with Japanese people. My goal would be to get to a point where I can improve my Japanese level by myself by reading or watching movies. We are four in our class. The class always begin by some discussions with the rest of the group on our past week. This is the occasion for us to speak and to use the latest words or grammatical forms we have learned. Then we usually correct the homework which takes more or less time depending on if it was a text to write or an exercise. We then go to the lesson and put in practise what we learned in an exercise. There is rarely a moment where we are not speaking and the lesson is very interactive and fun (with the teacher and with the rest of the group). From the very first lesson, the teacher only speaks in Japanese to us and we are not allowed to speak in English which is a very good thing for us to improve our understanding and to learn to think in Japanese without translating. The Japanese and English (or French) construction of the sentences are really different and I think translating is something which just would slow us down. Therefore the "only Japanese" rule is a very good rule as it helps us think in Japanese. I always take the time to do the homework and re-read the last lesson. Sometimes, during holidays I also re-read a bit more to remind me what we have done in the past months. As I am working, I don't always find as much time as I would like to study especially the kanjis. But my primary focus being able to understand and to speak, I have decided that when I have less time, the learning of those kanji is not the primary priority. I felt my Japanese had improved by watching movies in Japanese. Being able to understand more words, or more complex sentences. When I looked back to how it was at the beginning, I really saw the difference. Also when discussing, being able to do more complex sentences and being able to say more what you want to say is really encouraging.

Nathalie 06/02/2015

I decided to study Japanese because of my interest in Japanese culture. My long term goal is to read, write and speak fluently (or as close as possible!) I study one evening a week in a class with three other students. We are only allowed to use Japanese to communicate during the lesson, which was quite difficult to begin with, but after a while felt like a much more beneficial way of learning. We are set homework every week, and work through text books with our tutor.  I try to study a bit every day, even when time is tight, I'll study on the tube or on my lunch break. At the beginning of every class, our tutor often asks us what we did during the past week. When I've been able to recount stories or events in Japanese it has felt particularly rewarding.

Aaron 02/02/2015

It was actually a bit of a coincidence. I was in Japan doing an artist's residency & found myself with some regular free time so I dropped into the first language school I saw & began taking classes. 

I look forward to the class each week. The balance between practical conversation & more in-depth grammar training is just right. The teachers allow the conversation to flow freely, which encourages participation, while correcting errors without undue severity.  Little and often works best for me. I carry word cards to learn vocabulary & look through them regularly whenever I have a few minutes to spare. More difficult points such as kanji and unfamiliar grammar require more focused study however, so I tend to dedicate one evening a week to homework & fully understanding the point I'm studying.  There's definitely no immediate change but at some point I realised I was able to fully participate in conversations. As time passes, the conversations became longer & more fruitful. It's only really in hindsight that I can notice the change.  ITO comes highly recommended as a well-balanced & considerate school.

Paul 02/02/2015

I wanted to learn Japanese because I love the culture and people.  I have very early memories of visiting Japan as a child with my mother.  It was during that trip that I began to be fascinated with Japan.  I want to experience everything Japan has to offer. I like lessons at least two days a week.  It enables me to get constant exposure to Japanese and push myself.  The amount of time I spend studying Japanese depends on my work schedule. Usually I spend an hour a day practicing writing and reading.  It helps me to be in class because I'm forced to commit to a schedule.  Last week, when I was in Netherlands I had a conversation with a Japanese chef.  I was able to have a conversation with him.  That was really nice :)

Todd 02/02/2015

While I was into the Arashi (a Japanese idol group) fandom, I decided to learn Japanese so that I can watch their TV programmes and dramas without subtitles. Attracted by the Japanese culture, I always look forward to travelling in Japan and being able to speak the language surely makes the journey more enjoyable. With my Chinese background and access to Japanese-Chinese subtitled TV programmes, learning Kanji and vocabularies are relatively easy for me. However, Japanese grammar, unlike Chinese and English, is rather unique and it takes time to remember the variety of phrases and sentence structures which give the same meaning. When I first joined ITO Japanese School for private lessons, my plan was to take the GCE AS Level Japanese exam in a year’s time after having completed a JLPT level N5 course beforehand. With limited knowledge of Japanese, I was quickly adapted to the Japanese-only environment ITO adopts as tutors patiently explain grammar rules and vocabularies until I grasp the ideas clearly. Since private tuition is more flexible, ITO teachers assisted me tremendously in realising my goals as I achieved an A in both GCE AS and A2 level after 8 months of study at ITO. Having completed JLPT level N3 last summer, I am planning to take the level N2 exam this year. Due to the nature of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), speaking and writing are not assessed. However, ITO provides lots of support to practising these two components, which boosts my confidence greatly when I attempt to communicate in Japanese. Besides, not only are tutors professional but also friendly and caring: while studying in university, it is sometimes hard to cope with my academic work and extra-curricular activities, but tutors are always willing to adjust the schedule so that I can strike a balance between the two.

Catherine 30/01/2015

I am learning Japanese for two purposes. First I find the people, culture and natural geography of Japan absolutely fascinating. Japan is a rich country like western countries but its value system is very different. I find trying to understand these values through learning the language very rewarding. Secondly, on a practical level, if you travel to the rural areas where English is not generally understood, some Japanese certainly comes in handy. I always find my lessons at ITO very enjoyable. They are always conducted in an easy going, good natured atmosphere and there is always a well explained resolution to any specific difficulties I may have. In conversation, I can raise absolutely anything I want so long as I speak in Japanese. I try to read a little from the text book every morning; I have found that words soon disappear from my memory unless I keep refreshing them. I also prepare for the homework at this time but do any writing at the weekend usually on the computer (I have drawn the line at learning to write the kanji). The grammar is relatively straightforward after a while. Perhaps the two most challenging areas that I have found is remembering the meaning of the kanji and how to pronounce it, and the lack of use of personal pronouns means that the meaning of sentences is often embedded in the (Japanese) context of previous sentences. I found reading Jay Rubin's Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You very helpful alongside the lessons at ITO. I regard the learning of Japanese as more of a journey than a destination. It becomes more pleasurable the more you learn but it's like unpicking the layers of an very large onion, that is why you need native speakers like those at ITO to good humourly guide you.

Paul 29/01/2015

I originally started to learn Japanese as a hobby, after I got interested in Japanese fashion, food and culture. After I started to make Japanese friends and eventually my Japanese husband, it became more of a mission for me to be able to communicate with them more effectively. Particularly my non English speaking in laws, I would be so happy to sit down with them one day and have a proper conversation with no language barrier. It took a long time for me to find a Japanese school I wanted to join in London. I contacted ITO after a recommendation from a friend of a friend and I'm very happy with my choice. Even after a just a few classes I could feel my confidence growing. The immersive technique, being unable to hide behind English if I don't know a word or phrase is brilliant and teachers are excellent. Our classes feel like we're chatting with friends but we're learning at the same time. I tend to try to do a little homework each day, during my lunch break or for an hour or so in the evening. Luckily, I really enjoy learning Japanese so it doesn't feel like 'homework' as such. Kanji is definitely my most difficult point, but I find I'm learning little by little, usually by trying to use it often through letters and emails to friends. I've never been confident talking to Japanese people face to face, so I guess I realised my Japanese had improved when I finally felt able to talk to some of my Japanese friends using Japanese rather than English. Learning Japanese has been a long road for me. Sometimes I feel like I come to a standstill and don't improve for weeks or even months. I never gave up though, and I always try to find new ways to keep studying enjoyable. I really love studying Japanese, it's my hobby and my passion!

Laura 29/01/2015

During most of my teenage years I didn't have the chance to take part in many extracurricular activities outside of studying. The subjects I was pressured into studying didn't really offer me a connection to the outside world or other people, so even when I tried hard I could only feel bored and unmotivated. I wanted to find my own passion, something that would prove my own capabilities to myself. It was around then I noticed that through watching Japanese media I had subconsciously picked up a few words. It was at that point I set myself a challenge to see how far I could get in ten years under my own effort. To begin with I set myself simple goals when studying, propelled by my eagerness to understand a new Japanese audio books or dramas I might come across. Each step I took made it easier for me to take the next and with time not only was I able to understand most Japanese speech, I had managed to teach myself to read (for the most part I should add).

Ten years have passed since I set myself the challenge. With self-study I have gotten reasonably far but there has been one area I couldn't improve upon no matter how much I tried alone and that was with my speaking skills. Other schools I had researched didn't really place so much importance on this skill so I was very excited when I found out about the Japanese only classes ITO Japanese School offers.

One thing that has pleased me about the lessons is how they don’t make you feel like you’re a child back in secondary school when in discussion. Everyone there is an adult, there to talk about the world, culture and their lives. In past lessons we've chatted about things from how education works in the UK to why is it common for Japanese people to peel oranges the same way. Of course the whole time you're learning so at the end of the lesson you find yourself starving after all the mental effort you've used. I had been very unsure of myself when I started as I had never spoken so much Japanese before and was very self-conscious of how I might sound. I pushed through that though as I was desperate to get better. Of course even now I still make many mistakes but I've gained the confidence to feel comfortable speaking and I promise this will be the same for anyone. With the practice ITO offers you learn to speed up the rate at which you change what you think into Japanese to the point that you even think in Japanese! The school’s utmost biggest strength however, is its teachers. So far their guidance has helped me refine my grammar and explore the ways I can express what I want to say. They also give students the push needed to move onto the next level, carefully considering the needs of every learner.

All the homework and extra studying has fitted in neatly into my timetable after I finish work. With classes on a Saturday, I like to leave Sunday as my ‘day off’ from studying but even then I’ll still be passing my time by reading Japanese novels. I am currently familiar with about 1000 kanjis but was stagnating when it came to further progression. Being at the school however has not only aided me in carrying on further but has given me the chance to use it in a practical setting, i.e. the homework. It has ranged from writing my own example sentences using specific grammar to writing short articles about my own opinions of certain subjects.

For a long time whenever anybody would ask about what hobbies or skills I had, I never used to mention Japanese. I was always worried I would betray their expectations as I didn't gain the various skills of this language at the same rate. I didn't want to feel the embarrassment of having to say Well, yes I do ‘understand’ Japanese but...er, I don’t really speak it”. It’s because of this that only recently, through joining ITO, I have felt like I really know the language and am good enough to use in other settings. Coming to this realisation has been an incredible boost for me, and an affirmation that my efforts these past years haven’t been in vain. Thanks to ITO I have set my sights on gaining a qualification in Japanese so that I can soon work using the language I love.

I came to ITO Japanese School with some previous knowledge of the Japanese language but more than anything I wish that I could have found this school sooner, regardless of what level I might have been at. What they offer is the closest experience London has to being in Japan. It’s this immersion that means anybody, of any level has the ability to gain greatly and progress in their learning.

Nadira 29/01/2015

I was always fascinated by the Japanese Kawaii culture and on a number of occasions I was mistaken as a Japanese at Japanese shop. However, the last few years I started to do Japanese cooking hence it motivated me to study Japanese language and enable me to communicate in Japanese during my visit in Japan which I thoroughly enjoyed.  For beginner, the class structured emphasis on the basis of understanding the 'hiragana' style wording/ lettering, also by using a hiragana/kanji/katakana alphabet playing card to help student identify basic word in daily Japanese life and teachers ensure I understand and trial and error practice during the lesson. The teacher always ensures I think out of the box to be creative with my Japanese phrases. If time allowed I tried to practise my homework, hiragana and kanji every day from minimum of 30 minutes to 2 hours. I tend to scroll or write the same word over and over again to get myself familiarise and reading out loud definitely helps me identify the different wording. I noticed I had made improvement when I started to be able to understand some Japanese word on the tv and not struggling too much to write. I must take this opportunity to thank my teachers for making the effort in insisting on me speaking in Japanese at all time.

Inn 27/01/2015

My wife is Japanese and her family does not speak much English. I decided to learn Japanese to be able to converse with them. I also want to be able to communicate with shop staff, etc when I travel around Japan. Japanese can be difficult to learn but the way you are taught at ITO is really good. You quickly start learning the language without getting bogged down with grammar. The lessons are great and really get you "thinking in Japanese". I try and find some time at the weekends or evenings to do the homework. I also use some apps to practice kanji during the day while travelling or even a few minutes at work. The improvement in speaking/understanding is quite gradual and difficult to notice yourself. However on my most recent trip to Japan (after learning Japanese for about 1.5 years) my parents-in-law said they definitely saw a big improvement in my Japanese. I can at least have some small conversations with them now.

Dewang 26/01/2015

I began studying Japanese simply because I wanted to learn a non-European language but after visiting Japan several times I quickly grew to love the culture (and food!). Thanks to my studies I have made many new friends both in Japan and here in the UK, my partner is also Japanese and I want us to be able to use both of our native languages comfortably. It’s also just a lot of fun! I enjoy the small class sizes at ITO as everyone gets a chance to participate fully in any discussion. The class often starts with a casual chat about our week and what we got up to, not only is it great practice but also one of my favourite parts of the class as we get to use what we've learned in more casual conversation. The homework assigned is a useful tool for reinforcing what you have just learned. I try to do the homework shortly after the lesson and find that anything I didn't quite get during the class tends to make itself clear through the homework. As with many others I find Kanji to be the most difficult, the text book does a very good job introducing it gradually but I still make it the focus of my independent studies. Even though the “zero English” approach is intimidating at first I was surprised at how quickly you can learn through this method. Being able to read an entire sentence in a non-romanised language after a matter of weeks is extremely satisfying and now, after only 18 months, I am able to have conversations and express my opinion in a language not commonly spoken in the west. After only 6 months I was able to travel independently on my first trip to Japan! As mentioned, I first started learning as a curiosity but the class has quickly become the highlight of my week. ITO’s classes are not only effective but also fun; they turn studying into something closer to a hobby than work. The structure is extremely effective, I learned more in 6 weeks than I did of 6 months of self-study (I bought all the usual books that promise quick results!). In summary, learning a second language is always difficult (especially one so different from my native tongue!) but ITO have definitely minimised that difficulty and keep me interested where otherwise I may have already given up.

Luke 25/01/2015

Japan for me has always been a country of great cultural history and traditions. Since a very young age, it has been my passion to educate myself about Japan and its people. From the beautiful and charming animations of studio Ghibli to the works of celebrated animators like Makoto Shinkai, I started learning about the country of cherry blossoms and samurais. These interests encouraged me to broaden my knowledge about Japanese literature, art, design, language and history. I started learning Japanese language at ITO Japanese Language School 2 years ago as my dream is to live and work professionally in Japan. Since I joined the school my Japanese language skills have developed significantly to the point I was able to travel in Japan on my own and what is the most important thing to communicate with Japanese people not using English at all.

The classes usually consist of small group (3 to 6 people) which give a unique and enjoyable learning experience. All the lessons are structured around speaking, writing and reading exercises. The atmosphere is relaxed and we always have a lot of fun! I highly recommend this school for those who think seriously about learning Japanese language but also for those who want to learn the language whilst having a great and full of you time.

Dagmara 26/01/2015

I started learning Japanese at ITO nearly 6 years ago having had no previous experience of learning. I had no idea what kind of journey I was embarking on! Aside from taking breaks of a few months due to work on a few occasions I have studied regularly from that point and have grown more and more confident in speaking, reading and writing. ITO Japanese School has a great system of teaching with enthusiastic and dedicated teachers. The immersive environment is brilliant - One which I believe is second only to living and learning the language in Japan. Only being able to speak Japanese in class is a great method and pushes you to learn more elegantly. Also the attention to grammar gives great foundations to build upon. I would highly recommend ITO to anyone who wants to learn this fascinating culture and deep language. The atmosphere is friendly and the classes are fun but also intense. あいとの先生 - どうも ありがとございます。

Will 26/01/2015

I started to learn Japanese when I was living in France, I took lessons there for about 5 months. Then, I moved to London and found out about ITO Japanese School. I am learning Japanese at ITO since a year and a half now and will continue until I will reach JLPT 3 (I will apply for the JLPT 4 test in July!). The way of teaching is really good! I was impressed that I improved a lot since I started to learn Japanese at ITO. You only speak in Japanese with your teachers, so it makes you practice much more than usual, and even if you don’t know a word in Japanese, they encourage you to explain it on your own way in Japanese. I am studying in a group with one and sometime two other people, this makes you interact with your classmates and having funny discussions about everyday life while studying. Teachers make you feel really at ease because they care about you, and make you feel more confident about your Japanese. You definitely won’t be disappointed by coming to this school, I really recommend it!

Marie-Anne 25/01/2015

Having been interested in Japanese culture for a while, I began watching movies and other media. Lots of aspects of Japanese culture have filtered into my knowledge little by little but I wanted to get a better knowledge for real from Japanese people. I was fond of the fluid sound of the language immediately and found myself looking things up, words I was hearing and ended up trying to teach myself in part but becoming quickly confused and baffled by aspects of it such as kanji, sentence structure and basic grammatical points and being quite passionate to learn started looking for schools, finding ITOs course description and teaching methods to be interesting and well structured. My goals are to become a proficient speaker and perhaps fluent one day.

Class has a good mix of speaking, reading and conversation. Overall course structure always keeps some pace and encourages you to keep moving forward at a decent speed. Sometimes I have come out of lessons feeling like I’m falling behind or there is something I will never understand, however by the next week I will be wondering why I was ever confused.

Timing homeworks does require a some routine. Most of the people I have met here have a busy work/social life and you should be passionate to learn and make that time. Learning a language is a difficult thing to do if you can’t put in the hours. Homework is reasonable however if you want to get the things you are struggling with sometimes putting in an extra hour here and there will go a long way and make class easier.

Frankly I am scared how much I can understand at this point. I feel like it was not long since I have been learning and am surprised at how much I can hear and understand. Conversations I used to hear in other classrooms that previously baffled me, I feel now I can have comfortably. When watching dramas etc I am also surprised at how much I understand - but more that I’m now at a point where I can easily pick up new vocabulary.

ITO is a great school. I think the process and the order of learning has been exceptionally good and never leave a class feeling unmotivated. I can walk into a class after a long day feeling exhausted and leave feeling energised and mentally exercised. The teachers are very encouraging and warm people to work with and it’s a bit of a gift to have found this school. I am excited to see where it will have taken my Japanese in a year’s time.

Laurence 25/01/2015

A few years ago I left my job to go travelling, Japan was on the top of my list as I already had a great interest in Japanese culture. I spent 2 months there and fell in love with the country. I have re-visited many times since and enjoy discovering new places, learning more about the culture and have met some lovely people. A couple of years ago I decided to take lessons as it would mean that when I visit I would be able to talk to people and understand more about Japan. I have no end goal other than to be able to speak very good Japanese! Perhaps one day I could use Japanese in my working life, although I have a lot of study to do before this is possible!

Group classes have 2 – 4 students. We do not speak any English, from the very first class it is clear that English is not allowed! I believe that this makes the learning more effective as you don’t translate words in your head, you just accept the word and sound for what it is. At the start of the class we have general catch up on how our weekends were, and what we did. Our Sensai encourages us to ask questions, perhaps using phrases and expressions we have been working on. We have 2 work books – 1 for reading and the other for writing, as well as a CD to listen to at home. We have homework issued twice weekly.

I work very long hours so finding time to study can be tricky, especially mid-week. At the weekend I set aside time to do homework, during the week it is either early mornings or late at night. I find it useful to listen to my C.D if I am cooking, doing housework or jogging. I like to look at my books every day to keep the current learning material familiar.

Every time I have visited Japan my Japanese has been slightly better each time. This makes the hard work worth it! I went to Japan last month and I was very happy to be able to go to restaurants and eateries that have no English menus (so no tourists!). I surprised myself how much I was able to understand, and it was nice to be able to talk to people without resorting to English. I also got my hair cut in Japan, which was great as I was able to explain exactly what I wanted, and was also able to have a very nice conversation with the hairdresser!

Vanessa 25/01/2015

My Japanese study at ITO school has been extremely rewarding. On regular trips to Japan I’ve clearly noticed the improvement in my language, both in conversation and reading. I travel to a semi-rural part of Japan, so these skills have been invaluable. The teachers have targeted the lessons to my interests and occupation, while being very rigorous with the language. So my time at ITO is always enjoyable. The school is flexible with my irregular schedule, which is really useful. They have also prepared me very well for the JLPT exams.

Tyrone 21/01/2015

I've been attending hour and a half private classes, once a week, at the ITO Japanese School for about a year now. I started with little to no experience, and so was initially taken through the absolute basics, learning the hiragana alphabet at first, and then moving on to simple grammar and description, during the first few weeks, while also slowly expanding my vocabulary. The teaching method allows only Japanese to be spoken in class, which I feel makes for real progress, as I'm forced to put the language into practice throughout the lessons, though a fair amount of gesturing and mime can be required at times. Though the prospect of this initially was quite daunting, the teachers are very patient and cheerful, making the process quite enjoyable. Currently, in class, I'm practising how to talk about my day using everything I've learned so far, which includes modes of transportation, different times of day, work and hobbies, and a variety of verbs. Homework is assigned at the end of each class, usually consisting of writing and reading done through a charmingly presented workbook and textbook. I later bought an audio CD from the school, as well, to help practice pronunciation while at home. My motivation for learning Japanese was purely for pleasure, as I’d been interested in the language for some time. I decided on private classes, as I wanted to be able to learn at my own pace, as well as be able to focus on my own goals and challenges in the lessons. The homework expands upon and refreshes what I've learned in class, and is substantial enough to keep me engaged with it throughout the week, while also not reaching a point where it interferes with my other commitments. On the whole, my experience with the ITO Japanese School has been very rewarding, as well as challenging in the best of ways.

Faisal 16/01/2015