March 2019


Our monthly online newsletter,"L'ESPACE".
L'ESPACE is a diverse French word that means place,area,cosmos,and gap.

Back Number

Japan Life and Language Support Organization (LJ)

~Japanese Language Classes Taught by Language Instructors with Professional Abilities and Knowledge~

In Close Up this month, we introduce Japan Life and Language Support Organization (LJ). Based in Suginami Ward, LJ is an non-profit organization offering foreign residents in Japan support in everyday skills and Japanese language instruction to allow them to live a more enjoyable life. LJ’s strong point is that all instructors of Japanese language classes have specialized in studying Japanese language instruction. On this occasion we spoke with Ms. Yu Kikuchi, a leader in the Japanese Language Instruction Department, to learn more about LJ.

Ms. Yu Kikuchi,
Japanese Language Instruction Dept.

Please tell us what led to the establishment of LJ.

Ms. Kikuchi

LJ is an NPO established by alumni of a Japanese language instructor training course. Initially its members taught Japanese as volunteers, but following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the NPO was founded. Evaluating what they could do to help foreign residents in Japan, they decided to create LJ as an organization offering support in everyday skills and Japanese language instruction. Another motive in establishing an organization helping foreign residents relates to the experience lived by Atsuko Miyahara, the managing director of LJ. After graduating from junior high school, Miyahara studied abroad in a place with a distinct language, culture and customs, and received support from various local residents. She always maintained the desire to reciprocate by giving support to foreigners residing in Japan.

What are the principal activities of LJ?

Ms. Kikuchi

The main activities are to provide consultations offering support to foreign residents experiencing difficulties in their daily lives, and to offer Japanese language classes on Sunday mornings 3 times per month. We offer a wide range of everyday life support to resolve problems that may occur while living in Japan, from visa renewal procedures difficult for foreign residents to do by themselves, to something more mundane, such as how to take out the garbage. As for Japanese language classes, we offer various classes appropriate to the level of the student, from daily conversation to business classes. In the beginner classes we focus on conversation lessons using mainly textbooks, and in the intermediate and advanced classes we stress reading and understanding of long passages using newspaper reports and articles, as well as teaching diverse expressions from textbooks.

Enthusiastic students in a Sunday morning class.
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

Individualistic instructors provide lessons.
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

What is different about the Japanese language classes offered by LJ?

Ms. Kikuchi

Firstly, most students are working adults. The majority that come to class want to be able to speak Japanese or enjoy life more while living in Japan, though at work they can often get by speaking only in English. There are others who come to class, such as those who came to live with their Japanese spouse, but run into difficulties because of their limited knowledge of the language; and those who can speak well but want the chance to speak Japanese because they have few opportunities to do so. The greatest advantage of LJ Japanese classes is that all teachers have completed the 420-hour training course, have a university degree in Japanese language or have passed the Japanese Language Teaching Competency Test, a prerequisite for language institutes wishing to contract a Japanese language instructor. The cost of lessons at LJ is 1,200 yen per 100-minute lesson. We think that this is a pretty good deal for a lesson from a skilled instructor with Japanese language teaching certification.

The “Kotonowa” newsletter informs about LJ activities
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

The end of year party celebrations with Japanese hot pot dishes.
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

Do you offer more activities other than support for daily living and Japanese language classes?

Ms. Kikuchi

We plan various events and field trips every season because we want foreign residents to discover Japanese culture as well as learn the language. In the summer of last year we organized an outing to a festival dressed in a yukata, and at the year-end party we enjoyed Japanese hot pot dishes and hand rolled sushi. These are popular activities among foreign residents who view it as a valuable opportunity to experience the culture and customs of Japan.

We organized a field trip to visit a company worksite.
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

We visited a rolling stockyard of the Tokyo Metro
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

Can you talk to us regarding any difficulties with the activities, and new ones to be developed in the future?

Ms. Kikuchi

Every member of LJ has a job to do while dedicating themselves to LJ activities. As a result, because of the time needed to prepare for classes we can only offer Japanese classes on weekends, and to our chagrin, are not able to fulfill the expectations of all our students. Being able to offer Japanese language classes on weekdays would open the classes to mothers with small children during the day, and to working adults during the night who want to study after work. We believe it is necessary to revise the days and times of classes so that even more students are able to attend. In this way, although there are numerous volunteer language classes which will accommodate student expectations, LJ seeks to differentiate itself by emphasizing our advantage of having professional and skilled language instructors and classes designed to meet the needs of the students. We are currently looking into offering Japanese language classes for children. We will continue striving to generate new ideas in order to offer LJ Japanese language instruction to even more foreign residents and their children.

Calligraphy class offered by a guest calligrapher.
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

Trying to write Chinese characters using a brush for the first time.
© Japan Life and Language Support Organization

Tokyo International Communication Committee

Ono Bldg. 3F, 17-15 Kandamatsunagacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0023
TEL:03-5294-6542 FAX:03-5294-6540