Overview of Options

There is a multitude of ways to study the Japanese language in Singapore. Thanks to strong diplomatic and economic relations between Singapore and Japan, as well as a significant interest by Singaporeans in many forms of Japanese culture and food (especially food!), options to study Japanese in Singapore, have naturally flourished.

These options include more formal and structured education programs such as Japanese Majors offered by universities, as well as more casual classes offered by Community Clubs (public areas and buildings in Singapore that facilitate group interaction and activities).

School Courses

Students in Singapore who are serious about learning Japanese are fortunate as the Japanese language is offered as a course option from secondary school (12 to 16 years) all the way to the university level.

Courses in schools are well structured and usually benefit from having proper progression. For example, the Japanese Language course at the National University of Singapore offers modules from Japanese 1 to Business Japanese 2 and Newspaper Reading. Further, these courses (dependent on which school you are attending) may include a trip abroad or study exchange component, in which Japanese language students can travel to Japan for a week up to a semester for a language immersion program.

Another option for studying Japanese - university courses in Singapore
University Town (UTown), the National University of Singapore. Photo by Smuconlaw on Flickr

Community Clubs

A more relaxed environment for the casual Japanese language learner can be found in Community Clubs. Community Clubs are areas and facilities within residential neighborhoods of Singapore that aim to building community cohesion through organized group activities and classes.

One great thing about courses offered by Community Clubs is that they tend to be cheaper. Correspondingly however, the classes may only be around once a week, or may not always be held in the proper sequence. Nevertheless, they are a great option especially for those who are looking for a relaxed introduction, or opportunities in which to practice Japanese in a more casual environment.

To search for Japanese classes at Community Clubs, head over to this link!

Classes at community centers are one option to study the Japanese language in Singapore
Example of a community center in Singapore. Photo by Smuconlaw [CC BY-SA 3.0] on Wikimedia Commons.

Private Classes

Finally, an option that perhaps offers the most flexibility are classes from private companies. Private Japanese language companies in Singapore typically offer classes from beginner-level all the way to advance-level, similar to university courses. They are often also well-structured and many feature placement tests for you to best determine what class you should start within the case that you have had experience learning the Japanese language. Moreover, they offer standard one or twice a week classes, in addition to intensive (for example, five days a week for three months) classes.

One caveat is that private classes are more expensive, but one can usually expect more flexibility in terms of rearranging classes according to your personal schedule.

My experience studying Japanese in Singapore

My experience studying the Japanese language was a combination of self-study and a brief stint taking private intensive classes. I started off taking the private classes because I had very little knowledge about the structure of the Japanese language and therefore wanted to give myself a good foundation. Once I understood the basics however, I transited to self-study as I thought it was a more sustainable option for me.

Japanese practice in Japan: attempts to read food labels at the grocery store. Photo by author

However, my Japanese has never improved as much as it did until I went to Japan for my studies and was forced to use it every day, and in a dazzling variety of situations. What I learned from this experience was that regardless of the method of Japanese study, the most important factor for improvement is practice, practice, practice.