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Japanese Beginners (Year 1) Short Course

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Covid-19 update: The learning doesn’t have to stop, join our online community. We will be delivering courses remotely until further notice. Live tutor support and virtual lessons will take place during advertised teaching hours. The classes are taught in small groups, so you’ll get lots of support from your tutor. Book now.

Start learning Japanese with our Japanese Beginners short course. The course is made up of three parts (parts 1-3), taught at progressive levels. Take one part or enrol on all three to complete the full beginners syllabus and start working towards JLPT N5 level of learning.

Why choose this course?

Whether you're learning Japanese for travelling, working abroad or with foreign companies, the Japanese Beginners course will enable you to communicate confidently on a basic level in everyday situations, socialise and not feel out of place in the country you are visiting.

This short course is an introduction to the Japanese language and way of life for the purpose of practical communication. Challenging but rewarding, the course is perfectly suited to those looking to develop a basic command of Japanese.

The full beginners course is made up of three 10-week beginners’ modules – part 1, part 2 and part 3. Enrol on the full syllabus (parts 1-3) to gain a complete knowledge of Japanese for beginners at the best price. Our teaching takes place one evening a week,  ideal for those with various commitments or working full-time.

All of our language short courses are taught by qualified native speakers and delivered at City, University of London’s main campus, in the heart of the capital.

Course overview

This Japanese evening course will help you to develop essential listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. You will be introduced to Japanese characters (Hiragana, Katakana and very basic Kanji).

By the end of the course you will be able to understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. You will be able to introduce yourself, people you know and things you have. You will be able to interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

All our Japanese courses follow the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test. You will be working towards JLPT N5* when combine with our Japanese Beyond Beginners course*.

Is it the right level for me?

If you have no prior knowledge of Japanese you must start with part 1, or the full syllabus (parts 1-3).

If you have some basic knowledge of Japanese and you are already familiar with the content in part 1 you may choose to enrol on part 2 or part 3. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

You can check your level using these online guidelines

If you are not certain of your level, we recommend you contact Taka, our Japanese tutor on who will be able to advise you.

* If you wish to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), Please ask the Japanese tutor who has a lot of experience of those examinations and can advise on JLPT,  from N5 to N1. However please note that Short Courses are not themselves accredited courses.

  • “ It is a good course for anyone with limited or no knowledge of the language. You learn a lot of things and there is a good emphasis on conversations – most important part of learning a language. ”

    Lyumbomir Terziev

    Former student

  • “ The teacher is really good and you would learn a lot from attending just one lesson. Furthermore, the lessons are fun. The course is well structured and really easy to follow. ”



  • “ It's been nearly 3 years, across two countries, but we keep coming back to study Japanese with Taka-san. His classes are well-rounded, fun, and inspire you to push yourself further. We've recommended his class to many of our contacts and will keep coming back to study with him, regardless of where we find ourselves next! ”

    Prema & Warren Howard

    Former student

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

Part 1

Topics covered

From this first beginners module you will gain enough knowledge to travel confidently in Japan. You’ll learn helpful phrases for introducing yourself, travelling and shopping.

  • Presenting yourself and others: greetings, nationality, occupation
  • Communication in context: at work; shopping; travelling
  • Daily routine and weekend activities
  • Numbers, dates and times
  • Japanese culture in context: greetings and Hiragana writing.

Grammatical structures

  • Phrases using 'to be'
  • Introduction to essential particles
  • Word order
  • Various verb types
  • Negatives
  • Future and past tenses
  • Interrogative using nani, doko, itsu, dare.

Part 2

Japanese Beginners Part 2 is a very exciting next step. You’ll learn to communicate in a more conversational or colloquial Japanese. You will be able to describe everyday life and past events using adjectives and the plain form of verbs.

Topics covered

  • Communication in context: eating out, ordering food; making a phone call
  • Visiting people and inviting guests; making plans and scheduling
  • Japanese culture in context: at a tempura restaurant; invitations
  • Reading and writing Hiragana and Katakana.

Grammatical structures

  • Conjugating verbs is key to understand Japanese grammar quickly. This includes the plain form to communicate with friends in Japanese.
  • Te form + kudasai
  • Adjectives

Part 3

Topics covered

  • Communication in context: getting about in a city; asking for direction; transport; talking about your area
  • Likes and dislikes; expressing wishes and intentions
  • Japanese culture in context: festivals and museums
  • Introduction to some very basic Kanji.

Grammatical structures

  • Modal verbs: Te form + mo iidesu ka
  • Present continuous: Te form + imasu
  • 'to want' + infinitive: Watashi wa verb-tai desu.



Prerequisite knowledge

Modules are taught at progressive levels, if you have no prior knowledge you must start at part 1 or enrol on the full syllabus (parts 1-3).

If you wish to join part 2 of the Japanese Beginners course, you must have completed part 1 or be familiar with the content taught in part 1, specified in the What will I learn? section.

If you wish to enrol on part 3 of the short course, you must have completed both parts 1 and 2 or be familiar with the content taught in these two modules, found in the What will I learn? section.

Please check your level by using our online guidelines before enrolling.

English requirements

You will need to respond to instructions and read course documents in English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

The emphasis in this course is on listening and speaking. The lessons focus on language that is required in authentic situations.

There is no formal assessment and no qualification is issued at the end of the course, but you will be awarded an official City, University of London certificate on completion of the course. You must attend over 70 per cent of the classes to be eligible for the certificate.

Classroom activities will include:

  • Role-playing
  • classroom discussion
  • pair and group work
  • work on pronunciation and intonation
  • grammar in context.

More comprehensive grammar exercises, practise in Japanese writing and reading texts are generally set as homework.

All evaluation will take place in a relaxed and informal setting.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Japanese for Busy People: Kana [With CD (Audio)]

  • Publisher: 1 Paperback – 10 Apr 2012
  • ISBN-10: 1568363850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568363851

Students are advised to purchase their own copy of the book

Tutor information

  • Takayuki Ogura

    Takayuki Ogura has been teaching Japanese as a foreign language in London for over ten years to students from diverse backgrounds.

    Taka also has extensive experience teaching Japanese for business, in particular for banks, insurance companies and to diplomats.

Next steps

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