Voices of Our Graduates

Thairo Rocha

Graduated in March, 2017

Home country: Brazil

Currently working at a Japanese-affiliated company

Remembering my “Treasures”

I came from Brazil, the soccer kingdom, and have studied at Naganuma for a year and a half. About 15 years ago, I was introduced to the Japanese culture for the first time in class by a middle school teacher – it was an ‘origami’ class. I remember it clearly as if it just happened yesterday. We learned how to make a crane and it was quite difficult. But after some efforts, I was able to make it. I was very impressed looking at the simple but delicate shape of an origami crane. Then I came across to budo and experienced karate and aikido.

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Several years later after I graduated college, I had an opportunity to come to Japan and to know Japanese culture in depth. I studied Japanese a little before coming to Japan, so I was placed in class D1 at Naganuma. What was shocking for me was the load of homework and the large number of classmates who came from countries using Chinese characters.

In the class at Naganuma, we do not only study Japanese grammar but there are discussions with classmates, optional classes introducing many aspects of the culture, Japanese lessons on usages of language when speaking to elders and seniors and many other activities. In addition, there is an off-campus tour every school term.

All these bring me back the happy memories of Naganuma days. It was here at Naganuma that I learned what is important in order to live in Japan and what the Japanese people think regarding various topics. Thanks to the lessons at Naganuma , I became capable of speaking to the Japanese what I have on my mind. My appreciation to the school is beyond words.

There may be some who feel that he/she is made to do more homeworks and write more compositions than necessary but the time will definitely come in the future when you appreciate the vigorous lessons. I am presently working at a branch office of a Japanese company. I think it is because of the strictness of the Naganuma teachers that I am now enjoying a pleasant career. In other words, it is love that is behind the strictness. I will never forget the days that I spent at Naganuma. My way of repaying what the school gave me is to continue enhancing my Japanese skills and make more use of it in my life. Once again, thank you , Naganuma.

Seo Chae Hyeon

Graduated in March,2015

Home country: Korea

Currently a student at Ritsumeikan University

My objective to coming to Japan at the beginning was to master the Japanese language. But living abroad gradually changed my way of thinking and I did some rethinking about myself and my future. To achieve my dream, I decided to set my aims for higher education and foreign language both.

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It is not an exaggeration to say that lessons at University Prep. Course at Naganuma are well known for being very demanding. Part tests and Unit tests that evaluate students’ performance did not allow us any breather and made our life-style focus solely on Japanese language study. For me who was bad at kanji, the daily kanji test and composition test maintained my sense of tension which was necessary to overcome hardships. Of course I am not saying that my school life meant just always having a hard time. But because of this rigorous system, I was successful in passing the entrance exam and enhancing my Japanese proficiency.

I took leave from my part-time job in November a month before the entrance exam. I knew it would be difficult without the pay but my priority was to pass the exam.
Ritsumeikan University was my first choice of college but it seemed very hard when looking at the result of the mock exams that I took every several weeks. But I felt it was meaningless for me to go to a university other than the first choice so I never gave up my hope.

I started to prepare for the TOEFL during the morning hours at school, arriving at 6:50 and studying from 7 to 9 o’clock before the class began. When I took the mock exam of Japanese language in parts of reading, listening and listening-reading comprehension, I made the effort to master them thoroughly in the review class. After the Japanese language classes in the morning, I concentrated studying the comprehensive subjects, mathematics and English at the exam prep. classes in the afternoon. Whenever there was something I could not understand, I went to the teacher after the class to ask questions. It was around 3 o’clock when all the classes and reviews were finished. After I took a simple supper, I started studying from 4 o’clock to 8 o’clock in the evening. I pushed myself to carry out what I planned to do in these four hours. For this, I had set up a 4-hour timetable, minute by minute, analyzing what was needed to be done and what could to be done in the remaining time until the exam day and I tried hard to carry out my plan, rigorously checking my watch.

From around 9 o’clock to 11 o’clock after I returned home, I prepared for the next day’s kanji test and did the homework. I made up my mind to go to bed at 11 so that I could get up at 5:30 the next day. This was the school life that I continued for a month till just before the exam day. These hours eventually made it possible for me to become a student at Ritsumeikan, an impossible aim to be achieved. I still keep the timetable. Perhaps it is because I do not want to forget how hard I strove to reach my goal.

Looking back, I see that I spent considerable time with my home class teacher during the preparation season for the university entrance exam. I ran to see my teacher every time I was sad or lost confidence over the lagging study performance contrary to all the effort I was making. Although I rewrote the personal statement to be submitted to the university over and over many times, my teacher read it carefully each time and devised ways to improve it, even when there were many students besides me seeking advice from her. Ms.Matsuyama – I thank you and I will never forget about you.

Hee-Jin Kim

Graduated in March,2015

Home country: Korea

Currently a student at Tsuji Culinary Institute

I am Hee-Jin Kim from Korea. After I graduated from Naganuma, I started studying culinary at a professional college in Osaka. Even now residing in Osaka, I cannot forget the enjoyable school life that I spent at Naganuma.

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My objective of coming to Japan was to study Japanese cooking. Two years ago, when I was working as a cook at a hotel in Korea, the chief cook, who was a Japanese, was making sushi and I was so impressed with his craftsmanship that I decided to study cooking in Japan wishing to become a skillful cook like him.

In the beginning days at Naganuma, I was nervous since I did not have much experience meeting a lot of foreign people before, but they were friendly and I soon got acquainted with them. Attending the classes and socializing with students from different cultural backgrounds using Japanese as a common tool for communication I have become interested in many things about the world and other cultures and have come to like Japanese language more.

The lessons at Naganuma were hard for me to catch up but I was always relieved by the teachers’ caring attitude and tutoring when I asked questions to them. Not only Japanese that I learned from them but about Japanese cooking and the words related to cooking all of which are of great use for understanding the lessons at the present college.

I also think it was good that we were often asked to express our views on various topics in class and to make oral presentations. I was not good at making speeches in front of many people but the more I attended such classes, the more I became accustomed to talk in front of others in Japanese with confidence.

At times, I recall the happy memories of fieldworks and the excursion to Disneyland that I went with my classmates and teachers. I was able to make a lot of friends and I was able to concentrate learning Japanese freely and with fun - the school life at Naganuma was a very precious time and a special experience for me. I would like to say thank you to the friends and teachers that I met at Naganuma and, although I am far away from Tokyo, I wish I can see them again sometime in the future.

Marzhan Bulkayeva

Graduated in March,2015

Home country: Kazakhstan

Undergraduate student at the Faculty of Industrial Science & Technology, Tokyo University of Science

I came to Naganuma in the fall of 2013 after I graduated from high school in my country.

I had studied some Japanese in my country before coming to Japan but I remember that I could not write the word 椅子 at the level check test on the first day of school.

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At Naganuma School I felt the cultural differences among the students of various countries and because of this environment, I came to have interest in other countries. The first half year was really difficult for me because I could not even chat with my classmates due to my poor Japanese. At that time, I used to say ‘Let’s talk again when my Japanese improves’ to my friends. Someday in the future when I make a trip around the world, I may come across my classmates and others I met at Naganuma School. In this manner, we studied together and encouraged each other at Naganuma.

What impressed me was the caring attitude of the teachers. They taught us who did not understand any Japanese in a way that was easy to understand. What I appreciate very much about Naganuma’s education system is the speed of study and the concentration. There is not much preparation time for the students who wish to proceed to higher education in Japan so we need to learn Japanese as quickly as possible.

Also, the most important thing for those who challenge entering university is to set your goal high and not to give up. As for me, the preparation for the entrance exam was very hard because there was a difference in the coverage of study between my country and Japan. But what I can say now is that it is never too late to start preparing - it is far better to try late than to give up.

After entering university, I realized that studying English is a very important issue. There were friends who misunderstood that English was not an important matter in Japan. However, the Japanese people expect us being fluent in English because we are foreigners here. There are only three international students at my faculty and we get along really well. Now we are working hard on our English as well as on our undergraduate studies.

My dream for the future is to engage in the work of developing medical equipments. Japanese technology in the field of medical equipment is very advanced in the world. I would like to come to the aid of many people, using this technology. The starting point towards this dream was The Naganuma School and I have many good memories here. I am also very grateful for the teachers. Thank you so much.

Liu Xiyuan

University Prep. Course

Graduated in March,2013

Student, Waseda University, School of Political and Economics

In July 2011, with an expectation for a new life in foreign land, I arrived Tokyo. Although I had learned some Japanese before I came here, but still what I could do was just some greetings. Communicating in Japanese was far beyond my ability. Fortunately, I started my language study in this school.

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Every teacher I had met in NAGANUMA-School was trying their best to teach students about Japanese language and help them to adapt the life in here. And there are hundreds of students which came from all over the world in this school. We studied together, talking with each other in Japanese. This kind of experience broadened my horizon and gave me a lot of chance to practice Japanese. With the help of teachers and friends, I did not feel lonely and got used to the life in Tokyo quickly.

The teachers in NAGANUMA were not just good at teaching, but really responsible and concerned their students' conditions. When I was trying to rent an apartment house and felt difficult to negotiate with real estate company because of my ignorance to the related procedures in Japan. My teacher called the real estate company and negotiated with them for me. And when I was preparing the entrance examinations of universities, my teacher checked my process and gave me advice every day. Similarly, we had a speech contest in August and I practiced my speech with my homeroom teacher after regular lessons. All these things are the memories I could never forget.

I don't know since when, for me, NAGANUMA-School was not just a place for learning Japanese language, a school, but a "home" which full of warmth. I'm really thankful for everything, and I will keep those memories of the two year I spent in this school in my mind.

Caroline Jin

Graduated in September, 2011

Home country: Korea

Employed at an IT-related company.

I began studying at Naganuma School in 2009, wherein I studied business Japanese for six months during my year-and-a-half long program. When I first arrived in Japan, I was incapable of even the most basic Japanese greetings.

Upon taking the Japanese placement test during orientation, I was unable to answer simple questions such as "Where do you live," a memory that still remains today.

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Due to an intense workload, I found myself constantly doing Japanese homework. Because of this, my Japanese ability grew, and I slowly became able to speak.

At the time, assignments such as speeches or role-playing as the teacher for an hour were not high on the list of things I wanted to do. However, looking back now, I believe they were useful. One aspect in particular, extremely detailed feedback from teachers, was especially helpful in understanding.

The main purpose of the business Japanese class was to allow us to become effective company employees. To that end, we studied various aspects of company culture. The class was so effective that, without doing any extra studying on my own, I was able to score a perfect on the JLPT N1 listening portion. Because much of what we were learning in class was complicated expressions or words, there were often times when I felt I couldn't continue. Nevertheless, the teachers persisted by providing encouragement as well as useful practice through resume reviews and mock interviews. Through the challenge this class provided me, I was able to become who I am today.

For everything you've done for me, thank you very much.

Simon Lavender

Graduated in 2007

Home country: Britain

Vice Consul, British Embassy

Looking Back at Naganuma

When I first got to Naganuma, I have to admit I had some reservations. Could I adjust back to a classroom environment, having not been a 'proper' student for ten years or so? Would they teach me the things I needed to know for my job? Would I fit behind the tiny desks in the classrooms... mostly, yes, and with some effort turned out to be the answers.

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It took me a while, but I slowly got to grips with the classes and the way absolutely everything is done in Japanese (including talking to fellow students, who come from all over the world, so Japanese tends to be the only common language). Initially it was a struggle, especially when it came to things like understanding an explanation about a particularly complicated piece of grammar, but it soon began to feel normal, perhaps even seeping into my subconscious - how else could I find myself walking down the street unwittingly talking to my American and Swedish classmates in Japanese, even though English would have been a lot easier.

Despite what felt like very laboured progress, things miraculously started to make sense. I think it must be because of the system rather than my linguistic abilities, but I began to feel almost confident. And I can only conclude that The Naganuma method works, because at the end of it all I managed to pass my exams. While I didn't take the traditional proficiency tests, I was well prepared for my own exam, where the focus was much more on speaking. And it seems to have stuck, which I can't say for any of the languages I learnt at secondary (high) school.

Away from the studying, and when it all got too much, Shibuya and the rest of Tokyo and all its entertainment options were right on the doorstep.  Plenty of opportunities to practice my Japanese!

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