This six-week program is designed to provide an intensive Japanese language learning experience through both formal study and first-hand cultural experience through living with a Japanese host family. Throughout the course of the program you will receive 80 hours of Japanese language classes at a professional language school. You will get a truly intercultural experience by learning alongside fellow AFSers from across Europe in small class sizes with lots of individual help. Language classes will be enriched by projects, activities, and trips that will give you a taste of Japanese culture.
You will live with a host family, likely in one of the following locations: Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka. Your location is determined by your prior language experience, as classes of varying levels are offered in different locations.
By spending time with your family in the evenings and on weekends, you will have the opportunity to further improve your language learning. This immersion offers a unique way to skyrocket your learning by placing it in immediate context. Your language learning will not be limited to books, but rather will be a part of every aspect of your life throughout your six weeks in Japan.
Host families in Japan, like all AFS host families worldwide, are volunteers and are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
You'll find that family is the foundation of Japanese society. Early on, Japanese children learn to forgo personal gain for the benefit of the group as a whole, and to value group harmony. Seniority is respected, and Japanese children are taught to hold their elders in the highest regard.
Food is art in Japan, and your host family will most likely prepare some amazing meals. The Japanese diet consists largely of rice, noodles, fresh vegetables, fruit, meat (mostly pork and chicken) and seafood. Many meals are eaten with chopsticks. Rice and green tea are part of almost every meal. Nowadays, Western style dishes are also served.
Japanese is the official language of Japan, and although prior knowledge is not a prerequisite for the program, a year or more of formal study is strongly suggested.
The program includes 80 hours of Japanese language classes, host family immersion experience, participation in cultural activities, and travel opportunities to historic and cultural sites. You will attend language class with fellow AFSers from several countries across Europe. Classes will be offered at a professional language school and will have 5-12 students per class. They will take place 4 hours per day, 5 days per week, for four weeks.
For the remainder of the program, you will be able to put your new language skills to immediate use by immersing yourself in the culture of Japan. Through activities and cultural trips you will learn about Japanese art, food, history and current society. Examples of activities include: ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), shodo (Japanese calligraphy), sightseeing trips, and visits to nearby places of historic interest.
Orientations & Activities
In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Japanese society, culture, family, school, religion, festivals, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group's needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur upon arrival and just prior to your return.
Your program will begin in Los Angeles, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Tokyo where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, but it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to Los Angeles. Details will be provided after you start your application.
To participate in this program, you must:
- Be within the age range upon departure
- Have a passing GPA. Preference given to applicants with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale)
- Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
- Have a valid U.S. passport, or a U.S. Permanent Resident Card at least 4 months prior to the departure range
- Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment
Strict vegetarianism will not be accommodated by AFS Japan.
High school graduates may be considered for program participation if they meet the eligibility requirements.
The ability to speak Japanese is not a prerequisite for the program. Beginners welcome!
Important: AFS-USA reviews each application on an individual basis and recognizes that each applicant has a unique set of circumstances. We are committed to working with students and their families to find the best program match. Based on differences in culture, strict regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that AFS Japan generally does not accept applicants with severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions (self-imposed or otherwise), ADD/ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. Given AFS Japan’s low rate of acceptance of such applications, we strongly encourage applicants to speak to their AFS Application Advisor to explore program options in other AFS destinations.