If you're in the southeastern PA region and you want to learn Japanese, there's a hidden gem right here in Philadelphia. For a handful of hours each week, the charming Friends Central School campus becomes a thriving Japanese community.
The JLSP school is sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education for the purpose of giving the children of expats the opportunity to learn the same lessons as their peers in Japan. At the same time, the school also offers Japanese language courses for adults who would like to learn. We attend the same school alongside the Japanese children, and as a result we get access to a lot of the same cultural opportunities.
Outside the classroom, everyone is cheerful and friendly. Inside the classroom, we learn from native speakers who are able to offer insights that go far beyond the textbook teachings.
Where JLSP really shines, however, is the degree of immersion not possible in a night class. Except for the early stage adult learners, everyone speaks Japanese at all times. We get to participate in school activities, plus we have access to Japanese culture presentations.
In my time at JLSP I've learned Shogi from a visiting professional, I've watched another visiting professional make a kimono, I've learned karate from a local dojo - I even had the great privilege to participate in a tea ceremony.
Bottom line, the JLSP program is an excellent environment for motivated learners to learn Japanese. It's been a great experience for me.
Jason Perna, Chief Instructor, Old City Aikido
I have been a practitioner and teacher of Japanese martial arts for over 25 years; with that strong connection to the Japanese culture, it was always an ambition of mine to study the language as well. I found the JLSP and decided to give it a shot. I showed up on the first day like a nervous school boy not knowing quite what to expect, but as I met so many interesting people with unique reasons for wanting to explore the language, I instantly found myself more at ease.
The teachers and staff are wonderful, the approach to learning is systematic and practical, and I felt welcome from the very start. If you are thinking of studying the Japanese language, have an open mind regarding exploring and immersing yourself in a new culture, and are okay with the occasional silly song or dance, you will absolutely love the time you spend at the JLSP.
I would easily lend this school my sincerest recommendation, good luck to all!