There is no substitute for a good teacher. Although my growing collection of books and mobile apps are all useful in their own ways, Shoko-sensei's experience and knowledge have been so much more instructive. She uses a good, clear series of textbooks, and augments that learning with friendly and patient conversational practice. (When you can make a joke in another language and someone laughs, you really begin to feel like communication is possible.) Language is never fully distinct from culture--Shoko's insights and the context she provides help to make sense of Japanese far beyond grammar and direct translation. I hope to begin taking the JLPT this year with her help, but I also feel that I understand my experiences in Japan more deeply through her teaching. I am grateful to her and would recommend her lessons with no hesitation.
My son and I are very grateful to Shoko for her patience and dedication. She tutored my son for all four years of high school. Many colleges require a foreign language for admission. However, my son really did not adapt well to the high school program and the way language was being taught. Also, Japanese was not one of the choices offered. He had all but given up. However, he always had an interest in Japanese art and culture, and I so searched outside of the high school community and found Shoko.
After just two years of working with Shoko, my son was able to travel to Boston and take the National Japanese Language Proficiency Exam (N5.) He passed the exam easily and was able to include this with his college application to the school of his choice. The college admissions committee happily accepted the exam certificate in lieu of two years of high school language credit. This was a very happy moment for us, but it didn’t end there. My son continued studying with Shoko. Once in college, he was able to immediately take the upper level Japanese course. He then fulfilled the one year foreign language requirement in just one semester! He could not have achieved this without the wonderful foundation which Shoko provided. We both recommend her confidently and enthusiastically!
It is pretty rough learning a new language on your own. I tried to self teach myself Japanese at one point, but without the interaction and direction it didn't lead me anywhere. I then decided that it would be in my best interest to get lessons and found Shoko. I've never had a better experience with a teacher before. She is willing to work around my busy work schedule and is very patient with me. She is willing to help you out with review as well as going out of the box to teach you content outside of the textbook during lessons. I'm also looking forward to visiting Japan in the future, and my motivation has increased. Shoko has been helping me with recommended conversational etiquette to make sure I don't mess up! For anybody struggling, looking to start, or to further understand, I would definitely recommend taking classes with Shoko.