What it’s like to study remotely at a Japanese language school in Tokyo

As coronavirus cases in Tokyo continue to increase, schools and companies have been taking precautions to keep infections low by moving operations online. I had the opportunity to talk to Eri, a 23 year old student at Aoyama International Education Institute about her experience studying remotely at the height of Tokyo’s quarantine period.

How did you first react when your school announced that it would be moving to distance learning?

I agreed and was actually relieved by my school’s decision to start off the semester with online classes. I live an hour away from school, and it takes me about twenty stops on train lines that get more packed with each stop during rush hour, so at the time I definitely thought that moving classes to an online platform would be the best move for everyone’s safety.

How were classes conducted?

Before classes started, the school disseminated information through our Line accounts and the school’s official Facebook page. All worksheets and learning materials were also sent to us directly via post. 

For the first half of online classes, we were being sent videos and learning materials through Google Classroom, on which we would also upload our own work for checking and through which our teachers would send announcements. After two weeks of self-study through Google Classroom materials, we moved to real-time online classes done through Zoom.

What do you like and dislike about remote studying?

Although I liked being able to learn in the comfort of my own home, one of the downsides of remote classes was us not being able to really make the most out of our classes through additional worksheets, group conversation sessions, and other activities that we could normally engage in during face-to-face, regular classes. 

Because of logistical limitations, our classes focused mainly on vocabulary and grammar, having to leave out reading and listening lessons. We also had to leave out quizzes and other drills, so we didn’t really have any chances to gauge whether or not we were actually learning and absorbing the material.

What did you find difficult about studying from home?

At first it was a bit difficult to absorb the lessons because the environment in which I was studying was not conducive for lessons. Oftentimes too, after classes, I would simply shut down my Zoom meeting room and move onto other things, and I would sometimes do this during classes, placing only half of my focus on what was being presented in class.

How was your mental health? Did you feel safer not commuting to school everyday? Did you feel gloomy or sad from staying inside all day?

I definitely felt a lot safer being indoors instead of having to commute for an hour to and from school, and being a homebody, it was easy to adjust to remote classes. However, because it was an abrupt shift in my daily routine, I would still feel down from time to time, hoping that things would soon go back to normal.

How did you balance part-time work with studying?

During the time that my class moved to the online platform, my English teaching part-time job also moved online so it was still pretty easy for me to factor in both my classes and my job into a schedule that works for me and the new system.


Nowadays, Eri has started going back to school. More people have started to venture outside as well, despite risks still being present. 

For people residing in Japan, what measures have your school or company taken for preventing infection? Have you found them sufficient or lacking? Please share opinions in the comments section below!

Cindy works for the GaijinPot Housing Service, helping foreigners find their home in Japan. She relocated to Japan after graduating from De La Salle University in the Philippines. Read Cindy’s self-intro to find out what brought her here!

Lead photo: iStock