- Patrick Creed -
I am happy to report that I passed my Japanese DLPT (Defense Language Proficiency Test) that I have been studying for over the last couple of months with a score of 2+ for reading and 2 for listening. I have been studying at NACOS for about 3 months. Before taking lessons I had studied a little Japanese on my own, but I was having a hard time making any progress. After the first month of classes I noticed that my Japanese had improved greatly. Thank you to NACOS teachers for helping me to reach my language learning goals!
- Joshua Kaimikaua -
Joshua's Testimonial 2011/05/01
I first started with NACOS in September of 2008. At the time, I was a student at the University of Hawaii. Prior to NACOS, I took a year of Japanese classes at UH but did not find them very useful. Most of the work in class was based on the textbook and required a lot of memorization. I didn't enjoy the textbook because it seemed like a lot of the material I was learning wasn’t practical to use in daily conversation. Also, it seemed that I couldn't relate personally to what I was learning. And as far as memorization, it seemed that I would only remember the characters and phrases long enough to pass the exams and tests. After that, it would completely disappear from my mind. So instead of trying another year of classes at the university, I decided to try something new to learn Japanese.
That is when I started at NACOS. My coworker at the time was taking classes with NACOS and recommended it to me. In the beginning, my teachers evaluated my skill level to see where I needed to start my learning. They tested my skills in reading, writing, and speaking. I found that I could understand only a little of what my teachers were saying and could not respond in Japanese at all. As far as writing, I knew most of my hiragana, almost no katakana and no kanji. And for reading, I could only read hiragana in syllables but not in words. Throughout the evaluation, I realized how little I had learned at the University. I felt embarrassed that I knew so little but the teachers assured me that they would teach me to one day speak like a native speaker.
My first assignment was to write a self portrait about my life. My teachers then translated my story into roomaji and hiragana so that I could read my story in Japanese. I started reading in roomaji but quickly moved to hiragana. During the first couple months, all I did was practice my story over and over again. We worked on pronunciation, speed, and even how the muscles of the mouth should be moving when speaking certain words. I was impressed with how far into detail the teachers went into seeing that I say each word properly. They split up the story in the sections so that I wasn’t overwhelmed with having to read everything at once. When I mastered one section, I would just move onto the next one. Slowly but surely, I began reading more naturally and recognizing hiragana with a lot more ease. It seemed I practiced the story so much that I could read it without even looking at it. Sometimes the teachers would have me try to recite from memory, telling me to visualize the story in my head. Eventually I was able to read my whole story naturally like a Japanese speaker.
I felt that this first assignment was the most important. I got to experience the “NACOS Method” first hand and really see how it worked. First was using a personal story, instead of a textbook. It makes it a lot easier to understand and remember the material you are learning when you create it yourself! Then came the practice and repetition. After constantly practicing a story and perfecting tone/intonation, my reading became automatic and I thoroughly understood my story inside and out. And then after finishing a story, I was practically able to recite it from memory. From this method, I was able to learn new vocabulary, improve my reading skills, actually remember what I learned, and have something interesting to share with a Japanese speaker. Although what I learned was limited to one story, it was a big improvement from my Japanese classes before.
For the next 6 months, I followed the same lesson plan. I kept creating new stories and practiced those stories over and over. With each story, I learned more vocabulary and improved my reading skills. Most of my stories were still in hiragana so I became pretty good at recognizing the characters. One thing I still had trouble with was when to pause when reading a sentence to make it sound natural. This is still something I continue to work on today. In addition to practicing the stories, another aspect that was incorporated into the lessons was conversation practice. At the beginning and end of every lesson, my teachers would take 5-10 mins to ask me questions in Japanese and allow me to respond. They wanted to simulate a conversation that native Japanese people would actually have in a real life situation. At first this was difficult because there was little I could say. I was frustrated because I knew what I wanted to say but could not say it in Japanese. But with each conversation, the teachers would help me on how to respond in a natural way and get my message across. After a while, I enjoyed the conversations in order to improve my speaking skills.
The next step in my learning was incorporating kanji into my stories. At first this was very difficult for me to get use to because all the kanji looked the same to me and I'm not good at memorizing characters at all. I thought it would be pointless to put kanji in my stories because I would never be able to read or recognize the characters. But again, I followed the NACOS method and just concentrated on reading my stories. We would read the stories in sections and when I mastered one section, I would move on to the next. I understood the story inside and out because I created it! And just like before, I began reading my story like a native speaker, even with the story having kanji in it. The best part was that when I started learning a new story with kanji in it, I would recognize characters that I learned in my last story. I didn't have to spend hours and hours looking at flashcards or write the characters a hundred times to recognize them. I just followed the method and let memorization come naturally.
Another thing I wanted to point out is the flexibility of the program. After a couple years in the program, I graduated from college and started my full-time job. Because of that, I couldn't put in the time like I use to into learning Japanese. I couldn't study much during the week and could only come in once a week. I thought this would set me way back but I realized that it still worked for me. The NACOS method works in a way that even if you can put in one day out of the week, you can still retain what you learn and still learn more. The method works great for people who have a busy schedule and can put in a limited amount of time to learning each week.
It has now been 2 ½ years into the program and I am very pleased with the results. Like I said before, I'm am now able to read hiragana, katakana, and kanji and have interesting stories to share with Japanese speakers. I am also able to understand a lot more Japanese and can carry on a basic casual conversation (which is a lot more than I used to be able to do). But besides those things, I think the most important thing I gained from this program is the confidence to speak and not be afraid to make mistakes when learning Japanese. Before I only wanted to speak if I could say things perfectly but I realize now that that was only limiting my abilities. Learning is about doing and trying and with this program, it gave me the confidence and opportunity to do that. I plan on staying in the program for a long time and recommend it to anyone who is considering a new and effective way of learning Japanese.
- Karen White -
Karen's Testimonial 2011/05/20
The lessons in the past 3-6 months have been very intense at NACOS. Answering the need to learn Japanese better, at my own pace, and learning just what I needed, to be able to communicate has definitely made this a successful endeavor.
We created translations of my personal experiences about Kanzashi shopping, Needlepoint and Yasai Man(subject matter to be used in conversations), and selling shoes and Marukai shopping. NACOS method of teaching are using these personal experience stories and creating live vivid descriptions in Japanese which can be also be incorporated into everyday conversations. Learning Japanese in this way, makes for a better understanding of the language and an easier fun way to converse using true-to-life memory related subjects.
NACOS improves the flow of speech when reading, by inserting Kanji and Katakana to the stories. With this usage of shortening the words through Kanji, my pronunciation of the Japanese words became more natural and fluent flowing. What a great satisfaction of achievement! Because of this, not only did I learn a lot of new Kanji words, I began to sound Japanese at the same time without realizing it.
Through my stories of personal experiences, my knowledge of vocabulary, pronunciation, katakana and kaniji began to increase tremendously. Also in reverse, doing translations to English, has made me aware of the beauty and humorous antics of the Japanese language. It takes so many words to describe one word in Japanese and, that one word, creates such a vivid picture. NACOS' method is the same, by taking so much Japanese learning and adjusting it, to what your needs really are, they've compacted it. The delicately created stories come alive with so much more meaning than when, a word-for-word translation is done. This is a fundamental way of learning taught by NACOS and why it helps you to speak it so naturally. They make you sound good!
The use of Kanji in story creation is crucial. Used in one way, it means this, used with another Kanji the word meaning changes to mean something similar or different. In this way the language changes and seems intriguing to me, as I learn more and more, I can't seem to get enough. That's why the NACOS way of teaching Japanese makes it quite the “opposite” of boring. One has the ability to learn so much, in such a short time.
Katakana used in many instances for English words are another important type of lesson. It is a challenge to learn English words with a Japanese accent, because our old memory fights back to English when trying to pronounce it in Japanese. The NACOS method is making sure that I am aware and have the proper pronunciation in Japanese which is important when trying to communicate in Japanese and having the people understand what you are "really" saying.
Through the lessons I have twice a week, it keeps me in touch with Japanese and the traditions,too. I am able to ask about everyday things that I don't understand. When I hear something which I've learned in class, it thrills me, to relate my studies from NACOS and it makes it all the worthwhile, since I can now understand Japanese better. In the past I'd be lost in the interpretation and quite puzzled. NACOS instills confidence! Now I know what I am hearing and the interpretation is correct.
Nothing can be so wonderful than to be watching a Japanese feature, struggling with the sub-titles and suddenly realize that you're able to watch the actors speak, without reading the English sub-titles. Wow, I have arrived, to the understanding of Japanese, thanks to NACOS method of teaching.
A little finessing of words like “to” to be pronounced louder and with more accent to it rather than soft and fading. This is one example of improving my speaking. Another is “ta” which has to be pronounced with lips spread apart and mouth open and not lazily with a smaller opening of the mouth, which makes the sound different from what it is supposed to sound like. This is an intricate part of speaking Japanese correctly and can only be done on an individual, one to one basis. This is the personalization of NACOS.
Learning when and what part of the word to say louder or accent, can change the meaning of the word “tsuki” meaning “like” and not ski or “suteki”meaning beautiful and not steak. These are some examples of weaknesses in my Japanese and have to be practiced to be said correctly. NACOS gives specialized training, flash cards, hand written in big red letters,a visual method to equip me with, in learning Japanese.
Creating sentences in Japanese help to incorporate the words learned. NACOS teaches correct sentence structure and nice sounding Japanese. Way too often, we speak funny sounding Japanese because we're not using it in the right sequence or using the right word. Modern Japanese has made what I learned 50 years ago rather awkward sounding, especially since speaking it as a child with broken English for missing Japanese words. NACOS has brought me up to date in my speaking. I am no longer talking that way anymore, but more like an accomplished educated adult speaking the language.
- David Edward Pfitzner -
Aloha from Shimane, Japan 2011/05/24
I will be staying for another year:) I am enjoying my time in Japan, Shimane is inaka, but life is good. I really missed Hawaii in the winter:)
NACOS, those words popped out at me from all the other Japanese language learning schools in the Hawaiian phone book. Keep in mind this was over ten years ago, long before cell phones and the Internet were practical. At the time literally I only spoke a handful of words in Japanese, but I wanted to learn more, so I called the number, what did I have to lose? On my first lesson, they already had me writing my own self-introduction. From there we practiced it over and over and over again, until we perfected it. I would get quite exhausted and think I can’t speak any more Japanese, but I kept going and I am glad that I did.
Now this old personal narrative actually comes in quite handy, as I teach English in Japan. People ask me questions about family and where I am from all the time. First I respond to them in English, and then if they don't understand, I pull the self-introduction or other short stories from my memory banks and my Japanese all of the sudden amazes them.
NACOS always complimented my university classes and full schedule of restaurant work and college life. Whether I was using the Japanese to talk with customers or make new friends, it was just plain helpful in so many situations.
After graduating from HPU, NACOS wrote one of my letter’s of recommendation for JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme). I am glad I dialed that number NACOS number ten years ago and you will too.
Thank you for all your hard work and patience with me.
- Karen White -
10 Months Summary 2010/09/30
I started lessons about 10 months ago. Proud to announce that I have created over 10 stories to which I can read Kanji and speak clearly with the right pronunciations of each word, and learn to breath at the right times. My vocabulary has increased tremendously, so that now I can understand Japanese conversations and Movies. Learning from the heart of what I know about, makes Japanese easier to learn, than from just text book applications. Lessons are never dull or boring and I look forward to learning something new every time I go to class. From exposure to animated movies, to translating stories, to learning the different kind of celebrations and customs to which I was not aware of, all these make to a wonderful Learning Experience!
- Hector Seguin Jr -
8 lessons. It’s working! 2010/09/17
Well, it’s seems as though the lessons are working. Slowly I might add, but none the less they are working. After all the repetition I am starting to recognize more and more of the characters. I wish I could come more often, but work always seems to keep that from happening. I know if I were to come regularly, like twice a week without interruptions, I would undoubtedly would be progressing at a faster pace. Just goes to show how well this system of repetition teaching works. Now that summer is at an end and the vacationers are not as abundant, I’m sure I will be able to come to my lessons more often. Hopefully by the beginning of next summer I will be posting in Japanese. Haha! Wouldn’t that be great?!
- Nicole Miyasato -
Fast Track Japanese Program 2010/08/27
Today was my last Japanese class before I move back to California for school. I started taking Japanese at NACOS in July, and I learned a lot! I’m going to miss the walk to and from class, I would always count the ducks in the canal on the way home. I’m going to take all my stories to my dorm and keep them out, so that I can keep reading them and practicing them. I always meant to start learning Japanese and I’m glad that I finally started this summer with NACOS!
Check back for new additions in the future!