On studying at a Japanese graduate school

On studying at a Japanese graduate school

Interview with a member of our teaching staff who has finished graduate school

We know that there are many people who are interested in going on to a graduate school in Japan and are collecting various information. For those who are considering graduate school education in Japan, we interviewed a teaching staff with a master’s degree at Tokyo Galaxy Japanese Language School to find out what kind of experience it would be like to study at a graduate school in Japan.
Ms. Matsukawa, who provides guidance for international students to go on to universities and graduate schools at Tokyo Galaxy, has completed a master’s course at a Japanese national university’s graduate school. Having an experience of studying at a graduate school herself, and having been involved with graduate school entrance examination guidance at Tokyo Galaxy for a long time, she provided us specific and realistic information in detail.

What made you decide to go on to graduate school?

My major in graduate school is Japanese language education. I had decided to become a Japanese teacher since I was a high school student. At university, I was studying lifelong education as a major and Japanese language education as a minor, and there were many senior students who were preparing in earnest to be Japanese teachers. Most of my seniors went on to graduate school, so I was greatly influenced by them and went to graduate school.
I also got interested in Japanese language education for foreign children through volunteer activities and wanted to do research in this field, which also inspired me to enter graduate school.

Tell us about the things you have learned, or the abilities you have acquired at graduate school.

1) Critical thinking and critical reading
These abilities are necessary to get into graduate school first of all, and after I entered graduate school, there were many opportunities to come into contact with other people’s research areas when I was writing my thesis and discussing about our studies. I was able to improve my abilities of critical thinking and reading through such process. When I was studying at graduate school, I often had to present my opinion in a logical manner on subjects other than my major, and that led me naturally to acquire thinking power and reading comprehension. Now I am giving lessons in the graduate school entrance exam classes at Tokyo Galaxy, and I’m feeling that the abilities of critical thinking and reading cultivated at graduate school is very useful, perhaps more useful than what I studied as my major.

2) Wide perspective, friends and connections
At my graduate school, students varied in age and nationality. While studying with them, I had a lot of valuable experiences. Graduate school is not a place where the professors show you the correct answer. It is important to give opinions from various angles, together with all kinds of people, and deepen your thoughts. The experience of having the opportunity to ponder deeply through discussions with many people has had a great impact on my research. In addition, at graduate school, you can acquire not only knowledge in your major, but also a lot of research and research abilities.

On studying at a Japanese graduate school

What are the characteristics of students who have successfully passed the entrance exams for Japanese graduate schools after preparing for the entrance examination at Tokyo Galaxy?

1) The area they wished to study was clearly defined.
2) The study area was related to what they have experienced in the past (university major, work or part-time job, volunteer activity).
Characteristics 1) and 2) will affect the level of specificity of your study.
3) The intention to go to graduate school for research was clear.
Some of the students preparing for graduate school entrance exams were still unsure about it and they were wondering whether to get a job or go on to graduate school. In most cases, they gave up going to graduate school and chose to get a job.
4) Have academic Japanese ability. (It will be best to have JLPT score of N2 or more at one year before your graduate school entrance exam)
5) Have knowledge on your major.
6) Have English proficiency (required in some academic fields).

Please tell us about your most memorable student at Tokyo Galaxy.

  • Majoring in economics.
  • Entered Tokyo Galaxy in October 2018, Japanese ability was at JLPT N2 level.
  • Moved up to Accelerated Learning C Class in winter term of 2019.
  • Achieved JLPT N1 level in July 2019 test..
  • Applied for graduate school in summer and winter of 2019, but unable to pass the entrance exam. Had a difficult time, but continued to make efforts without quitting and got high scores in the English and the economics tests. At that time, the student was studying for more than 10 hours a day. At last in late February 2020, the student gained admission to a top-ranked private graduate school, which was the one we were waiting for the announcement of final results.
  • The student was always participating in class with a positive attitude and acted as an incentive to other students.
  • Continuing to make efforts even after entering graduate school, preparing papers and presentations at academic conferences.
  • The point is not to give up until the end even if you feel difficult at first.

There are many people interested in going on to graduate school but cannot make up their minds. Please give some advice to such people.

The most important thing for those who want to enter graduate school is to have a strong will. Preparing for the entrance exam will be a hard road, but it will never be easy after entering graduate school. However, if you overcome these processes, you will be able to see something very different. What I experienced when I was preparing for the graduate school entrance exam, after entering graduate school and until finishing its education was an experince that I couldn’t get anywhere else.

On studying at a Japanese graduate school

What kind of students do you think are fit for studying at graduate school?

  • Students with a strong will.
  • Students who can think logically and act systematically
  • Students seeking a research career (not only academic research but also research and survey jobs in private enterprises)
  • Students who want to do research as a contribution to society
  • Students who are aiming to solve problems that could not be solved by conventional research and work

We are hoping that this interview could help those of you wondering what you can learn at a Japanese graduate school, and give you some knowledge about graduate schools. At Tokyo Galaxy Japanese Language School, students aiming to go on to graduate schools are able to take lessons from Ms. Matsukawa and other Japanese teachers who have completed graduate school, learn in detail what is necessary for going on to graduate school, and prepare for the entrance exam. However, in order to take our Graduate School Admission Preparation classes held in January and April, you should have Japanese ability of JLPT N2 level or higher. So you can study Japanese in advance to reach JLPT N2 level before coming to Japan, or take our basic and intermediate level classes and reach JLPT N2 level by January or April, and then begin preparation for graduate school. We hope that you take this opportunity to think about your motive for going on to graduate school and what you want to do in the future.