Category Archives: Testimonials

Testimonial from student

Received a testimonial from one of my students.
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Humans were born to be curious creatures, we crave the knowledge of the unknown, constantly feeling the need to learn new things that would expand the horizon of our world. This gift of ours has led to many great things, from the steam engine to the technology that we so very need today to enrich our lives.

However, we are not superhumans. Bill Gates constantly thanks his teachers for playing a part in getting to where he is right now. If you haven’t already noticed, our path of learning has always been paved by ‘teachers’. Be it going to school, or even our parents teaching us how to walk, there is always someone there to guide us and assist us in learning. Yes, you may argue that self-learning is a thing and there are times where we can only rely on ourselves. I do not fully disagree with you, there are indeed benefits to self-learning. But first, let’s put this in the context of learning Japanese (which is the reason why you are reading this).

When I first started, I strongly felt that Japanese could be self-taught. I thought that I didn’t need a teacher, I thought that I could save the money to feed my materialistic lifestyle. Like I said, it IS possible to self-learn anything, including Japanese. But what made me change my mind? What made me willing to seek lessons?

Progress.

I made big use of the vast resources that the Internet provided: Youtube tutorials, Meguro, Duolingo, you name it. I was getting nowhere. I’m not implying that these platforms are bad. I mean honestly, they’re great! If you haven’t tried, how it usually works is that you go through a number of lessons and you are tested at the end of every lesson. These lessons are relatively easy, you would be able to score full marks easily each time. But I still felt like something was missing. Why am I still facing difficulty conjuring basic sentences even after acing these lessons?

Passing these lessons felt like I am in possession of certain ‘tools’. How I am going to make use of these ‘tools’ is a different dilemma all over again. There was no clear guide as to where I should get started and I slowly began to feel lost. I needed help.

Googling ‘Japanese lesson Singapore’ would bring up a couple of reputable Japanese language schools in Singapore. If you’re reading this it means that you have definitely encountered their websites and have chosen to look for different schools, either because they are too expensive or you can’t commit to their lesson schedules (which are also the same reasons why I have chosen here over the other more reputable schools).

I was looking for value and flexibility, and both aspects stood out to me when I browsed this website. I remember having five tabs on my browser, all on the ‘Rates’ or ‘Fees’ section of each website. Needless to say, ‘Tsubasa Language Services’ was the cheapest (this is not an ad). But, as a fellow Singaporean skeptic, this thought always comes through our heads when we compare prices.

“Is it cheap because it is of low quality/lousy?”

My answer to that is no.

I am someone known to be sensitive to the feelings of the people around me, and from the first lesson, I could immediately sense the genuity and passion in teaching from Can-sensei. I also remember the sense of enlightenment and understanding during my first lesson. I was finally able to conjure basic sentences with the things I learnt on the various platforms! All from this one lesson.

Remember when I emphasised on the importance of teachers? Is a teacher that is able to teach well considered top-notched and respectable? Well, technically yes. But I beg to differ. A teacher that is able to teach well only shows that he/she is able to carry out his/her duty well. I believe that a ‘good’ teacher is one that can unleash the potential of their students and maximise their learning capabilities. And for that, I believe Can-sensei has done it, and has done it well.

In a business perspective, the most economically logical thing to do is to teach the contents of one chapter per lesson (which I believe is what most schools do). However, Can-sensei did not do that. During our first few lessons, Can-sensei regarded that I was able to grasp the basic concepts well, and pushed me to my maximum potential by not wasting time on chapters that he feels I am already proficient in.

That being said, I never liked learning as a kid. But somehow, Can-sensei has awakened the curious nature in me, and I believe he would do the same for you.

-L. Tan
Private student
Completed 3/4 of Minna no Nihongo I in 20 lessons

Testimonial from online student from US

Received a testimonial last year from one of my online students from US. Here goes.
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Hi, Sensei. I decided to write a testimonial for you because I really appreciate everything you do and I want you to see the impact you’ve had in my life over these few short weeks. Sorry if it’s a bit long, but I had a lot to say.

“I have wanted to learn Japanese for a long time. It was on and off for over 5 years before this past year, when I decided to start studying seriously. I had told everyone that I was learning, which was a pretty big mistake. My motivation plummeted, and I had no interest in actually studying. I spent my time watching dramas and listening to music because I knew I had to keep up the input, but I couldn’t find the energy to actually study.

That’s when I saw Sensei posting on Reddit. I had seen his posts before, but this time he was asking for students to attend his class online. I knew this was the opportunity I needed. Even without being motivated, having someone to hold me accountable would really push me to keep going like I wanted to. I joined the class without hesitation.

When I finally got the chance to attend, Sensei’s class was nothing like I had expected. With this being week 5, all of the topics were topics I had already learned. But, somehow, Sensei really taught me something during every class. Whether it was correct pronunciation and pitch, extra vocabulary, or culture, I learned something new during every class. This was a sign that I truly needed to be in this class.”

“Just teaching us is not enough for Sensei. All of the lecture videos I had watched before don’t amount to what Sensei does for this class. He asks us to participate, and I never feel singled out or embarrassed. He does his best to make us sound authentic from our pronunciation to our accent, and doesn’t hesitate to keep us practicing a word until he thinks we have it down. We just did a presentation for the class on aspects of Japanese culture, which is not something I expected to do in an online class. As a university student, the quality of this class rivals the quality of classes I’m taking to earn my degree.

While the information you gain is a good judge of the standards of a class, this class goes beyond just learning about Japanese culture and language. We’ve built a community of learners who are inspired every day by each other to keep pursuing their dreams. People all over the globe with all different backgrounds come together to learn more about Japan, and I think that’s beautiful. I’m so very thankful to Sensei for all he has done for us, and especially for me.”

New testimonial from student

Hi all,

Received a new testimonial from a student.
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I have been learning Japanese from Can-sensei for about 3 months, starting from little to no prior experience in the language. My lack of experience wasn’t a huge disadvantage however, because Can-sensei’s classes easily accommodated the needs of learners starting from a clean slate. Most other schools cram upwards of 20-30 students into a single class as if they were part-time childcare centres; Can-sensei’s classes are a simple 8-pax session in a small classroom which gives you, as a learner, much more well-deserved attention to your learning progress.

The foundation Japanese course was not as intimidating as learning a new language might sound. Right from the first lesson, what stood out to me about Can-sensei was his obvious passion for imparting knowledge. Instead of the dull droning you’d expect from your primary school Mandarin teacher, he is amazingly animated and enthusiastic for a guy teaching tens of classes every single day. It almost gives you and your constant “kill me please” desk job face an existential crisis. Lessons with Can-sensei feel more like a weekly educational gathering at your best friend’s house than another chore you drag your feet to every week.

As for the foundation lessons’ content itself, Can-sensei put together his own, unorthodox 10-lesson syllabus which impressed me in many ways. Rather than throw out a million “useful phrases in Japanese” for you to memorize over and over until you lose your sanity, he cements your foundation in the language with knowledge on HOW these phrases are formed. By emphasizing all four of writing, reading, pronunciation and conversation equally, Can-sensei ensures that you get the basics perfect and don’t go on to make basic mistakes as you progress in learning.

Can-sensei also puts a huge emphasis on self-study. Instead of wasting time and forcing you to memorize hiragana characters by writing them a billion times during your precious paid lesson hours, he encourages you to take it to task by doing it yourself at home then evaluating your progress at the start of every new lesson. As it should be – the burden of practice should fall on the student, not the teacher. Can-sensei is able to manage lesson time wisely by teaching actual important information.

The unique formula pays off and is apparent after 10 weeks of foundation lessons. Even I couldn’t believe that I could speak basic sentences without much hesitation after such a short time! But don’t take my word for it, please do sign up and experience it yourself. Not only is it value for money, I dare say it is a most therapeutic and happy environment to learn Japanese in.

By: Mr Mok
Currently in Sunday Beginner class

The Passionate Japanese Teacher

Hi all,

Received another 2 touching testimonials from my students.
Here it goes.
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I have been learning Japanese from Can sensei from about 3 months but prior to that I have been self-studying for some time and had completed the Genki one textbook. However, with Can sensei I feel that I am able to learn and practice more than when I was self-studying.

Can sensei has a strong passion to teach. This shows in his ability to guide his students. However, Can sensei does not spoon feed. In the larger scheme of things, he hopes to cultivate an independent life-long-learning mentality in his students. Instead, he provides plenty of useful resources for his students to use outside of class. Many of which are prepared by sensei himself.

I feel that the fact that Can sensei is not a native speaker is a huge benefit. Sensei is fluent in Japanese, of course, but he worked hard to attain his level of proficiency. He knows what it’s like to be a student learning Japanese and therefore knows what concepts would need more focus and is able to explain them in ways we can understand and relate to.

I highly recommend Can sensei to anyone who wants to learn Japanese. He has a great personality and a love for the Japanese language and culture. He will push his students and really focus on drilling and perfecting their Japanese.

By: Ezekiel Lee
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I started studying with Can-sensei in August 2018 together with my friend.
Before I started any lessons, I was self-studying with Genki textbook but I did not manage to grasp the concepts well, especially the various grammar structures.
When I met Can-sensei, he assessed my proficiency through a trial lesson and shared with me the progression path of the language and the commitment level required.

Throughout the 3 months, I was able to understand all the grammar structures easily through Can-sensei’s unique style of explaining. He makes it easy to understand grammar structures and can explain it in a way that native teachers wouldn’t be able to.
Other than lessons, Can-sensei also brought us to Japanese restaurants to share about the culture and introduces dramas during lessons to make the lesson more interesting.

If you are looking somewhere to start learning Japanese, don’t hesitate to go to Can-sensei. He is a knowledgeable and friendly teacher who you will not regret learning from.

By: Seah YL

馬鹿正直な先生 (The super honest teacher)

Hi all,

Received a testimonial from my student.

Do take a look and see for yourself. What is your motivation?

/Can


“What is your motivation in learning Japanese?” This is the question that Can/Tsubasa/Dimitri asks whether I got stuck in my Japanese studies. I’m sure you will hear this too when you meet him for the first time. When I agreed to become his student, I know I have walked the road less travelled.

After many sensei I had and went to schools like Hougang(2005-2007), Ikoma (2016-2017), and online like iTalki (2017), Can is the best sensei I have.

Can is an urban legend to me. I first heard about him online when I was digging for last minute JLPT exam tips back in 2015. His free materials are handy even till now. Moreover, his name keeps popping up again, and again in hardwarezone.com.sg and Reddit. He caught my attention, but I picked Ikoma at that time. I was sceptical if a non-native can teach the language well, even though he has illustrated his technical prowess on these sites.

Then I met Can on Christmas 2017 for an interview to be his private student. My N4 in July 2017 is 140. The crazy me is asking for N2 160/180 in July 2019. Can immediately point out that my N4 140 is risky as it is an indication of my weak foundation, and I actually wasn’t ready for N3. However, prior to our meeting, I already did my N3 in December 2017. (Naughty me crammed N3 in 2.5 months.) He remarked that I shouldn’t have tried N3. He didn’t allow me to revise anything beyond N4 from January 2018 to May 2018. Anytime I asked a question that is N3-N2 related, Can shoot me down and reminded me to focus on N5-N4. I felt dejected, maybe even a little infuriating. However, I bit my tongue and my ego and went back to basics.

I officially become his student on CNY 2018 and retook N4 in July 2018 to see my improvement. This test was my third attempt in N4; first in 2007 which was still called JLPT 3, and it was a borderline pass. Then I stopped my studies in 2008 when I failed my JLPT 2 (N2) and left a ten years gap. My second attempt in N4 was that July 2017’s 140. Thanks to Can, I pulled up my score to 168 for N4’s July 2018. This is my personal best and never in my dreams would I imagine I can score as I am not naturally language-inclined.

Some of my former classmates were laughing at my absurd reasons to “downgrade”. I was revising N5-N4 when I owned an N3 and going to a non-native sensei when I am already in a reputable school filled with native sensei. What I see is behind Can’s strict exterior is his generous soul. Being his private student, he would be kind to invite me to his group lessons routinely or even to some meet-up so that I can experience others’ motivation towards learning. The free notes on his site, his massive library collection which I would bug him occasionally for book recommendations, going for courses to upgrade his skills, a free first trial for his lessons, him ritually giving out free last-minute JLPT tips; these are all tell-tale signs of Can’s generosity and passion towards Japanese language.

A trend I observe often in learning Japanese is the kiasu behaviour to rush for JLPT certification. Such a grade-driven system exists not merely due to Singapore’s competitive education system, but Japan also plays a part. There are still many employers in Japan assessing a potential employee to possess at least an N2.

However, the more I study for JLPT, the more I observe this trait; Doing well for JLPT has almost no connection to being fluent in Japanese. Possessing an N2 would not magically enable me to watch anime without subtitles or speak like a native. Therefore, do not be disheartened if you are slow. Only be wary if you become lazy or snobbish. Your learning in advanced Japanese will not retain if your foundation (N5-N4) is not stable.

I have heard about Can’s reputation in grammar explanation being his forte. I think his great emphasis and sensibility in understanding Japanese culture and its people makes him exceptional. This is the reason why he will start his beginner class with 2.5 months of foundation studies first before officially using the textbooks. In his classes, your homework will not only be consisted of the materials from the textbook, but you do presentations and projects too. The students are also actively encouraged to use media consumption daily like watching dramas, variety shows, playing games or reading novels, manga and magazines. By immensing in these activities, they enriched for a more well-rounded learning.

Many people have mistaken Can for a native as his Japanese sounds natural. As a result, Can always correct his students’ pronunciation as he wants his students to articulate proper Japanese. This is a feature you won’t get from other schools, yet this is so important. Japanese people are particular about making a good impression, and if you have poor pronunciation with a strong foreign accent, they will straight away brand you as 外人 (gaijin = foreigners). You may think what’s wrong with being labelled as an “outsider”. I think it’s a pity to live in the “gaijin bubble” and lose out an opportunity to connect with a native. Learning with Can don’t just make me fall in love with the language, I become genuinely interested in its people. I have looked at the Japanese with rose-coloured glasses and learning with Can taught me to look beyond the surface. As much as their ambivalence drive me crazy, I wholeheartedly respect Japanese’s sense of humility. Getting better at “reading the air”「空気を読む」 becomes my biggest motivation. This is when I realise my test to true Japanese language’s proficiency is not how well I score in JLPT, but the ability to speak the Japanese language that communicates straight to the Japanese people’s hearts.

Let Can be a part of your learning. His teaching style is not for the faint-hearted. Can’s words can be so brutally honest and his work ethics so strict that he may not the cup of tea for many students. However, if you heed his advice and do the hard work, you can definitely see your progress and will emerge as a more self-motivated and disciplined student. Can holds a belief as an educator, that academic excellence should go together with character development, and I applaud him for his dedication. My eternal gratitude to Can for allowing me to experience his teaching and in the process, making me a better friend to native Japanese.

New testimonial from student: The selfless educator

Over the years, I had the opportunity to study Japanese in a few schools such as Japanese Cultural Society and Ikoma Langage School in Singapore and even COTO Language School in Tokyo. To those searching for a suitable school, I feel it is important for you to know your purpose of learning Japanese. Is it just an activity / past time after work and school? Is it for your career development to accomplish a third language and work in a Japanese-related organisation? Is it to find a common community and forge deep friendships with Japanese language lovers alike? Is it to learn more about Japanese culture? If your answers is yes to all of the above, I will highly recommend you to learn under Can-sensei.

Can-sensei is the most committed and passionate language teacher I have ever come across over the years. Despite the small setting of his classes, the syllabus and learning environment that Can-sensei provide will not pale in comparison to those big schools in the market. Can-sensei focused strongly on building a solid foundation and as such, his class is relatively small with not more than 8 persons per session. This is a great bonus as every student obtain a good amount of attention from Sensei and he is able to correct you on the spot, especially on your pronunciation and conversational skills. With a small class, you will soon forge great friendship with your classmates and this makes learning even more enjoyable!

Another interesting aspect of learning under Can-sensei is his unique teaching syllabus. Although he uses the same textbook as Ikoma Language School, every student has to undertake a 10 weeks Foundation Studies class, which includes a project on Japanese drama and a written test before you start proper on Basic Japanese (using the textbook). This is especially important to ensure a strong foundation in all students and true enough, students will find it easier to understand future lessons taught using the textbooks. This explains the reason for the 100% JLPT passing rate record in his school!

The project also provides students with a different perspective of learning Japanese language outside classroom setting! In fact, most of us develop an addiction to watching Japanese dramas after our project. Apart from using the textbooks, Can-sensei also include other aspects of Japanese cultural learning in his syllabus such as tea ceremony, interview etiquette, Japanese history, Japanese social trends and Japanese drama watching; all without additional cost! I don’t think you can find this in other schools being conducted free of charge.

Above all, Can-sensei is a totally selfless Japanese language educator. He provides free learning materials and notes on his official website, which are accessible to anyone and, as I know, is always on the search path to writing study notes and simplifying Japanese language to all keen learners. This is the greatest contribution that a passionate educator can make to the learning society, which is an admirable trait!

It is with regrets that I am unable to continue my learning under Can-sensei due to personal commitments but I felt very blessed to have met him and learn under him for a short period of time. For all of you out there searching for a great learning and coaching experience on Japanese studies, I highly recommend you to consider learning under Can-sensei! And to Can-sensei: Sincerely appreciate and thank you once again for your guidance. You have been a great Sensei/Coach/Educator and I extend my best wishes to you and the rest!

-Lim JW

Are you willing to take up the challenge?

From my Advanced class student:

I have been studying under Can Sensei for slightly over a year as of May 2018. Prior to this, I studied Japanese at Ikoma for about 8 months and continued studying Japanese while I was doing an exchange program in Tokyo.

To start off, I would consider my Japanese to be at around N4 level before studying under Can sensei. When we met in Feb 2017, I had hopes of passing the JLPT N2 by July 2017, to which he shot down by saying that it was far too unrealistic and attempting the paper in December would be a more realistic goal. Nevertheless, he encouraged me to go for the paper in July to experience sitting for the JLPT to better prepare for the one in December. In addition, he spared no effort in preparing me for the examination, rather than treating it as just a mock paper. Thanks to his tutelage, I managed to pass the JLPT N2 in July despite having only studied Japanese for 1 year and 8 months by that point, not to mention a mere 4 months studying under Can sensei.

Can sensei’s expertise does not simply end with preparing students for the JLPT. Japanese is a living, breathing language and I am certain that most learners would want to be able to use the language in real life, be it in their careers or to make friends or to better enjoy their hobbies such as anime, manga, drama or video games. Learning Japanese will invariably require learning more about Japanese culture to understand certain nuances, expressions and the etymology of certain words in the language – all of which are crucial in one’s pursuit of attaining fluency in the language. Can sensei is definitely a subject matter expert in this regard, having attended courses in Japan to learn more about the culture.

Probably one of the most neglected aspects of learning Japanese would be the pitch accent and intonation. Ask a native Japanese teacher about intonation in Japanese and chances are he or she will tell you that Japanese intonation is flat or that there is no intonation involved. This is quite a huge misconception and unless you have a very good ear for picking out the intonation and pronunciation, you would most likely pick up a few bad habits in pronouncing certain words the “wrong” way. I would say that Can sensei is hyper-aware of this issue and he always corrects his students on pitch accent. In fact, probably one of the first things that you would notice upon meeting Can sensei is that his Japanese sounds very natural, something people usually achieve only if they have been living in Japan for a long time or if they actively work on improving it.

To conclude, I highly recommend Can sensei to anyone who wants to take their Japanese to the next level. A word of caution though – his lessons are meant for those who are serious about learning the language, are willing to take up the challenge and have the time to revise after classes. If you enroll with the right attitude, then I guarantee it will be start of a great learning journey.

By: Brian Teh
Passed N2 in 4 months
Currently in N1 Prep class