I have been studying Japanese with Akiko since I first arrived in Japan a decade ago with barely any vocabulary, but with an urgent need to pick up enough knowledge to work with Japanese colleagues. I have always been impressed with Akiko’s ability to pitch the content of lessons at an appropriate level to my current understanding, something that clearly comes from her experience of teaching students from beginners through to those wanting advanced study. This, and the very comfortable atmosphere of lessons (but with that ‘push’ to study – I am not a ‘natural’ language learner) makes me frequently recommend her.
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Department of Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering Associate Professor
For a few of years now, Akiko has been teaching Japanese at our company to groups of employees of various sizes, and at all Japanese comprehension levels. Based on the Japanese level, motivations and individual interests of our staff, Akiko advises on which groups we form, and she shapes the lecture material accordingly.
While I have joined classes of many Japanese teachers over the past 10 years, Akiko really stands out. When you are exposed to her motivation and enthusiasm, you will quickly realize that Akiko is no ordinary teacher. She is one of those teachers that really know their craft and have a real passion for it; one of those teachers you will only meet a few times in your lifetime. She explains it when textbook material doesn’t appear in natural conversation. This is of great value in the quest to sound “natural”, and goes to show that Akiko does not just go through a textbook like a drone. Every class is something special.
Her Twitter presence also presents people a fantastic way to play with the Japanese language. Her tweets test your knowledge and usually teach you something about the language you didn’t know yet, while very often being related to current events. If you’re considering teaching your foreign staff Japanese, you can’t go wrong with Akiko.
Vice President of Engineering
I studied conversational Japanese with Akiko for around two years. I always felt like I had come away from each lesson having actually learned something really useful. Akiko’s warm personality and patience made me feel at ease and helped me to speak more and more. I really appreciated how personalised the lessons were – Akiko prepared specific lessons for me when I was pregnant to help me through the experience and she continued to be very accommodating after I gave birth with flexible lesson times. Her lessons were always a great balance of focused activities and also chat time to use what I had learned previously. I would recommend her lessons to anyone who wants to improve their Japanese.
ALBA Music Together
Over my many years in Japan I’ve studied with a lot of teachers, but I can say without doubt or hesitation that Akiko is in a league of her own. On a practical level, her wealth of experience allows her to quickly assess the needs of her student and respond accordingly. Understanding what you need as an individual and how you learn best is a real strength of hers, and she openly and generously makes the language resources she has at her disposal available to all her students.
Also, the clarity and precision of her explanations of the intricacies of Japanese is quite rare, in my experience. For example, she’s very happy to go into depth about questions of grammar or kanji, whereas other teachers sometimes have the tendency to sweep those questions aside, or imply that you’re not ready to know the answer.
Akiko honors and follows the curiosity of her students, and that’s a rare and lovely thing to find in a teacher.
Beyond all that, Akiko is just plain fun, and such a joy to be around. I can (and regularly do) highly recommend her to anyone looking for a Japanese teacher.
Paige Baldwin Ando