about JF nihongo


Annual Schedule

We will offer regular courses during the winter, spring, and fall terms.  During summer term, special workshops and courses will be offered.

The level used for JF Nihongo

JF Nihongo courses are designed in accordance with the Japan Foundation's JF Standard.  It utilizes a framework of levels of Japanese language proficiency divided into six levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2) as detailed below.  Click to view enlarged diagram.  To learn more about JF Standard, see the link: JF Standard.

Regular Courses

The courses are designed for new Japanese-language learners, as well as those who are interested in improving their existing language skills.  

Everyday Japanese:

This series focuses on learning useful Japanese for communication in Japanese within daily life situations.  We offer the following courses.

Mastering Kana, Making Friends 1~3 and Fun with Friends 1~3*
*Fun with Friends 1, 2 and 3 can be taken in any order. 

Course Flow

For absolute beginners:

Start with Mastering Kana followed by Making Friends 1, 2 and 3.  Once you complete Making Friends 3, you can take Fun with Friends (Example 1).

Students are encouraged to go at their own pace and retake courses to reinforce and master concepts (Example 2).

For those who have learned Japanese before:

Start with the course matching to your proficiency. (Example 3,4)
Please choose your course by reading the course descriptions and taking the self-assessment test, which is downloadable from the website.  Try the self-assessment tests and self-check lists for several different levels if you are not sure.

For detailed information about each course, see Course Listing.


We offer one day workshops through a year where you can learn Japanese by experiencing cultural activities, or focusing on a special topic related to Japanese language. 

Japanese for Fun:

Japanese For Fun is a unique workshop series designed to learn Japanese through fun activities related to Japanese culture or traditional customs, such as Making Sushi in Japanese or Celebrate Japanese New Year’s.  In addition to our language instructors, professionals in Japanese culture such as a sushi chef are occasionally invited.  No prior Japanese language skills necessary.


special topics:

Outside of culture workshops, we offer other types of special workshops.  For example, the JLPT explanatory workshop, JLPT The Basics, aims to provide learners of Japanese with an explanation of the purpose, structure and scoring of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. 


Once or twice a semester, we offer fun events related to Japanese language.  Through interactive games or activities, you can enjoy the event no matter what your Japanese language level is.

JF Nihongo Tea Time:

As a fun and informative conversation cafe, JF Nihongo Tea Time is where you can experience the Japanese language with native Japanese speakers.   You will enjoy Japanese tea, soft drinks, and snacks while you chat with some new friends.  You will also learn Japanese from our instructors through games.   It is a good opportunity for both beginners and advanced learners.


for Youth

Our courses are mainly offered to adults; however, we occasionally offer special courses for teen agers and kids with their parents.  The Summer Camp: Discover Little Tokyo is an intensive course for teen agers to explore Little Tokyo while communicating with native Japanese speakers.  Making Sushi with Mom and Dad is another example offered for young Japanese fans.

About Our Instructors

JF Nihongo instructors are professional, native speakers of Japanese, very active and friendly.

Hiroko Katsuta

“Learning Japanese is challenging, but also fun and exciting!  I am looking forward to having an exciting and fun class with you! Let’s learn Japanese and have a good time in the process!”

Born in Okayama, in western Japan, Katsuta received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature and worked as a businesswoman in Japan for several years. She then obtained a master’s degree in Japanese linguistics from Portland State University, where she also taught first through fourth year Japanese for four years. She looks forward to inspiring her students to realize the exciting journey that is studying Japanese.

Michi Shimura

"Hello, Minasan. Japanese is not only a tool for communication. I believe you will also be able to discover new ideas and enhance the quality of your lives through learning Japanese. I am looking forward to seeing you in the classroom!"

Shimura was born in Kanagawa, Japan. She received a bachelor’s degree in  Japanese literature at Otsuma Women’s University. At Columbia University she studied Japanese pedagogy, and received her master’s degree in Education from Meisei University in Japan.  She has been teaching for almost 20 years at various schools such as Clemson University, South Carolina, community colleges, and Japanese high schools. She has taught from beginner to native level students of different ages and ethnic groups.

Yuka Kitazono

“Hi Mina san (Everyone), I am very lucky to be a Japanese teacher at JFLA.  Our students come from a variety of different backgrounds and range in age between 20 to 70+. Most importantly, they are all fun people and love learning Japanese.  We are looking forward to seeing you soon!!”

Kitazono was born in Tokyo, Japan and holds a degree in Linguistics and East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master’s Degree in Japanese Pedagogy from Columbia University. She has more than 15 years’ experience in teaching Japanese to various age groups and Japanese language levels at high schools and colleges in Los Angeles.  She also had a business career in Japan so she knows the customs and culture of Japanese companies that helps her in teaching business Japanese.

Keiko Tsurumi

“I always tell students that Japanese may look ‘different', but it is not ‘difficult’. In fact, many aspects of Japanese are very systematic and fairly easy to learn. For example, once you learn the numbers 1~10, you know how to count all the way up to 99 in a single lesson. My passion is to make Japanese learning as accessible as possible to all ages in a stress-free environment.”

Tsurumi is originally from Saitama Japan, about a 30-minute train ride from Central Tokyo. She holds a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a California K-12 Teaching Credential in Japanese. Over the past decade, she has taught in Elementary, Secondary and Higher Education.