Japanese Language Schools

Parent Q&A

  • Hello, I'm seeking advice for a Japanese colleague whose 16 year old son will come to the East Bay area for his junior and possibly senior year of high school while his dad works on a long-term assignment in Emeryville.  The son has been educated primarily in Japan, with some limited education while living in the US when he was very young.  Dad speaks English fairly fluently and can rent a home in Albany, Berkeley or Emeryville as he considers best place for son to attend school.  Would appreciate any suggestions or experiences on best high schools in the area that would be welcoming to a Japanese exchange student; private or pubic considered.  Thank you for any suggestions.


    Absolutely El Cerrito High School. El Cerrito has a wonderful Japanese language program, lots of of kids speak and are learning Japanese. I'm sure he would find fast friends. El Cerrito also has good music, dance, and sports if he is interested in those, and a small, closed campus, which limits the confusion of a big school like Berkeley High. Here's a video of the club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b59iCcGZvks

    El Cerrito HS has a great Japanese language program so there would be kids around who speak Japanese.It would mean moving Into the ECHS school zone, and you'd have to check if there is space for new students.  It's the most popular school in the district.

    Las Lomas HS in Walnut Creek (part of the Acalanes Union HSD) offers Japanese. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Public High Schools that offer Japanese

Nov 2013

We are moving to the Bay Area from Tokyo, where my daughter is studying Japanese at her international school. Does anyone know of any public high schools that off Japanese as a language choice? MF

El Cerrito High. Best to live in one of the areas where that is your assigned school, transfers are not easy to come by, even with the reasoning of it being the only school offering Japanese. Chris

El Cerrito High offers Japanese. The teacher is a native Japanese speaker who the kids seem to love. Jon

Hi there, Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek offers Japanese. My daughter, who is planning on taking it, says they offer 4 years of Japanese. WC Mom

El Cerrito High offers Japanese. And there is a fairly large Japanese American community in the El Cerrito area, though now an aging one. There are a few good Japanese restaurants along San Pablo, and a great judo dojo on San Pablo, too. (One of the head senseis is a woman who competed in the Beijing Olympics.) More info than you asked for, but hopefully helpful! EC resident

If you don't find a high school, you might consider the community colleges. When my son was in high school, he took Japanese at Laney College and had a great teacher. He has since taken Japanese at Berkeley City College and DVC. As I recall, there is some paperwork needed from your child's high school to enroll in a community college class but it was easy and tuition is not too bad. ginger

Since Japanese has gone out of vogue as a language to learn I don't know of any high school that still offers it, but depending on your daughter's ability, you might consider enrolling her in SF Japanese School, aka nihongo hoshu-koh. It goes through the equivalent of 11th grade or 2nd year high school in Japan. http://www.sfjs.org/ yuko

El Cerrito High School has a Japanese language program. If that doesn't work for you, you might consider private tutoring. My daughter-in-law (a native of Tokyo) has worked with high school students at both El Cerrito High and at College Prep (a private school that is unfortunately discontinuing its Japanese program), and may have openings if you are interested. Feel free to contact me for further information. Rachel

El Cerrito High had Japanese when my children went there.At that time I was not aware of any other local high schools that offered it except possibly San Francisco. El Cerrito Alumni

My daughter was also hoping to study Japanese, but was not approved for transfer. As far as I know, the only public schools in the area that offer Japanese are El Cerrito and De Anza, both in WCCUSD. We applied to transfer to El Cerrito, and were placed on the waiting list. Victoria

Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek has a wonderful Japanese program. Mr. Schreiber is the teacher. My son took the class all 4 years and had hopes of continuing in college as a minor. Unfortunately, his college does not offer it. The school web site is www.acalanes.k12.ca.us/laslomas schroter

Previous postings reported that El Cerrito High has a Japanese program, but no one mentioned what a great series of classes it is, with a cultural focus, every-other-year trips to Japan, and most importantly a wonderful instructor. With one child currently in Japanese 3 & one in Japanese 1, I highly recommend it!! Susan


Japanese school for 3 yr old

Dec 2011


My son is half Japanese and I really want him to learn the language. Due to life-work situations he goes to preschool in Palo Alto but we live in Oakland. I am looking for a school on the weekend but haven't found any. I had also reached out to a former Japanese Montessori teacher of his but she isn't available on the weekends. Does anyone know of anything formal or informal for children as young as 3? Thank you! Stacie

I would recommend the American international Montessori School in Berk. They have a wonderful Japanese program for 3 year olds. We really love this school, the director , and teachers. This is one of the best schools in California in my opinion. Adrienne


Daruma no Gakko for 5 year old?

April 2011


We'd like our 5 yr old to start learning some Japanese and have fun too. How much Japanese language do children learn from Daruma no Gakko ? A teeny tiny amount? The school welcomes children of many ages with no/little Japanese experience, so I wonder how they do the language instruction. okasan

Both my husband and I are originally from Japan, but our children were born here. We have never sent our 2 children to Daruma no Gakko due to our work schedule conflicts, so I will not go too much details. I know many people who did/have done. I have not heard any negatives so far and all the families I know are happy with Daruma no Gakko.

As far as I know (I might be wrong, though), their focus is more on the cultural aspects, including the Japanese-American history, not too much on language though they teach speaking, not writing. I am not sure how much you want your child to learn Japanese, but there are many schools and organizations offer Japanese language lessons. If you want your child to learn decent language skills, I suggest to learn speaking, writing, and reading at the same time continuously because I, as a foreigner who learned English at the later stage in my life, believe that learning those skills together are very important to acquire any languages other than your native ones. English and Japanese have quite a distinct composition in grammar and cultural background so it is not the easiest combination. My sister is married with Korean and she learned the language very quickly because we share the culture a lot.(Sometimes people there do not know she is Japanese). If you have any questions, I am happy to respond. -Rie