I was at Hokkaido JaLS in the summer of 2016, as both a foreign student studying Japanese and a young intern for the company. Through the 6 weeks I was there my Japanese improved a hundred-fold – my Japanese friends were so surprised when I returned and we could just talk in Japanese for hours on end! What's more my Japanese level wasn't even high to begin with - I arrived there a "pre-intermediate level" and am probably now an "intermediate level"; it doesn't seem like much on paper but I feel so natural and much more effortless speaking Japanese now! It's thanks to the 50/50 split of international students and Japanese students studying English at JaLS: there were so many opportunities to speak Japanese with others, and I made many lasting friendships with people of all sorts of ages and countries.
As for the internship, the experience will vary for those between those who are native Japanese speakers and foreign interns. The amazing thing was that JaLS so flexible in offering types of things I could do for the company, even though I wasn't a native Japanese speaker. I hosted my own Language Exchange event, took students to festivals, baseball games and activities such as Japanese Taiko drumming lessons! I even learned how to operate a cafe and cash register, and shadowed some of the English teachers teaching Japanese students English (as I have an interest in education).
Finally, JaLS allocated me a share-house in which I stayed - which was an incredible experience. There were about 40 people living there, 50% International and 50% Japanese - we each had our own rooms and a giant shared living room/kitchen space. It was a great opportunity to learn Japanese and I really enjoyed spending time and being taken around the city by my Japanese share-house mates. Incredible.
A truly unforgettable 6 weeks of my life, I miss JaLS and Sapporo already!! Plus, the school will come back better than ever in October 2016, bigger and even more welcoming! 12/10 !!