as a Certified Neurolanguage Coach® for Japanese is to help Japanese learNERS overcome learning blocks, AND become efficient, independent learnerS.
My name is Luca TOMA, and I'm a certified Neurolanguage Coach® for the Japanese language.
My passion for this language and its culture helped me reach a near-native level.
I taught Japanese in different universities for several years until I decided to create my own coaching business here at Japanese Coaching. This is the first website of its kind in the world.
After almost 20 years living abroad, I am currently back in Italy where I spend my days working as an online language coach, translating manga, and teaching shodō (calligraphy).
How I Started Learning Japanese
Since I was a child I had two main interests: art and foreign languages. In particular, I’ve always been interested in the art and language of Japan. Because of this, Japanese was one of the first languages I ever decided to learn.
Back then, the Internet did not yet exist, so easily-available teaching materials were nearly non-existent.
I came up with a solution to this problem on a school trip to Rome when I was in 5th grade!
On a stall in the street, I spotted a whole collection of city guides, written in multiple languages. I noticed Japanese was among them, so I bought the Japanese version along with the Italian version. That guidebook served as my first improvised Japanese textbook for many years to follow.
I remember that I scrupulously copied parts of the Japanese text and compared them with their Italian version with the help of a small Japanese-English dictionary.
Thinking back now, I managed to do an incredible job of decoding and interpreting the texts. This exercise allowed me to acquire a broad vocabulary in Japanese, albeit one that was specific to the culture and history of Rome.
Without knowing it, I was learning from context—one of the secrets of learning a language effectively!
Today, however, we have so many resources at our disposal, but we don’t know what to choose. Surprisingly, we learned more in the past when resources were scarcer!
Japan - one of my graphic art works (Ryoanji, the stone garden in Kyoto)
From Wannabe Graphic Designer to Japanese Language Teacher
Once I graduated from high school, I enrolled in a four-year Japanese program at Ca' Foscari University of Venice. It allowed me to develop a good foundation in the language.
I had written a dissertation on Japanese graphic design, and got so interested in the topic that after graduating from university I soon moved to Japan on a scholarship.
My mission was to master Japanese, become a famous graphic designer and live in Japan!
With that goal in mind, I enrolled in a master’s course in Graphic Design and studied very hard for two more years. (All the subjects were taught in Japanese, by the way!).
While I was there, I happened to work part-time as an Italian language teacher.
That was the biggest turning point in my life!
I soon realized how much I loved foreign languages, and that realization led to almost 10 years spent in Japan teaching English and Italian at two major universities.
In the end, I had opted for a different career, but my dream of learning the language and living in Japan had come true.
And yet, something was missing.
Suddenly, I felt an urge to help other people learn this beautiful language.
It was time for me to leave Japan, move to London and be trained as a Japanese language teacher!
Universities I worked for as a Japanese language teacher
TAMA ART UNIVERSITY
OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY
From Language Teacher to Neurolanguage Coach® for Japanese
With my new qualification, I was lucky enough to teach Japanese at several European universities for a few years.
However, to put it simply, something didn’t feel right yet again.
Wherever I taught, I could see students losing their initial motivation, struggling to make progress and feeling stressed by tests and exams.
It was definitely not the scenario I had envisioned!
At that time, I started to be part of a huge international polyglot community, so I was experimenting with new techniques for learning Spanish on my own. In only 2 to 3 months, I got some amazing results!
Suddenly, I felt a clear gap between the way I was supposed to teach in schools and the more natural approach I was using for Spanish.
I felt lost again…
Until the day I discovered Neurolanguage Coaching® and decided to get certified.
Neurolanguage Coaching® is an approach that incorporates the latest findings of neuroscience on how our brains like to learn as well as the principles and tools of coaching into the traditional process of language teaching in order to facilitate learning.
I literally jumped at that opportunity; I quit my job at university and obtained my certification as a coach. Thanks to it, I can now help my students learn Japanese in a more natural, fast and effective way.
With clear goals and actions, people working with me soon realize that, despite its complexity, learning Japanese can be a very fun and enjoyable process.
Berlin 2014 - Polyglot Gathering
Beliefs and Values
The key to efficient Japanese learning? - OWN IT!
YOU –and not a teacher– are responsible for the goals you’ve set for yourself.
As my dear friend and accomplished polyglot Luca Lampariello always says:
“Languages cannot be taught. They can only be learned.”
No matter what your beliefs about language learning are, learning happens only if YOU are in control of the learning process.
I can help you discover how to exercise that control and make progress with your Japanese.
Practicing calligraphy in my house in Tokyo (2008)
Other Facts about Myself
In addition to language coaching, I also love translation - the art of recreating a text in another language (Italian, in my case).
Since 2000, I have translated almost 200 Japanese comic books (manga) for a major Italian publishing company. I’m proud to have contributed to giving an Italian “voice” to many great works.
In my spare time, I enjoy practicing Japanese caligraphy (shodō), a pursuit that led me to become certified as a "master" (shihan).
Now I regularly hold calligraphy workshops in the area where I live (Lecce, Italy).
Finally, I also love learning new languages. Besides Italian, Japanese and English, I also speak Chinese, Spanish and French.
I'm currently learning German and Albanian!
PS: You can find my detailed profile at this link.