My 6 week intro course in Bristol didn't get me very far in conversing with locals unsurprisingly. In fact I bought the BBC book and CD with me, that has helped far more, just listening to it on my daily commute (admittedly it has sent me to sleep a few times...)
However holidaymaker Japanese "When does the next train to Tokyo leave?" I realised was not going to help me with the staff room gossip after the weekend. So today I signed up to Japanese classes, 2 per week at the Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange, aka Rifare (ree-far-ay). It cost 5000 Yen per month (about £35) so works out around £4 per lesson, bloody excellent!
There was a class on as I enquired so I joined it straight away. The teacher was pretty genki and the class small enough to create a nice, friendly atmosphere. I really enjoyed it. Now I can say "Sono wain, misete kudasai" (please show me this wine) Now that's more like it!