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So, you’ve made the great decision is studying Japanese. Good for you! You’ve downloaded the apps, read the books, maybe even listened to podcasts. But then you got stuck at a certain level and you can’t seem to advance in your learning. Don’t despair just yet. Here’s something I think you should try: search for Japanese tutors online.
Let’s face it: learning languages on your own is not an easy task. It can be fun, sure, and you learn a lot more than the language itself (i.e. culture, history, etc.).
But learning requires sustained, consistent practice and immersion. However, not everyone is lucky to be in Japan or be surrounded by people who speak Japanese. This is when Japanese tutors become your greatest ally.
Why look for Japanese tutors online
Self-studying Japanese can only take you so far. Moreover, Japanese has the undeserved reputation of being a complex and intimidating language. I don’t agree with this, I think it’s just as hard as any other language that you didn’t grow up being exposed to.
That being said, some grammar rules can be challenging to grasp, especially for English speakers. Japanese tutors can therefore help you with the following:
1. Guided learning:
2. Personalized lessons:
Language learning is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Japanese language tutors can tailor fit the lessons according to your learning goals and learning style.
3. Improved speaking skills:
Since you’ll be speaking with a tutor, you can practice your Japanese speaking and conversational skills. Your tutor will coach you and give you the necessary feedback to help you improve.
4. Convenience and flexibility:
You can take your online Japanese lessons anywhere, as long as you have a laptop or smartphone, at your preferred time and day.
Ready to look for Japanese tutors online? Below are some websites well worth looking into.
Best websites to find Japanese tutors online
italki was launched in 2006 as a social network for language exchange. In 2008, it expanded into a marketplace for language lessons. Its goal has always been to connect people around the world to learn from each other. Over 5 million learners are connected to 15,000+ language tutors. This makes Italki one of the biggest language learning sites, with tutors offering language lessons, including online Japanese classes.
To find a Japanese tutor on italki, you can search based on price, availability, and other languages the teacher can speak. You can indicate whether you prefer a professional teacher or a community teacher. Professional teachers are certified and more experienced teachers and can help with intermediate fluency. Meanwhile, community teachers can help you with general and conversational lessons.
All teacher profiles include introduction videos and reviews from past students. These can help you make a choice. Once you’ve picked a teacher, you can then schedule lessons at a time and date that suit you. Some teachers enable instant booking, so they can accept your lesson request immediately. Some require that you send an inquiry first.
On italki, you only pay per lesson and at the price that meets your budget. If you don’t want to commit just yet, you can book a discounted trial lesson. Here, you can discuss your learning goals with your Japanese teacher so that he or she can customize lessons for you. Lessons are done via video call, typically Skype.
What I like about italki:
- Over 900 native or near-native Japanese tutors on the platform
- Competitive pricing. You can add any amount of credits to your account. You can use these credits to buy either one or multiple lessons.
- Great desktop interface and user-friendly app
- Great flexibility in terms of schedule, rates, type of learning method, and payment options
Price: Teachers set the rates. Lessons typically cost between $10 to $20 per hour. Try it now.
2. Live Lingua
Live Lingua requires its tutors to not just be native speakers but also possess teaching certificates and previous teaching experience. This means that you’ll be getting Japanese online classes from the cream of the crop.
To start learning Japanese on Live Lingua, you need to take a quiz that determines your learning goals, fluency level, and learning style. You will then be connected with your ideal tutor who will make a personalized program for you. Your lessons will always follow your learning style and needs.
Immersion is a priority in Live Lingua so expect your Japanese tutor to not just teach you the language but also share cultural context with you. And for you to get familiar with the platform and your tutor first, you can take a free 30-minute lesson.
What I like about Live Lingua:
- Personalized lesson plans based on individual learning goals
- Flexible schedules and lesson duration. You can choose how long you want your next lesson to be: 30 mins, 1 hour, 1.5 hours or 2 hours.
- Personalized progress report after every 20 hours of lessons
- You can choose between standard Korean lessons or the exam prep program
- You can earn free credits when you refer another student
Price: The first 1 to 9 hours of standard Japanese lessons cost $29. If you buy 40 hours or more, the cost drops to $24.99. Find a Japanese teacher on Live Lingua now.
On Preply, you can learn not just languages but other subjects and hobbies. But language lessons remain to be the most in-demand offering of the site and it’s one of the top sites to find Japanese tutors online.
Like italki, Preply has over 900 Japanese tutors. All Japanese tutors are either native or fluent. As you browse for teachers, you can easily spot the native speakers, the ones with verified IDs, and the new tutors.
You can use filters to narrow your search: where the tutor is from, languages he/she speaks, specialties (i.e. business Japanese, JLPT, Japanese literature, etc.), rates, and schedule. This saves you time and helps you choose the best one that fits your goals.
You can also send a message to your selected tutor to clarify details before making a decision. If you don’t want to manually pick a Japanese tutor, you can also post your requirements and let tutors find you.
Preply offers the first one-hour lesson for free. After that, you have to choose among packages of 5, 10, 15, or 20 hours to continue learning. If you are not satisfied with your trial lesson, Preply will give you a free replacement with another tutor or a full refund.
What I like about Preply:
- There are lots of Japanese tutors on the platform.
- Detailed information on tutors
- Organized FAQs on the site and great customer support
- Flexible schedules and hassle-free booking
- Great for those who thrive with structured learning as there’s an option to follow fixed Learning Plans
Price: Costs depend on the rates set by the tutor but typically range from $15 to $30. Try it now.
Wyzant is a US-based company that offers lessons taught by US-based tutors. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for private online and in-person Japanese tutors near you. There are over 250 Japanese tutors on the site, available to give lessons on not just the Japanese language but also Japanese culture, history, and even Japanese cooking.
As you browse teacher profiles, you will be able to compare qualifications, hourly rates, ratings, and specialty. You can also post a request, detailing what your requirements are. Teachers will then contact you and tell you more about themselves.
Once you’ve chosen a Japanese tutor, you can schedule a class on Wyzant. Lessons take place in Wyzant’s interactive, browser-based classroom. You can choose to buy just one lesson or multiple lessons but you only need to pay after you’ve completed a session. What’s more, your first hour with a new tutor is protected by Wyzant’s Good Fit Guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with your lesson, you don’t pay.
What I like about Wyzant:
- Ability to choose Japanese tutors online and near you
- Competitive pricing
- No upfront fees and the ability to learn first before paying
Price: Varies per tutor. On average, tutors charge $35 – 55 per hour. Search for a tutor now.
Verbling has 10,000 qualified tutors for over 70 languages. Japanese is one of the most popular languages on its roster. One of the best places to find Japanese tutors online, Verbling requires its teachers to be native speakers or have at least C2 fluency level.
To find a Japanese tutor, you can filter based on availability, where he/she is from, languages spoken, rates, and specialty. You can even view teachers who are currently online. Profiles are detailed, showing the number of lessons a teacher has conducted, response time, attendance rate, and average rating.
Like other sites, Verbling lets you book lessons at your preferred schedule. All online Japanese language courses on Verbling are conducted via Verbling Video, a built-in classroom setup that allows you and your teacher to send files, exchange messages, and review lessons together. Teaching materials like vocabulary decks are also on Verbling Video.
What I like about Verbling:
- Transparent tutor profiles
- No need to download or use other apps
- Unique virtual classroom and teaching materials
- Report cards after lessons, badges to unlock, and certificates at every milestone update you of your progress and keep you motivated.
- Fast response from the Verbling support team
Price: Verbling offers 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50-lesson packages. Lessons may cost anywhere from $15 to $30, depending on tutors. Discounts also depend on the tutor. We recommend that you book the 30-minute free trial first.
When looking for Japanese tutors online, don’t forget homegrown sites like Wasabi. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Wasabi offers one-on-one lessons with tutors via Skype. Not only will you be learning from native Japanese speakers, but also trained and certified teachers of Japanese as a foreign language.
Wasabi’s Japanese courses are designed by a Japanese linguist and follow CEFR and JLPT standards. Lessons focus on speaking, listening, and grammar. There are lessons for beginners (CEFR A2 of JLPT N4), intermediate learners (CEFR B1-2 or JLPT N3-2), and advanced learners (CEFR C1 or JLPT N1).
While this means that the lesson plans may not be as customized as the others on this list, Wasabi still gives flexibility in terms of budget and the frequency of lessons you’d like to take per month. Available hours are from 9:00 am to the next day at 2:00 am (Japan Standard Time) from Monday to Sunday. Don’t worry about conversion as you can view the tutor’s schedule in your time zone.
What I like about Wasabi:
- Structured lessons with a native speaker
- Lots of free self-study materials such as grammar worksheets, pronunciation practice, manga, and podcasts
- Beginner-friendly. However, the English level of the tutors varies so you’d have to inform them if you prefer a tutor who speaks English.
Price: Choose between basic (JPY 7,560 or approximately $69 for 4 lessons per month) or intensive plan (JPY 14,040 or $127 for 8 lessons per month). You can sign up for a free trial.
Another awesome platform for finding Japanese tutors online, AmazingTalker offers lessons in 83 languages, almost 6,000 teachers, and over 900,000 learners. It may be a relatively newer player but’s growing fast.
To select a Japanese tutor, you can use filters like nationality, languages spoken, specialty (i.e conversational Japanese, JLPT, etc.), and rates. AmazingTalker also uses a recommendation system wherein you will answer basic questions to determine your needs, availability, and budget. Based on your answers, you will get tutor matches.
AmazingTalker’s Japanese tutors are required to be native speakers or have a degree in Japanese. They are also experienced in teaching and know-how to tailor fit lessons and teaching styles based on the student’s needs. Your tutor will tell you about his/her lesson plans to give you an idea before you commit.
Once you’ve chosen a tutor, you can book lessons based on your availability. One-on-one lessons will be done through Zoom.
What I like about AmazingTalker:
- Detailed tutor profiles that include the number of sessions completed and previous experiences among others
- Easy to look for tutors that match your needs
- Plenty of package options and reasonable prices
Price: On average, Japanese lessons cost $10 to $30 per hour. However, rates vary by tutor’s nationality, experience, and popularity. AmazingTalker offers discounts for packages of 5, 10, 20 lessons. You can also ask your tutors to see if they offer more discounts on buying more than 20 lessons.
Japanese Online Institute’s website may not be the most appealing or user-friendly out of this bunch. But this Japan-based company has been offering top-quality Japanese lessons since 2006 and so they know what they’re doing. Teachers are government-certified and this is seen in the level of skill and ability.
JOI offers both one-on-one lessons and small-group 50-minute lessons. For private lessons, you can ask for tailor-made lesson plans. Learning tools like weekly blogs, quizzes, and videos are provided at no extra cost.
But JOI’s group lessons, also known as FlexLessons, are what makes this platform unique. Aside from seeing the profiles of each tutor, you can also view the lesson plans to see if it fits your goals. You can choose and make combinations from 20 types of lessons including conversation, grammar, JLPT, listening, kanji, vocabulary, and business lessons to fit your goals. And you can choose from over 130 group classes available per week.
The best part? If you don’t feel like committing yet, you can try 3 trial FlexLessons for only $9 or 900 Japanese Yen!
What I like about the Japanese Online Institute:
- The option between private lessons and group lessons
- Plenty of packages to choose from
- Government-certified Japanese tutors
- Flexible scheduling
- Wide variety of lesson types and levels
Price: Private lessons start at roughly $89 for four lessons and go up to 40 private lessons for roughly $810. FlexLessons start at $50 for 5 lessons and go up to $600 for 90 lessons.
MyLingoTrip is a language learning platform that currently offers CEFR-based lessons in 12 languages, including Japanese. Tutors are native speakers, holding at least a university degree and attending MLT’s training before they can teach. MLT has a rigorous hiring process in place, so you know that you’ll be getting quality teaching.
Depending on the level you’re at and the level you want to achieve (from A1 to C2), you will be following a tailor-made curriculum. The online Japanese lessons on MLT will help you improve your skills in the Japanese writing system, get a better grasp of Japanese grammar, and be able to speak Japanese comfortably.
Another thing that makes MLT special is that you can choose between one-on-one lessons or pair up with your friend, colleague, or partner for lessons in a group of 2. Like with most platforms, you can pick a schedule to your liking with a package that suits your budget. Each lesson is scheduled to last for 60 minutes via Skype.
After each lesson, you will be asked to leave a rating and feedback for your tutor. Similarly, your tutor will provide feedback and you will earn a certificate of completion after you finish the course.
What I like about MyLingoTrip:
- Hassle-free scheduling and rescheduling
- The ability to sign up for classes for two
- Transparent tutor evaluation
- Extensive but personalized curriculum
Price: Choose a 10, 15, or 20 hours course. Depending on the level, packages may cost $16 to $22. You can also take a 60-minute trial lesson for free before you commit yourself to a course.
JapaTalk’s website may not be the most pleasing but this Japan-based language school has hundreds of Japanese teachers who are exclusively native speakers. The screening process is strict, ensuring that you will be learning not only from skillful language tutors but ones who are friendly and can keep you motivated.
JapaTalk offers various kinds of lessons, such as JLPT, business Japanese, everyday conversation, lessons for kids, reading, Japanese culture, and more. There’s no set syllabus for everyone, so you can learn depending on your level or needs. The structure also depends on what you’ve agreed upon with the tutor but the goal is more or less the same: to speak Japanese that is actually used by Japanese people.
Teacher profiles are not easy on the eyes, with their jumble of fonts and neon highlights. But you do find everything you need (or don’t need) to know about the teachers, including the lessons they offer, their availability, their specialty, English level, and even their hobbies and blood type.
JapaTalk offers the most affordable Japanese lessons on this list. Classes start from just 390 yen or less than $4. On average, lessons cost just 500 yen or less than $5! A lesson lasts for 25 minutes and is done via Skype. Short but sweet!
What I like about JapaTalk:
- Affordable lessons with native Japanese speakers
- Very detailed, albeit slightly disorienting, tutor profiles
- The emphasis on learning real-life Japanese speaking skills
- Variety of lesson structures from free-flowing conversation to situational language practice
Price: Varies per teacher. 25-minute lessons cost less than $5 on average
Quick tips on how to find the best Japanese tutors online
As you can see, there are so many sites where you can find Japanese tutors who can help you go from clueless to fluent. But how do you find the right fit for you?
1. Identify your objective.
Why are you looking for a tutor? Is it because you’re taking a Japanese language test? Will you be traveling to Japan? Or thinking of working in Japan? Knowing your goal will help you find the platform and teacher whose teaching style and lesson plans match your needs.
2. Read teacher profiles carefully.
You will be paying for their services, you might as well get your money’s worth. Try to learn as much as you can about the Japanese teacher before you make a decision. Take note of their teaching methods, qualifications, and experience. And don’t skip the student reviews!
3. Try it first.
Most of the sites above offer free trial lessons. Take it! This way, you can see how the platform works and whether you and the tutor are a good fit. You can also take this time to ask as many questions as you can, especially if you’re a newbie in real-time online lessons. By the end of the trial, you will know, more or less, if the site or teacher or even tutoring itself is for you.
Are you taking Japanese lessons online? Which of these tutoring services have you tried? Chime in on the comments!
And if you’re a Japanese tutor looking for more teaching opportunities, you can check this roundup of sites to teach Japanese online.