Speaking Japanese is an investment. Beginners are often put off by the different alphabet and an array of new terms such as Japanese kanji, hiragana katakana, romaji, desu, and watashi. However, don't let this put you off starting your Japanese learning experience.
Japan is a country of 127 million people with the third biggest economy of any country in the world. Apart from being a financial powerhouse, the language and culture in Japan is steeped in history and tradition.
Therefore how to learn Japanese is an extremely important question in order to be successful. Luckily there are a load of different ways to learn Japanese, but one of the most effective is to study with a private Japanese teacher.
Private tutorials are a great option for anyone looking to learn a particular skill or study a particular subject. There’s two reasons for this: their rates are highly competitive and they can deliver personalized teaching to each of their students.
This means that when it comes to Japanese, your tutor can tailor you classes to meet your needs. If you are planning a trip to Japan, you can focus on greetings and how to introduce yourself in a polite way. If you want to take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), then you can look at sentence structure, verbs, and listening, reading and writing.
You are probably asking yourself:
How do you do it?
How much is it?
Who are these tutors?
We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about choosing the right private Japanese tutor for you!
Where Can You Learn Japanese?
Firstly, if you want to get Japanese lessons at middle school or high school, you’re probably going to have to find a specialised private school. You're probably more likely to learn a few Japanese words by watching anime with subtitles.
Obviously for most people taking an immersion course in Tokyo isn't really an option. However, there are plenty of other organizations that can help you find Japanese classes and ways to learn Japanese.
Don’t worry if you don’t live anywhere near a school or center offering language lessons in Japanese. There are plenty of different ways to learn Nihongo (the Japanese word for Japanese) and get Japanese lessons.
Are you familiar with the idea of distance learning? Distance learning is when you don’t physically attend the institution. You will more than likely be familiar with how to learn Japanese at university, and although this usually means having to physically be in the classroom, some institutions are now offering courses where you can effectively learn Japanese online.
Find an online Japanese course with a private tutor.
In the past, students did correspondence courses where they’d communicate with the school via mail. However, now we can do this using the internet and email. Of course, distance learning and correspondence courses are generally for those old enough to go to university.
Obviously, the best thing about distance learning is that you can now do it anywhere there’s an internet connection. If you have access to the Internet, distance learning could be the solution you’ve been looking for.
Don’t forget, you can still get your own personal teacher or tutor online to help you study. There’s a huge variety of different courses available for those wanting to study Japanese regardless of their level. Most of these platforms are run by some of the world’s best schools so you know that they know what they’re doing. However, the most popular courses are rarely free. Some are, though.
Here are three examples of courses you could take with MOOCs:
EdX: This platform was founded by Harvard University and MIT back in 2012 and since then has partnered with plenty of different organizations in order to bring education everyone. This platform includes a Japanese Pronunciation for Communication course.
FutureLearn: This platform has an Introduction to Japanese Subcultures which would be great for anyone wanting to learn more about life in Japan before moving there.
OpenLearning: This platform offers a Introductory Japanese Language course that would be useful for those wanting to get to grips with the basics of the language.
You should also consider ways to learn Japanese after high school.
Thanks to the internet, there are more and more platforms for learning languages popping up every day. There are even platforms that can help you find tutors and put you in contact with them. These are great if you prefer to learn from a real person rather than just a screen. In fact, Superprof is one of these platforms.
When a tutor signs up to Superprof, they have to complete their profile. This is how you know what qualifications and experience they have, how much they charge, and their teaching methods.
After you’ve checked out a few profiles and found a tutor that you like, you pay to be put in contact with them. The rest is then up to you and your tutor (unless you come back to us for another tutor).
Our goal is to help students get better at Japanese writing and pronunciation, learn more about Japanese culture, and learn how to speak Japanese by putting them in contact with the best tutors for them.
Local Japanese Cultural Societies
There are plenty of groups and organisations around the world that promote Japan, Japanese culture and history, and the Japanese language.
They organize cultural events as well as educational events and classes.
Put simply, if you’re doing anything related to Japan or Japanese, these societies should be top of your list. In addition to culture and education, they also promote business programs between Japanese companies and the host country's companies.
Most of them should be able to help you find classes to learn about:
The writing systems: some common kanji (characters) and kana (hiragana and katana)
Japanese vocabulary and expressions
Speaking in Japanese
Organizing trips to Japan.
Advice for Choosing the Right Japanese Tutor
You will have heard people ask if Japanese is difficult to learn. Although this is not necessarily the case, you'll need to find the right tutor for you.
Sometimes you’ll find so many Japanese tutors that it’ll be difficult to choose the right one and other times you might find barely any. How do you make sure you’ve chosen the right one and you’re not wasting your money?
We’ve got some advice on the important criteria for choosing the right Japanese private tutor.
What’s your objective? This is the first question you should ask yourself: Why am I looking for a specialized Japanese tutor?
Is it because you want to learn more about a country that you’re really interested in? Is it because you want to live there? Is it because you want to work there? Whatever the reason, you need to think hard about the reasons behind learning Japanese.
It would be foolish to take intensive Japanese tutorials for 6 months when you have all the time in the world to learn the language. If you're only learning it to impress some Japanese people you know, you only really need to learn a few basic Japanese phrases and expressions. On the other hand, if you're going to be working with a lot of written Japanese, you'll need to master the kana (hiragana and katakana) as well as have a good understanding of the most common kanji (Japanese characters).
There are many reasons to learn Japanese, but you need to decide what is yours. Do you want to be able to hold a conversation? Do you want to be fluent? Or do you just like to learn a new language every once in a while?
Once you know what your motivation is, you then need to find the best tutor for you.
Research Their Qualifications and Experience
After working out why you want to learn Japanese, you should start looking at the different tutors available.
The first thing you need to know are what their qualifications and experience are. A Japanese student won’t be as effective as a Japanese professor who has taught for many years.
Furthermore, are they a native speaker or bilingual? If they’re neither, you should ask them what their level is in Japanese.
What are their rates? Your budget is going to be a really important factor when considering which private Japanese tutor to hire. Learning a language is a long process that requires regular practice. Thus, you need to budget for several months or years of classes. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to really make any real progress.
Whether you’re learning to read and write, or studying a complex grammar point, expanding your vocabulary, or practising the spoken language, it’s going to take some time. You’ll need to work out what you can afford and what kind of tutor you’re going to need.
What is their teaching method? If you can, you should take the time to learn more about how they’re going to teach you Japanese.
Did you know that we learn better when we’re having fun? That’s why it’s really important that you find a tutor that will listen to your needs and adapt their lessons to you.
For example, if you like manga, anime, or Genki video games, you should look for a tutor who’d be happy to incorporate this into their lessons so that you can enjoy learning with them.
The same goes for music, movies, literature, or even history.
This is why there are so many people researching ways to integrate playing games into the learning process. There’s proof that we learn much better when we enjoy ourselves and have some fun. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a game, either. You can have just as much fun with other types of media, too.
Fortunately, when it comes to learning languages, there are plenty of different types of resources available.
To finish, lets have a look at some “example” tutors you can choose from to give you a sample of the types of profiles you’ll need to choose from when you decide to hire a tutor from Superprof or sign up to one of our Tutor's Japanese language course London, Manchester, or elsewhere.
This is going to be a bit like a dating game. Let’s start with contestant #1. In addition to being a manga translator, she’s taught Japanese tutorials for over 15 years. She teaches both in person and via webcam over Skype, and can teach students of all levels.
Contestant #2 is a Japanese native who’s lived in the U.S.A since 2013. She used to be an interpreter and a translator when she lived in Kyoto, Japan. She now is famous among her students for her quality teaching methods, her patience, and her good sense of humor. Is she the right tutor for you?
Why not consider contestant #3? This Japanese tutor offers both individual tutorials and group tutorials. She was a Japanese teacher for an association for 7 years and is happy to adapt her methods to her students.
Finally, there’s contestant #4. They’re waiting and ready to be your tutor. A former Japanese professor with a degree in teaching Japanese. He now teaches a number of students privately across a range of levels and could teach you today. He’s passionate about Japanese culture and can help you study for an exam or prepare you for living in Japan.
They all sound pretty good, right? The great thing is that you’re free to choose and most tutors offer free tutoring for the first hour so you can see if you like them.
Whether it’s for individual tutorials, group tutorials, or webcam tutorials, the right tutor should be able to leave you feeling like you’ve learned something after every session.
They can help you to:
Count in Japanese
Write in Japanese
Build Japanese sentences
Study for a test or school work (academic support)
Pronounce a certain Japanese
Learn more about life in Japan
Don’t forget about that free hour of tutoring so that you can make the right choice! It’s a great reason to try out tutorials.
Did you also know that it’s possible to learn Japanese through video games?