If you want to learn a language, there’s just no substitute for live tutoring. Interacting with an experienced instructor through one-on-one or small group sessions provides the personal attention that’s required to quickly identify and fix any mistakes you may be making — this will help you improve your comprehension, perfect your pronunciation and eventually achieve fluency.

In order to save you some time and money, we tried out the most popular online Japanese tutors to see which options offer the most value. This guide also covers how to succeed in these virtual classes as well.

How to Pick an Online Japanese Tutoring Service

Each service has its own set of pros and cons, so it’s important to keep your specific needs in mind when selecting an online Japanese tutoring service. This will help you reach all of your personal goals for learning the language.

Learning a new language for travel

There are two main dialects of Japanese: Eastern (including Tokyo) and Western (including Kyoto). If you are learning the language of Japan because you plan to travel there, you should choose a tutor who knows the dialect that’s most often used in the region you will be visiting. We recommend travelers use a freelancer marketplace such as Preply or AmazingTalker, as these services offer search and filtering tools that will allow you to find someone who’s a good match for your specific needs.

Learning Japanese for work

If you’re learning Japanese for work, you’ll need to achieve a higher degree of fluency than if you were just planning to travel abroad for a couple weeks. We’ve found that Wasabi is a great option for this type of user — they know how to help you learn the language at an advanced level.

Help with studying Japanese for school

If you’re still in school, there’s a good chance that you don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around. In that case, you should seek out one of the most affordable options available — on some platforms, you can find tutors who only charge a few dollars per session. JapaTalk, Itaki and Verbling stand out as some of the most affordable options available.

How We Picked the Best Online Japanese Tutoring Services

The first step to creating this guide was listing all of the most popular Japanese tutoring services, which included dozens of different providers. We then refined our list by focusing on the services that had the most impressive recommendations and customer reviews. Finally, we settled on our top options by only selecting services that offered something unique compared to their competitors, such as industry-leading learning technology or a particularly rigorous screening process for their tutors.

The 9 Best Online Japanese Tutors

As mentioned above, there are several reasons why you might want to learn Japanese. Even though we limited our guide to the absolute top options for online Japanese tutoring, there are still a variety of choices listed below — you should have no problem finding a provider that is an excellent fit for your needs.

 

Arai Academy of Japanese Studies

  • Arai Academy of Japanese Studies
  • Arai Academy of Japanese Studies_2

Arai Academy also publishes videos on YouTube that can help you learn Japanese.

This provider has a lot of experience with teaching Japanese for business.

The first step to using this provider is reaching out to them through their online contact form. Lessons are conducted over Skype — unfortunately, unlike providers such as Japanese Online Institute and Wasabi, Arai Academy doesn’t offer any sort of student dashboard for tracking your progress or checking up on instructor availability.

This service is run by Mineko Arai, whose background includes teaching both Japanese and English, earning a master’s degree in applied Japanese linguistics and working as a Language Learning Advisor at King’s College London. This extensive background in language education has allowed Arai to design highly effective Japanese tutoring courses. Each user will be assigned a custom lesson plan. You also have the option to add homework to your course for a more rigorous learning experience.

Price One-on-one sessions start at £38 per lesson, Group sessions start at £25 per lesson
Free trial Free 20-minute trial lesson
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Skype
Certificate of completion Not listed
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about Arai Academy of Japanese Studies.

 

JapaTalk

  • JapaTalk
  • JapaTalk_2

Over 400 instructors are available on this platform. 

While class times can be booked through their website, the actual lessons are held over Skype.

After you create an account on JapaTalk, you’ll be able to view their instructor schedule and book lessons directly through their website.

JapaTalk offers a variety of specialized Japanese courses, such as Japanese for Kids and Japanese for Business. You can choose whichever learning style you prefer (formal instruction, casual conversations, etc.). Also, with rates as low as $3.38 per lesson, this provider is more affordable than Arai Academy and many of your other options.

Current users seem to be quite happy with this platform. “I’ve been using JapaTalk to practice speaking and I honestly love the website,” wrote one commenter on the r/LearnJapanese subreddit. “It’s affordable, you speak to Japanese people for 25 minutes and it’s very stimulating.”

Price Average rate of $4.33 per lesson
Free trial Free trial available
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Skype
Certificate of completion Yes
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about JapaTalk.

 

Japanese Online Institute

  • Japanese Online Institute
  • Japanese Online Institute_2

Japanese Online Institute allows you to take three trial lessons for a total cost of only $9.

With this provider’s calendar tool, you can quickly find classes that fit into your personal schedule.

This platform’s interface is clunky, but functional — while Japanese Online Institute may look outdated, it’s still easy enough to check their schedule, book lessons, and keep track of your progress through their website.

In addition to paid tutoring sessions, Japanese Online Institute offers helpful free resources such as blogs, quizzes, pre-recorded videos and bi-montly discussion events. This is an especially good option if you’re trying to fit Japanese classes into a tight schedule. With over 130 classes available per week, you should have no problem finding a time that’s convenient for you.

Price 5-90 FlexLessons: $49.99 – $599.99

4-40 Private Silver Lessons: $88.99 – $809.99

4-40 Private Gold Lessons: $119.99 – $1,019.99

Free trial Try three FlexLessons for only $9
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Video chat
Certificate of completion Not listed
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about Japanese Online Institute.

 

Wasabi

  • Wasabi
  • Wasabi_2

This provider’s website has a live chat feature that allows you to easily access customer support whenever you need it.

Wasabi’s newsletter offers helpful tips for learning Japanese.

Wasabi holds their lessons on Skype, and their website’s student dashboard allows you to view tutor availability, book lessons and cancel lessons whenever necessary.

Wasabi offers one-on-one tutoring lessons that can teach you Japanese up to the CEFR C1 level (advanced). You can supplement your studies with their free educational resources, which include grammar reference sheets, pronunciation exercises, podcasts and even manga. It’s also worth noting that Wasabi offers employee training and corporate plans as well.

Price Four lessons per month: $66

Eight lessons per month: $123

Free trial Free trial lesson
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Skype
Certificate of completion Yes
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about Wasabi.

 

Cafetalk

  • Cafetalk
  • Cafetalk_10

Cafetalk offers live chat and phone support.

Most lessons are covered by Cafetalk’s satisfaction guarantee, which allows you to get your points refunded if you’re dissatisfied with the session. 

This platform allows you to choose from hundreds of highly qualified Japanese tutors. Once you’ve selected your tutor, they will assess your current proficiency level and goals for learning the language in order to design the perfect learning plan for your particular needs.

Cafetalk is also notable for their flexible pricing system. Rather than directly charging you a fee, they sell points that you can exchange for lessons as needed. Students report that they have been able to find very affordable rates on this platform. “This is why I prefer Cafetalk,” wrote one user on r/LearnJapanese. “There are many good qualified teachers that charge less than 15 USD an hour.”

Price $0.01 per point (Cafetalk tutors tend to charge between 1,500 to 3,900 points per hour-long lesson)
Free trial Free trial lesson
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Skype
Certificate of completion Yes
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about Cafetalk.

 

Preply

  • Preply
  • Preply_2

Preply’s search and filtering tools will help you find the perfect tutor for your specific situation. 

A 20% discount is available for when you try a Preply tutor for the first time.

Like Cafetalk, this platform allows you to browse through their available tutors and pick whomever you would like to use.

You can filter your search by factors such as price, availability and nationality to find a good fit for your personal preferences. The average rating given by previous students is displayed on each tutor’s profile, so you can make sure that any tutor you select has proven they really know what they’re doing.

Price Average rate of $19 per hour
Free trial Free trial lesson
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Video calls
Certificate of completion Yes
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about Preply.

 

Italki

  • Italki
  • Italki_2

There are over 1,000 Japanese tutors to choose from on Italki.

The Community section of Italki allows you to interact with other students.

Italki is another freelancer marketplace that allows you to choose your own tutor, and they also offer written guides, quizzes and podcasts to help you learn.

With some tutors charging rates as low as $4 per lesson, this is a great choice if you’re worried about your budget — they’re nearly as affordable as JapaTalk. You can also use their community tools to practice your foreign language skills with other users for free. Italki has an excellent reputation among its former and current users as well, with over 10,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

Price $4 to $80 per lesson
Free trial 30-minute free trial lesson
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Video chat
Certificate of completion No
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about Italki.

 

AmazingTalker

  • AmazingTalker
  • AmazingTalker_2

You can search for tutors based on your learning goals, such as Japanese for beginners or Japanese for travel.

Each instructor’s profile displays their proficiency with both English and Japanese on the CEFR scale. 

We really like this platform’s user-friendly interface, which makes it easy to select your tutor, schedule sessions and virtually meet with your instructor over video chat.

AmazingTalker maintains particularly strong standards for their tutors. To be approved to join the platform, applicants must pass a trial lesson and then undergo additional in-house training. But one drawback to this provider is that, while the student feedback is mostly positive (they have an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 on Trustpilot), there have been some complaints about the quality of their customer support.

Price $10-$30 per hour
Free trial Free trial lesson
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Video chat
Certificate of completion Yes
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about AmazingTalker.

 

Verbling

  • Verbling
  • Verbling_2

Verbling was recently acquired by Chegg, one of the biggest education technology companies in the world.

We found that Verbling’s interface is well designed and easy to navigate.

On this freelancer marketplace, you can filter your search for a tutor by factors such as price, availability, nationality and subject specialities.

There are tutors on Verbling who charge rates as low as $5 per lesson — along with JapaTalk and Italki, this is one of the best options for anyone who is trying to save as much money as possible on Japanese tutoring. It’s also worth noting that this provider has a lot of experience with employee training (their corporate clients include major organizations such as DHL, Uber and Adidas).

Price Average rate of $25 per hour
Free trial Free trial lesson
Device Desktop, mobile device
Format Video chat
Certificate of completion Yes
Knowledge level Beginner to advanced

Learn more about Verbling.

 

Other Japanese Tutoring Services to Consider

The services listed above are all dedicated exclusively to language tutoring, but there are other services worth checking out as well. For example, Wyzant allows you to choose from hundreds of highly qualified Japanese tutors, though it should be noted that this service is a little on the pricey side (their average rate is $35 to $55 per hour).

What to Expect When Using An Online Japanese Tutoring Service

If you’ve already used teleconferencing software for work or school, then you should be able to easily navigate any online Japanese tutoring course. In general, these services are based on meeting with your tutor over video chat in order to receive instruction in real-time.

Each provider has their own way of doing things, though. Some have their own custom learning portal that you can use to select your tutor, set up meetings and keep track of your progress, while others just involve meeting with your instructor over third-party software such as Skype or Zoom. Another difference to look out for is that some, but not all, providers will expect you to complete homework and quizzes in addition to your live tutoring sessions.

What you need to learn Japanese from an online tutor

Technically, all you need to learn Japanese online is a reliable computer and a high-speed internet connection. But to really learn the language, you’ll need to ensure that you can also make an adequate time commitment — we recommend taking a minimum of one class per week, and a faster pace will likely be required if you want to become fluent anytime soon.

Free vs. Paid Online Japanese Tutors: What’s the Difference?

You’ll have a hard time finding free tutoring services online. While there are free resources available for learning Japanese, these options are usually based on materials such as written study guides and pre-recorded video lessons. Live tutoring is a much more effective way to learn a new language, and you’ll almost always need to pay for an experienced instructor to teach you Japanese in real-time.

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