Have you been a part of the manga world since childhood? Do you love Japanese cuisine? Are you fascinated by life in Japan?
The Land of the Rising Sun interests people in more than one way...
An often perceived insurmountable task, Japanese is taught worldwide which reflects the importance of the language in the modern world.
It is a language that requires a specific approach, but has many advantages for its learners: no conjugation, no feminine or masculine genders, no plural, no unpronounceable sounds...No exceptions like in English!
The best way of learning any new language is through immersion. Moving abroad to Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka will allow you to develop your proficiency a lot quicker than studying in a classroom at home because of the ample opportunities to practice with Japanese people.
However, downing tools and living in Japan isn't always possible. Therefore you are left with studying at a language school, in one of a number of universities around the world, or with your very own Japanese teacher. The latter is our personal favourite as it is the most efficient and effective way of learning Japanese.
Tutoring sessions can help everyone; people who already have some language skills, complete beginners who want to have a conversation, or those focused on Japanese grammar in order to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
In this article we will look at what you need to think about as you embark on your voyage to becoming fluent in Japanese.
How to Choose Your Japanese Tutor
To find a private Japanese tutor who can help you progress in record time and motivate you when you are particularly struggling with your language instruction, start by asking yourself the right questions to find out what your student profile is:
- What is my goal?
- What level am I at?
- Private sessions or Japanese school?
- What is my level of motivation?
- What do I expect from my Japanese tutor?
All the answers to these questions will help shape your search for a language teacher in Japanese.
Indeed, student profiles are as varied as teacher profiles!
If you are already at a good linguistic level, you will need an experienced tutor, or a native speaker, to aid you in progressing effectively. Such an instructor will be able to not only train you in the language, but teach you about Japanese society and about Japan in general. You will particularly enjoy rewarding lessons like this as they will go well beyond vocabulary and grammar.
For a beginner, on the contrary, pedagogy will play an essential role in your progression. It is not enough to be bilingual to teach Japanese. It is also important to know how to transmit your knowledge and personalize sessions according to each individual learner.
Helping a new student to learn kana syllables (Hiragana Katakana) and the basics is not easy.
Your need to learn Japanese could also be linked to your job. Working in Japan can come in many different ways. Maybe you are interested in teaching English in Japan. Or perhaps you want to work for an international company. The expectations and objectives vary greatly, but either way you will have to study the language before you go.
Finally, if you just want to go on a trip to Japan, your sessions will cover very practical everyday topics: how to ask for directions, order at a restaurant, introduce yourself, etc...
How Much Do Japanese Teachers Charge?
So you've determined the type of teacher you need?
Now you will be able to start making a first selection of teacher profiles on Superprof! You will soon realize that the rates for Japanese classes vary greatly.
Japanese classes cost on average £18 (€21, $25 USD, $32 CAD, $33 AUD) per hour, but they can, in some cases, reach greater amounts.
Japanese tutoring fees vary according to the teacher's profile and experience. You can therefore expect to see a difference in price if the tutor is:
- a Japanese student,
- a fluent speaker of Japanese as a foreign language,
- a native Japanese speaker.
These are not the only reasons why the rates fluctuate. There are also some disparities according to the region. Yes, classes are generally more expensive in bigger cities, but the teachers registered on Superprof, for the most part, offer a first free course. So that you can test out their services with no strings attached!
There is another possibility to save money: Japanese lessons via webcam. This solution means the tutor avoids travel expenses. For this reason the tutor will usually offer a suitable rate.
Apart from private tutoring at home, you can also opt for specialized language training centers offering group lessons or an intensive course. This is another way to learn Japanese which does not offer the personalized approach of a tutor however.
And for those of you who dream of learning Japanese in context, there is nothing like a linguistic study trip to Japan. You will take courses with native speakers while experiencing Japanese culture, especially if you are staying with a host family.
As you will have more time, whilst you are there you can travel to places that are not usually visited by people who travel to Japan on holiday, such as Hiroshima, Nagoya, the Kansai region and the Kagawa prefecture. You could even visit other parts of Asia, such as Korea, if you fancy.
Many people offer them courses like this, such as the Japanese Institute.
What Are some Tips to Prepare Your Japanese Tutoring Session?
Finding the best way to learn Japanese is one of the keys to being successful. You will need a method that suits your learning style at the very least. But whatever type of Japanese courses London you are taking, it is important to do work at home in between each session so that you can progress.
If you arrive to each class having forgotten all that you worked on the previous lesson, you might as well stop immediately!
Yes, to learn Japanese, or any language for that matter, there is no secret: you will need to put in time and work!
So how can one progress quickly?
- Daily work: even if it's only 5 to 10 minutes a day, revising your notes regularly makes memorizing easier.
- Put into practice what you have learned: practice, do exercises. It is very important to acquire these skills.
- Learn kana and kanji: study Japanese syllabaries, a must for learning to read and write in Japanese.
- Repeat what you've learned orally: learning a language is first and foremost about talking. Revise aloud to improve your pronunciation and gain fluency.
- Do not skimp on vocabulary: to speak you have to know words. Make vocabulary sheets and read them daily.
This means lots of time for studying, yes. However, it is possible to exercise in a fun way to prepare a Japanese course!
Find the method that's right for you. By introducing a small ritual, you will not even realize that you are working:
- Mobile applications: there is an app for every aspect of Japanese learning. To learn vocabulary, work on pronunciation, write kana...Among these, you can download Ja Sensei, Obenkyo, Nihongo na kana, Skritter...The list is long so do not hesitate to test several different options.
- Videos: Watching videos of Japanese lessons or Japanese VO movies will immerse you in the language. Gradually, you will better understand dialogue and develop your Japanese ear. Hayao Miyazaki's animated films are pure magic!
- Find a penpal: this can be a good solution to force you to communicate in Japanese. Rest assured, it is no longer necessary to write long letters, you can simply chat or exchange e-mails. Visit MultilingualNetwork, Ojapon or Japan Guide.
How Can Your Teacher in Japanese Prepare you for a Japanese Test?
When you have already started to learn the Japanese language, you may find that you need some tutoring. This is particularly the case when preparing for a test in Japanese.
It is important to be well prepared. There are multiple requirements depending on the test that you want to take, but you will likely be tested on your abilities with regards to:
- Written comprehension,
- Oral comprehension,
- Written expression
With a private tutor, you will be able to set specific goals for your Japanese test. Your Japanese teacher (or remote tutor via webcam) will make an assessment with you to determine what is the best way for you to progress. You can then define your priorities to progress quickly. For example :
- Know the kana and kanji that will be required of you,
- Train yourself orally,
- Enrich your vocabulary,
- Organize your study time,
- Draw Japanese characters,
- How to structure your essays,
The benefits of tutoring go beyond just passing a test, however. The more you progress during your lessons, the easier things will go afterwards.
This is the case for any language. The most tedious period is always when you start. You know, those frustrating moments where you want to say things but every sentence makes you hesitate because you don't have the words.
Once this stage of embarrassment is over, the mastery of the language becomes a perpetual source of enrichment...You start being able to do almost everything!
- watch movies in VO (and understand them!),
- read foreign authors in the native text,
- know what your favorite songs are really saying,
- take a trip to Japan without feeling completely isolated and unable to communicate...
Check out Japanese lessons online.
Despite the difficulties, you will not regret having taken Japanese classes when you are finally bilingual!