The 3 Best Sites for Online Japanese Classes - Live Fluent

The 3 Best Sites for Online Japanese Classes

Before the age of the internet learning Japanese was even more difficult than it is now. This was mainly because of a lack of resources. You were limited to whatever textbook or audio course you had at your local library or college. 

Heaven forbid if you wanted to actually practice with native speakers. Unless you lived in a large international city your chances of meeting native Japanese speakers was pretty low. 

All that has changed. As a student of Japanese you now have more options than ever to learn the language. You're no longer limited to a certain way of learning the language or meeting native speakers. 

One of the most powerful assets for the Japanese learner are online classes. While not precisely an immersion experience, online classes with a native Japanese teacher are by far the next best thing. In this post we'll look at the 3 best sites you can use to take Japanese classes online.

What are online Japanese classes?

Online Japanese classes are a one-on-one lesson/tutoring session between you and a Japanese teacher. The only difference between online classes and traditional ones is that instead of being in the same physical room as your teacher, you're connected via video-chat. 

An example of an online class (captions in English)

Why should you take online classes?

You can learn Japanese in your Pajamas (yes!)

For me the biggest advantage of taking language classes online is that it allows me to learn a language from the comfort of my home. If I want I can literally roll out of bed, put on a shirt, and get started with my lesson. 

This convenience helps you find time for regular Japanese lessons. Because you don't have to worry about going to your teacher, or your teacher coming to you, it's easy to sandwich lessons in between the nooks and crannies of a busy schedule. 

They're more affordable than in-person tutors

For a local professional Japanese tutor, you're probably going to be looking at at least $30 for a 1 hour lesson. Online the prices are typically much cheaper.

A professional online teacher will usually cost around $15-$20, but that's still significantly cheaper.  If you're looking for more of an informal tutor rather than a pro teacher the price can drop even more. 

So what are the best sites for learning Japanese?

Now that we've covered some of the basic advantages of online classes, let's look at our list of best sites!

Price

$4-$15+ per Hour

Trial

3 Trial lessons at a discounted rate

Teacher Quality

Varies (Low to High)

Italki

Pros

  • Largest selection of Japanese teachers
  • Best prices
  • Great language learning community

Cons

  • Class quality can vary between teachers

*Use this link to purchase a minimum of $10 (US) of Italki credits and receive an extra $10 free! (Bonus added after completion of 1st lesson)

You can check out a more detailed review of Italki here. 

What makes Italki different?

It's the biggest site offering online classes

Chances are you may have heard of Italki already. It's the biggest site out there which provides one-on-one online lessons for learning a foreign language. There are literally thousands of language teachers (and over 200 Japanese teachers) on the site. 

It offers lessons with professional teachers AND informal tutors

Other than it's large selection of teachers, Italki is also unique in that it gives you the option of searching for a professional teacher or informal tutor.

Differences between teachers and tutors on Italki

 A professional teacher provides all materials and directions for your lessons. An informal tutor will typically follow your direction and materials during a lesson.

Pro teachers also usually have some level of accreditation or experience in teaching Japanese, while an informal tutor may simply speak the language well enough to help others. On the whole pro teachers are more expensive than informal tutors. 

Your learning goals and preferences should help you determine whether a teacher or tutor is right for you. If you like a heavily structured approach to learning then a pro teacher is probably the way to go.

If you're more of an independent learner, or you simply want to practice your conversational skills, then an informal tutor may be more favorable. 

Sakura is an example of an Italki tutor

Pros

Wide selection

The biggest pro of using Italki is its wide selection of teachers. If you're serious about learning Japanese the odds are pretty high that you'll find a compatible teacher on the site. 

Community features (free)

While the lessons on Italki are paid there are also a wide range of free community features you can use to aid in your learning.

These include a Japanese learning blog, discussion threads, a public notebook (where you can write in Japanese and have your entries corrected by native speakers), and the ability to message and connect with native Japanese speakers who are learning English via an online language exchange. 

Cons​

Quality differs from teacher to teacher

The difference in quality between a professional teacher and a tutor can be sharp. Italki does confirm the credentials of its teachers but there is no academic requirement to teach or tutor on the site.

That being said each teacher is reviewed by their past students so you can get an idea of their method and experience. 

No free trial

Italki offers no free trial for its online lesson. Upon creating an account you are given a total of 3 trial lessons each of which will allow you a highly discounted 30 minute lesson with a potential teacher.

The discount can be as much as 90%, but it varies because the price is set by the teachers. Also note that not all teachers on Italki choose to offer trial lessons. 

*Use this link to purchase a minimum of $10 (US) of Italki credits and receive an extra $10 free! (Bonus added after completion of 1st lesson)

Price

$9-$20+ per Hour

Trial

1 Free 30 Minute Class

Teacher Quality

Medium-High

Verbling

Pros

  • Offers individual & group classes 
  • Offers class packages
  • Professional teachers

Cons

  • Higher quality means higher price
  • Less selection than Italki

You can check out a more detailed review of Verbling here.

What makes Verbling different?

Verbling lacks the community features and selection of Italki, but overall the quality of its teachers is slightly higher. The site also features some really useful in-site tools to use in your online lessons.  

Pros

Professional Teachers

Verbling doesn't require that all of its teachers have teaching certification, but it is strongly encouraged. Moreover the site does require that all teachers have at least some teaching experience before teaching on Verbling. 

Technology​

Most sites offering online language classes simply handle the payment and scheduling of the lessons and you and your teacher meet over Skype or Google Hangouts

However Verbling has its own video class system right on their site.

It features some very useful options for language students and teachers such as the ability to file share files, text chat, the ability to type using non-English characters, and a virtual flash card maker (this last one is a godsend for anyone who likes Spaced repetition flashcards).

A tour of Verbling's exceptional user interface


Course packages

While you can still purchase lessons one at a time on Verbling, you can also purchase what are called courses. These packages are a essentially a series of online classes with one teacher that are centered on a specific topic or theme. 

Some current Japanese courses include business Japanese,  JLPT preparation, and a beginner crash course. 

When you purchase a class package on Verbling you purchase a number of lessons at once (usually 5 or so). Typically the price per lesson is cheaper than if you purchased each lesson separately.

Verbling's packages offers a unique way to purchases Japanese classes online

Cons​

Smaller Selection

Verbling simply doesn't have the selection of Japanese teachers that you will find on Italki. At the time of this article there are currently just over 20 teachers of Japanese on Verbling (compared to 200+ on Italki).

Higher prices​

Because Verbling's teachers are slightly more vetted than Italki's teachers, they command a higher price overall. Generally you'll be hard pressed to find a Verbling Japanese teacher for under $15 an hour, though there are some cheaper options on the site.

 

Verbling's free bonus feature

Verbling offers one free class upon signing up for a free account. 

Price

Median price is $20 per hour

Trial

None

Teacher Quality

Low-High

Preply

Pros

  • Good selection of teachers

Cons

  • Tutors can be expensive
  • Not specific to foreign languages

What makes Preply different?

Preply is a site for finding tutors for almost any subject (not just foreign languages). In addition to Japanese and other languages you can take lessons on other topics like physics, 3D design, or even philosophy.

Pros

Good selection of Japanese teachers

Preply has a larger selection of Japanese teachers than Verbling, but still less than Italki. However you can find some tutors on Preply that aren't teaching on any other sites.

Cons

Price​

In general tutoring prices are usually around $20 per hour on Preply. Not all teachers on Preply are professional or experienced, so the high price isn't always warranted. 

Not solely a language learning site

Preply doesn't have any additional features to aid in language learning like Verbling or Italki. Though it does provide one-on-one lessons, there are no bells and whistles after that.

Conclusion

As a Japanese student you have your pick of teachers and tutors through these 3 sites. Italki has the widest selection, cheaper prices (generally), and best free features.

Verbling is slightly more expensive than Italki, but all their teachers are experienced and the site has some very useful features. 

Preply doesn't stand out that much between Italki and Verbling, but it does have a good selection of Japanese teachers, many which you can't find on other teaching sites. 

online japanese classes

I'd suggest browsing through each site and checking out the profiles of their teachers. I prefer Italki's cheaper prices, but Verbling's free trial lesson is also tempting.

In the end it's really more the teacher rather than the site that makes or breaks your learning experience. Try a few teachers out and see which one is the better fit for you!

About the Author Chris J

I'm definitely an unlikely language learner. I failed Spanish in high school. I started learning German as a hobby while studying abroad. Long story short...and a couple languages later...I love language learning!

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