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Learning Japanese Online: What Makes a Great Online Lesson

por Juan Moreton (2019-04-05)

5.pngYou can choose from lots of online Japanese schools. They offer lessons in an online classroom with a Japanese teacher, and cater to students who don't have time to commute to a local Japanese school or who prefer to learn Japanese online. Both group lessons and private lessons are offered.

Three factors set the online schools apart.

1. Teacher Quality: Experience Makes the Difference

One issue with all online learning is teacher quality. With free video chat services, it has become cheap and easy to set up a "school" and offer "teachers" who are little more than native Japanese speakers.

Students of Japanese know that learning Japanese is more than chatting in Japanese. Chat helps you get comfortable listening and understanding spoken Japanese, but, without clear guidance on vocabulary and grammar, chat leads you to a Japanese speaking style that sounds like an 8-year-old.

When you're choosing a place to learn to speak Japanese, check out their teachers carefully. Are the teachers qualified or certified? How much teaching experience do they have? Have the teachers taught online Japanese lessons before?

The Japanese government has a demanding certification program for teaching Japanese as a foreign language. This kind of certification is a good start, but more important is teaching experience, including online teaching experience. Some schools are reluctant to reveal details in this area, so ask questions before you enroll for lessons. (Here's a tip: if a school's teachers are mostly young faces, you can be pretty sure experience is thin.)

Look for reviews from other students, too. Many schools post student testimonials, jav av but a better source is to check blogs and forums for less biased teacher reviews.

Don't forget teacher pay: Teacher pay at online Japanese schools is incredibly low; sometimes less than half of your tuition goes to your teacher. Consider whether you want half or more of every dollar you spend going to the school administration rather than your teacher.

2. Lesson Quality: Learning Japanese Is More Than Chatting

Another big difference between online Japanese schools is lesson quality. If a school advertises the simplicity of their Japanese chat lessons, run the other way. No language is simple to learn, and reducing the experience to "easy chat" is misleading. You will never achieve proficiency in Japanese with chat alone.

Some schools use a standard curriculum--a "one size fits all" approach. That makes life easy for the school, but you need to be sure the curriculum fits your Japanese level and what you want to learn.

If you take private lessons, the best option is a school that customizes the curriculum and lesson content for you. Ask whether you can request special topics in your private lessons, and be sure to check on whether special topics cost extra.

3. Classroom Quality: Chat vs. Conference vs. Online Classroom

I keep emphasizing that learning Japanese online is more than chat. That applies to the classroom, too. Most online schools use Skype or other free video-chat systems. Skype is a great chat tool, but it isn't designed for learning and doesn't create a classroom environment. With free video chat software, you have no whiteboard, no tools for the teacher to guide you as you learn Japanese.

Other schools use business conferencing software. You get a presentation area, but some don't work with Japanese text correctly. To keep costs down, these schools often share classrooms between teachers, which might make for a hurried online lesson, or, at the very least, no after-class Q&A with your teacher.

Naturally, the best classroom is an online classroom designed for Japanese lessons. Features like a Japanese dictionary for the teacher to call up and tools for learning to write Japanese enrich the lesson, and make your learning faster and more effective.

There you have the ingredients of a great online Japanese class: experienced teachers, quality lessons, and a quality online classroom. Before you sign up, consider what the school offers in each area, and make sure you're getting the best online Japanese lessons your money can buy.