Totally new to it? Or coming back after ‘life got in the way’?
Wherever you are on your learning journey, we have a native speaking tutor to guide & gently keep you accountable! Click below to learn more! 👩🏻🏫 🔜
Japanese Lessons for Adults in London
It was an September evening, and I was sitting at a desk in a language school, with my ‘Minna No Nihongo’ textbook, dictionary, notebook and pens laid carefully in front of me.
It was my first time in this class. Having been placed in a lower level (which I’d found too easy), I had insisted on moving up to this, more challenging, class.
Suddenly, I realise the teacher is looking at ME. She has asked a question and is waiting for some kind of intelligent response. My mind is as blank as my brand new notebook.
Tears stung my eyes and my cheeks blazed. I tried to look nonchalant. The other students turned to gawp as the silence dragged on. Days – years, possibly – passed in this moment.
I never did go back to that class. But after I scraped up my pride up off the floor, I realised a deceptively simple truth:
🗣️ You learn to speak Japanese by actually speaking it!
A GROUP LESSON IS NOT THE ONLY WAY to learn a language, and for people who hate being put on the spot (like me), it’s simply NOT the BEST way.
That’s why we offer 1-1 private lessons with friendly, qualified, native-speaking Japanese tutors in London, and online.
Click the button to arrange 👇 your 20 minute consultation with Vanessa.
5 Reasons to Learn Japanese with a Private Tutor
- ✔️ Group courses can be hard to keep you with, self-study can be lonely (and you know you can only go so far with Duolingo & podcasts).
- ✔️ Learning 1-1 with a tutor means YOU get their undivided attention. You can ask all the questions you need to.
- ✔️ Practicing real communication skills, getting immediate feedback and controlling what you what to learn, when & how quickly.
- ✔️ And best of all? No audience!
- ✔️ Your tutor will help you to create & stick to your learning plan and get the results you want – FAST.
How it works:
- 👋 Fill in the contact form
- 📞 Schedule your 20 min consultation call with Vanessa
- 👩🏻🏫 Your Tutor Connection – meet & start learning!
My Japanese tutor is brilliant, I absolutely love her! She’s really easy to get along with, so I feel comfortable chatting about anything and everything. This has allowed me to maintain and improve my conversational skills – one of my learning goals having returned from two years of living in Japan. She has an instinctive understanding of my level, and a real skill of simplifying the complicated, which has been particularly useful when trying to tackle difficult JLPT 2 reading passages. She’s also happy to be flexible on a week by week basis, meaning I can get something out of each lesson regardless of whether I have had time to study that week, or not. I can’t recommend private tuition enough.
Read more about what our students say.
Just imagine how you’d feel if you could:
- ✔️ Stop relying on your partner to translate everything for you
- ✔️ Chat & have a laugh with your friends and colleagues
- ✔️ Travel around Japan & order your favourite foods confidently!
Japanese Lessons for Children
“I feel like I’m fighting for my children’s future!” my friend confided. “It sounds dramatic, but I literally have no idea how to teach my own kids…”
Sound familiar? 🙋 Let me tell you, you are not alone. It’s not easy!
Would your child like to have fun & build confidence whilst learning from a qualified tutor?
Gus loves the lessons. I think Yasuko is amazing! He is totally engrossed in the way she is making this all about the culture of Japan.
I’d love to hear about your child and connect them to a friendly & experienced native speaking tutor, for 1-1 online or in person.
📞 Click the button to contact me, Vanessa, for a free 20 minute phone consultation. It’s good to chat! 👇
Fun & Interesting Japanese for Kids
“Learning needs to be OMOSHIROI!!” – I’ve never forgotten this deceptively simple piece of advice I got from an experienced teacher, over 20 years ago.
*Omoishiroi translates as: fun, funny, amusing, interesting. All at the same time!
Well, DUH, I thought – of course it does. BUT HOW?
Since then, I’ve come to fully understand what she actually meant. That’s why, at JapaneseLondon.com, we firmly believe that learning must be PLAYFUL, making it something children WANT TO DO.
Her lessons fill my daughter with joy!
Immersion is the most effective way to learn a language. But short of upping sticks and moving to Japan, a tutor here in London can provide an immersive learning experience to help your child:
- Build familiarity. Get familiar with real, everyday things & concepts. Sushi, anime characters, origami, using chopsticks… anything and everything.
- Learn meaningful words and phrases. Let your child learn the words for what matters to them – describing their interests; their own life.
- Make conversation. Tell stories. Form a great relationship with their tutor. Improve their communication skills with a trusted adult.
Thanks so much – he has spent a very meaningful time, learning for two years. Tuition not only helped improve my son’s language skills, but also showed him the fun of learning.
Japanese Tutors Online
- Do you find group instruction never seems to be quite the right level?
- Wasting money booking courses only to ‘fall behind’ & drop out?
- Hate being ‘put on the spot’ by teachers – in front of the whole class?
I’m a Japanese learner myself, and I totally feel your pain! But before 2020 I honestly never even considered online tuition… I totally resisted it.
How things have changed!
Now, having arranged thousands of online teaching sessions around the UK, I firmly believe: language tutoring is one of those rare services which can actually offer remarkable results online.
For example, one of our students, who is really motivated to learn (to use at work and on work trips to Japan) had previously been learning with a tutor before work at 7.30am in the Bank area before heading in to her office. She switched to online, and says:
‘I have much more time to study now and the online 1-1’s by Skype are working well.’
Click to arrange your 20 minute consultation call 👆 with Vanessa today.
Online video meetings make learning so much more accessible to both adults and children.Not only for those with offices in central London anymore!
In fact, half of all learners that I connect to a 1-1 tutor for online sessions are living outside London; in areas all around the UK from Oxford, to Suffolk, to Devon.
‘Lisa-Sensei is fantastic, she’s engaging and makes notes of everything I mention about my life to quiz me later which I enjoy. Also being a native Osaka-jin she’s incorporating a few colloquialisms into my vocabulary which my wife loves. I like how she uses technology and also finds fun activities to do to keep me interested!’
Are online private 1-1 lessons effective?
Absolutely! Learning occurs best when we are relaxed, comfortable and having FUN. Language learning can be surprisingly emotional (even adults feel like a kid again without our native language fluency!).
Group instruction in classrooms are often not the best place to support these feelings of vulnerability. Rapport built with your 1-1 tutor allows for an easy flow of learning, without the stress.
Your tutor will plan your course of study at your exact level, addressing your specific areas of difficulty that might easily get skipped over in other types of classes.
Online sessions naturally put the focus on communication skills, and learners report that they are actually speaking more than previously!
‘I cannot tell you how fantastic they have been. Kumiko-sensei is just wonderful and her lessons are pitched exactly right. I have enjoyed them so much and my Japanese has improved hugely. Still a long way to go until I’m fluent but I’m feeling so much more confident about communicating when I finally make it to Japan.’
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the time commitment involved in Japanese tuition?It’s up to you – the learner. When can you fit in your regular lesson? Do you have much time for homework? Or do you prefer to focus on speaking in the lessons themselves? Do you have a ‘deadline’ coming up (i.e. a JLPT test, a holiday or a business trip?) REGULAR TIMING: Whether meeting online or in person, timings key. It’s important to stick to a regular time every week, to make the learning habit an enjoyable, non-negotiable commitment of your life. In order to make a successful connection, your tutor also needs to block off the time in their schedule, and be available to tutor you at the time that works best for you, when you will be relaxed and ready to concentrate. It’s a commitment on both sides. RESCHEDULING & CANCELLATIONS: There is certainly some wiggle room & flexibility for considerate rescheduling (when the time or day needs to change due to a personal or work commitment) but it is absolutely essential to start with a realistic, sustainable slot in your weekly timetable that you can look forward to each week, and so that your tutor can prepare in advance. Please note, however, that lessons cancelled less that 24 hours in advance (for any reason) are subject to a cancellation fee of 50%. Lessons cancelled less than 3 hours in advance (for any reason) are subject to a cancellation fee of 100%. This fee is to reimburse the Tutor for their lost opportunity of work. LESSON FREQUENCY: In terms of frequency, most students take a weekly session, some take two weekly sessions, and intensive courses can also be arranged for certain purposes. LESSON DURATION: For adult lessons that take place in person, there is usually a 90 minute minimum (unless the student is a child under 12). We find that 60 minutes really flies past when meeting face-to-face, and 90 minutes makes time spent travelling (either yourself or the tutor) to the meeting location worthwhile. For online lessons, a shorter time of 60 minutes, or 45 minutes is possible (for children under 12 years old, 30 minutes is also available). We find that having the option to schedule shorter sessions online for kids works very well for keeping it fun & maintaining attention spans. An option that also can work really well for adults’ online 1-1’s is to study more often, but for shorter bursts. Some students are breaking their weekly 90 minute study into two sessions online. Others are taking 1 hour every day to keep the learning consistent.
‘I think the 2 x 45min online sessions a week have been really beneficial for my progress in speaking and listening.’It’s important to go with what’s most manageable for your learning style – do you prefer a deeper dive or to jump in more frequently? HOMEWORK: Also, don’t forget to factor in how much time you can set aside to do some homework between time spent with your teacher, and when you will do it, as regular review (little & often) is so important to speed up your progress. At the moment, I am personally scheduling in just a measly 10-15 minutes of kanji review per day. But it all adds up! BLOCK BOOKINGS: To allow the time needed to build a great relationship between tutors and students, the minimum block booking for adults is 15 hours. For children this is 12 hours. To learn more, please read: This is Why You Need to Book 10 Japanese Lessons (At Least) Many learners & tutors enjoy a really fruitful learning relationship and continue lessons for many months – or years! It’s so rewarding.
Are private 1-1 Japanese lessons expensive?Cost can be viewed in terms of both time and money. A fast, efficient way to learn, your private 1-1 lessons will be at your level – no more wasting precious time going over things you already know (or missing the point of something too difficult). Language school groups can appear cheaper than private 1-1 tuition, but work much like gym memberships. It’s very easy to miss classes you’ve already paid for, and then hard to catch up, which can put you off returning. Mottainai! What a waste! For more discussion around fees, kindly read my article: How Much Do Private Japanese Lessons Cost? For the price of a decent Japanese meal in a restaurant, every week you can experience so much more than just a full tummy!
Might I find a cheaper tutor elsewhere?Certainly, this is possible. JapaneseLondon.com is a specialist tutoring connection company run by me, Vanessa Villalobos👋. I am a UK PGCE (Secondary School Level, English, Kings College London) / RSA CELTA (TEFL, Cambridge) qualified teacher. I spent three years teaching in rural Japan on the JET Programme (Japan Exchange Teaching – a programme created by the Japanese government) & the experience had a profound influence on me. Honestly – it changed my whole life – by opening my mind to new perspectives. In fact, I loved it so much that I couldn’t leave it behind! When I came back to England I was driven to begin my connection company, in order to share the of learning the language & discovering the culture with others. I have connected many hundreds of learners (it’s getting towards a thousand!👍) with tutors since starting my tutoring connection company back in 2008. This personalised service is quite different to the many generic ‘find a tutor’ type websites which have sprung up, where the onus is on the student (or student’s parent) to do all the work to secure the right tutor. The tutors on the ‘find a tutor’ type websites are not vetted or pre-qualified in any way – it’s up to you to do that. You need to choose, get in touch individually and assess the tutor’s suitability. Naturally, this process is particularly important when choosing a tutor for a child. If this sounds tiring – please, leave it to me. I’ll send the full tutor profile for you to check & approve before meeting is arranged.
What do I need to get for my lessons?Your tutor / your child’s tutor might request you to purchase a textbook or other study resources. But you don’t need to get anything before you start except a notebook & pen! If you can’t wait to get started, I’d recommend reading ‘Amy’s Guide to Best Behaviour in Japan: Do It Right & Be Polite!’- a recent, handy, and non-stuffy guide to etiquette. I SO wish this book had been in print when I first went to Japan & committed countless cultural gaffes! haha
Where do the meetings take place?The meeting location is completely your choice (although we are happy to suggest a variety of tried & tested places all around London that we have found to work out well). Tutors can come to your home, office, or meet you in a quiet café or hotel lobby, or in another public space around London (such as the open areas in the Southbank Centre or the Barbican). Many of our lessons are being delivered online via Zoom or other platform. Of course, online meetings do not incur a travel fee. In 2023, students and tutors may choose to meet in person again, or choose a hybrid combination of in person & online (i.e. meeting in person once a month, or every other week).
Are the Japanese lessons 1-1?Yes, all sessions are between you and the tutor only. The one exception is complete beginner level students only, who may opt for 2-1 instruction with their own, selected partner (i.e. husband and wife, business partner, friend), for a top up fee of 30%.
What platform will we use for the online meetings?
It’s your choice! Some tutors prefer Skype, as it offers the chat function that can be saved to refer back to. Zoom chats aren’t saved, so it can be a great idea to use Whatsapp alongside it.
Personally, I really like the way that this use of technology gives me a typed reference of phrases and vocabulary from the lesson (that I can use to review).
What is the content of the lessons?
The content is tailor-made for your own goals – whether this is business speaking skills, survival phrases for a holiday, or to pass an exam such as the JLPT.
Some people learn simple for an enriching hobby, whereas others have commitments to keep up with their university course, group classes or to increase their fluency to an advanced level.
Whatever your own goals may be, the tutor will likely use a textbook picked for you as a springboard.
Students often find it works well to use lesson time to focus on speaking and listening with your tutor, and then focus on reading and writing as self-study (homework).
The writing systems of hiragana, katakana and kanji can be introduced by teachers, but students need to take their own time to review & repeat, in order to memorise them.
What results can I expect?
Surprisingly, beginner level Japanese can be quite quick and pain free to learn, giving a great sense of achievement that boosts confidence!
As each learner is unique, their results will vary, according to their needs, interests and goals. We will assess what each individual is looking to get out of their learning, and tailor lessons accordingly.
Most beginners will want to build vocabulary and communicative phrases, and enjoy learning to write the kana (phonetic alphabet).
For many, the results could be described as planting a seed to nurture a lifelong love of Japanese language and culture.
Are private 1-1 lessons effective?
All of our tutors are qualified, experienced, native Japanese speakers who can safely & enjoyably tutor adults & children.
It’s really important that sessions are ‘omoshiroi’ (fun & interesting) – it’s proven that we all learn more through play.
Something to note is that our tutors reside in the UK and can speak English. This can be particularly important when tutoring beginners, or to explain tricky grammar points.
Having more than 20 years experience in teaching, I am always personally available to support tutors with materials and ideas, whenever they may need it.
Are the tutors native speakers of Japanese?Yes, your tutor will be a friendly, native speaker, personally matched by Vanessa to your situation & requests.
Where are JapaneseLondon.com’s tutors based?
Our tutors are UK-based native speakers of Japanese.
Our tutors can also speak English, which is especially helpful for beginners, and for explaining specific grammatical points.
With tutors based in the UK, we also avoid the scheduling difficulties that occur when working with another time zone.
Our tutors are of course familiar with UK culture & customs, which makes for very interesting and lively discussions regarding the similarities and differences between the UK & Japan!
How do you match learners to tutors?
We carefully consider: time of day & day of the week, the learner’s goals & interests, the tutor’s qualifications & experience, the lesson location, and – importantly – your unique personalities too!
1-1 lessons create a fun, goal-orientated & sustainable learning-based relationship for both the student and the tutor.
Which is better for me? Group lessons or a 1-1 tutor?
It depends on your goals and lifestyle. There are benefits to each style of learning, and in fact, many of our students take group classes and have a private tutor too.
One of the main benefits of private tuition is that you can learn to speak Japanese by speaking it with a native teacher. This is deceptively simple, and undoubtedly the most effective way.
It can can be fun to meet fellow learners in a group, but it can also be hard to get your individual questions answered – the teacher needs to think about the needs of the whole class, not just yours.
‘I’ve wanted to learn Japanese since childhood. I did a term of lessons with (reputable uni) but to be honest I didn’t find them very helpful, I think it is because of the large class size.’
Is learning Japanese difficult?
Japanese is perceived as being one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn. Of course, it is certainly a challenge to learn any language, and for English speakers, learning a different writing script can be daunting.
However, even beginner level Japanese can be extremely satisfying, and the language does not feature tonal pronunciation, like Chinese, for example.
To learn more, please do check out: Three Surprisingly Easy Things About Learning Japanese
Is it worth learning Japanese for a holiday?
YES. Please do. Even just a smattering of key phrases is a very good idea for a trip, after all, Japan is a monolingual country – like the UK.
Not only will learning survival words & phrases enrich your connection to people you meet on your holiday, getting more familiar with the culture is a gift to yourself to enjoy all your life! I speak from experience – as learning Japanese changed my life – learn about my journey here.
To find out more, read: Do I Have Time to Learn Japanese (Before My Trip)? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself
With so many visitors heading to Japan after the travel standstill over the past few years. There’s never been a better time to really get prepared properly for your long-awaited trip to Japan.
Are your tutors suitable for complete beginners?
Yes, lots of learners start lessons without knowing any Japanese at all.
As the language and culture is particularly fascinating for fans of manga & anime, we find many children begging their parents to learn (especially after / before an inspiring trip to Japan!).
Are your tutors suitable for more advanced students?
Yes, as all our tutors are native speakers, they can teach more advanced learners who have been living in Japan, who have learned the basics at school, or from a Japanese descent parent, for example.
Online 1-1 Japanese Lessons vs. In Person 1-1 Japanese Lessons: What’s the Difference?
If you are anything like me, you might have spent half your time in the past few years trying to coax your kids out from under the desk to do some online work, and the other half revelling in the unexpectedly luxurious convenience of attending your work meetings, lessons and events without
proper trousers the slog of the commute to get there.
If you’ve been thinking about learning Japanese 1-1 with a private tutor in 2023, you will likely be wondering what the main differences are between online and in person sessions, and which you should take.
Would online work better for you now, or is it important to you to meet up face-to-face with your tutor? What about a hybrid approach where you meet up occasionally, but not for every lesson?
The good news is: Tutoring is one of those rare services which can actually offer remarkable results online.
I feel incredibly fortunate that my small tutoring business, which I have been running since 2007, has been able to evolve to suit the times.
Tutoring is one of those services which can actually offer fantastic results online, and our professional & dedicated tutors have really risen to the challenge of online teaching. Likewise, so many students embraced tuition online and enjoyed seeing their learning progress steadily.
Here are 5 key questions to consider that will help you decide what approach to Japanese lessons will work best for you.
1. When will you schedule your 1-1 lessons?
Do you realistically have enough time to get to an in person meeting? It’s important to pick a time that will really work for you, each week.
Online 1-1’s can cost less of a time investment. This is due to the saving of travel time, not needing to get ready to leave the house, plus the option of taking a shorter lesson online.
2. How long will each 1-1 lesson be?
Adult in person lessons are usually 90 minutes minimum (due to the time required for the learner / tutor to travel to the location). In person for children can be 60 minutes.
Online lessons for both adults & kids can be shorter – with 30 minute & 45 minute sessions available.
3. Where do you want to take your lessons?
If you are meeting in person, would you like the tutor to travel to a location near your home, or workplace? We have plenty of experience finding public places in London which are quiet & pleasant for your purposes.
If it’s difficult to find time to go to a location to meet your tutor, online might be the solution.
4. What will the lessons cost?
In terms of the financial investment, whether online or in person, the hourly fees for tuition are the same.
Why are online lessons not cheaper per hour than in person? The answer is that both offline and online sessions are equally challenging – in different ways – for tutors to prepare & deliver effectively.
Tutors have had to be adaptable – and acquire a new skill set for professionally delivering communicative lessons online, using the technology well. For those reasons, I believe strongly that tutors should be paid the same rate for their diverse skillset, whether online or offline.
For in person lessons, a travel fee will be added to the fee, to get the tutor to your preferred location (unless you decide to travel to them – this can be arranged – but is not always possible).
For online lessons, of course the travel fee does not apply. Naturally, students also don’t have to pay for their own travel if they meet online.
5. What are your goals for your learning?
As we have found, online meetings can be particularly tiring because of needing to focus intensely on the person on the screen.
However, online lessons put a lot of emphasis on communication, on the active skills of speaking and listening skills.
Communication skills, such as learning basic greetings & survival Japanese for a trip, brushing up rusty skills at any level, and developing small talk & conversational fluency are often the number one priority of our learners.
Online lessons can also be great for building vocabulary because the stream of (typed) chat between you and your tutor can be saved to review later. It’s much easier to look up the meanings of typed ‘kanji’ characters (than handwritten characters – you need to know the elements that make up the kanji) in a translation tool such as Google translate, or in an online dictionary, such as Rikaichan.
On the other hand, in-person lessons might work better for you if you’d like to focus on skills other than speaking and listening, especially writing. The stroke order of writing hiragana, katakana and kanji is best seen in person.
However, I must say that many learners prefer to practice the passive skills of reading and writing on their own time, asking their tutor to correct or explain as needed.
To get started with booking Japanese lessons for you, or for your child:
- 👋 Fill in the contact form
- 📞 Schedule your 20 min consultation call with Vanessa
- 👩🏻🏫 Your Tutor Connection – meet & start learning!