Are you looking for a professional language teacher for online lessons?
The site www.italki.com might be the right place to look. Italki.com is a platform offering online lessons with professional teachers of many world languages, including Japanese. There are other sites offering online lessons as well, such as cafetalk.com and others, but because I have used Italki.com services for two years and can say only positive things about it, I will introduce this site today.
A few tips how to find a teacher on Italki.com
You have to register to get access to the website, but it is for free and there is no commitment. Then you can click on FIND A TEACHER and start searching. There are many teachers listed on this site, so it is good to use the filter to narrow your search and find a teacher that would suit your needs.
During my two years of studying Japanese, I changed, for different reasons, a teacher four times. So, from my own experience, I can share with you a few tips how to choose a good teacher that will fit your needs and avoid any later disappointment.
1. Does the teacher speak your language well?
This is an important point. Unless the teacher can speak your language reasonably well, he/she won’t be able to explain more complex grammar points or meaning of words to you. The learn a language effectively, it is usually best to have a native speaker as a teacher. As for Japanese, they often struggle with English and if they aren’t able to explain something important to you then you are lost.
Tip 1. Go to the teacher’s profile and check on the teacher’s Language Skills. I would recommend at least three red bars at English or the language you speak.
Tip 2. I would also recommend always to watch the teacher’s introductory video. You can not only hear the teacher’s level of English but also check on his/her personality and see if it would suit you.
Personal comment: Well, every rule allows exceptions. 😉 My current teacher’s level of English isn’t that great (two red bars only), but she is an experienced teacher and able to explain even complicated matters better than the two previous teachers with much better English. And this brings us to the next point…
2. Is the teacher experienced and able to teach on a professional level?
All teachers are marked as Professional Teacher and it is to the certain extent true because Italki.com requires credentials from each applicant proving their experience with teaching (though I don’t know the details). However, as always, some people are better teachers, some worse. It may happen, as it happened to me, that you would need to change several teachers to find the right one. Don’t worry about that much. The teachers I encountered were all very nice people, though some of them weren’t that skilled.
Tip 1. Most of the teachers offer a trial 30 min. lesson. If I remember well, Italki.com allows you three trial lessons. A trial lesson is a great way to meet teachers and see the way they teach.
Tip 2. On the teacher’s profile page, you should check Teaching Specialities, Work Experience, Education, read the introductory text and check also Lesson History and Reviews. You can learn a lot about the teacher’s professional background, specialisation and way of teaching.
3. How the teacher charge for the lessons?
Yep, it differs a lot. And there is no direct link between being expensive and being a good teacher and other way around. Anyway, you can limit your search to the price range that suits you. You should be able to find good teachers within the range between $15-$20.
Most of the teachers offer discounted lesson packages. If you plan to study with the teacher regularly, this might be the best option.
4. Is the teacher available at the time that suits you?
Always check this before you commit yourself and pay for a lesson. Most of the native Japanese teachers live, naturally, in Japan. There are exceptions, of course. My first teacher was a Japanese lady living in Germany.
If you are a European, there is 7-8 hour time difference between Japan and Europe. Your teacher living in Japan needs to be teaching in the late afternoon or evening Japanese time to be available for you in the morning or early afternoon your time.
But even if the teacher offers lessons in suitable times, you need to check how heavily is his schedule booked. Some teachers have many students and they can be fully booked weeks ahead!
Tip 1. Click on View Schedule and check the teacher’s lesson hours and availability.
Tip 2. Check also Teacher Status whether he or she accepts new students.
The advantage to having a personal teacher
Well, if we want to learn something well and to make fast progress, the best way is to have a good teacher. For me, the lessons with my teacher on Italki.com is the key tool to learn and improve fast. All other language learning apps, webs and podcasts are just useful additions.
I hope this article would be of some help to you. 頑張ってください。＾＾