I’ve been talking to Jeff, a Nihongo Shark reader, about his experience taking the italki Language Challenge this month, and he seems to be having a great experience taking Japanese lessons online with them.

It seemed like a good opportunity to give everyone a better idea of what italki is and how the whole system works.

italki Review for Japanese Lessons

I call this a “review,” but really it’s just a walkthrough of how italki works, the site’s functionality, lessons and tutors offered, and general flow of scheduling Japanese lessons online.

Searching for a Teacher / Lesson

Here’s a look at my student dashboard:

If you see the area right in the middle, they have a nice, neat little list of anything I’m likely interested in doing:

Clicking on “Contact a Teacher” will take me to the teacher search page:

You might notice that these are “Professional Teachers,” which means that they are certified and experienced. That’s always nice, but italki also has the option of taking “Informal Tutoring” Sessions, which are (usually, cheaper) lessons with non-certified teachers:

Let’s look for some Japanese teachers!

I change the search options so that I can find a native Japanese teacher from Japan:

At the time of this article, there are 31 Professional Teachers and 92 Community Tutors:

That’s a lot more than you’re gonna find at any Japanese school that I know of.

For the most part, the price of professional teachers is pretty reasonable. Most seem to be anywhere from $10 to $30 an hour. I know that some of my readers can’t afford that, but that’s probably about as cheap as it’s ever going to get for a professional teacher.

Choosing a Teacher

If you look at a teacher’s profile, you can find out a lot of information about them.

Here’s what a teacher profile looks like:

Right at the top there, we can see a general snippet of information about the teacher:

Sounds pretty sweet to me. So let’s scroll down and look at lesson types, teaching style, and all that other good stuff.

This teacher has a basic range of lesson types, all of them for around $20 per hour:

Honestly, I don’t think it really matters what type of lesson a teacher is offering. Any good teacher should be able to adjust their teaching style to your interests and goals.

More important (for me, at least) is just that my teacher is someone that I enjoy talking to and meeting with.

Ideally, your teacher should be someone that you look forward to seeing every week, because that will make you more likely to stick to your studies and lessons.

The best way to figure out if a teacher is right for you is probably to take a Trial Lesson. If that leap still seems a little too difficult, though, then checking out Bio details doesn’t hurt, either:

That all sounds pretty sweet to me.

italki also requires all teachers to post a video introduction, so you can get a somewhat better idea of what your teacher is going to be like:

The last thing to check (or maybe the first thing to check?) is the teacher’s time schedule. This teacher, for example, has a ton of available times for lessons, which makes booking a lesson super convenient:

Once you’re ready to take the big leap, you can click “Schedule a Lesson!”

Doing so, I realize that this teacher actually has package deals for lessons, making them pretty ridiculously cheap:

So if I buy 5 lessons, then I can get 1-hour lessons for less than $9/hour. Sounds pretty rad to me.

Getting Prepped for Lessons

Once you book a lesson, it’s time to start panicking.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of preparing for lessons (or doing pretty much anything that takes time and willpower other than going to the gym and doing my Anki flashcards every single day).

But yeah, get stoked and nervous to botch some Japanese lessons. You can manage your upcoming lessons and all of that stuff from your italki dashboard, which includes a nice little calendar:

Mine is totally empty. *Shame*

For more goodness on how to prep lessons and integrate them into an overall study plan, you should check out my pride and joy, the Hacking Japanese Supercourse.

For more info on the types of things that you can expect to learn in lessons, you can check out Jeff’s previous post, in which he talks about cramming for JLPT N3 with his italki teacher.

If you’re anything like me, you will probably think of 826 reasons to put off finally taking a Japanese lesson. If you’ve already reached zen mastery status, though, then you’ll realize that those “reasons” are actually just excuses.

You’re supposed to make a fool of yourself and crash and burn in Japanese lessons. Teachers love that, because it gives them stuff to help you with.

So maybe it’s time to take the plunge. If so, I’d say italki is a pretty solid option.

Good luck!


p.s. Here’s my free Japanese attack guide. Get you some:


Yo! I'm Niko, the founder of NihongoShark. I'm also a Japanese translator, writer, and all-around language nerd.

I created this site to help as many people master Japanese (any language, really) as possible.

Uh, what else? Well... I live in Tokyo, Bangkok, Sapporo, Saigon, San Diego, Tokyo, Chiang Mai, Portland, Oregon! So if anyone wants to meet up for a refreshing nama beer, I'm probably down for that. Or a coffee. Learning Japanese is tricky-tikki-tavi. But we're in this together. ファイト!

Good luck with your studies!


p.s. If you like my articles, you may very well love my daily lessons.