Good Paid Courses?

As much as I want to learn Japanese alone, I really don’t think I have the drive to make it effective. Does anyone have good recommendations for paid courses? I know that it’s easy to find loads of them online, but in some ways that’s the problem. I don’t want to just pick a random one, but also don’t want to get bogged down. I’m leaning towards something (either 1-on-1 or small group classes) with online tutoring, at least to start with. Has anyone used one already to learn from a teacher that they would recommend, or a particular website or course? I’ve looked at a couple but it’s hard to know what will help me best.

there are a few apps/online courses which you can do which have a free trial. I really enjoyed buusu and you can do their beginner course for free.

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I’ve tried a couple of online group courses in the hopes of making my learning more social.

What didn’t work (for me): A language school or other general/commercial organisation, because it is not very cohesive. There wasn’t any opportunity to chat or meet the other students, and the classes were repetitive and dry.

What is great (still doing this): look up “nearby city/Japan society” and see if they offer online courses. I’m doing one from a city that’s 1.5 hours from where I live. Even though I haven’t met anyone in person, since a lot of the course participants are actually members of the club and see each other in real life, it gives the class a completely different atmosphere. I really enjoy it and would recommend!

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There’s nothing in my area so I went online and decided on a language school in Japan. I’ve had a good time with the Coto Academy language school. They’ve got small group classes and 1-on-1 offerings. I’ve been taking their “lite intensive” group class for over a year now. I can’t really speak to their 1-on-1 since I haven’t done that.

Things I like:

  1. The teachers are all fully qualified (unlike some on iTalki) and trained.
  2. Consistent schedule with the group classes.
  3. They can recommend you classes with a free consult and level check.
  4. Japan morning classes line up perfectly with evenings for me so no conflicts with my day job.
  5. There’s a focus on speaking, especially in the intermediate level and up. (I think there’s also a class specifically to train speaking and explaining things though I have not taken it)
  6. More detailed examples and explanations of nuance of some grammar and vocab I wasn’t aware of.
  7. Since class is so small and we focus on speaking, I get to chat and get to know my teacher and classmates from small talk at the start of class and during some speaking prompts.

Things I dislike:

  1. They did just transition to a new website and uh… the transition was awful to say the least. I think the majority of the bugs are cleared up now, but they’re still working on it.
  2. There’s a section of class for kanji which is unnecessary for me since I’m using Wanikani
  3. Money things. There is a one time fee when you first sign up. There’s a monthly commitment for group classes and I think you have to cancel one month in advance. (This might be better than other schools though which sometimes charge for a whole course? I don’t remember. Been a while since I researched other schools.)
  4. No trial lessons (But honestly this makes sense so new students aren’t constantly disrupting group classes)

Hope that helps! I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have too.


This is my recommendation for a 100% self-study approach to reach an intermediate level in Japanese fast (yes, you’re gonna tell me that sounds like the opening line for a scam, but I am serious, and this is the method I used myself. I’ve stood by it since the very beginning, and as someone who regularly attends classes with people who use mainstream textbooks, and who has even been asked to teach using those textbooks, I still think this one is far better):

At ~€50 (convert into your currency as needed, but that’s about 55 USD, 45 GBP and 75 SGD), it’s cheaper than any mainstream textbook (especially Minna no Nihongo and Genki), and it’s designed from the ground up for self-study without a teacher. It’s also cheaper than any set of classes you’d pay for, excluding the cost of textbooks and handouts.

Main things you might not like about it:

  • Of course, since you don’t have a teacher, you’ll need some self-discipline and motivation. If you can’t work through something like that on your own, then maybe you should sign up for a class instead.
  • Some people find the grammar explanations too skimpy. I felt they were fine, and I just supplemented my knowledge with Google whenever I wanted to go into great depth.
  • You have to learn the kanji yourself (they have a companion writing + readings/meanings + vocab book, but don’t worry about the lessons themselves – kanji are used, but the readings are always given somewhere, at the worst in a hidden ‘check your memory’ section at the end)

If you decide to try it, do tell me, because I get the impression that no one ever wants to give it a chance no matter how much I recommend it – I don’t get a commission from this; you can tell from the URL that it’s not an affiliate link – and I’m really curious how someone other than me would find the course.

That’s all. I’ve said my piece, and I’ll leave the decision to you. There are other good alternatives out there, but as far as self-study goes, I strongly believe this is the absolute best in terms of value for money relative to content and efficiency.

EDIT: I can’t find a (legal) sample PDF, but here’s a video if anyone wants a review + some sample pages:


Thank you all for the suggestions and especially for the detailed feedback and suggestions! I’ll take a look at those and see if one works out well for me :smile:

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