Tutoring Advice?

Hello all, I’m taking on a new student in a couple fo weeks and I’m very excited! For those of you out there who’ve taught Japanese, what general advice do you have?

For context, I’m N2 certified and I’ve tutored Japanese on and off for a few years, but I’ve only ever had 6-7 students total. I’m using Genki (Elementary Japanese, 2nd edition). My student this time is looking to travel to Japan in the Fall, so we’re aiming for an “immediately useable” approach (which is my preferred method anyhow). They also happen to be non-binary, so if anyone has thoughts on non-gendered Japanese that’d be very interesting! Thank you!!


Most Japanese is nongendered, I feel


Gendered name enders such as ちゃん and くん and gendered self-pronouns like あたし , 僕 and 俺 would like to have a word.

You… you just listed five words. Unless this is some new definition of “most” that I’ve not heard before, @Saida’s post still stands.


Tofugu has a discussion on gendered language in Japanese here. There are some endings and verb forms that tend to be gendered (like ~ね at the end of a sentence can feel feminine), but they tend to crop up more in casual speech, so if your student is learning Japanese for a vacation it probably won’t be too much of an issue.


It’s not as bad as some other languages maybe, but pronouns and name enders are kind of used in the most common Japanese.

There’s also the issue of casual speech being somewhat gendered based on if you’re using declarative endings (like だ vs softer endings of の or わ ), so unless you’re planning on using desu/masu form all the time then these are things to be aware of.

There are genderless first-person pronouns, and third-person pronouns are almost never used. It’s also extremely unlikely that the person in question would be called ちゃん or くん, and the latter of those is reasonably applicable to either gender anyway.


I know resources (well, mostly books) that include advice on how to speak in a non-gendered way (or in a gendered way that allows you to pass) but they are all in Japanese, aimed at Japanese people, so that sounds beyond the scope of your tutoring sessions.
For a complete beginner, I guess sticking to です-ます and using 私 would be good enough.


Woop, forgot to follow up here! Because of the pandemic stuff alas my student cancelled…but I still appreciate everyone’s responses!

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