In the past, the best way to learn Japanese was through language immersion which meant physically attending classes. However, this setting may pose challenges to people who have a busy schedule and to those who are working during the day. Now, thanks to modern technology, it’s easier to find and take online Japanese lessons here at Japan Switch!
Taking online Japanese lessons has a lot of advantages. Firstly, it allows you to study whenever and wherever you like which can save you a 45 - 90 minute commute and you do not even need to change out of your pajamas. Secondly, it gives you the flexibility you need and the possibility to learn at your own pace. Lastly, studying online also helps you learn new technical skills since working from home is now part of the new normal.
Online courses can also have some unique challenges for those who didn’t do much research and preparation beforehand. So, here in Japan Switch, we made a guide for students to help you when taking online Japanese lessons with us!
How to prepare before your online Japanese lessons
Solve Some Common Set-up Mistakes
Is it your first time taking online Japanese lessons remotely? If yes, some problems may arise so it’s better to be prepared than wasting your precious time trying to fix the problem during the lesson itself!
- First of all, check your network connection
A bad network connection may result in a laggy and stressful lesson. If your wifi is not good, it’s recommended to connect using a LAN cable or investing in portable wifi.
- Next, check the lighting in your setup.
Refrain from staying behind or beside the window on a sunny day because your teacher may not see you if you are against the light. Also, refrain from staying in a dark room.
- Then, don’t forget to check your video
You don’t want your camera to be too high or too low and it’s good to set it at eye level.
- After that, check your audio
Make sure you’re in a quiet room and it’s also good to use headphones with a mic.
- Finally, check for Zoom updates or computer updates
You don’t want your computer suddenly restarting in the middle of the lesson.
Setup your Zoom’s Background Screen and Camera
Have you forgotten to tidy up before your online Japanese lessons? Or maybe, you just want to showcase your love for your cat and want him as a Zoom background? Whatever the reason, changing your Zoom background is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Just follow these three steps to get started:
How do I change my Zoom background on my phone?
- Once you log into your account and join a meeting, tap the three dots at the bottom right of the screen so you can open the More menu.
- Click Virtual Background.
- Now you can choose a background from the default options or upload your own!
How do I change my Zoom background on my computer?
- After you've logged into your account and joined a meeting, press the arrow beside the video icon at the bottom left of the screen so you can open the menu.
- Tap Choose Virtual Background.
- Choose a background either from the default options, or you can also upload your own!
How can I adjust the Camera Settings?
Zoom is fairly new and a lot of people are not yet used to its interface and tweaking with the audio and video settings. If you want to get the most out of Zoom in your online Japanese lessons with Japan Switch, follow the steps below!
- Log into your account and join a meeting. Then, press the arrow beside the video icon at the bottom left of the screen so you can open the menu.
- Choose Video Settings.
- You can now adjust the camera and video settings! You also have the option to Touch up your appearance and Adjust for low light.
How to Fix the Most Common Wifi Issue
Is your wifi running slower than it usually does? This is a big no-no when taking online Japanese lessons. The slow connection usually makes the class stressful because you and your teacher might not understand each other well. Here’s a quick fix to solve the most common wifi issue:
- First, turn off and unplug your router.
- Next, wait for about 2-5 minutes before plugging it back in.
- Then, wait for about 5 minutes and try connecting again.
Most of the time this quick fix would work because resetting the router usually improves the router’s speed. You can also use a LAN cable to make your internet connection even faster. However, if these steps won't work, you may need to contact your internet service provider and ask for further assistance.
Must-have Headphones for Online Lessons
Having good quality headphones in your arsenal is now a part of the new normal. You wouldn’t only need them for your school or work, but they would also be useful for your online Japanese lessons. An important point to consider when choosing a headphone is connectivity especially if you want more flexibility and movement.
So, here are our top 3 wireless headphone picks:
1. Sony WH-CH510 (Good Quality, Affordable, Around $30-$40)
Sony WH-CH510 is a great pick if you want low-cost but good quality headphones. It’s popular for giving comfortable ear padding with a lightweight design. It has a long battery life (around 32 hours), supports fast-charging, and includes a noise-canceling microphone.
2. Soundcore Life P2 Wireless Earbuds
(Nice Quality, Reasonable, Around $50-$60)
Anker’s Soundcore Life P2 Wireless Earbuds are a great alternative for people who dislike over-the-ear headphones. It’s very stylish and can be compared with Apple’s AirPods but at a reasonable cost. It's very good for online Japanese lessons.
3. Sony WH1000XM4 (Premium Quality but Expensive,
Sony WH1000XM4 is a premium option if you want headphones with high-end features. They provide amazing and crisp sound. It has multiple microphones to suppress background noise, can be connected to multiple devices at the same time and it’s built with premium leather for total comfort.
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How to make the most out of your online Japanese lessons
State Your Goals to Your Teacher
The reason for learning a new language varies from person to person. One student may want a more relaxed lesson and learn casual vocabulary to use when talking to his or her friends. Another student may want a more structured one and have a more business approach that can be used in the office. It’s very important to tell your teacher why you want to learn Japanese.
If you don’t have a goal for your online Japanese lessons yet, here are some tips!
- Ask yourself: “Why do I want to learn Japanese?”
The answer can be as simple as understanding your favorite anime without subtitles or traveling around Japan while communicating with native speakers.
- Find your motivation and stick to it.
You have to keep in mind why you started learning in the first place. A fun lesson can also be a good motivation, so it’s important to find a teacher that you can connect with.
- Set specific and achievable goals.
We don’t have to reach for the stars, a simple yet specific goal like learning 20 new words in one week would be a good start.
- Keep track of your progress to stay motivated.
Always remember to jot down notes and keep track of your new words. It’s good to own one specific notebook for vocabulary and new phrases.
Check out this YouTube video that shares amazing tips for taking down notes!
Turn your Japanese mode on with some warm-ups
For beginners, turning on our Japanese brain is not as simple as flicking a light switch on. Similarly, when we exercise we don’t jump right ahead to the vigorous activities, it’s very important to take it slow. Plus, do you know that you can actually save 5-10 minutes of your lesson time by doing some of these simple warm-ups?
Here are 5 things that you can talk about while warming up for your online Japanese lessons:
- What are the 3 things you did today before you started the lesson?
- What did you do last weekend?
- What are your good and bad news this week?
- What are you looking forward to this lesson?
- What do you want to learn for today and why?
You want to prepare what you want to say in advance so you can practice a few minutes before the actual lesson. This can also give you that confidence boost during the class itself!
Communicate Clearly with the Help of Gestures
Using gestures is an easy and effective way to communicate things you cannot fully express with the teacher during your online Japanese lessons. Here are some tips!
- Make sure you are centered in the camera’s view.
You don’t want to be too close or too far.
- You should also lift your hands above your chest.
This is important so your teacher can fully see your hand’s movement.
- You can also move your teacher’s picture icon near your camera.
This is similar to keeping eye contact
Here’s a Youtube video to help you with some common gestures we use during online lessons:
Review your Notes, Ask Questions, and Supplementary App
By the end of the lesson, I highly recommend reserving the last 5 minutes to cool down.
- First, you can review the new words you’ve learned.
- Then, ask any last questions that you have in mind.
- After that, you can talk about your plans for the day or the weekend.
- Finally, you can thank your teacher for the lesson.
In addition to taking online Japanese lessons, I also recommend downloading a supplementary application that can assist your learning. One supplementary app that I highly recommend and personally use is Memrise.
- You can “plant” and learn new words every day.
- Hear how native Japanese speakers express the vocabulary.
- Review and practice the pronunciation via audio recording.
- It teaches you everyday phrases that native speakers often use.
- It's free and also has a premium option.
How frequently should you study
When it comes to online Japanese lessons, the longer we study and practice speaking per day, the faster we’ll be fluent in the language. However, as a beginner, I understand that it’s very difficult to commit at first. In the end, it’s all about making it a part of your daily habit since learning a language is a daily commitment.
- Studying for 30 minutes a day would be a good start for the first few weeks.
- Once it’s incorporated into your routine, try ramping it up to 60 minutes per study session.
- Aside from studying, make sure you are exposed to Japanese in your daily life.
- Watch movies, series, or anime.
- Listen to music and podcasts while on the train or taking a walk.
- Read books, comics, food labels at the supermarket, etc.
- Have a chat with a Japanese friend, coworker, or neighbor.
Since your arsenal has been completed, it’s time to take on the challenge! Learn Japanese now with Japan Switch and see your goals come to life! There will be ups and downs in your language journey but it will surely be fun!