Best Way to Learn Japanese for You in 2023: Offline vs Online

When it comes to finding the best way to learn Japanese, many options are available, including studying abroad in Japan or taking online Japanese classes.

Both options have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and it’s essential to weigh them against your needs and preferences. 

Sometimes, we all need a little help sometimes in our Japanese learning. Textbooks, internet resources, and knowledgeable friends can all help immensely, but at times, we simply need a teacher to guide us through those trickier parts.

Ultimately, you should ask yourself: is it better for me to learn Japanese online, or abroad? Here at Coto Academy, we’ve put together this handy guide to eliminate that struggle for you.

Read on to find out which option could be the key to unlocking your Japanese potential!

To find a Japanese language school and get support from initial inquiry to visa application, contact us today!

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learn japanese online or abroad

Learning Japanese Abroad in Japan: The Pros

You Get to Travel to Japan!

Perhaps the biggest benefit to studying abroad is the chance to travel! If you come to Japan, then you’ll be able to explore your local area and beyond during your studies.

Who wouldn’t want the chance to see famous sites like Mt. Fuji, eat authentic ramen, or sing karaoke? Japan has such a rich culture and history that you’ll never run out of things to do!

Aside from this, exploring Japan for yourself can also give you a boost of motivation for your Japanese learning; wouldn’t it be great to use your skills wherever you go?

Plus, Japan is a very safe country, so you can feel at ease during your travels.

Opportunities to interact with native Japanese speakers

Of course, as you travel around Japan, you also have the chance to interact with native Japanese speakers. Talking with native speakers gives you practice outside of the classroom and an opportunity to see how Japanese is used in real-life.

You’ll get exposure to slang, accents, casual speech, and even more aspects of Japanese! Actually using the language with others is crucial to becoming fluent, so this is an amazing opportunity. You may even make new friends who can show you around!

Going hand-in-hand with speaking to native Japanese users is the overall immersive experience of studying abroad. Many say that being in the country that uses your target language is the best for language learning, and they are correct!

By being in Japan, you are surrounded by Japanese everywhere you go; this means you are constantly learning! Whether it’s at the supermarket, train station, or an udon restaurant, you can use Japanese in different situations and pick up new words every day!

Meet people from all over the world!

Finally, you get to meet people from all over the world who are also learning Japanese. You can learn more about their cultures, travel together to different sites, and practice Japanese together! Studying abroad is a great way to make new friends and create unforgettable experiences with others.

If you’re considering studying Japanese in Japan, why not use Coto School Finder’s free support? Our student coordinators are here to help you choose the right school, get your student visa and start living in Japan. Contact us to start and get a free online consultation!

Studying Japanese Abroad: Cons

Application process is complicated

For many students, the process of applying for a student visa can be confusing and time-consuming, and it can be challenging to navigate the requirements and paperwork required. Additionally, the cost of studying abroad can be prohibitively high, including tuition fees, living expenses, and travel costs.

If you currently have a job, you may have to quit, take a leave, or go remote. If you’re staying in Japan for longer than 3 months, you also need to get Japanese health insurance and register as a member of the area where you’re living.

You would also need to consider getting a new phone plan, make sure your passport is current, and check to see if you can use your credit card abroad. Trips like this certainly aren’t for the impulsive!

If you are using Coto School Finder, your student coordinator will let you know exactly what documents you will need and when’s the best time to submit them.

Studying abroad in Japan can be more costly

As with any sort of travel, studying Japanese in Japan is going to be more expensive. Not only do you need to pay for the classes themselves, but you also need to consider flights, accommodations, transportation, and spending money! (You have to get some cool souvenirs, after all!)

While it is possible to get a working visa, more than likely you would be getting a student visa when you come to study; you can only work part-time on a student visa, which means that you’re probably going to need most of this money up-front.

Dealing with homesickness

Depending on where you come to Japan from, you may be very far away from friends and family. Learning and exploring can be fun, but feeling homesick and lonely is also a reality that students have to face.

While this can push some people to go out and make new friends, this part of the experience can be overwhelming for some; you may just want to stay in your room or even go back home. You want your Japanese experience to be fun, but this simply isn’t the case for everyone.

Plus, if you do decide that you want to return home, it will take a while to get everything sorted (notifying your school and accommodation, buying plane tickets, etc) – meaning that you can’t leave right away.  

Culture Shock

You should be aware that you are going to stick out as an outsider – regardless of what you do. Japan is a notoriously homogenous society, and not knowing the social expectations and navigating new situations is going to mark you as an “outsider”. While this might not be a big deal for some students, it could make others uncomfortable.

Finally, while being in Japan is a great chance to practice with native speakers, this can be intimidating – especially if you’ve never used Japanese outside of the classroom before! You may feel embarrassed and hesitant to use your Japanese with others.

Of course, this can be overcome with practice and patience, but it is something to be aware of when coming to Japan for the first time.

 If you want to continue your education and get an actual degree while in Japan, you should check out our detailed list of pros and cons for that idea here.   

learn japanese online vs abroad

Studying Japanese Online: Pros

So, we’ve just finished going over some of the pros and cons of studying Japanese in Japan. What did you think? Are you ready to study abroad? If not, no worries – we still have your second option to consider: studying Japanese through online classes.

How is it different from going abroad? Is it a better or worse option for you? Keep reading to find out!

Online Japanese Classes are More Affordable

The first thing that may come to mind is that taking online classes is the cheaper option; you are definitely correct! With online classes, you don’t have to worry about getting plane tickets, finding a place to stay, or buying bus or train passes.

You can continue to stay wherever you are and just pay the class cost! This option is definitely the better one for someone on a tight budget.

Online Japanese Classes are More Convenient

Studying online is also more convenient. You can find courses that work with your current schedule, and you can do them from anywhere in the world!

You don’t have to quit your job or worry about visas. You can even choose the type of class you want – group classes, JLPT-focused, or even just 1-on-1 tutoring.

Plus, if you decide to keep taking online classes, you can simply sign up for the next one – with no stress about renewing leases, visas, or other taxing elements.

Thinking of learning Japanese online isntead? Study with Coto! We have a new online lesson portal that allows you to filter classes based on your level, intensity, preferred schedule, and class style! Visit our online course page to explore lessons and take our quiz to check which course would be right for you.

Better suited for people who are introverts

Studying online is also a great way to build confidence. Talking in a new language can be stressful, especially if you are giving a presentation or speech.

However, doing these things online can remove some of the stress – as your audience is on the screen, not right in front of you.

Online classes could be a great step to boosting your confidence using Japanese, especially if you are an introvert, and could eventually lead to you moving on to studying abroad in the future!

Studying Japanese Online: Cons

Not so immersive

Of course, studying online isn’t always perfect. If you choose this route, then you lose out on the immersive experience that studying abroad offers. You won’t get to use your Japanese with native speakers or in new and exciting situations.

The words you learn are limited to your textbook and whatever you decide to look up – not words that you may come across organically. You also lose out on traveling abroad and experiencing the Japanese language and Japanese culture firsthand.

This non-immersive environment also means that you can easily feel separated from the language and from those who use it, resulting in decreased motivation to learn. Japanese can start to feel like just another class, and not something you can use in real-life.

You may find yourself becoming lazier in your studies, not pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone, and learning less than you would abroad.

Maintaining Lesson Quality

Another issue is the quality. While online Japanese programs put a lot of effort into their courses and make them just as good as in-person ones, others fall short of the mark.

It can be easy for online programs to rely too much on online resources (instead of focusing on excellent instruction) or to use outdated materials. The class quality also depends on the teacher; for some, it could be their full-time job or passion, but for others it might simply be a side-gig.

This would result in some putting less effort into the lessons that they teach, and thus, a lesser-quality learning experience for the students who take their classes. 

You Might Feel Isolated

Also, while many people do form online communities with their classmates, this can be hard to get started. Not meeting in person usually makes it harder to form genuine connections with others and, as a result, you may start to feel isolated in class. That definitely isn’t a good learning environment!


And that about sums it up! Choosing which option to go with can seem stressful, but if you look at what is realistic for you as well as what you want to do, you are bound to make a good choice.

You can’t go wrong with either of these options, as either way, you’ll still be learning Japanese and interacting with others with the same goals! Both will offer you a little bit of extra help to help you reach your Japanese goals.

No more searching Google or spending hours poring over your textbook in confusion; you’ll be able to get that help you need right away and keep on learning!

Are you ready now to take that next step on your Japanese-language learning journey?

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