What are the going rates for English private lessons in your neck of Japan?


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Hi Blog.  I often get requests from people online who think about moving to Japan and supplementing their Eikaiwa income with “private lessons”, i.e. your own cottage industry of meetings with an individual or groups in an informal setting and at an hourly rate.  They inquire how efficacious that plan my be.

I usually caution people against that, since the Bubble-Era fees are long gone (I was pulling down JPY10,000 an hour once upon a time).  Moreover, the Post-Bubble “McDonaldization of Eikaiwa” (as I have heard it described on other listservs) by the NOVAs and ECs have driven average rates for English teaching down to hardscrabble levels, meaning people without a full-time job with health insurance and benefits will probably not be able to make a living on private lessons alone.

But that’s just what’ve I heard.  I haven’t done many privates for years now (Sapporo’s market rates, if you can get privates at all, appear to be around JPY2000-3500 an hour).  I thought I’d ask Debito.org Readers around Japan what they’re getting/can get for private lessons (in English or in any language you teach) in their local area.  Let us know.  Arudou Debito not in Sapporo

36 comments on “What are the going rates for English private lessons in your neck of Japan?

  • I’m not an English teacher. But being English (UK) I have been asked to teach several people locally to me, owing to the poor quality of their English lessons at school/college or just additional lessons. The “going rate” appears to be 4,000Yen in my area, I live in Kobe/Hyogo region.

    I do charge more when I advise and/or lecture at University, or proof read for them. Not teaching English per se, but my own specialised subject/profession. The university conducts all post graduate lectures in English. For this, I charge them my own rates, they can take it or leave it.

  • Those rates are very average for the country.

    Upper levels you can find 4,000 yen an hour. Maybe you can find better, but those high wages are always one hour or 90 min tops and usually out of your way.

    Basically the English teaching system in Japan has been filled with Dispatch companies ensuring low class prices and next to poverty level pay for their teachers. And if you don’t like it they replace you with someone cheaper coming in from abroad.

  • I was in Fukuoka, and I had the students come to my home. They paid 10,000 for four lessons a month. If the lessons were less frequent then the fee was 3500 yen per hour. If the lessons were group, never less than 5000 yen or 1000 yen per person.

  • My friends in the Tokyo area who have moonlighted in eikaiwa have gotten around the same rate for individual lessons — 2000 to 3500 an hour. If you become a Gaba contractor (probably the easiest way to get into the game) you will pocket something like 1500 an hour, but it bears repeating that those hours are never guaranteed.

    A friend’s husband lost his headhunter job a couple of years ago and has been doing freelance eikaiwa lessons since then, and says he is actually making more money than before, though I suspect he is ignoring taxes and insurance in order to get there.

  • Tokyo: JPY3000-3500/hour for man-to-man lesson. Up to JPY5000/hr if you have many years of experience. Unfortunately, desperate people looking for teaching work will undermine the rest of us by pricing themselves much lower across the board.

  • Strange that, In most cases the going rate here for group lessons seems to be about 2,500- 3,000 an hour if taught by a native speaker of English. Man to man lessons maybe 4,000 an hour. Having said that, a close friend of mine charges 7,000 an hour. He justifies this by saying that people who really want to learn WILL pay that. By doing this he says that he is separating those so called “Eikaiwa hobbyists” who just come to learn English for something to do and those who have a real desire to learn the English language. I live in Shikoku, in Takamatsu. I guess it really depends on your experience teaching, how many years you have been doing it, what you are capable of teaching i.e. TOEIC/TOEFL/IELTS, kids classes, large groups etc. As long as you put enough decent PR spin on who you are and what you do, I think you can charge upwards of 4,000 an hour for man to mans but you certainly will be hurting at first. I would not reccomend someone coming to Japan to try and live to eek out a living in this manner. At least not without having at LEAST a dependable part time gig that you can supplement with private lessons.

  • 4000 yen/hour, more if I have to go to the student, more if there are multiple students. I’m in Kawasaki, so I draw from western Tokyo and Yokohama as well, of course, although I have one student in rural Okayama Prefecture (over the internet, he doesn’t commute), and I had a student in London for a while (again, no commuting involved…). I charge more if I have to go to the student, but nearly everyone comes to me. Right now, I’m making a living at it, but it took about five years to reach this point.

    On the other hand, I don’t teach normal Eikaiwa much. I get a lot of people wanting academic writing lessons, for example, and several of my students are English teachers. I’m not convinced it would be possible in the standard Eikaiwa business.

  • When I was in Tokyo, I offered private lessons at any rates between JPY1500-3000, going on what the student was willing to pay (cheaper for university students, more expensive for people who could obviously afford it). We never met at McDonald’s, always in kissatens with a quieter and more stable environment. I had about four or five regular students a week, so the turnover wasn’t so bad in addition to the income I already had.

  • I see people doing it in Fukuoka city for 1000 yen an hour. Killing any chances of a market recovery. I never did cafe lessons. Always thought they were too wierd for my taste. Doctors will pay you 30,000 a month for a hour teaching their kids which is 7500 an hour! Lucklily I still got a couple of those.

  • I used to do 4-5 salaryman group lessons in Chiba for 4500円. It was great! Their boss wanted them to learn English and they were pissed they had to stay an hour and half after their 残業 to learn a language they didn’t care about.

    I learned a lot of Japanese thanks to them^^

  • 3000 yen an hour or 2000 for 40 minutes… that’s higher than some people charge but I’d rather have fewer students paying more each than a lot of students paying less. That’s in Saitama, near Tokyo. Quite a lot of people advertising private lessons around here, but not so many who write the ads in Japanese and target beginners and low level students specifically, so that’s what I do and I do get people willing to pay 3000. If you wanted to actually fill up an entire day’s schedule with students from morning to night you’d probably have to charge less and/or offer something extra, my privates are a nice bonus but I definitely couldn’t make a living with them.

  • I’m teaching English at a Kindergarten once a week (although I’m from Germany).
    I get 10.000 for the four hours I spend there, although I only “teach” two. Hope it helps.

  • Three years ago in downtown Osaka (the Nipponbashi and Shinsaibashi area), the going rate was JPY3500. It was more common to see 5000 than 2000.

  • Debito,

    Not sure about other people in Sapporo area but it seems in the last 4 months the private lesson gig has picked up to the level of 1-2 new students/contacts per week. 3000/hr is easy to get for adults 1-1 and for small groups of children it’s possible to get 1500 per child for 45-60 mins; a typical group is 2-4 students.

    Often people ask for private lessons because they can’t fit in with Eikaiwa school schedules or don’t have any faith in the system.

    Another trend is setting monthly rates and advance payments (for one month’s tuition) to avoid student’s who are not serious or who are only trial lesson students. Trial lessons were previously reduced rate but the trend is to set the trial at normal rate and sort out the wheat from the chaff.

    The problem with the idea of supplementing a full time job with private lessons is that there aren’t many full time positions, hence, privates are par for the course. Often full time positions are 40 hrs from 10am -9 pm on various days including Saturday, which is prohibitive for those who wish to do private lessons.

    This is my experience.

  • Hi Debito,

    it’s been a while…. Maru of tokyo! I hope you remember me.

    I have been doing private lessons since coming 2.5 years ago in Japan. Even with that short time, I’ve seen a sharp decrease of hourly rates. 2 years ago, you can demand a 3,500yen/hour easily. Now, even a 2,500yen/hour is hard to come by. My work philosophy now is “better cheap than nothing”. so now, I am amassing 2,000yen/hour students. I have now about 10 students. A typical student will do the lessons once a week, so that is 4 times a month. 10 (students) x 4 (times a week) x 2,000 (rate) = 80,000yen a month.

    80,000yen is not bad for supplementary income. Again, if that is your only income, you are toast unless you have something more. But then again, if you want to do it full time, you can command 200,000yen a month with only 2,000yen/hour private lessons. There are still many Japanese who want to learn English but they are also struggling financially so, it is not a bad idea to lower your prices a bit.

  • I’ve been in Nagano for 30 years and am well known in this small community. Quite a few years ago, I had many people asking me to teach them on a private basis, for which they were willing to pay JPY10,000 an hour. After taking a break from that for a long period of time, I am now charging JPY5,000 per hour.
    I am not sure what others are charging for an hourly rate here, but I am not having any problems with a lack of students.

  • Debito-san,

    First post. I would like to begin by thanking you for your efforts to help the foreign community.

    I will be happy to let you know what I charge for English lessons but first I have an issue with your definiition of a “private” lesson. A private lesson is a one on one lesson, a semi-private is when more than one person books a lesson on a regular basis, a group lesson is a group of people each paying a monthy rate for a lesson at a specific date and time. This mentality that anyone teaching outside of their school no matter how many people are in the class is teaching a private has got to change. Someone rustling up students in their spare time or as their main job is an entrepreneur engaging in a small business activity.

    I have a classroom in my house and I visit student’s houses. I have been charging 6,500 an hour for a private or semi-private for over 25 years, group lessons start at 6,000 yen a month for kids and go up to 8,000 a month for adults. This is a small business and is my main source of income. I can understand an English teacher with less experience charging as little as 5,000 an hour for a lesson but anyone who charges less than that just doesn’t have much business acumen but I suppose there are plenty of those folks around, it is happening in the translation and proofreading/editing fields also, people just try to undercut the other guy and the rates just keep going down. My students are mostly middle class but are willing to pay my rates because they want reliability and experience. I am flexible with my scheduling and perform any extra services my students may require. I am in the Kanto area.

    As a previous poster stated it is not easy for someone working full time to fit many privates into their schedule and thus a newbie coming over should not expect to earn all that much especially if they are in a major urban area where people are willing to teach for peanuts.


  • May be the next question could be: How the hell do you keep the private student? In my experience I have found privates notoriously inconsistent and inconsiderate: they cancel at the last moment or want you to organize your whole day around them. Of course the first two lessons are full of enthusiasm, until they realize they aren’t going to be fluent in a short time. When I did do private lessons, I would fit it into a regular work day so they couldn’t mess up my days off, and I would charge 3000 yen for 40 minutes.

  • 8,000 yen per hour, although I am too busy to teach privately any more. I found that for a professional, experienced teacher with good Japanese and a friendly, professional manner, the more you charge the more students you get (also, the better the quality of students you get).

    English classes can be a luxury good (in the economic sense).

    — Even a Giffen Good?

  • I’m in Fukuoka and I get around 4,800-6,000 for groups of 4-5 kids. I get 6,000/hr. for semi-private. I also get 4,000 for man-to-man. I have all but one lesson come to me so, essentially, no travel costs. The one I do visit is on the way home so I don’t really count it.

  • In Fukui and Shiga ken I’m charging between 1,500 to 3,500 yen for a one hour class.
    I find that if you work part time for companies instead of taking on a full time job you will have the freedom to teach private lessons and increase your earnings.


  • I think it also depends on where you are teaching, what kind of services (in addition to being there and speaking English) you are providing, and what is included in the lesson fee.

    For example, if you travel to a student’s home (especially if that involves taking the train or paying for parking) or do “cafe lessons” you’d want to factor in your travel expenses as well as travel time, etc. Are you going to use a textbook or other materials and if so, are those materials included in the lesson fee or purchased separately? How much time do you spend preparing for each individual lesson?

    On the other hand, are there any DISADVANTAGES to taking your private lesson that need to be compensated for? In my case, I have a small child who often interrupts the lesson asking for juice, and because I have to watch him I can’t teach at the student’s home (unless they also have kids, I won’t go to a non-babyproofed home) or a cafe or restaurant. I explain during the trial lesson that my son WILL be there, that if he is such a problem that we have to stop the lesson (never happened, but I tell them this anyway), I will only charge for the amount of time we actually studied, but otherwise the student agrees to put up with him in exchange for paying much less than they’d pay at an eikaiwa school (and other benefits, I don’t charge a cancellation fee etc… call that bad business if you like, but almost 100% of the time my students reschedule for a different day so I very rarely lose money because of that).

    Most of my students are housewives who are happy to go through a beginner to intermediate level textbook, occasionally a junior high school student who wants to do their school homework together and study for a test. There’s hardly any prep involved and very little specialized language that I need to teach. If I were teaching a “business English” class or making original materials I may charge more… I had one student who really just wanted to sit around and chat for an hour and I charged him 500 yen less for zero prep time and basically no work on my part at all (I don’t like to teach “free talk lessons,” what an oxymoron, but if someone will pay me to chat about the weather and the news I’m not turning down easy money either).

    I figure 3000 yen an hour is more than I’d make working at an eikaiwa, and less than the student would pay at an eikaiwa, so it’s a win-win situation. It’s 4 times what I would make waiting tables and less stressful. It’s about the same as I’d pay a piano or abacus or whatever teacher working from their home in this neighborhood. Also, most of my students are people who live nearby, sometimes their kids go to the elementary school that my kids will go to someday or they work at the supermarket where I shop, so there are obvious benefits to being friendly rather than businesslike about things like cancellations.

    Obviously, not everyone is in that situation and that is fine. But at least from my point of view, any way you do the math, the student and I both come out better than we would at an eikaiwa school.

  • When I came here 7 years ago, the going rate in the Shonan area of Kanagawa seemed to be 3000/hr for a 1 on 1 lesson, and it’s slowly crept upwards. I quit doing privates 3 years ago, but was charging 4000/hr by then, which I considered low. Now I won’t do it for less than 5000 because I value my evenings/weekends.

    Like previous people have said, it also depends on circumstances: location, who buys coffee if at a cafe, friend/acquaintance, subject matter, etc. I’d say base rate is 4000 and modify it from there.

  • Oh, and thanks for asking the question!

    Incidentally, no one mentioned languages other than English. I know a couple people who take Spanish and French, I wonder what the going rate is for those. I’ve advertised (albeit not very hard) for teaching Spanish, but no takers. I wonder how much demand there is.

  • when I first came to Japan, about 2000 yen per hour. Now with experience and strictly focusing on business English in central Tokyo, I never charge under 5000, and groups between 10000 and 15000 per hour. Advice for readers and people who might want to get into this: don’t be cheap fearing that you won’t find any students. The ones who are willing to pay are more loyal, better quality and are eager to study. And when instructors are not charging enough, it hurts everyone anyway.

  • The going price for a lesson is always a difficult answer to give. It relys more on the teachers willingness to not only be a little firm with the price, but also have a little sales knowledge and confidence in their teaching skills. Most teachers (probabaly 80 or 90%) don’t like to hear the word sales, but the truth is, it is as important as the teaching side if you want to successfully teach privates and make it a serious form of income. Of course, there are always people who don’t take it seriously and see it as beer money, but those people are absolutely no competition in the long run. This is impossible to talk about in a little comment, but one tip would be when a potential new student asks you the price, before yelling it out so they can immediately compare you to some cafe teacher who charges 1000yen an hour, you need to explain why you are better. You need to have an angle that separates you from the rest. It just requires a little thought, but most experienced teachers have something special. Doing it in Japanese also will instill a little confidence in new students. I often tell them I will teach them how I learned Japanese and with a little adjustment they can use some of the same techniques to learn English. Lastly, deflation is an excuse used by some who usually let work come to them, but the quality of students will be determined by what you go out an look for. I charge 5000 for privates and 10,500-12,600 for group lessons in Fukuoka. I take teaching as serious as I do the business side of my school. Good luck to all.

  • The first thing I say to any prospective student is ‘I’m very expensive, and if you like, I can introduce a cheaper teacher’. It pretty much seals the deal every time 😉

  • In Kyoto folks are advertising lessons for only 1000-1500 per hour. There seems to be a race to the bottom.
    There are a couple of guys teaching all the time at the Kyoto Int’l Community Center, chargin 8000 for 24(!) hours a month of lessons–group lessons, rate is per person. They’re using the common area for free, to make money, and adding somewhat to the noise level; so they’re undercutting other teachers because they’re using a space designed for the community as a commercial space without paying rent, and causing (albeit minor) disruption to the surroundings. Selfish bottom-feeders, IMO.

  • When I was living in Shiga, I had a private that I would do for 8,000 yen per hour. Older women who had fantastic English. We were translating books into Japanese and I was there to help them with the nuances.

  • Russell Watson says:

    I’m active in northern Tokyo and Saitama. Sounds like it is pretty much the same here. For a coffee shop lesson, the going rate is usually 3,000 yen per hour. I get between 4,000 up to 12,000 for each member of a group lesson. My impression is that rates have come down to the point where it is almost a joke to even consider teaching for some. For me, I still hang in there and hope I can keep this going long enough to save enough to get out of here….

  • Russell Watson says:

    I should have said that for a group lesson, that was for either three or four times a month. It works out at between roughly 4,000 to about 8,000 per hour, depending on how many members there are in each group.

    I still receive mail from a northern Tokyo-based company that e-mails job listings about twice a month. The rubbish on offer there convinces me that if I were depending on such companies for work, I would already have left the country! The lowest is about 1,200 per hour (and those require university degrees) they may be aimed at Japanese teachers of English. Others average out at about 2,000 per hour. Most are teaching small kids, something I prefer not to do.

    I agree with “Expat” above. You must sell yourself as a professional. I also charge 5,000 for each private lesson and as I said above, depending on the group, from 4,000 to 12,000 for month of lessons (12,000 gives them four lessons of one hour and twenty minutes each) I also refuse to drop my prices apart from coffee shop lessons which are not ideal environments (too noisy) I regard them as fillers between my main classes that bring up the money, although they still get the same level of professional teaching of course!

  • I teach Spanish in Saitama and Tokyo. Right now, in 2015, many students ask for a discount even if I advertise at ¥2500. They say they can only pay 1500 or just 1000. I started with 3000 but due to zero answers in months, I lowered my price.

  • Baudrillard says:

    We Japanese do not give discounts, it is not our custom. Well, at least thats how it used to be. The cheek of it, really. 1500 yen these days is worth bugger all on the international market. Perhaps you could ask them to pay in RMB. Or say for 1000 they get your teenage son- they pay an amateur rate they get an amateur. Or, say OK but put them in a group lesson (but I bet they want their cake and eat it, ie. private lesson for a low rate). Or, by Skype, at that rate.

    Ok, so maybe Spanish isnt a high priority for some people, but then why are they contacting you? It cuts both ways, there arent many native Spanish speakers in Saitama these days, I am sure. Arent you a rare commodity these days?

    Ask them how much their louis Vuiton bag cost. If anything your price should go up to compensate for 1. Abe weakening the Yen, and 2. danger money for Fukushima radiation (which affected Saitama more than Tokyo for a month or two after 3/11).

    Otherwise, this just smacks too much of “trainee rates”- even if you like Japan, if you cannot afford to live here, sad but true, you cannot work for a low rate.

    Why bother? The writing is on the wall-the Japanese aint got serious coin these days.


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