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5 Essential Tips for Teaching
ESL in Japan

Are you new to teaching English in Japan? Or are you thinking about teaching English in the foreseeable future? If so, it’s good to know some helpful tips to make your teaching experience an enjoyable one. These are the 5 essential tips for teaching ESL in Japan.

1. Expect Shyness
Based on my experience, I wish someone had told me that 70% of my students would be shy or embarrassed to speak English. I got many students who would answer my questions with one-word answers or not even bother and sit in complete silence. I expected students to ask me questions non-stop, instead, it was different from what I imagined. That being said, expect awkward silences and expect shyness. Afterwards, plan your lessons accordingly and if your student doesn’t know how to answer, give them hints as to how they should respond. For example, if you are teaching “What do you like?” ask the question and then answer it yourself multiple times with different answers. This way your student can understand there is a pattern and they can come up with an answer on their own using a full sentence.
2. Listen More, Talk Less
Regardless if you are teaching a conversational lesson or a day class, make sure there is time for students to have the opportunity to talk. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but make sure you hear them trying to speak English. It’s common for many new teachers to want to talk about themselves but it’s important to remember your students are there to learn English not to learn about you.
3. Give Clear Instructions
When you are introducing new vocabulary or new grammar, it’s important to remember that your students do not hear English that often. Your lesson might be the only time they are exposed to the language. With this in mind, when you are speaking give clear instructions, repeat things and if they still don’t understand, hand gestures go a long way. If you know Japanese feel free to use it if necessary. However, it’s good to know that some employers do not permit Japanese in the classroom. If your employer says it’s okay, then go for it. However, once you speak Japanese, your students will tend to use it more often so choose wisely when to use it.
4. Aim for Smiles
Learning a new language takes a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean learning has to be boring. Come up with games for your lessons that encourage either reading, writing or speaking. There is a lot of ideas to choose from thanks to the Internet. I personally like matching games and board games that utilize vocabulary. If you see your students smiling then that means you are doing something right.
5. It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint
If your students are new to English or they have day jobs, their English level may not improve right away. If you grow frustrated with their improvement, it’s important to know teaching is about having patience and giving your students the right tools to improve. Give your students time, it’s a long journey for anyone looking to learn a new language.