Ryuichi Sakai is a Japanese learner of English, computer programmer, and editor of a free website which provides advice, from a learner’s perspective, about how to be a good English teacher in Japan. In this article, he summarizes some key advice for English teachers in Japan.
Encourage and motivate students
Japanese students are often hesitant to speak English even though they have the ability to do so. That’s because they are very shy and afraid to make mistakes. Therefore they need to be encouraged to speak and told not to worry about making mistakes.
Additionally, Japanese learners of English need a lot of encouragement to maintain motivation. Learning English is a big challenge for Japanese people because of the major linguistic differences between English and Japanese. Research suggests that hundreds of hours of study are necessary before anything approaching fluent speaking ability can be reached.
Let students speak a lot
Japanese learners of English sometimes feel that teachers speak too much, thus depriving them of opportunities to speak more themselves. They want, and need, to speak a lot during lesson time because they have very few other opportunities to speak English.
There are basically two types of learners. There are those who have clear purpose for studying English, such as traveling abroad or using English in their business, and those who simply want to enjoy conversation in English. Both types of learners need to be given ample opportunity to speak a lot during their English lessons.
Be passionate and professional
Japanese people call some kinds of professionals sensei, a Japanese word to address respected people. Politicians, doctors, lawyers, qualified accountants, successful artists and authors, etc. are called sensei, as are English teachers. That means Japanese people expect English teachers to be capable and passionate professionals.
If teachers don’t meet this expectation, they can easily lose the trust of their students. Maintaining your health and getting a good night’s sleep before lessons is advisable. A clean, professional, smart appearance and demeanor is taken as a given in Japan. Additionally, when you are asked why you became a teacher, an ideal answer would be because you love to teach or because you love to communicate with Japanese people. Financial reasons should usually never be mentioned!
We would like to thank Ryuichi for writing this article. For more advice about teaching English in Japan from the learner’s perspective, don’t forget to check out his website.