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Teaching Eikaiwa. What do I do?. Uniqueness of Eikaiwa. Why Eikaiwa Rocks!. This is YOUR class. You make the lessons and are the only one in front of the class. You can do things that aren’t possible at regular schools. You are teaching adults, these people are your friends and neighbours.

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teaching eikaiwa

Teaching Eikaiwa

What do I do?

uniqueness of eikaiwa
Uniqueness of Eikaiwa

Why Eikaiwa Rocks!

  • This is YOUR class.
  • You make the lessons and are the only one in front of the class.
  • You can do things that aren’t possible at regular schools.
  • You are teaching adults, these people are your friends and neighbours.
  • Create your own environment.
  • Be creative with the space and seating.
  • Get out of the classroom!
    • Hanami in the park, bon’enkai at a local restaurant or izukaya
    • Cooking classes: most community centers have kitchens you can book
    • Go shopping at the local grocery store.
  • Use a textbook


    • Lots of grammar points and activities to choose from.
    • Can be useful for students who want to study more on their own.
    • Easy to plan ahead.


    • Strict and structured can be confining
    • Complicated names, impractical situations used as examples.

2. Using a set curriculum

  • Sit down and write out a lesson plan for each week.


  • Everyone knows what’s going to happen each week.


  • You have to plan for the whole year in advance.
  • Some students won’t come every week, making it hard to follow a curriculum.

3. Off-the-cuff

  • Create a lesson each week as you go.
  • Can have little to no connection between lessons.


  • Very flexible and you can fit your lessons to your individual students.
  • Useful if you don’t have a the same students every time.


  • Sporadic and not clearly defined. Students tend to like more structure.
time management
Time Management
  • Do you start and finish a lesson every week or do you extend lessons over several weeks?
  • You don’t have to jam every minute with a new activity if students are really communicating.
  • Be careful of tangents, but if students are enjoying it, don’t worry. Eikaiwa is conversation.
  • Break Time! Take some time every class to relax with the students. Bring some snacks and you may be surprised with what your students bring next class.
teaching grammar
Teaching Grammar
  • Figure out at the beginning if you and your students want to concentrate on this.
  • You can do this without using a textbook or concentrating on it.
  • If you’re not using a textbook, you can borrow what you’ve been teaching in JHS or SHS.
  • Or just mention it as you teach them phrases.
student levels
Student Levels
  • Can vary a lot!
  • You need to be careful that lower level students aren’t intimidated.
  • But you don’t want higher level students to be bored.
  • Try having different rules for games and activities.
what do your students want
What do your students want?

Survey the students

  • Ask what they are interested in learning, grammar, topics, etc.
  • Find out why they want to learn English
  • Survey them again at the end of the term to find out what they felt was good or bad and what they still want to learn more of.
common issues in class
Common issues in class

Students want to write down everything.

  • Sometimes this helps them remember what they are learning so you need to let them write some things.
  • Try to write one or two examples on the whiteboard, but don’t let them use time to copy down everything.

Too much Japanese in class

  • Students want more info on what a classmate has said. Set time limit if it can’t be explained in English and don’t let the conversation go longer. Encourage them to try asking in English first
  • When discussing difficult topics, be careful not to use too much Japanese yourself. If you do find yourself using too much, try to get back to an easier subject, or call break time.
make sure you
Make sure you…
  • Don’t have too much writing, students can become bored and they are there to communicate, not practice writing.
  • Have enough structure with all your activities. Most don’t have the English ability to work on their own.
  • Don’t speak too fast or use difficult language.
ideas and activities
Ideas and Activities
  • Try to have an activity that you do every week. Students have something to look forward to and you can judge their improvement.

Ex. Every week ask what the students did over the weekend.

writing activities
Writing Activities
  • Writing a journal/diary: good for them to practice at home.
  • Skit-Making: Great for nailing down any grammar point. Have students get into groups and depending on the level, either have them fill out a pre-made skit, or for advanced students, have them create one all on their own. Practice and perform in front of the class.
  •  Creative Writing: Short stories, poems/haikus. Bring in pictures or photos and have students describe them for ideas.
  • Pictionary: Students love this. Choose any category, the drawings are amazing. Try a special event like Halloween pictionary. Extra hilarious.
  • Charades: Good for reviewing verbs.
  • Scrabble and Hangman: Good for reviewing spelling.
  • Scattergories: Good for reviewing vocabulary.
board games
Board games
  • Sugoroku game: Board game with dice and questions, where players move forward or back according to a correct or incorrect answer. Good for reviewing.
  • Monopoly, LIFE, etc: adults still enjoy these games and you can add penalties for using Japanese.
card games
Card Games
  • Use regular cards or even vocab cards from your elementary classes.
  • Go Fish is awesome for practicing any type of yes/no question.
  • UNO is also very popular and you can find the cards at many convenience stores.
  • Mystery Box: Choose item/card from a box. Have students guess what it is using the 5 W’s, or have chooser describe it and have students guess from the description.
  • “My Treasure”: Students bring in an item to class and describe what it is and why it is special to them.
  • Magazine/Newspaper Scavenger Hunts
  • Write a Postcard: Get someone from back home who’d be keen to replying to some postcards and get your students to write and decorate some. Choose any writing topic.
  •  Crossword Puzzles: Get them into groups and make it a competition to see which team finds the words the fastest. Can make your own at puzzlemaker.com

Single Topic Ideas: Good for random topics like ‘chocolate’ or holidays like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day 

  • International Versions of an Occasion: Look at all the different ways to say “I love you.” For Valentine’s Day.
  • Weddings: Have your students describe a Japanese wedding in English. Compare Japanese wedding culture to your home country’s wedding culture.
  • Use the TV: Bring in a video or a popular TV sitcom like Friends, or TV commercials. Great way to introduce slang, real culture, speed of which someone speaks, accents, etc.
  • Recycling: Bring in your ridiculous recycling guide and go over it in English. Introduces a lot of new vocabulary. Bring in some of your own trash and have your students separate it in English!

Japanese Culture Lessons in English: Any Japanese holiday can be taught in English. Ask your students to explain to you what it is, why it happens, and what are some common practices during the holiday.

  • Craft Lessons: Used mostly during holiday lessons. For Christmas, we make Christmas cards. For Halloween, we carve pumpkins. For Easter, we color eggs.
  • Dates and the Calendar: Learning the days of the week, months of the year, seasons.
  • Time: Not only learning the numbers, but also specific sayings like, ¼ past, ½ past, o’clock, nani nani till, nani nani past…

Making a Reservation: Can be stretched out to multiple classes. Reservation at a restaurant, at a hotel, on a train, on a plane.

  • Canceling or changing a Reservation: Always good to provide examples and have students learn through skit-making.
  • At the Airport: Most students want to travel, so any lesson with traveling will be most appreciated.
  • At a Restaurant: Explain tipping and certain restaurant etiquette. Always very interesting.

Directions: Make a map of somewhere that is familiar for your students. Teach common directions using the map. Have students create their own map and instruct other students where to go.

  • At a Grocery Store: See if you can go to a local grocery store and give a tour in English.
  • Making your own schedule: Have your students fill out what they do during the week using a schedule. You can then take turns presenting your weekly schedules or have everyone ask each other what they do.

Cooking in English: What better way to spend your time than cooking with students! Wonderful opportunity to share with them a dish from your home country, and have the students share a dish from theirs.

  • Thanksgiving Potluck: Have all the students bring one plate of food. Spend the class time eating and describing their food dish.

Pick a topic:

  • Have the students write down topics they want to discuss during class.
  • Each week draw a new topic and discuss.
  • Good idea to also create an activity or game using the topic.

Ex. Favorite café: what is it, where is it, what do you order there, why is it your favorite? Students can ask each other questions and respond.

have fun
Have Fun!

Your students are there for all different reasons. But they all want to have fun and practice English. Make it fun for them and for you!