Get off the couch, English teachers, get in the game!

October 6th, 2009By Category: Teaching in Japan

There seems to be less opportunity for English teachers these days. Since the Lehman crash it seems that many companies are not seeking the services of language teachers. Those companies who formerly required English teachers, for a benefit for the staff, or as a possible means of increasing growth, are no longer willing to spend that money on training. Private students also seem to be in a downward trend, these days the extra money potential students had for increasing their prospects has dried up. Bonuses and extra monies that businesses and people used to have is disappearing. So what’s an English teacher to do? Now is your chance to explore your entrepreneurial creativity, take some time to re-do your curriculum, or re-build your lesson portfolio. My experiences in the few years I’ve been here (six) indicate that a lot of us[semi-professional English teachers] are teaching from web resources or from out-dated texts. Take a look at what you are using for materials, and assess it for communicative content; -are your students learning English phrases they will use? -are supplying vocabulary that is current? -do your students enjoy your class? -are you letting them ‘get-by’, or are you challenging them to grow? Many of our potential clients may have lost confidence in the effectiveness of English lessons in Tokyo. The responsibility falls on the teachers, I have seen ridiculous lessons, I have followed terrible lessons plans.

Though I would like to teach better lessons my hands are often tied by the employer, I am required to teach a particular text. Over time I have learned how to squeeze some useful English into a particularly dull lesson. Take a bit of ingenuity and assess the needs of the class. We need to restore the image of English as a tool for success! A good lesson is informative AND enjoyable. A curriculum that addresses the special needs of your clients particular sector is crucial to getting a contract. The teachers need to display energy, and appear interested in giving the students something to think about. This will restore confidence in English for personal and business growth. thanks for reading, ian

Author of this article


I like to ride mountain bikes down hills.

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  • Simon says:

    …. I went >threw< this already….. Tsk tsk.

  • mono_locco says:

    Although I said I tend to change it to sound natural….its probabably like 5% of the actual English being taught. Because as you said in other schools it might be different or other teachers might just go through the book. I usually just give them examples on how else they could say it. Which usually is the same but just a different way of saying it. That being said they usually stick to what they have learned in the text book but some it just give them some options and different ways to say the sentence (which I was asked to do by the Board of Education anyways, to make them sound less Robot like and more natural). So I can see how it can get confusing for some teachers on how to go about teaching the kids….. be a robot and teach from the book or change it to the way you know is best which there is a big chance like that they might get it wrong in an exam or on another school in the future > <

  • RyanSolberg says:

    You shouldn't change the textbook even if it doesn't sound natural. They learn from these style of textbooks through out grade school and if your students go to a different school or even get a different ALT, they will get the questions wrong thanks to you. I went threw this already. I tried tutoring them correct English and they would go to school or have a test and get the question wrong. Not in just the English but sometimes how they translate. Now I know, follow the book. It drives me nuts but I just take it because they need to pass. They will learn proper English in the future.

  • mono_locco says:

    I for one tend to not try to use internet material… and if I do, I will always make changes to make it sound and be more natural and fluent (though that was when I was a private teacher)
    But if you work in an Elementary, Junior or High school then its a different case. The usually ask you to follow a text book (Which usually is American English) the worst English you can possibly learn (In my opinion) and they don't usually let you go off course. I'm one of the lucky few because the teacher I am helping in the English classes tend to ask me if it sounds natural and 5 times out of 10 I say no it doesn't and I change it into phrases which would sound normal and natural. But there are teachers out there who think the text book is the best source of English they could possibly teach… which makes me wonder… why on earth have a Native English Speaking person there to teach the kids in the first place ^^


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