How to teach english online to Japanese students

You want to teach English online to Japanese students. You just don’t know it yet.

The pay is brilliant (£10-25 per hour), your mother tongue is your commodity, the schedule is flexible, you can set your own hours. It’s easy, rewarding, a fantastic cultural experience and the Japanese are super well behaved. They have this thing called motivation and self-discipline which, as a teacher I can tell you, Western students don’t. 

 Some just people just want to chat so the lessons are very easy, sometimes you’ll be teaching young children. You can teach one to one or in small groups so you can find your niche or enjoy that all important spice of life, namely variety.

Tips and Tricks on teaching English to Japanese Students

The Japanese school system is very competitive and heavily based on testing. You’ll find that your students will probably read and write quite well, but their speaking and listening skills are very poor. Spend more time focussing on conversational skills and remember that they already have a good grounding in grammar..

Your students will be self-disciplined. Enjoy planning your lessons to maximise learning rather than discipling.

How to teach english online to Japanese students – Cultural Differences

There are cultural differences you need to be aware of. Japanese students are often extremely shy, so you have to draw them out. They will listen quietly and studiously but are very reluctant to speak up and may struggle to take part. Work on building a rapport but also accept that this is just a cultural nuance that you will have to get used to.

Another reason participation may be weak could be due to another cultural nuance, The Japanese are highly academic, if they don’t see a point to your activity they won’t be interested. Don’t spend time making things really fun. Make sure activities are effective and efficient – and also fun.

To help combat the shyness, use choral repetition as a teaching tactic. Learning an unfamiliar language is daunting, and it can be very embarrassing to speak up. Remember how you felt as a kid presenting to the entire class? Now imagine doing it in French. Try to use group activities and discussions rather than turning the heat on individual students.

Japanese students are really into their dictionaries. They’re more inclined to look things up than rephrase themselves. And why not? It’s easy, and it works – except that in the real world, we don’t carry dictionaries around with us 24/7. It’s just unprofessional and cumbersome. Encourage students to think for themselves and not rely on dictionaries.

Japan is a very academic, and high pressured society. Your students may be really stressed, juggling multiple courses and side gigs to boot. Don’t add to that, be understanding. Don’t set a ton of homework.

You may find your students stressing about accuracy rather than fluency. Again, that’s because of their academic oriented study mindset. Remind them that the main goal is to gain fluency and speak conversationally. How many native speakers do you know with perfect grammar?? 

They like to see. Be visual, don’t just talk. It might sound old fashioned but a whiteboard or even notes up on your screen consolidates the vocabulary or words and gives confidence to those who are struggling as well as being a focal point to aid concentration.

Use relatable examples and interests. We learn best when we’re interested. Most of your lesson is talking. Talk about your students’ interests be it anime, dragonball, Japanese places and food – but find out beforehand what they’re into. Don’t attempt a dynamic discussion about favourite romances with a group of middle-aged academics. Not all teens are into music and just because it’s a Japanese food doesn’t mean they like it. In other words, get to know our students.

Learn basic terms so you can communicate and answer questions with students who don’t speak so well. It also breaks up long sessions of English with an anchor of something familiar – like finding a Starbucks in the desert, it’ll help your students navigate the twists and turns of the world’s most ridiculous language.

Know that Japanese language follows the construct of subject-object-verb ie, Elliana the ball threw. When you understand this, you can help students construct their English better.

Help them find opportunities to practise. They live in Japan, they’re not exactly going to be able to converse on the street. Maybe find a tv show they like, send entertaining clips or interesting articles. Set small tasks however, because they’re probably very busy.

Be aware of pronunciation difficulties – the letter “L”  does not exist in their language, much like the French and the letter H.

Conversation is your best friend, start entertaining discussions rather than standard, how was your day. Play devil’s advocate, just remember to drive the conversation but don’t dominate it. Your students need to talk to learn, not listen.

Where to teach English online to Japanese Students

With a degree, without a degree, there’s an ESL (English as a Second Language) opportunity for everyone. Check out the following companies below. Make sure to check their requirements to ensure you meet them. Some of them work Japanese peak hours – fab for mothers, those who want a side job, night owls and vampires. If working late and early isn’t your chill, there are other companies that have English daytime hours so be sure to check them out.

  • JustLearn
  • Cafe Talk
  • Magic Ears
  • English Everywhere
  • Eigox
  • Eigopower
  • E- communication
  • Mainichi Eikaiwa
  • English Hunt
  • I-to-i – a job board where lots of ESL teaching opportunities are posted
  • Cena Academy
  • S-lessons
  • Eigoru
  • Sankei English
  • Lyngo
  • RareJob
  • Oh My Japan –  promote yourself, find your own students, set your own rates and hours.

Eigo is the Japanese word for English btw, which explains why many of the company’s names are a variation of Eigo.

In short, it won’t take you more than about half an hour max to set yourself up and start your exciting foray into the world of teaching English online. The Japanese are excellent students. They’re looking for great teachers, how about you?

If you enjoyed this blog on how to teach english online to Japanese students you might also like to read about teaching English online without a degree.

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