English conversation schools are one of the most popular options for finding a teaching job in Japan. These schools offer a wide variety of lessons from beginners to advanced students, and specialize in teaching everyone from children, group or private lessons.
During the interview at an English Conversation School, or “eikaiwa” as they are known, you will be given a random page from a commonly used textbook and a few minutes to prepare a 5 ~ 10 minute sample lesson. For an Elementary position, oral communication is the most important aspect, whereas Junior High and High Schools now prefer the students to read, write, listen and speak during every class. If you are given materials, such as storyboards, flashcards or images, be sure to incorporate them into your example lesson; the interviewer gave them to you for a reason.
The most important thing to remember about English Conversation Schools is that the students have chosen to attend and have paid for the privilege, and that means that they expect more than fun and games (although your lessons should still be engaging). It may sound strange, but one of the keys to winning over your interviewer here is your use of the white board, which will be your only companion (besides a CD player) when you go to many offices and private businesses, so using it effectively is essential. Using the space well will mean you shouldn’t have to wipe it clean every two minutes, causing you to bug the students constantly with “Can I erase this? Have you finished copying this?”
A good start is to write the date and topic of the lesson along the top of the board. Down the left hand side draw a column about a quarter of the board in width, this you can use to jot down any new words and phrases. The remaining section of the board can be chopped in half vertically, the left hand section (next to the new words), you can use to stick flashcards, images, or draw pictures to explain your point. The remaining section will be left intact for the actual body of the lesson. It may sound confusing, so below is a small example of the board layout:
Many companies do not like it when teachers bring in their own material so, demonstrating that you can give a professional but enjoyable lesson using the materials they provide will go a long way in helping you stand out to potential employers.
There are many positives to teaching at an English conversation school. Many of the larger companies can help arrange accommodation and help with your visa application. You will meet a wide variety of students and this gives you a direct insight into Japanese culture and your coworkers are an invaluable source of information in helping you set up your new life in Japan.
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