Meet Tokyo’s……English Eikaiwa Teachers!

So far in this very occasional series we’ve met Tokyo’s train passengers and its fast food restaurant customers and now it’s time to get acquainted with the many people who come to Japan to teach. Of course each and every one of them has their own individual reasons for doing so and that can play a part in their teaching style.

Eikaiwa is the Japanese word commonly used to refer to the many privately operated English conversation schools in Japan and they possess all manner of teachers with different backgrounds and styles.

Disclaimer: Exaggeration, sexism, generalisation and heavy stereotyping have indeed been ramped up the max in this feature. Apologies in advance! Please note that this is just for fun and any similarity to any teacher living or dead is completely intended!


Lets meet the characters…

TTT King – Loves the sound of their own voice and jumps on any dead-air to fill it with their own anecdotes and opinions which they value as being of far greater importance and interest. TTT (teacher talking time) contributes about 80-90% of the lessons duration.

The Sheep – With every textbook there is usually a set of accompanying teacher notes and this person follows them to the letter of the law with very little in the way of digression.

The Winger – Grabs the text book at the same time the student is called into the classroom and sometimes even has the cheek and audacity to just ask them which page they did last before continuing to plod on from the next page or activity.

The Tech Addict – Gone are the days of marker pens and whiteboards! This person certainly loves to use gadgets in the classroom! Any excuse to use their smartphone or tablet in the name of learning in some way even if in reality there is very little to be gained from the implementation of such technology.

The Repetitive Instruction Master – Unsure that the students have understood the instructions this teacher continues to give explanation after explanation to try and confirm what they want the students to do. What actually takes five minutes could probably have been done in a fraction of the time.

The Disciplinarian – The likes of lateness and homework not being done are treated with high disdain by this overly-strict classroom sergeant who believes that classroom management is built on the foundations of discipline.

The “Cool” Teacher – We’ve all come across this creature at some point. He (for it usually is a man!) doesn’t see the role of the teacher and friend as being exclusive and really is so disillusioned that he thinks he’s down with the kids. He thinks they’re laughing with him but it’s more likely that they are laughing at him. Furthermore, he perches himself on the edge of the desk or even straddles the chair the wrong way.

The Overly Creative Game Designer – An elaborate range of ideas are used in games and activities combined with an overly long list of rules, bonus points, exceptions and so on. The students don’t have too much idea what they’re supposed to do and even the teacher struggles to keep score.

The Entertainer/Joker/Zany One – Sporting a whacky shirt and tie combo (sometimes even a bow-tie!) this “funnyman” (again, it’s usually a male!) keeps his students entertained with all manner of cringeworthy gags, silly voices and facial expressions.

The Minimalist – The book. Check. A table and chairs. Check. What more does this person need? Absolutely nothing! This teacher reads all the listening exercises  themselves, writes on scrap paper and realia is whatever is to hand!

The Coffee/Tea/Water/Red-Bull Drinker – Where caffeine is concerned their mood changes throughout the day. Their dignity is pretty much handed in at the door as they get a little bit too into the class when on a high but when it starts to wear off comes the afternoon slump….

The Book Nazi – Small talk? I don’t think so! Free con? No way! The book is there and boy is it gonna be used. A quick hello is immediately followed by the opening of the book and either a check of the students homework or part one of the next unit is set upon.

The Conversationalist – Textbooks?! What are they?! This person takes the book into the classroom but is determined that it will only be used as a last resort when conversation has well and truly dried up.

The Denier – Whatever the accusation of complaint this teacher is innocent beyond belief and is never, ever wrong. It is most definitely always the students or receptionist fault.

Pairwork Specialist – TEFL training is all about putting students into pairs, getting feedback, changing pairs and doing it all over again. Questions are written on the board which the students discuss between themselves whilst the teacher pretends to monitor. In reality they are just thinking about something else and enjoying their own-time.

The Loudmouth – Other teachers dread having to teach in close proximity to this one as their booming voice seeps through the walls. They can be heard throughout the whole school.

The Terrible Timekeeper – Their opening chat and warmer activity goes on longer than expected and though they’re playing catch-up where the remaining activities are concerned they refuse to deviate from the plan and plough on way past the allotted time.

The Dozer – Some people say you can teach at an eikaiwa school in your sleep and this person certainly puts that to the test! Has been known to have nodded off a few times during lessons and can usually be found sleeping at the desk in between lesson too.

Are you a teacher in Japan? Have I missed out an important type of teacher? Please let me know via e-mail: or on twitter @tokyofox

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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