Middle ground

In a perfect world, students are motivated to learn and parents are friendly, supportive, and eager to work with teachers to make sure their children get the best possible education.

Teacher vs. Tutor

A teacher is a professional who follows a curriculum in a structured learning environment. A tutor is someone who helps a student understand the material they are learning. I think Eikaiwa teachers are more like tutors, because they are informal and give additional, special, or remedial instruction. What do you think? Is it just a matter of semantics? I'll stick with teacher.

What is an Eikaiwa?

Stemming from the Japanese translation for English language conversation, eikaiwas are exactly that: schools created to help support the public education system in its quest to improve the English conversational and/or grammar skills of students.

Let's talk about 'Eikaiwa' schools

There is no denying that nowadays, students of all ages are increasingly seen as consumers who are entitled to an English lesson designed to entertain them. It is also accepted that students are unmotivated by default and the main goal of a teacher is to motivate them.

Teachers and students need to meet in the middle, but it's the students job to understand and accept where that middle is. For some students, this might feel unfair, because they're paying to work harder than the teacher.

Just remember: you can learn everyting, but you can’t teach everything.

A motivated teacher is crucial for a successful student, but only a motivated student can become a successful one. A teacher can facilitate that motivation, but they can't make a student motivated.

For a teacher, motivating students is about finding ways to help them satisfy their three psychological needs.

  1. Autonomy: the need to take ownership of one's behavior.

  2. Relatedness: the need to feel connected.

  3. Competence: the need to produce desired outcomes.

Meeting in the middle

  1. With autonomy, students need to ask, What choices do I have? There are a variety of different Eikaiwa schools to choose from and the student decides the school. The student is making a choice! What they decide to do with their choice is up to them. For example, If a students chooses not to be ready for a class they decided to take, they won't progress and this outcome is a result of the way they handled their choice.

  2. With relatedness, teachers need to provide ways for their students to connect with the lesson and students need to contribute in ways beyond their own self interests.

  3. With competence, after each lesson, teachers should ask themselves "What did I teach today?" and students should ask themselves "What did I learn today?" With both, it should never be "What did I do today?"

My school is a lot of work and students need to be prepared!

Why? Second language learners need to encounter, reuse, and recycle language in many different contexts and forms before they acquire it and can use it independently and with automaticity. I don't use books because they tell the learner what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and don't allow for much flexibility. Remember, we're talking "English conversation school."


Self-study is an essential part of learning and it complements the lesson. Some students think self-studying is negative though! Crazy right!! Self-studying takes a lot of discipline and can be difficult at first, but it's something students need to do.

"Do or do not, there is no try" -Yoda

If you're determined to learn, no one can stop you. Even with a bad teacher, a student determined to learn, will learn.

If you're not willing to learn, no one can help you. Even with the best teacher in the world, a student unwilling to learn, will not learn.

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