Skip to content ↓

June 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

Kaitenzushi (Rotating Conveyor Belt Sushi) in the Classroom

Janeth Diggs-White Hori is an Instructor at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities, Hikone, Shiga, Japan. E-mail:


What is Kaitenzushi?

Kaitenzushi (回転寿司) means conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Here, different kinds of sushi is placed on a rotating conveyor belt. Usually, customers are seated around the conveyor belt, they take plates off the conveyor as desired and enjoy the dinning experience. Price is calculated based on the number of plates consumed by each table. The price point of a Kaitenzushi restaurant is generally lower than your typical traditional sushi-ya. Henceforth, between the unique style and the price point, they are quite popular in Japan.


Kaitenzushi in the classroom

The concept of using the Kaitenzushi activity in the classroom is that, in the same manner sushi moves around on a conveyor belt in a kaitenzushi restaurant, so too, students move around the classroom kaitenzushi style, rotating- be it clockwise or anticlockwise, taking turns, speaking, repeating and hopefully retaining the target language.



Teachers can employ the kaitenzushi activity to create a speaking component for almost any topic. Plus, being that the average Japanese student has experienced dinning at a kaitenzushi restuarant, its easy for students to understand the general idea even before any explicit guidance from the teacher is given. Lets go with family for example, once some time is taken for students to write on the topic, students form a circle and line up to face a partner. Students then take turns speaking, listening and writing about their families.  Teachers use a timer to distinguish between rounds, once the time is up, students need to ‘sushi’ (change) and find a new partner to speak with. Teachers may even employ some scaffolding/ building up techniques for improved learning such as -first, students read their jotting directly from the paper, second students glance their paper periodically and thirdly students attempt to read without looking at the paper altogether.


Benefits of Kaitenzushi

The ESL Teacher’s role especially in Junior High School and Senior High School in Japan is often to practice speaking English. According to English First (2019), Japan was ranked 53rd of 72 countries in "the world's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills" (p. #2), in terms of its ability to communicate in English, and was categorized as low proficiency (p. #3). Based off these findings, we can gleam that there is a desire to increase student’s speaking ability. There is great value in having this handy trick up your sleeve to practice speaking English in a fun activity.

This particular activity offers benefits to the students because students are allowed to practise the target language through repetition. Essentially, the activity allows for the target language to stick. Additionally, the activity is engaging to students as it allows for tasks to be personalized.

The activity is also of benefit to teachers who may monitor and observe the students during conversation. Teachers may listen keenly, find common or peculiar mistakes and provide students with delayed feedback as necessary be it- at the end of the activity or between rounds.



Step 1: Depending on the topic, have the students write something personal or answer some questions they could subsequently share with each other (see appendix for an example). Set aside some time for this writing session, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 2: The writing task should be graded according to the student's level.  Please consider the language used.

Step 3: Decide on a question that the listener will ask. Write the question on the board- large and legibly.

Step 4: Please prepare some writing paper for the students to take memos on.



Step 1: Tell the students to  put their desks together horizontally, in two or three big groups (two or three big rows). You should have two or three aisle, which will act as walking space.

Step 2: Tell the students to stand up, form pairs with the student beside them and play Janken (rock, paper, scissors).

Step 3: Tell all the students who won the Janken game to indicate so by raising a hand. All winners are then instructed to ask the question(s) provided. Additionally, they are told to listen and take a memo of their partner’s answers.

Step 4: Tell all the losers of the Janken game to raise their hands. All losers are instructed to answer the question(s) posed by the winners using their previously written compositions.

Step 5: After questions and answers the students are instructed to move clockwise or anticlockwise (depending on the teacher’s preference) in order to find a new partner. The students then repeat steps 1-4 per each round.

Step 6: Teachers nominate a few students to report about one friend selected from the student’s written memo (this is optional)



This technique is simple but effective. It keeps the students moving and their energy levels up. It can be adopted as a post activity for almost any topic and any English ability level. The repetitious nature of this technique means that it especially caters to the shyness of Japanese students (allowing them to gain more and more confidence with each round) while allowing for the target language to stick in students' memory.  I have tried this technique many times at different levels and at different senior high schools and I have found that the students have always enjoyed it.



EducationFirst [EF]. (2019, March 6). EF English Proficiency Index: A Ranking of 100 Countries and Regions by English Skills. 9th Edition. Retrieved from

Please check the Creating a Motivating Environment course at Pilgrims website.



My Self Introduction






1. name


4. celebrity


2. Junior High School


5. places


3. favorite


6. food




1.  My name is [ name ] .

2.  I’m from [Junior High School] .

3.  My favorite [ food / sport / celebrity / drink ] is [ item ] .



Name                     :    My name is Yuki.

Junior High School          :   I’m from Nagahama Nishi Junior High School.

Favorite                :   My favorite food is miso Ramen.


My Self Introduction

Name                     :                                                 

Junior High School          :                                                 

Favorite (                  ) :                                                 

[food / sport / celebrity / drink]



⑤ Self Introduction

Name:           Yuki


JHS:            Nagahama Nishi


Favorite ( Food ):  Miso Ramen






Favorite (       ): ______________






Favorite (       ): ______________






Favorite (       ): ______________






Favorite (       ): ______________






Favorite (       ): ______________

6 JTE    





Favorite (       ): ______________






Favorite (       ): ______________


< Report >

Who did you meet?             - I met Yuki.

Where is he / she from?       - He is from Nagahama Junior High School.


Please check the Creating a Motivating Environment course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the How to Teach Spoken English course at Pilgrims website.

Tagged  Lesson Ideas 
  • Kaitenzushi (Rotating Conveyor Belt Sushi) in the Classroom
    Janeth Elizabeth Diggs-White Hori, Japan

  • My Quotes
    Rushan Ziatdinov, Republic of Korea