This paper describes a two-year action research project at a Japanese university which investigated the implementation of two EFL lecture courses. It outlines some of the challenges of conducting EFL lectures and offers suggestions about how they may be overcome. These lecture courses aimed to help prepare students for study abroad at English-medium universities. The courses were designed to be accessible and engaging for students and considered factors including lecturer talk-time, guided note-taking, and opportunities for review. The first cycle of the study, using a researcher journal and questionnaire, identified issues including a lack of active participation, and a near absence of revision between classes. Measures were taken to address these shortcomings in the second cycle, including the introduction of participation extra-credits and supplementary reading materials with weekly assessment. Peer observations and questionnaires were used to assess the relative success of the new interventions. It was found that while students responded positively to the courses overall, they were less enthusiastic about the guided note-taking and the pace of the classes, and issues remained with both participation and reaction to the further readings. The findings suggest promising avenues for further investigation and future course development.