Teaching English In Japan: Grabbing A Fantastic Job Opportunity

It is very easy to love Japan. It has historical temples and shrines, anime, delicious sushi, gorgeous cherry blossoms, polite and service oriented locals and hi-tech gadgets. The Japanese seem to have it all. As a country that had been private about its affairs for hundreds of years, Japan has sharpened its skills and products of their local culture, enough to advance so much in the modern world. However, advanced they may be in many aspects, if you go to Japan, you’ll notice that many Japanese don’t speak the universal language: English.

It reported that for 2016, 24 million tourists and foreigners traveled to Japan. Many have fallen in love with Japan and stayed longer. Many of those who stayed became English teachers. Staying in Japan while being a teacher as a profession is a wonderful experience - not only in earning money but also as a chance to learn more in depth about Japan’s culture and history.

Do You Speak English Well and Love Japan? Here’s the Perfect Job for You

Perhaps you’re tired of your usual routine, and living in the same old place you grew up in. If you have a thirst for adventure, want to try something new, and have a passion for imparting knowledge, and absolutely love Japanese culture, those variables perfectly point at one direction: teaching English in Japan.

Worried about whether they’ll accept you? Well, if you have a great grasp of the English language, and are from Great Britain, Ireland, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, chances are you will be easily accepted in Japan as an English teacher. There is a need for highly skilled English teachers, preferably from those any location previously mentioned. 

The Salary of Someone Who Teaches English In Japan

Japan comes in 4th place when it comes to the countries that pay the most for teaching in English.  Most often, the starting salary of an English teacher begins at 250,000 Japanese yen per month.  Some establishments offer up to 270,000 yen as a start. This amount can go up to 600,000 yen a month - that’s a whopping $5000 a month.

Plus, establishments or schools usually reimburse their teachers’ living accommodations, transportation, and training sessions. All their textbooks and school supplies are available for free. Their vacations and holiday breaks are all paid for, and when their yearly contract ends, they are also given a bonus of around 60,000 yen. English teachers in Japan are known to be one of the best paid in the whole of Asia - not only that, but they sponsor your working visa, and health insurance, too. 

Teaching English: One The Best Jobs in Japan As A Foreigner

It is difficult to get a normal job in Japan if you’re a foreigner – especially if you’re a foreigner who doesn’t speak Japanese. This is because only 1% of the entire Japanese population speaks English fluently. Thus, for you to have a normal job, you need to finish a certain level of the JLPT or Japanese-Language Proficiency Test. Teaching English is really your best option if you want to work in Japan, and are under these circumstances. Not only will you get to learn so much about an interesting culture, you’ll get to do it at the comfort of using the skill sets you already have. 

Why Teaching English in Japan is Fun

Teaching in Japan is fun because it has so many extra-curricular activities you may partake in outside of work hours. You also get to meet people from all levels of society; be it your co-workers, students, and members of groups you may join. Depending on the school you’re teaching in, you may get sent to different parts of Japan to teach, which lets you see the country instead of being centered in one spot or metropolis. 

Because wages that are given are quite comfortable, you’ll also find it manageable to spend on any activities or products you’d like to try out. Whether your thrill is food, shopping, museums and shrines teeming with cultural richness, enjoying nights in an arcade center, or experiencing the Japanese nightlife, these are all within reach – even the luxurious parts such as a pampering trip to Sapporo or a staycation in a nice hotel in Kyoto sounds attainable when you can afford it, and when you’re just a plane (or train) ride away.

Teaching English in Grade School Vs. High School

It’s fun because it isn’t as stressful as other teaching jobs - usually. If you’re teaching kids in grade school, you’ll be doing a lot of light activities, such as singing English songs and playing games concerning how English works.

If you’re teaching older kids, it entails a bit more of a lack of emotional obligation towards them than other jobs do. How? If you’re worried about disciplining kids who, for example, fall asleep on the job, most schools will not let you handle that task. That means you just need to teach without having to call the attention of your student. Plus, if you are the only foreigner or “gaijin” in the school you’re teaching in, the students are going to take a special interest in you, and may be more personable than they are to other teachers. 

More About JET: the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme

JET, which stands for “Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme”, is an organization founded in 1987. It is a Japanese program that invites young university graduates from 40 different countries who are fluent in oral and written English to represent their countries and teach English in Japan. Though everyone who joins this programme is called “JETs”, there are three positions in the JET programme; CIR, or Coordinators for International Relations, ALTs, or assistant language teachers, and SEAs, or Sports Education Advisors. 

The coordinators for internal relations (CIRs) are usually needed in local government to help make sure that communication between Japan and other countries is well-delivered and clearly understood by both parties. 

For those who apply to become an assistant language teacher or ALT, one of the conditions of the program is to ensure that the participants are mentally and physically capable of doing the duties expected of them and that they have an interest or love for Japan.

JET offers many applications for qualified people to become assistant language teachers. They are then to be assigned to assist and work alongside Japanese teachers in schools where English is taught. The reason JET was made was because the government of Japan decided that Japanese students urgently need to learn English. It is currently considered the primary language of the quickly globalizing world. Eventually, learning English will help Japanese students be able to debate and/or negotiate in English in the future if their jobs or future experiences need them to. 

Other Programs That Help You Teach English in Japan

AEON is a corporation that was established in 1973, and has since been a pioneer of giving people opportunities to teach English in Japan, but primarily in giving those who want to learn English the proper skills and chance to learn the language properly - especially conversationally. If you want to teach in Japan, you may want to start out by applying at AEON. Note, however, that you must have at least a Bachelor’s Degree for them to consider hiring you.

ECC can also help you kick start your career in teaching English in Japan. They’ve been at it for more than 50 years, and give benefits and salaries that will make you consider choosing them over other institutes. What started out in Osaka as an English conversation club has now blossomed into employing 400 English teaching professionals around the country, in over 180 schools. They also have a tightly-knit community, so you’ll be around good company. 


Teaching In Private Schools

If going through institutes or companies to get hired by schools is not your style, you may approach private schools or “eikaiwa” who may have a vacancy. You may look around for a spot in an online job offering sites, or ask around the place you’re living in, or people you may know. An eikaiwa isn’t exactly a formal school, but more of a conversational language center that people go to, just to practice the language they’re learning for other purposes aside from getting a good grade (though that can be one of the reasons). 

People enroll in eikawas do so just for the sake of getting better at speaking english conversationally. Perhaps for their travel, marriage, business, or just for the sake of learning another language. Compared to the 40 hours of working hours regular teachers may put in if they work as grade school or high school teachers, full time eikawa teachers work for only about 26.6 hours a week, with part time teachers hitting only 13.3 hours of work in a week, in total.

Just Try It Out: Teach English for 6 Months in Japan

Most jobs require you to stay for at least one year, to complete the entire teaching program. However, there are jobs that go for a shorter amount of time if you want to commit to only half a year. It’s a choice you can make if you feel like you’re still unsure about staying that long in Japan. You may end up liking it and signing up for another year to continue teaching. 

Want Something Shorter? Consider Teaching English in Japan Just For Summer in 2017

There are programs, much like one example held by schools like “The American School in Japan” that fit your needs to teach English as a summer gig. Think of it as a dip into the world of teaching in Japan - it’s much simpler to teach a child an English lesson than it is an older person. 

ASIJ’s Summer Day Camp in Tokyo is the perfect entrance into the world of teaching in Japan. You do need to comply with having certain requirements of theirs, such as having taught in a classroom for at least a year, have qualifications for both TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). 

There are three kinds of specialists for this Summer Day Camp; Junior Specialists, Senior Specialists, and Lead Specialists. If you have enough experience in handling students and teaching English, and can also direct both Senior and Junior Specialists, then being Lead suits you. 

Got No Degree? You Can Still Teach English in Japan

Admittedly, there is a lot of competition out there for positions in the English teaching field. Despite that, you can still find a way to teach English in Japan, as some institutions just need someone to converse with and learn the foundation of the English language. There are also opportunities online for one-on-one tutoring that won’t need you to hold a diploma.

Just for preparation’s sake, though, and as much as possible, you’ll need to have certificates in Teaching English as A Second Language (TESL) and Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) even if you didn’t graduate from school. You’ll be up against quite a large amount of people armed with their educational backgrounds, gunning for teaching positions that give large salaries.  

Being A Part of the Global Community

The Japanese are relentless in trying to always better themselves. Many of them are aware that understanding English is a valuable skill to have. They are aware their country, as a unit, is not as proficient in it as other countries may be. What points them in a good direction is how they are trying their best to learn it. This is evident in the efforts their government (and some citizens) make to hire people from around the world, just so that they can continue advancing and bettering themselves.

Perhaps you’re still not sure if teaching an English class is your calling, but for the most part, it is fulfilling and fun profession – especially when you do it in Japan. See if you have what it takes to be an English teacher in Japan.