Living and working in Japan is a truly unique experience.
Throughout history the Japanese have developed a set of
values and customs unlike any where in the world. The ancient
arts such as flower arrangement (ikebana) and the famous
tea ceremony (chaji) still have an important place in a
society where robotic technologies and high speed maglev
trains are becoming common sights.
Many teachers coming to Japan will of course be drawn to
Tokyo. This giant metropolis is a truly modern city having
been rebuilt after both the Great Kanto Earthquake and World
War 2, it is now home to both the beautiful and the truly
bizarre!. There are many other wonderful places to live
and work aside from Tokyo and it is relatively easy to find
employment throughout the country.
The easiest and quickest route to employment in Japan is
to teach for one of the major English schools. Teaching
English in Japan is not known as TEFL but rather Eikaiwa
which translates as “English Conversation”.
The two major “Eikaiwa” schools are AEON (www.aeonet.com) and GEOS (www.teaching-english-in-japan.com).
If these big schools do not appeal to you then some other
notable schools are WinBe (www.winbenet.com), Grandom (www.welcome.to/grandom),
GABA (www.gaba.co.jp), and ECC (www.ecc.co.jp) . These schools
are smaller and may be in more out of the way locations
but will allow you greater freedom in the classroom. Often
they are located in smaller towns and rural areas giving
you a great opportunity to see the real Japan.
Another possibility is to consider the JET programme. www.jetprogramme.org,
whose focus is broader than teaching English as a second
language, is a government sponsored program. Foreign teachers
live in and interact with local communities, primarily as
English instructors but are expected to join in with other
activities too. The maximum period for the JET programme
is 3 years and it has fewer financial and promotional incentives
than working in the private sector but it is a highly rewarding
experience none the less.
Salary and hours
If you work for one of the “Eikaiwa” schools,
the salary will usually be no less than ¥250,000 per
month and be as much as ¥300,000 depending on where
you are based and the hours you will be teaching. The working
week is usually around 30 hours, although you should bear
in mind that you may be asked to work overtime.
The annual salary for the JET scheme currently stands at
Type of teaching
The majority of the work will be teaching conversation
classes. It is worth bearing in mind that one drawback of
teaching for the larger organizations is that they have
their own syllabus and teaching method allowing the teacher
very little room to experiment in the classroom.
An apartment will normally be provided for you.
Start of school year/ best time to look for work
The “Eikaiwa” schools recruit all year round
in centers throughout North America and the United Kingdom.
In order to get a visa to work in Japan you will need a
university degree in any discipline and the sponsorship
of a Japanese company. It is possible to enter Japan on
a tourist visa and seek employment/sponsorship but it is
much easier to join a company that recruits in your home
country as all of the paperwork will be done for you. You
will then receive a visa as a “Specialist in Humanities”
which you can renew in Japan every year for as long as you
In rare cases 3 and 5 year visas are issued dependant on
your employment status.
The good news for potential teachers is that you
do not need a CELTA or a Trinity Diploma to teach in Japan.
A TEFL taster course, on-line course or weekend course will
be sufficient to get you employment in most schools. The
major schools often provide training and career development
programmes allowing you to receive teaching qualifications
Planet Guide - Japan