How to Get Started Teaching English in Japan

Teaching English In Japan

Full of culture, curiosities and history, magical Japan is a bucket list destination for travellers from around the globe. One of the best employment opportunities for those looking to spend time in this wonderful setting is to teach English in Japan. Surprisingly, you don’t even need to speak Japanese, although a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree is usually required.

There are various programmes available which will enable you to teach English in Japan for at least 6 months at any level from kindergarten to teenagers to adult learners. Adult students include those looking to learn English for business purposes as well as those simply looking to improve their language skills.

Whilst living there can be a little expensive, you should be able to afford a comfortable living as salaries for English teachers in Japan tend to be around the 270,000 yen (£2,000) mark. Although most visitors tend to opt for 6- or 12-month contracts, it is possible to stay longer. Read on to find out everything you need to know about applying to teach English here!

Teaching English Programmes in Japan

There are several creditable programmes open to those seeking employment as an English teacher in Japan. However, these do vary in terms of qualifications needed and the level that you want to teach (there are ‘teaching assistant’ style jobs, as well as fully qualified teaching positions). It also depends on the teacher requirements of individual schools and institutes.

As a rule of thumb, the more qualifications you have, the better your chances are of securing your perfect job. If you are eager to teach English in Japan, please do remember to check out the legal aspects for working entry, such as passport and visa requirements.

The most popular recognised programmes are:

  • TEFL
  • Jet
  • Interac
  • ECC Teach in Japan

All About the TEFL Japan Programme

Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or TEFL, is a highly recommended programme as it is one of the most acknowledged throughout the world. Gaining a TEFL qualification is very much a valuable string to your educational bow.

Entry qualifications must include a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and the equivalent of Level 5 in a TEFL training course. You are still more than welcome to apply for positions even if you have only accomplished 60 hours of training, as long as you have had at least 3 months of full-time teaching experience.

The TEFL Japan Programme is a very comprehensive way of starting your career and comes with some excellent benefits including 1-year contracts, 6 weeks’ paid annual leave (after 6 months), bonus scheme, reimbursement of travel costs and a supporting Japanese Health Care Scheme.

TEFL Jobs in Japan

Opportunities exist for all levels of teaching, and the majority of positions are based in the Greater Tokyo area. Having said that, TEFL jobs also exist in cities such as Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Kyushu. You may have anywhere between 1 and 6 pupils. These 1-year contracts include a 7-day induction teaching programme in Japan.

All About the Jet Programme

The JET scheme is a Japanese government initiative to improve language skills (English) within the country. The primary aim is to provide English speaking graduates for a variety of age groups in Assistant Language Teacher positions (ALT), although there are also opportunities for Coordinators for International Relations (CIR).

The positions are not just about teaching English, but also to improve and solidify human and cultural relationships. Over the last 30 years, JET has grown significantly and boasts over 4,000 graduates at any given time.

Applications are due during October, prior to the year that the positions are available. There are 2 commencement dates, April and September, with confirmed placements approximately 1 month before. It is best not to set your heart on an April placement as these are few and far between. You should also make sure that you do not miss any of the dates, as second opportunities to apply for the coming year are also rare.

Most interviews are conducted at the Japanese Embassy. Due to the popularity of JET programmes, competition is fierce so early application is advised and you must ensure that you have proof of qualifications and other valid documentation ready before applying.

Orientation is held prior to departure. If you are already based in Japan, you can still apply and attend the induction course on site.

What JET Teaching English in Japan Jobs Are Available?

To clarify, there are 2 distinct JET teaching positions:

  • Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) – these are placements based in the Japanese public school system (K-12) and are conducted with a Japanese ‘homeroom’ teacher. You will be expected to encourage students to learn English, plan lessons and take part in activities and games.
  • Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) – you will be based in a local government office. The duties are a little more complex and involve community events, translation and helping with International Exchange Programmes.

There are also opportunities for families to enter the teaching programmes in Japan, including dependents. This would be a wonderful cultural experience should you wish to take it on. Remember – children learn languages at great speed!

All About the INTERAC Japan Programme

Interac has an extensive training and placement plan, with full back up throughout your move to Japan. Opportunities to acquire further skills and career progression also exist, for however long you decide to stay in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Unlike other programmes, INTERAC offers opportunities to join throughout the year, although the majority of jobs are available during the 2 major recruiting periods of March and September to coincide with the Japanese teaching year.

Applications can be made online, followed by a telephone interview and attendance of a seminar or online interview. Once again, do make sure that all your documentation is up to date and that you have proof of a degree qualification (any subject) from an accredited university. If you have any teaching experience, this will enhance your chances of being accepted.

If your application is accepted (reviewed in Tokyo) you may be offered a position, then your training will begin. Training can last up to 4 months.

Established for almost 50 years, Interac aims to provide ‘whole person’ educational programmes that will further enrich the progression of Japanese schoolchildren.

All About the EEC Teach in Japan Programme

The EEC Teach in Japan Programme will enable you to provide the full spectrum of teaching on an international level, whilst still learning additional skills and experience yourself. You may be totally based in a school environment, or be providing lessons to a mix of adults and children, increasing your own skills even further.

Full support and training are given and you will be expected to be confident in teaching both adults and children, even if you have never taught before.

With a very competitive salary and benefits including bonuses, fixed holidays, comprehensive health insurance and a 35-hour week, you will have plenty of time to explore everything that Japan has to offer.

What Are the Requirements for Teaching English in Japan?

There are several basics needed to teach English in Japan.

  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in any subject
  • Citizenship of an English speaking country
  • Under 60 years of age
  • No criminal record
  • Good health and free from illegal drugs
  • Enough savings or funds to cover accommodation, deposits etc

Whilst a teaching qualification is not always essential, it will very much improve your chances of being accepted into one of the programmes.

How Can I Find English Teaching Jobs in Japan?

The same way that you would find any job, really. Search the agencies that specialise in teaching jobs in Japan as these are specialists and have lots of experience.

Some teaching jobs in Japan are available through sponsorship from the agency that recruits you. Alternatively, there are private tuition jobs, some of which may include subsidised living or rent-free accommodation.

FAQs

By now we’ve given you lots of the key information to enable you to teach in this amazing country. For the answers to some frequently asked questions, read on!

Where to Find English Teaching Jobs in Tokyo

With about 14.24 million visitors every year, Tokyo is a vibrant city with tons to do and limitless opportunities. There are lots of online resources for finding teaching jobs in Tokyo, and some of these are:

  • Glassdoor – You may already be aware of the English version of this one, which is a really handy resource for not just finding jobs but also for bagging valuable insights about a company. The Japanese version is an important one to add to your favourites when you’re looking for English teaching jobs in Japan.
  • Gaijinpot – Gaijinpot Jobs is a veritable treasure trove of vacant teaching positions in Tokyo. It tends to be a go-to site for those looking for their first teaching job in Tokyo as well as candidates who are already in Tokyo and are looking to switch jobs.
  • Teachaway – If you only use 1 site for your Tokyo teaching planning, make it Teachaway. As well as tons of current job vacancies, this site is a great bible in terms of making sure you know everything that you’ll need to make the move.

Where to Find Teaching Jobs in Yokohama

Just south of Tokyo, Yokohama is a seaside and port city which is incredibly popular with tourists. If you’ve set your sights on Yokohama, there are a few places to look for English teaching jobs, including:

  • One Coin English – Mostly specialising in part-time positions, One Coin English is much more than just a job site. The website has a really useful blog as well as handy information about living in Yokohama.
  • Learn 4 Good – Simple but effective, Learn 4 Good is a straightforward job search site which usually has plenty of vacancies within the Yokohama area.

When applying for jobs in Japan, the process is similar to that elsewhere in that you will be expected to provide a CV and a cover letter. The cover letter should be brief and to the point and should include all of your contact details, the role that you’re applying for, and a short explanation as to why you feel you would be an ideal candidate.

Other Useful Resources

Reddit is an excellent forum for those looking to live and work in Japan as it provides threads on lifestyle and practical matters as well as vacancies for English teachers.

Are There Online English Teaching Jobs for Japan?

Indeed there are. Once again, if you are looking for a position to teach English to Japanese people online, you need to look on the web as there are always several companies and private individuals looking for tuition. One of the key markets is for the older generation, and you can more or less (within reason) set your own rates.

Can I Teach Business English in Japan?

Teaching business English in Japan is a very lucrative market as, for the Japanese, life is very much about business and communication. They are eager to learn and will soak up everything you have to offer them. Business experience will help you in terms of seeking a position. Tokyo certainly has many opportunities.

Teaching English in Japan vs Korea – a Comparison

Whilst Japan is a fantastic country full of high tech innovation and a huge number of opportunities, the cost of living does tend to be pretty high; meaning that a large chunk of your salary may be spent on accommodation, travel and other day-to-day expenses.

In comparison, Korea is much cheaper so, if you’re hoping to do lots of travelling and exploring on your time off, Korea may be a worthwhile alternative option to explore.

Living and working in Japan is an experience like no other and will provide a million memories to be treasured for many years to come!