Published 3rd March 2020
There are few countries in this world that are as mysterious and alluring as Japan. This is why Japan is popular not only with tourists but with English as a Foreign Language teachers as well. We have a lot of requests for information about teaching English as a Foreign Language in Japan, so we thought we’d put together the ultimate guide to teaching English in Japan to answer all your questions. So here goes.
1. Can I teach in Japan?
In order to teach in Japan you need to be a citizen of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, or be able to prove you have been educated in a school with English as the medium of instruction for 12 years, or have 3 years’ teaching experience. You need to have a Bachelor’s degree but it does not need to be a degree in Education. You need to have a clear criminal record in your country of residence. Interestingly, strictly speaking you don’t need a TEFL certificate but we recommend that you do a TEFL course for your own sanity – and it won’t hurt your CV either, especially as more and more schools are preferring TEFL-qualified teachers. Another point to consider is that it’s not easy to find a job if you are over the age of 60.
2. What can I teach in Japan?
There are many teaching positions available in Japan teaching children, such as being an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) at a public school. What this means essentially is that you are not in charge of the class but you help a Japanese teacher. This will generally mean teaching from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm but still staying at school for a few more hours either for admin or for helping out with after-school clubs, like sports or art.
The great thing about being an ALT, besides the great holidays, is that you get to experience the cultural side of Japan. Chances are you will pick up Japanese quite quickly because you will need it to survive in your school. Plus you will get the opportunity to foster relationships with your students.
To find a job as an ALT, you can apply to the JET programme, where you can expect to earn $2 500 to $3 000 a month.
Then there are the jobs at an Eikaiwa, or private language school. At these language schools you will either be teaching children or adults. Working at an Eikawa means your working hours will be out-of-the-ordinary. You might teach children from 9 to 10, and then adults from 12 – 4 and children again from 5 – 6pm.
These jobs will typically pay $2 200 – $2 500 a month.
It’s also possible to find a job in a private school. For most private schools, the English teacher positions are for high school. In these positions you are not the assistant but you are the main teacher, often the homeroom teacher. This means you’ll be responsible for planning lessons and assessment. You may also be required to help with after-school events.
It’s also possible to teach Business English in Japan. Teaching Business English involves teaching business professionals in-house or at an Ekaiwa. Your students will be in their 20s, 30s or 40s and will usually be required by their jobs to improve their English for their jobs. Their jobs may entail talking to native speakers or non-native speakers so bear this in mind when teaching.
Finally, you can teach at a university. This will mean teaching communication lessons to help your Japanese students cope with studying in English. Teaching at a Japanese university is often a highly sought after position, so the qualifications are quite high. You’ll need at least a Master’s degree, preferably in Teaching English as a Foreign Language but other related subjects are fine too.
Because these jobs require a high qualification, salaries are around $2 800 to $4 400 a month.
3. Where can I teach in Japan?
There are a few places in Japan where it is possible to find a TEFL job. There are loads of jobs up for grabs in the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka, and the smaller city of Kyoto. If you’re interested in working somewhere a bit different, you could find a job in Sapporo or Fukuoka.
4. Can non-native speakers work in Japan?
Absolutely! Even though schools in Japan prefer native speakers, they are happy to accept teachers who are non-natives as long as they are proficient in English and either have been educated in an English-speaking school or university or already have teaching experience.
5. Why should I teach English in Japan?
Sushi, cherry blossoms, tea ceremonies, skiing, temples…do we need to go on? Japan is a beautiful country with a fascinating history and culture. It has so much to offer and there really is no better way to understand and appreciate this country than teaching English as a Foreign Language there.