Teaching English in Japan

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How to Begin Teaching in Japan

Japan is a country of harmony and contradiction, where the ancient and the ultra-modern sit side by side.

Japan is a country of harmony and contradiction, where the ancient and the ultra-modern sit side by side. With such a unique culture, living and working in Japan allows for a memorable experience. It also provides plenty of opportunities for travel, from the high-tech city of Tokyo to the old capital of Kyoto, to experience the ancient rituals of Shinto and Buddhist religions, as well as participating in tea ceremonies. Culturally, there are many opportunities to learn martial arts, music, and calligraphy or participate in the spring and summer festivals. Hot springs also offer a perfect way to unwind from the demands of your teaching week. Each season in Japan also brings with it a vast array of food and speciality dishes, such as soba noodles in soup, or sitting under the spring cherry blossoms enjoying an outside barbeque.

Japan, however, is not for the faint-hearted. Many TEFL teachers experience major culture shock, due to the fact that the cultural rules are often the opposite of what the foreigner has ever experienced before. This new environment, coupled with the fact that the language is so unfamiliar, due to the non-roman alphabet, means that you need to work that much harder to understand what is going on around you. You will also have to accept that you will not be accepted in the same way as a Japanese person. This does not mean that you won’t have any Japanese friends, but you will be treated as someone who is outside of the cultural rules.

Japan is an incredible country steeped in history. It’s made up of 6,852 separate island and the name Japan translates to “sun origin”, “Nihon” in Japanese. Something that has been integrated in Japanese culture as the East starts with the Sun and sets in the West.

Japan is a country with so many “weird and wonderful” things from a western prospective. Examples include: the home to the shortest escalator in the world with just 5 steps. A height of just 83 cms or 32.8 inches, the escalator is found in a supermarket store in Kawasaki. Another example of the weird and wonderful is the vending machine culture across the country. You will find a vending machine pretty much on every corner across Japan totalling over 5.5 million. The contents vary from beer, wine, hot food, coffee, light bulbs, eggs, clothes and even fishing bait.

On the note of fish, the Japanese consume more fish than any other country. With an estimated 17 million plus tonnes of fish per year! Incredibly more than 20% of Japanese protein is obtained through fish. The popular food chain McDonald’s is also a hit across Japan, who have more than 3000 restaurants. Meaning Japan has the largest amount of McDonald’s restaurants around the world after the United States of America themselves.

 

Teaching Opportunities

There are many opportunities for foreigners who have a degree to find work in many areas of Japan due to the fact that English education is now compulsory in all state schools from primary right through to the end of high school. There is a range of teaching jobs, from children, to adults and corporations.The hours are varied depending on your teaching environment, and classes can range from 20 – 40 students per class. You will need to find work before going to Japan in order to get a work visa.  You are generally given a flight to Japan, but you will need to pay rent for accommodation. Often, you have to give a deposit and a one-time payment, up front, to your landlord. This means that you will need to have at least 2-3 months worth of money available. Many private schools offer rented rooms in shared housing with other teachers working at their institution, in order to reduce the accommodation costs.

Teaching Requirements

  • Degree Requirement
    BA/BS required
  • Typical Contract Length
    12 Months
  • Peak Hiring Seasons
    All year round (there are also major job openings for September/October employment)
  • Visa Info
    Work visa in advance (If you lose your job, it is still valid for work.)
  • Typical Students
    Business professionals and children
  • Average Monthly Cost of Living in Local Currency
    150,000-200,000 JPY
  • Average Monthly Salary in Local Currency
    250,000-300,000 JPY

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