Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Find a Job Teaching English in Japan

Teaching English and living in Japan is a great experience, the adventure of my life. I've been doing it for over 10 years. I would encourage anyone to come here to start a new career or just for a couple of years for the experience.

If you are still in the US or your home country, you have two options:

1. Find a job before you go over

2. Just buy a ticket and find something after you arrive.

I know many people do the latter. If you are really adventurous then go for it. But I recommend the former. There are many Eikaiwa, or English Conversation schools in Japan. They're private companies where Japanese come to study English. The average starting salary is between 250,000 to 270,000 yen, about 2700 to 2900 dollars per month. I applied to AEON Corporation while still in the states. I interviewed in Chicago and later came here. I no longer work for Aeon, but I recommend them. I was with them for almost 9 years. That's probably some kind of record. Most teachers are there for 1 or 2 years. They are probably the best of the big conversation schools left. A few years ago, the number 1 school, NOVA went bankrupt after a huge lawsuit. They had a bad reputation for years with teachers but also students. It was finally a class action suit from former students that broke them. That event really hurt the industry, but Aeon is still a safe bet. But be warned, they expect a lot. They have high standards of professionalism and they really drill that into you during training. You have to wear a suit and tie. They have branches nation wide, some schools have only adult students, many have adults and children. There are other schools as well, GEOS and Berlitz to name a few. Be wary of one called G.Communications. They are the ones that took over Nova. I wouldn't trust them.

You can also become an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). ALTs work in junior or senior high schools. The JET program run by the Japanese government is probably the biggest source of ALTs. Interac. one of many private companies that provide ALTs. I think Japan is ready for a mini-boom for teaching English to children. Starting in 2010, English will become a mandatory subject in elementary schools nationwide, so I think there's a lot of opportunity there.

The best place to start is at Dave's ESL Café. It has an abundance of information, not only on jobs, but teaching resources and ideas. It's huge. Be sure to check out the teacher's forum. Read the comments to see what teachers say about different companies, avoid the bad ones. For jobs, Gaijinpot and Ohayo sensei are good. All about teaching English in Japan is good too.

How about education? Most big schools require a college degree. It's not necessary to have a teacher's degree. It's probably possible to get a job with only a High school diploma, but you will be rather limited. Another thing to consider is getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. These are relatively easy to get, only taking a few months. They are available online and most offer an additional practical teaching workshop at a specified location. I recommend that if you can. Most English schools don't require such a TESL certificate, but it can give you a big advantage. It looks great on a resume.

If you are living in Japan now, then there are lots of options. It just depends on where you're willing to go. Actually, in my case, the most important thing in finding a new job was word of mouth. I have a family here and I didn't want to move to a new city. Jobs were limited and I never would have found my current job if it wasn't for my friends. I'm really lucky. Never underestimate the power of networking and friends.

If you've been in Japan a while and have some experience, then a final option is starting your own business. That's not my path, but many of my friends have done it.

Anyway, good luck in finding a job and start your adventure today. GANBATE!


zuhanif said...

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rockitberlin said...

Thanks for the tips, they seemed really balanced.

how to "ideas" said...

great .. thank you for this advice

Aree Metz said...

Thank you so much for all of this great information! I am currently working on my Masters degree in English (studying both literature and rhetoric and composition, but I teach composition classes). In 2009 I spent a summer working at an English Camp through the Tokyo American Club and fell in love with the Japanese people and culture. I have always wanted to go back! Do you know how difficult it is to get jobs teaching at universities in Japan? I am planning to go on to my PhD after I finish my MA, but I would love to have an opportunity to teach English language and composition in Japan. I have heard that the higher-education field can often be harder to step into as a foreigner--do you recommend working as an ALT or working for a private language company first? Also, do all English-language instructors (ALTs, private instructors, etc.) need to have a good grasp of the Japanese language? Sorry for all of these questions!

jcwin228 said...

Thanks, Aree Metz,
Yeah, I think working in University is a bit harder to get into. I think it depends a lot on if you have a Masters and how long you're planning to stay. Alt's tend to change quickly. I worked at a big English company, now I teach at a small English Preschool. I have a friend who's had a long term position at a university. It's a pretty cushy job. Having good Japanese is a big help for a higher level job.
Good Luck

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