Teaching English in Japan: Teaching Abroad

Teaching English in Japan is one of best opportunties to live in Japan

Seriously, though, if you’re looking to trade in your humdrum life for a chance to impart the gift of the gab to adoring (and possibly overly-excited) students, then teaching English in Japan might just be the gig for you.

Ah, Japan! The land of towering mountains, steamy hot springs, majestic temples, and…wait, what was that last one again? Oh right, cutting-edge technology (because obviously, nothing says zen quite like a robot bartender). 

Just make sure you’re ready for a hefty dose of culture shock and possibly some inexplicable cravings for raw fish. If you’re ready to take the plunge and become a language ambassador in Japan, we’ve got your back. 

Read on to learn about the various teaching gigs available, the salaries that will (hopefully) pay for all that delicious sushi, and the benefits that may or may not include mastering the art of bowing.

Why is Japan such a hot spot for teaching English?

No more crowded trains, sky-high rent prices, or annoying tourists blocking your view of the cherry blossoms.

If you’re an English instructor looking for a change of pace (and possibly a change of scenery), Japan might just be the place for you.

Not only will you have the chance to experience traditional Japanese culture, but you’ll also have plenty of job opportunities in both government-sponsored and private education programs, as well as at Eikaiwas (English tutoring centers).

All of this is because the requirement for all students in Japan to pass entrance exams that include English has created a strong demand for English proficiency in the country.

Foreign teachers in rural areas may also have the opportunity to make a larger impact in their community and experience traditional Japanese culture more deeply.

Can I teach English in Japan without a degree?

To teach in Japan, most employers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree, English proficiency, a CELTA/TEFL qualification, previous teaching experience, and a driver’s license. Bonus points if you can speak a second language or some basic Japanese – it’ll make your daily life a lot easier.

You’ll need to be a native-level speaker of the English language, although no pressure or anything, but your students will be counting on you to help them ace those entrance exams.

You should also have received an education conducted in English for at least 12 years, just to make sure you’re up to snuff.

Other Qualifications for Teaching English in Japan

Don’t worry, it’s not all about the brains.

You’ll also need to be a team player because honestly, teaching English in Japan can be a lonely job without some supportive colleagues.

English instructors in Japan are expected to be professional, flexible, cheerful, and energetic and should be prepared to dress appropriately.

Although you can probably ditch the suit when you’re teaching elementary school students – they’re usually a little more laid-back.

How much are English teaching jobs in Japan?

Depending on your experience, the type of school you work at, and your fancy credentials, you could be making anywhere from $1,700 to a whopping $5,000 per month. Not too shabby, huh?

Although the cost of living in Japan is no joke, you’ll surely be able to afford it with your sweet English teaching salary.

And if you’re lucky, you might even score some sweet perks like housing, a flight reimbursement, transportation passes, and free grub at the school.

Just be prepared to drop some yen on food, transportation, and entertainment, as well as shell out for a swanky apartment in the city center (around $769 per month).

Where do I apply for English teaching jobs in Japan?

Well, there are a few different options you can choose from.

If you want to go the government route, the JET Program might be the option for you.

They’ll place you in a public school as an Assistant Language Teacher and, who knows, maybe you’ll even get a chance to teach the next prime minister of Japan.

On the other hand, possibly you’re more interested in the corporate world. In that case, you could try your luck at a private language academy or schools like AEON or ECC. Just prepare to work for long hours and have a bachelor’s degree requirement.

If you’re feeling a little more traditional, you could always try for a public school gig. Just make sure you have a CELTA/TEFL qualification and/or some teaching experience, and try to apply between January and April for the best chances.

Or, if you’re feeling a little more independent, you could always go the private lesson route. No qualifications are required – just be prepared to hustle a bit more for business in the big cities.

Job posting teaching English in Japan is available on the EDU Passport website, go check it out!

A Few Things to Keep in Mind As You Consider Your Move to Japan.

You might have to dress up like a fancy business person, but at least you’ll be able to hang out with your adult students outside class (unless your boss says no).

You’ll be getting paid a decent chunk of change, ranging from “not too shabby” to “holy cow, I can actually afford to buy that weirdly shaped melon I’ve always wanted.” but you’ll have to be prepared to embrace a new culture, work environment, and social customs like gift-giving.

No one expects you to be a pro from the start, but it wouldn’t hurt to try your best.

Just don’t forget your sunscreen and your “peace out” hand gesture, because you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime!

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