Do you want to take advantage of your skills in English? Here are the things you need to know as an English teacher in Japan.
With such a grand promise for a greener pasture, it isn’t surprising that people from different countries dream of coming to Japan to seek better career opportunities. If you happen to be an English teacher who desires the same, then this post is for you.
Read on to find out what you need to know and do before you try your luck in Japan.
Things You Need to Know as an English Teacher in Japan
Japan is one of the fastest-developing countries in the world. However, alongside these rapid developments that propel the economy forward, the government also faces significant challenges. The top things include scarcity of workers and an aging population. These factors are the primary reasons why the country extends its open arms to foreigners, particularly to those migrants and workers who speak English.
For several decades, Japan has been consistently included in the list of countries that are fragrant to foreign English teachers. Every year, thousands of professionals come to the Land of the Rising Sun to seek teaching opportunities. With the country’s beauty, fascinating culture, and lucrative salaries, such statistics are not surprising. The Japanese government even funded a program that places qualified English teachers throughout the country.
Without a doubt, being an English teacher in Japan presents promising opportunities and exciting adventures. But before you get too excited about packing your bags, take note of these things. It’s essential to arm yourself with knowledge about the country’s job market as well as its laws and regulations.
Do you already have a work visa?
If you want to be a teacher in Japan without worrying about legal hurdles, you need to have a work visa. Fortunately, obtaining one from the Japanese government isn’t as difficult and as complicated as other countries in Asia and the US. For English teachers, the primary requirements include having a degree in any subject, fluency in English, and the commitment and desire to help students learn the universal language.
The following are the things that you also need to prepare before applying for a work visa.
- Diploma of Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree
- University Transcript
- Criminal Background Check Certification
- Original Passport (must be valid for at least 1 year)
- Original Contract (to be provided by your Japanese employer at the consulate)
- Passport Pictures
Do you have a TEFL Certification?
At the time of this writing, Japan doesn’t legally require a TEFL certification for work visa application. However, fierce competition makes it a necessity for you to have one. Before sending your applications to English teaching schools or institutions in Japan, make sure you have this certification. It increases your chances of getting the best positions at known schools, which means you are also looking for a hefty salary.
The best time to get a TEFL certification is a year before your target start date. There are programs today that allow you to have one within four weeks. You can also be certified by taking an online course. The programs averagely lasts between two and six months. The pace depends on how you work through your course units.
Have you already conducted thorough research?
If you want to be a successful English teacher in Japan, you have to conduct as much research as possible about the country’s culture and, of course, the local teaching industry. Mostly, foreign teachers who come to Japan are being assigned to public schools according to the government’s JET program.
Later on, once you get to know the local culture of teaching and you have acquainted yourself with a network, you can consider branching out or transferring to private schools and institutions. If you’re that good, you can even get a teaching career in big universities or start your own English language clinic. On average, English teachers in Japan can earn around $3000 per month.
Are you planning to live and teach in Tokyo?
Tokyo, Japan’s capital, is a dream city to many. It is bustling with professional activities and is also surrounded by exciting towns and cities. But while it puts you at the center of the action, you have to be ready for the cost of living. If you’re a beginner with a limited budget, you can consider teaching in other cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Okinawa. Once you’ve earned enough money, you can always move to Tokyo. After all, you will never have problems traveling from one city to another. Japan prides itself on its bullet train and other impressive modes of transportation.
Do you already know where you would send your application?
Once you’ve gained a valuable understanding of Japan’s local job market, you will find it easier to look for promising openings. The good thing is, there is never a shortage of job advertisements on the Internet. You can explore job boards and narrow down your options as you go. Some recruiters can also help you secure a job in Japan. However, you have to be vigilant when working with one.
What are your options as an English teacher in Japan?
Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran teacher, here are the things you need to know as an English teacher in Japan. You would be happy to know that you have four different options. Take a look at the list below to find out what suits your situation the best.
Teaching English in Japanese Public Schools
English teachers’ demand in Japan’s public school is unusually high, mainly because Japanese students are determined to learn the universal language. As mentioned above, the government has an ongoing JET program (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program). It facilitates the hiring and placement of amateur foreign English teachers or recent college graduates from more than 40 countries. The government will then assign these professionals to several public schools across the region. They mainly work as Assistant Language Teachers (ALT).
ALT jobs are both available in elementary and junior schools across the country. Typically, your job would involve working alongside a JTE (Japanese teacher of English). On average, a classroom in a public school caters to 40 students wherein you are expected to teach around 8 hours and teach an average of 4 lessons every day. Usually, the contract begins around April and ends March the following year.
Teaching English in Private Schools in Japan
Same as applying to public schools, you are also in luck as vacancies in private schools and English language institutes remain high up to this writing time. From kindergarten to adults and even Japanese professionals, there seems to be no shortage of students. Private schools often allow English teachers to choose between day and evening shifts. Of course, if you pick the evening shift, you can expect additional incentives that can serve as your inspiration to enhance your performance. However, teaching in private schools has more intense competition than applying to public schools. You better prepare in advance.
Teaching English in Summer Programs
If you plan to test the water, let’s say between six months to one year, then applying as an English teacher in summer programs can be your best option. These programs by the government are mostly short-term. During your stay, you can experience the teaching culture, the place itself, and the attitude of the Japanese students. From here, you can decide whether you are ready to go long-term.
Teaching English Online to Japanese Students
In case you want to prepare and enhance your knowledge as an English teacher before actually flying to Japan, you can opt to teach online first. Several learning institutions accept virtual teachers. This step can be your training ground as you prepare yourself for the joys and pains of teaching.
The above tips might seem widespread on the Internet, and you might take them for granted. But with fierce competition, you must keep in mind this reminder. No matter how good you are when speaking and teaching the English language, you better come prepared to the hilt. The promising opportunities are just waiting on the corner, and all that’s left for you to do is to grab them well! So, you better note the things you need to know as an English teacher in Japan.
Japan has been a famous destination among talented professionals for many decades due to its unique culture, widespread career opportunities, well-disciplined people, and of course, good salaries. Even if the country is known for its high cost of living, it’s only safe to say that this country provides an irresistible mix of ancient traditions and modern developments that can attract the brightest of professionals. So, if you want to get your English teaching career more exciting and more rewarding, look no further than the Land of the Rising Sun!