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I'm seeking the best way to get a job teaching English in Japan.

Discussion in 'Working in Japan' started by Bexy Jones, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. Bexy Jones

    Bexy Jones 後輩

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    Hello I'm Bexy and I'm new to this site..
    I'm 24 years old from the UK and I have had a huge interest in Japan ever since I was young,
    this includes the culture, people, language, anime, food, buildings and nature etc.. I was even
    lucky enough to visit Japan (Tokyo,Kyoto,Osaka,Fujigoko) last year on my own for 2 weeks and it was just a dream!
    I am now interested in getting a job there preferably teaching English but I want to know the best way to go about it. I have heard about TEFL courses and I have looked into them a bit but I would love to know which courses are the best to do and how I would go about actually getting a job in a school there. I would also love to use the opportunity to learn Japanese whilst I am over there as I only know basic words..

    If anyone has any advice for me that would be just great :emoji_smile: whether you have experience in the situation or not it would be great to chat with you. I would be interested in schools outside of Tokyo but also would be happy wherever I go as I love Japan.

    Thank you.

    - Bex
    DSCN00312.jpg

     
  2. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    As an Uklander you are eligible for the Working Holiday scheme, I believe. Have you looked into that?
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Bexy Jones

    Bexy Jones 後輩

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    Hey Mike, No I haven't looked into that but I will do some searching now.
    Are there any websites you can recommend? - Thanks
     
  4. Takichan

    Takichan Kouhai

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    Typically people go with the ALT program or the JET program. I don't know too much about teaching English there sorry
     
  5. Bexy Jones

    Bexy Jones 後輩

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    Ah yes I've heard of them so I'm definitely going to have a proper look into them. Thank you!
     
  6. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    I've been teaching here since 1998. Happy to answer any questions, but I'm one of the few teachers on this site. If you visit the ESL Cafe discussion group, everyone there is either a teacher of sorts in Japan, or wants to be.

    Do you have a bachelor's degree? Major? (The latter is not so important. The former is necessary if you want a work visa.)
    Have you explored what sort of English teaching you want to get into? That is, ALT work, language school (eikaiwa), college, business, private...? ALTs get hired typically through the JET Programme or a dispatch agency. Eikaiwas hire directly, and the biggies have offices in some major cities abroad, so you have to go to them for interviews and pay your own way there, maybe for 1-3 days. A few will do a Skype interview, but be aware of the disadvantages of that on both sides of the screen.

    Working holiday visa will work for 2 6-month periods. Strictly speaking you are not supposed to work long-term on it, but some employers look the other way. It's good for PT or FT work, and you don't need an employer to sponsor it, unlike a regular work visa. You have to apply for it in your home country. One disadvantage is that you get taxed 20% with a WHV. You could also come on a student visa and work part-time just to get your feet wet as you study Japanese.

    Most entry level jobs don't know about TEFL/TESL certification nor do they care. CELTA is one of the best recognized ones. If you really want to get into teaching, definitely get one of them, but even better would be to get a master's degree in a related area. (You can do it by distance learning, too.)

    How soon do you want to start working? Most jobs will begin their fiscal year in April. Eikaiwas hire year round, but even they have some limitations. A second influx of people is in October.

    Why teaching? How long do you figure you'll hang in there? Most people come and go within 2-3 years.

    How good are your Japanese skills? Speaking, listening, reading, writing. The more you know, the better your chances of getting a job, although very little is actually needed in most cases. Competition is very high nowadays.
     
  7. Bexy Jones

    Bexy Jones 後輩

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    Hey Glenski, thanks that is a great help!
    I do have a bachelors degree in Drama and Musical Theatre if that helps at all?
    I would be happy with any work to do with teaching as long as it gives me enough money to live, I had a school in mind but would happily try anything!

    I'm thinking of doing this next year some time and I would love to try and stay longer than a year if it is possible. I have a keen interest in Japan so I know I would love to live there..I visited for 2 weeks last year and it is everything I thought it would be. I have never really thought about teaching before this but I was just thinking is this the easiest route to take if I don't know much Japanese at all yet? I only really know basic Japanese words at the minute but I am definitely interested in learning more, so I would probably try and learn a bit more before I went over.
     
  8. Transformer5

    Transformer5 後輩

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    From everything you've said, I'd say you'd be best going for eikaiwa (English conversation) work. Any previous experience of teaching or tutoring, or working with kids (even volunteering) will help. A TEFL certificate might help as well, especially if you don't have any previous experience. You don't need Japanese. A CELTA would only be worth it if you're thinking of pursuing EFL teaching in language schools as a longer term career, not if you think you're just going to do a year or two in Japan then return home to do something different.

    The best of the "big" eikaiwa (the ones that operate nationwide across Japan) are probably ECC and Aeon. I think they recruit in the UK. They pay a regular, fixed wage each month (unlike some other places). There are a lot of other, smaller schools out there too if you search on the internet, and you can probably find "reviews" of them as well. Do your research well on them though, the pay and conditions in these places vary, and some of them can be very exploitative (if not outright criminal) in their business practices.

    The JET programme is more "prestigious" and pays more, probably the best option if you can get on it. They like higher calibre people with good degrees from redbrick unis, and people who are looking to go on to more professional careers, especially in Japan or related to Japan in some way.

    I wouldn't recommend ALT "dispatch company" work so much, where you work as a teaching assistant for an agency which places you in an elementary or high school (again, you don't need teaching qualifications or Japanese), mainly because the pay is lower each month than the other options above. On top of that, you often get reduced pay in the summer and winter holiday as well, and the contracts often finish at the end of February, so you won't get paid for March (Japanese school year starts in April).

    I've worked on and off in Japan over the past 15+ years and have spent some of that time working in these sorts of jobs, and/or know people who have, so what I've said above is based on that experience.
     
  9. Bexy Jones

    Bexy Jones 後輩

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    All this has been really helpful.. I'm going to definitely look into the JET programme.
    I will message you a bit closer to the time if I need any advice if thats ok with you?
     
  10. Transformer5

    Transformer5 後輩

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    Post on here, there are probably other people who can advise as well, and might know more about JET.
     
  11. Jus and Amy

    Jus and Amy Registered

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    Bexy,

    We just created a video on a breakdown of applying to the JET Programme! So if you're interested have a look and hopefully it gives you a clearer idea of which company you'd like to apply to in Japan. Good luck:emoji_smile:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Bexy Jones

    Bexy Jones 後輩

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    wow thank you this is great! :emoji_grinning:
     
  13. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Yes, it gets your foot in the door as eligible for the lowest form of work visa for teaching: specialist in humanities/international relations. You could be an ALT through JET (and possibly some dispatch situations) or be an eikaiwa instructor.

    Salaries are slowly going down, but they are livable ones provided you don't splurge. What does "I had a school in mind" mean exactly? I can think of a few meanings and want to address the correct one.

    WHEN next year? Pick a month!

    Reality check here. Visiting for 2 weeks tells you virtually nothing about living and working here. Coming to visit and sightsee is a good experience, but don't fool yourself into thinking it compares to showing up for classes prepared to instruct people, arrive on time, stay for overtime, make your own meals, pay electric bills, etc.

    Easiest route to what? You're not providing enough information here.

    Good idea for potential workers in any field as well as tourists.

    From transformer5:
    I'd say that would be a coin toss in accuracy. JET ALTs have a reputation as much as eikaiwa teachers for landing in trouble. JET ALTs simply have to work normal hours, but a boatload of them are immature and wild. I would also not say their degrees are necessarily mostly good ones (if that means related to education).

    Go to the ESL Cafe!
     
  14. mdchachi

    mdchachi Moderator
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    Definitely you should consider the Working Holiday program. It's a great opportunity for "youth" from various countries such as the UK to go and experience Japan. The advantage is that you don't need a job lined up and you aren't locked into a possibly bad employer. Note, the purpose of your visit to Japan has to be more holiday than work.

    The Working Holiday Programmes in Japan | Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
    Visa: Working Holiday Visa : Embassy of Japan in the UK

    Once you're there, you can better meet people, move around, get the lay of the land and line up a "real" job if you so desire.
     
  15. Transformer5

    Transformer5 後輩

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    #15 Transformer5, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    Immature and wild. Sounds like students from prestigious, red-brick unis.

    JET is a better-run programme, and better paid, than eikaiwa (and far better than ALT dispatch), so any trouble that people run into is more likely to be from their end (culture shock, homesickness, going wild) than from the JET programme. Unlike with eikaiwa, where you can get more trouble from your employer.

    The reason I say it's more prestigious is that JETs tend to get looked on favourably for more prestigious jobs in business and government, diplomatic service and that kind of thing. It gets you better connected with that particular world. I've got several friends who did JET and they've all done better in terms of where their careers have gone than people who haven't (myself included), though that's as much (if not more) down to them than the JET programme.
     
  16. Bexy Jones

    Bexy Jones 後輩

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    I definitely wouldn't splurge once I got there and I would be very careful when spending, I will also make sure I save up quite a bit of money before going. I was thinking September next year but if that doesn't work with their school term then probably the year after in April.

    What I meant by having a school in mind is any school really rather than private teaching with families etc but I would also be open to that..and by 'Easiest route' I mean easiest job to take that doesn't involve knowing much Japanese right away.
     
  17. Transformer5

    Transformer5 後輩

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    One other thing about the JET programme I'd advise is to get your application in as early as possible in the application window (it opens around the beginning of October, so you might want to start working on it, gathering references and so on pretty soon).

    I didn't get my application in until near the end of the window for one reason and another, did the interview and was accepted onto the "reserve list", as opposed to being guaranteed a position, but no vacancies came up in the end.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Thanks. You couldn't get a visa for private teaching anyway.

    JET has recently changed so that you can get hired twice a year, I believe. Previously, you sent in your materials by Nov/Dec, and after processing and interviews in Feb/Mar, you got sent over only in late July early August. See what their schedule is now.

    Just keep it in mind. Living in an exotic faraway land, people tend to do things they normally wouldn't. Unless you live in the heart of a big city, you should be able to save a few hundred dollars per month by living modestly.

    I'd tend to agree with that in general terms. Also keep in mind that JET ALTs are not required to have an education degree or experience teaching or any certificate. Those deficiencies, plus their young age, often tend to give a fairly low image to them for any sort of serious teaching responsibilities. Many are considered "human tape recorders" at work. Experience varies considerably, but generally JTEs are not overly impressed with being forced to work with them. Keep that in mind -- being forced -- above all else. The JTEs don't ask for ALTs.
     
  19. Transformer5

    Transformer5 後輩

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    JETs don't need education degrees or experience because they're not required to teach. That's not the purpose of the programme, it's more about cultural exchange. Whether that's worthwhile or not is another matter.

    Let's face it, eikaiwa and ALT aren't about teaching either. While JET does have positive intentions, eikaiwa schools and ALT dispatch companies are only interested in making as much money as possible (even breaking the law to do so), not teaching or cultural exchange.
     
  20. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    And yet, they are called assistant language teachers, and work in public schools alongside Japanese teachers of English. Their mere presence is the cultural exchange in many cases, due to their ability to speak English better than the JTE and know more about their country's culture. Virtually all of their duties revolve around teaching English, its pronunciation, the student's ability to hear it and repeat it, and enhancing grammar lessons.

    Eikaiwa instructors are meant to help with conversation, which is teaching and language. So, I disagree. I've been an eikaiwa teacher, and I know quite a few JET ALTs and dispatch ALTs. Is any of that serious learning? No, but that's Japan. However you still have to stand in front of HS students or paying eikaiwa customers and present the language and get them to practice it. That's teaching.
     
  21. Transformer5

    Transformer5 後輩

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    You don't even have to do that. All that the bog-standard eikaiwa companies require of "instructors" is to say something that at least vaguely resembles English (you know, like frat boy "Gary" used to do, after he went out partying in Roppongi all night, got home at 9am, whipped his suit and tie on, staggered into work for 10 o'clock, swigging genki drinks, shirt hanging out, sweat dripping off his rosy cheeks, eyeballs twirling).

    Beyond that, the students have to say something that at least vaguely resembles English, and Gary smiles broadly, nodding his head, saying "very good" over and over, cheeks puffing out, sweat curdling, stomach welling up.

    ALTs just have to stand up there and say a sentence and the class repeats it, the ALT smiles and says "very good" (quite possibly suffering a similar fate as our beloved hero above), and everyone's happy.

    Many such people have been hired and successfully completed contracts with these companies. Is that really teaching?
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  22. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Transformer5,
    Yup, those are what the poorest instructors and poorest ALTs do. I would hope that such a practice would stop. Eikaiwas want more and more butts to pay for the seats in the classroom, so they often hire people based on foreign looks and bubbly personality. Clients are typically housewives and retired people, but more and more families are realizing their kids are going to need more English that they don't get in juku or regular school so they send them to eikaiwa. Instructors who truly are sincere about teaching will do them a service rather than just show up and do the things you described (which are not uncommon, unfortunately). ALTs have little control over what they do in the class because the JTE or dispatch agency dictates the syllabus, but they still have to present the language. Both will have a textbook to follow.

    Presumably Bexy is the type of person who takes teaching fairly seriously. I did when I started out in eikaiwa, then moved to private high school, and on to university work.
     
  23. Transformer5

    Transformer5 後輩

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    This is why I'd recommend sincere instructors to avoid eikaiwa. Not saying that ALL eikaiwa and ALT companies are shysters, but the ratio isn't great (that's probably a mild way of putting it). Having said that, you might be able to move onto something better, after you've cut your teeth for your first couple of years in the trenches. That's the way careers work.
     

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