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Teach English in Japan

Why should you teach English in Japan? Japan is a fascinating country with a rich history and culture. It's a great place to visit, with lots of interesting things to see and do. The people are friendly and welcoming, the food is delicious and there are a lot of modern cities where you can get work.

Outside the professional environment of Japan's cosmopolitan cities you'll also find beautiful nature. Spectacular mountains, semi-tropical islands and unblemished countryside are just some of the draws for tourists and TEFL teachers alike.

The good news for TEFL Teachers is that there are plenty of opportunities to teach English in Japan. Japan has long employed English instructors from abroad and the demand for English teachers is high. English is taught to children from the age of 5 up until they finish high school, and millions of adults also take English classes.

As a result, those looking to teach English in Japan can find work all over the country and you can find jobs all year round.

How to teach English in Japan

There are a few ways to teach English in Japan. One option is to find a job with a private language school. These schools usually require that you have a TEFL or TESOL certification. Another option is to teach English at public schools or find a job with a company that teaches English to their employees. There are also several well known teaching programs plus opportunities to teach private lessons.

Private language schools

Private language schools in Japan are always on the look out for English teachers. You will need a bachelors degree and TEFL certification and hiring times are different for each company. In terms of work, you can expect to be placed in a city and work long hours. Sometimes this may include evenings and weekends depending on scheduling and student demand.

Public schools

You can find jobs at public schools independently or go through organizations such as Interac. You can apply all year round, but it's worth bearing in mind that peak hiring season is January to April. Many Japanese public schools will require English teachers to have a TEFL or CELTA qualification and some teaching experience. However, this isn't always the case so make sure you check employer requirements carefully. A typical work week is 30 - 35 hours long.

Private lessons

It's very common for English teachers to offer private lessons to people in Japan, and these are usually conducted one-on-one. As you're teaching privately there are obviously no qualification requirements, but owe it to your students to offer a good service. Therefore, you should still seriously consider getting TEFL certified before undertaking this. Furthermore, it's important to make sure that immigration status is legally compatible with any work that you do.

Teach English in Japan Programs

Arguably the best way to teach English in Japan is through one of the teach English in Japan programs. We've already mentioned Interac, but perhaps the most well-known program is the JET programme.

The JET Programme

Run by the Japanese government since the late 1980s, the JET Programme places Native English speakers as Assistant Language Teachers in public schools across Japan. To be considered for the JET Programme (JET stands for Japan exchange and Teaching), you will need a bachelor's degree. You can expect to work a 35 hour week from Monday to Friday and hiring depends upon your home country. Many people consider this the best program to teach English in Japan due to its reputation and longevity.

Requirements to teach English in Japan

To teach English in Japan one of the main requirements is that you have a bachelor's degree. It is unlikely that you will successfully teach English in Japan without a degree. You'll also find that a number of public schools and recruiters require a TEFL or CELTA certification in addition to this, along with evidence of previous teaching experience. Fortunately, Japanese language skills are not required, although there is no doubt that some degree of proficiency can help you get a better job!

Can I teach English in Japan without a degree?

Do you need a degree to teach English in Japan? Yes is the short answer to this, because a bachelor's degree is one of the visa requirements.

Teach English in Japan jobs

If you're seeking an English teaching job in Japan, the best places to look are the biggest cities and major population centres of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. You will also find a good number of opportunities in Kyoto, Fukuoka, Yokohama, Nagasaki, Sapporo and Sendai. There are positions available all over the country and many of these are advertised online.

To apply to teach English in Japan, check out some of these job opportunities:

Teach English in Japan Salary

The salary for teaching English in Japan depends upon the type of job and your experience level but you can reasonably expect to earn between 200,000 to 340,000 Yen ($1,600 to $2,700 or £1,200 to £2,100) per month. Naturally, if you have previous teaching experience and are TEFL qualified you can expect to earn considerably more.

The JET programme currently pays 3.36 million Yen in the first year and this rises each year you are involved in it. This roughly translate into $27,000 or £20,800 for the year. This lines up with the salaries in most Japanese public schools.

Private schools usually pay slightly less than this, but once again this varies depending upon your experience and the location.

Finally, if you want to teach freelance you could charge anything in between $15 - $60 per hour or £11 - £46 per hour if you're reading in England!

Cost of living in Japan

The cost of living in Japan varies depending on the city you live in. Living costs are high compared to other countries but this is compensated by higher salaries. Tokyo is the most expensive, while rural areas are cheaper. Some basic expenses you'll need to consider include rent, food, transportation, and utilities.

For accommodation you can expect to pay around $800 (or £600) a month to live in the city centre, whilst it will cost you around $500 (or £400) a month out of the centre according to Numbeo. However, please note this is a rough estimate and will vary city to city. Tokyo will cost significantly more in each case.

A meal out for 2 will typically cost between $40 - $50 or £30 to £40.

Japanese Classroom Culture

If you are considering teaching English in Japan, there are a few things you should know. First, the country is home to over 127 million people, making it one of the most populous countries in the world. Second, Japanese schooling is highly structured and geared towards preparing students for college and a career. Consequently, many of the students who want to learn English are already familiar with grammar and vocabulary.

However, the typical Japanese student will often be quite modest and shy. This means that they can be reluctant to speak, and getting them to talk can be one of the challenges of teaching Japanese students. On a positive note this comes from their respectful and polite nature, and generally Japanese students will be well-behaved making the classroom easier to manage. This makes them excellent students to teach, but of course there are always exceptions to the rule!

How you'll need to dress will depend upon where you teach, and some schools and private companies will require you to wear a suit or dress smartly. It's also important to be formal and punctual as this is a feature of the Japanese society and workplace. If this isn't for you then you may want to consider teaching somewhere else!

Nevertheless, teaching English in Japan is a great experience and will expose you to a completely different culture. Whilst the social customs of bowing and gift giving may take some time to get used to, it's an opportunity that you don't want to miss and will remember for a lifetime.

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