Success! I’ll Soon Be in Japan
Thought I’d share some good news on my blog… I’ve finally been accepted into a program to teach English in Japan! It’s the first time in a long time I’ve felt I’ve made any kind of step forward in my life, but it’s something I’ve been working at for quite a while now. A year and a half of concentrated applying and studying and resume-building have gotten me results at last, so I’m really excited to actually start teaching. I enjoy working with kids, and as you can probably guess, I’ve had a great interest in Japan for a long time.
I’m not certain where I’ll be living at quite yet, but I should be finding out in the next month before I head out (assuming all goes smoothly with visa paperwork and whatnot). I imagine I’ll be happy wherever I get sent though; I’ve moved a lot growing up and have lived overseas for a few years in the past. That said, there will be a lot to learn and a lot to get used to–I hope I can continue to prepare well now in the meantime. That includes learning Japanese of course, though I’m well-aware I won’t be fluent at all before I get there. I’ll manage though, and I’ll obviously keep studying while I’m there.
For those who are curious about how to get a job teaching English in Japan, I’ve included some notes below that may be of interest to you.
If you are in college and have an interest in teaching, English, and/or Japan, you may want to consider this line of work for after you graduate. From what I understand you need at least a bachelor’s degree to get a working visa in Japan; or at least every English-teaching program I’ve seen lists this as a base requirement. After that there are rarely further requirements outside of native fluency in English (NOTE: knowledge of Japanese is essentially never a prerequisite for entry-level work)–but this doesn’t mean it’s easy to land one of these jobs. Many sources online certainly claimed as much, but for me at least it appears this field is extremely competitive these days. It seems it may have once been a very simple matter to get one of these jobs, but my experience teaching English overseas along with a host of other qualifications wasn’t enough to get me anything quickly. Be sure to fill your resume with as many pertinent things as you can (e.g. anything teaching, English, Japan, leadership, or children-related) and definitely try every avenue that’s open to you. Here are some programs you can look into:
- JET Program – associated with the Japanese government, it has a very long application process but presents a larger paycheck. As an assistant language teacher (ALT), you would help out the Japanese English teachers in various schools (from elementary to high school). Very competitive.
- Interac – a large and reputable company, which has a somewhat long application process. As with JET, you would be working as an assistant language teacher in various schools. Also very competitive.
- Aeon and Amity – both are part of the same company but have separate application processes. These are eikaiwa schools, meaning people sign up to take English classes after school or work. You would be a teacher for many small classes throughout the afternoon and evening. Aeon deals with customers of all ages, while Amity focuses solely on children.
- James English School – eikaiwa in Northern Japan.
- ECC – large eikaiwa corporation.
- iTTTi (Peppy Kids Club) – eikaiwa for children.
- Shane English School – another eikaiwa.
- Altia Central – another eikaiwa.
I suggest applying for all of them, but keep in mind some will require an interview in-person if you make it to that stage. If you live near Los Angeles or Toronto you’re in luck, but otherwise look into when these companies may be visiting a city in your area. (Note: I’m not certain how many of these programs operate in other English-speaking countries–but there are definitely opportunities for people all around the world. There may be opportunities for native speakers of other languages as well.)
Another good resource to utilize is GaijinPot, which is a sort of classifieds for jobs in Japan for foreigners (much of which constitutes English teaching). Unfortunately many of these jobs require being in Japan already, but if you keep at it you can find some companies looking for native English-speakers overseas.
If overseas, you’ll want to start saving up as much money as you can, since chances are you will need to buy your plane ticket to Japan and will need money to live off of for your first 5-8 weeks until your first paycheck comes in. You may also need to pay first month’s rent and “key money” for your apartment up front as well, which can be a lot of yen. But once you have a monthly paycheck coming, you will likely earn from 230,000 to 270,000 yen a month (or about $2,500 to $3,000 a month, a figure which will of course fluctuate based on exchange rate).
And though it is rarely a requirement, it would make a lot of sense for you to look into getting some kind of certification for teaching English to speakers of other languages. There are a variety of TESOL, TEFL, and TESL programs out there, most of which cost a good chunk of change. A full degree is of course the best, but if you don’t intend to have teaching be the main focus of your career then a 100-hour program can be a good way to get a short but decent overview of how TESOL works. There are online-only programs available, but if you can find one in your local area with in-class training that would be more beneficial. I took one such certification course to improve my resume, and it turned out to be a really good learning experience.
Important to keep in mind is that you don’t get to pick where you go for any of these teaching programs in Japan, though most will at least accept suggestions that they may or may not be able to take into consideration. Also keep in mind that this is a teaching job in a foreign country, and you may be working with children for several hours every work day. There’s a lot to consider before giving your all in the application processes, and I suggest reading people’s accounts of their experiences online regarding living and teaching in Japan, to at least get a general idea of some things you’ll be dealing with!
If anyone has any experience in this matter, feel free to comment and suggest any good things to keep in mind while I prepare for this job and move. I hope this post is a little helpful for those thinking about looking into this line of work though, and I’ll probably post more on the subject in the future.