Teaching English in Japan can be a rewarding experience whether your dream is to live in Japan, be a teacher, consider a career change, or gain experience in an international work environment.
Part 1 of 9: Meet the Basic Requirements
Step 1. Get a college degree
One requirement is to have at least a college degree. It is not a requirement for work, but it is a requirement for a work visa. Without a work visa (or a spouse visa if you are married to a Japanese citizen) you cannot legally work in Japan. It is an immigration law. Without a university degree, Japan will not issue you a work visa and you do not want to break the law in Japan. If you are caught working without a visa, you will be detained and deported. Your college degree doesn't have to be in teaching or English, however this could be more helpful. Any college degree will come in handy.
Step 2. Start saving money
You will need a lot of money if you want to work in Japan. It is recommended to bring at least $ 2,000, which will help you get started before you receive your first paycheck. Also, you will have to buy clothes for your work. Most schools require you to wear a suit, however some will allow you to remove your jacket in the classroom, especially during the summer. You must have at least 3 nice outfits. You will also have to pay for your plane tickets. Depending on the location of your interview, you may need to fly there (even within your own country). You will also have to pay for your flight to Japan.
Step 3. Have a clean past
In other words, not having been arrested. The government will not issue a visa to a person who has committed a crime. In this sense, minor crimes committed several years ago can be ignored, however, any event that occurred in the last 5 years is almost a guarantee that you will be denied a visa.
Part 2 of 9: Investigate
Step 1. Find a school where you can teach
There are hundreds of English schools in Japan. Most are private and are often referred to as “Eikaiwa”, which means “English conversation”. In general, these schools offer a good working environment and you can easily join them. They also help you settle in Japan. The pay is good for an entry-level job.
- Use the Internet and read about the different types of schools. There are probably four that are very famous and with branches throughout the country, but at the same time hundreds of smaller schools. Start by making a list of famous schools in Japan. Or, if there is a particular city you want to go to, try searching for schools in that city.
- Read the experiences of old masters online. Many of them write about their experiences while working in these schools. This is a good way to evaluate the pros and cons of each place.
- Visit the school's website directly. There you will get a lot of information about salaries, type of lessons, housing, responsibilities and so on.
- Read student comments. If you can read Japanese, a very good idea is to read student comments about the school they attended. This will give you the best information about the atmosphere of that company. Usually the comments of the students are very different from the comments of the teachers since they see the school from another perspective. Reading both sides will help you choose the school that is right for you.
Step 2. Read about life in Japan
Work life is just one part of your life in Japan. You must read about Japanese culture and manners. Read people's personal experiences rather than books, as these often contain stereotypical or outdated information. People's real experiences will give you a better idea about life in Japan. Does this kind of life suit you? Remember: you will be working in a Japanese work environment (depending on the school) and probably all of your students will be Japanese, therefore it is essential to understand their culture.
Step 3. Review English grammar terms and commonly misspelled words
You will likely have a short English test at the interview. It will include conjugating verbs in different tenses (for example, past perfect) and also a spelling section. It is highly recommended to get a list of commonly misspelled words and practice conjugating irregular verbs, even if your mother tongue is English.
Step 4. Start learning Japanese
You don't need it for your work, but it will be useful for reading students' names and also for using computers. You will likely need it to live in Japan, especially if you will not be in a big city.
Part 3 of 9: Deciding if it's what you really want
Step 1. Keep the following in mind when making your decision:
- Most companies require a minimum 1 year contract. That is, you must live in Japan and work in that company for at least 1 year. You will have the Golden Week, the Obon festival and the New Year holidays to visit your family in your hometown. Other than that, prepare to be separated from your family and friends for at least 1 year.
- Don't break your contract. It's not easy for a company to find new teachers, do the paperwork, and train them. During the time span of your departure and the arrival of a new teacher, the school will be in quite a bit of trouble. They will have to get a substitute or emergency teacher, which is very expensive. If you break the contract, the company can determine that you are responsible for those expenses and they will charge you, even if you return to your home country.
- Also, students need a teacher who is there for them. If you leave suddenly, your students' motivation will decrease and they don't deserve it. Ready to make a minimum 1-year commitment?
Part 4 of 9: Request an Interview
Step 1. Visit the website of the school you are interested in and check when and where the interviews will take place
Find the right interview date and place for you. Follow the instructions on the school's website and submit an application.
You may need to write an essay about why you want to work and live in Japan. Follow the instructions established by the company. Following directions is important not only in these schools, but throughout Japan. You should write about how much you like Japan and teaching. Also highlight your strengths in the essay.
These schools are looking for enthusiastic teachers, so you could include phrases like "deep interest," "overhelming passion," "intellectually stimulating," and so on. For example: “I have held a deep interest in Japan and teaching since I was in junior high school. In our history class, we learned how to write our name in katakana and it really piqued my curiosity in the culture. Furthermore, I have an overwhelming passion for learning and teaching and hope to pursue it in my future”. Using these words will allow the employer to know more about your personality
- The essay should show your personality, but at the same time it should reflect your ability in the English language. You will likely have to teach students ranging from beginner to advanced. Using advanced vocabulary and expressions will make your essay stand out. For example, instead of saying “I have always wanted to be a teacher”, you can say “I have always had my heart set on a teaching career”.
- Do not use informal vocabulary because it could be considered unprofessional. Being professional is very important and these schools pride themselves on that image. Show that you are a well-educated, determined, professional and competent person, with a lot of energy and passion.
Step 2. Write your resume
It is quite simple. If you don't know how, there are some good articles on how to write a resume on wikiHow.
Step 3. Check everything
One sure way for your application to be denied is for it to contain spelling and grammatical errors. Review it several times and have someone else read it too. If you're really not sure about some grammar, read up on grammar rules on the internet. You will most likely do some more advanced grammar work in the future anyway, so that you explain them clearly to your students.
Step 4. Prepare a demo lesson
You should create a 50 minute class about what kind of lesson you want to teach. If you are accepted for the interview, choose 5 minutes of the lesson you want to show yourself to the interviewers. Prepare a lesson for a beginner class (intermediate level may be acceptable). Make it fun and engaging. All you have to say are instructions. Create a lesson in which students do conversations or activities with each other. Remember that you are applying for a job as a conversation teacher in English; so have students practice conversation. Give them some specific vocabulary, a grammar topic, and a situation to work on.
Step 5. Submit everything and wait for a response
Part 5 of 9: Go to the interview
Step 1. If your application is accepted, coordinate your attendance at the interview
Most applications are accepted, but it is at the interview that most people are eliminated. The interview will probably be in a hotel, so you should reserve a room there. The interview can consist of two stages, each on different days. If you pass the first stage, the next one will be the next day. Book at least 2 nights at the hotel.
Step 2. If you need to take a plane or train, arrange it as soon as possible
Just as there is no excuse for being late for work, there is no excuse for being late for an interview. Organize travel plans that apply.
Step 3. Dress for the occasion
- Bring two suits, some nice shoes, a good pencil, a notepad, and whatever accessories or supplies you want to use for your class. If you are going to use prints, print them in color. If you're using flashcards, laminate them. Make them as professional as possible. Your demo class will only take 5 minutes, but the amount of work you put into the preparation will impress your interviewers. Never start the demo lesson without some pictures or accessories. Iron your suits and shine your shoes.
- Don't wear perfume, extra makeup (just foundation is fine), more than one pair of earrings, more than one ring, or any other flashy or colorful accessory. While it is true that people in Japan wear a lot of accessories, they don't do it in the office. Excessive makeup like eyeliner and eyeshadow is frowned upon. Painted nails are discarded, however, clear polish is accepted. All of these things are considered unprofessional and will not be allowed at school if you get hired.
- If you are a woman, wear stockings and closed-heeled shoes. Don't wear flat shoes. Not bright colors (pink, red, yellow, orange) or an all-black outfit. Schools want to show a professional image, but at the same time friendly and “bright”. Keep that in mind before you go.
- If you are a man, shave your beard or cut it very short. It is rare for men in Japan to grow beards, especially businessmen. If they have one, it will always look well trimmed. This will be a requirement at the school if you are to be hired.
- Hide all tattoos. The school will not hire you if your tattoo stands out to the eye. For some schools it is fine if you have one, but you should keep it hidden and never tell the students. They “might” not be interested, but if they tell the school staff, then you may be in trouble.
Part 6 of 9: In the first interview
Step 1. Get there early
This is important for your future job and for most activities in Japan. Always arrive 10-15 minutes early.
Step 2. Don't speak Japanese
Knowledge of Japanese is generally not required for this job. Also, you may be prohibited from speaking Japanese with or even in front of students at school. Speaking Japanese with an interviewer or during your demo lesson is a good way to fail your interview. We repeat: schools do not want you to speak Japanese within their facilities.
Step 3. You will be given a presentation of the company
Take notes and listen carefully. Ask questions to show your interest and that you are actively listening.
Step 4. Mentally prepare for the demo lesson
You should have already decided the 5 minutes of your class that you want to demonstrate. There will be several interviewers and many interviewees. The other interviewees will be your students and you will be the student when it is their turn. There will likely be more than one interviewer observing your class. Prepare for it. Take a deep breath and drink some water.
Step 5. Begin your demo lesson
- Smiling a lot is a great advantage. Smile and make your students smile. Happy students are students who will want to continue studying and who will love attending your class. So smile!
- Give instructions clearly, slowly and simply. Speak only when necessary.
- Use gestures. Take a chance. Be funny. Schools are looking for a teacher who can explain things without using words and, at the same time, someone who can capture the attention of students. Using gestures and smiling a lot will also help you forget your nerves. Enjoy and your students will too, as will your interviewer.
- Teach them something. Even if they have "free talk," teach them more advanced phrases. For example, if you make them talk about a trip they took and a student (interviewee) says “it was great”, teach them phrases like “it was fantastic” or “it was out of this world”. Teach them something, but make sure they talk a lot and practice what you taught them. You can even have them repeat it once or twice.
- Don't bother with your students. One of your students (another interviewee) is likely to try to complicate your demo class by asking an unrelated question or by not following directions. Do not worry. Just smile, answer if you can, and follow the lesson. If you can't answer the question, don't worry! Suffice it to say that it is a very good question, the name of the student, that they will talk about it after class and that for now they will continue. In the school you will have students of this type. Knowing how to handle them and how to control the class is essential for every teacher. He promises to help them, but at a later time.
- Don't talk too much. Don't do a conference. You are teaching conversation in English. The ones you want to speak are your students.
- Don't complicate another interviewee's demo lesson. Be a good student. Do exactly what I tell you. Interfering with someone else's demo class will look unprofessional.
Step 6. Wait for a response from the interviewers
They will invite you to a second interview or maybe not.
Part 7 of 9: In the second interview
Step 1. The second interview will look more like a real interview
It's likely just between you and an interviewer. You will be asked the typical interview questions. Have your answers ready.
Step 2. Prepare a second demo lesson
You will not be able to prepare for the second demo lesson. It will present itself to you unexpectedly. It will probably be about a children's lesson. The interviewer may show you a page from a book and say, “You have 1 minute to prepare and 3 minutes to show me something from this page; besides, I am 5 years old”. The interviewer will leave the room and you will have little time to look at that page and decide what or how you want to prepare it. Let's imagine there are zoo animals on the page.
Step 3. Prepare yourself mentally to get out of your parameters
The interviewer will come back with the mindset of a 5-year-old. He won't do it in every sense, but sometimes he will act like he doesn't understand you. Do your best to teach him something and make it fun. Even be funny if you have to. If the page is about zoo animals, make animal sounds and then say the name of the animal. Use gestures too. Use your arm like an elephant's nose. Say “all” and do it with your student, then repeat the name of the animal. This may be weird for you, but it's fun for a 5-year-old. Also, the vocabulary you taught him is unlikely to be forgotten! Sometimes you will have to be able to prepare lessons on the spot, so the ability to do it in a short time is essential.
Step 4. After the demo lesson, tell the interviewer what kind of place you want to work in Japan
Be specific: big city, small city, country, near the sea, in the mountains and so on. Also tell him if you want to teach children or adults. Tell him exactly what you want. If they want to hire you, then they will find you a good place, even if it takes them a couple of months.
Step 5. Finish your interview and go home
Wait for the phone call.
Part 8 of 9: Get hired and complete the paperwork
Step 1. If you are going to be hired, you will receive a phone call
If you were an energetic and kind teacher who put a lot of effort into preparing his demo lesson and could also offer a fun and spontaneous class, then you will get a job as an English teacher in Japan.
Step 2. Follow the recruiter's instructions to obtain the visa, the certificate of eligibility to work in Japan, and the start date
Ask all the questions you have.
They will send you a contract. Please read it carefully. Very carefully. Remember that it is a legal agreement. Do not violate it, or take it lightly
Step 3. Get a passport if you don't have one
Step 4. If you take any medicine, find out if you can get the same or a similar one in Japan
Some drugs are illegal in that country br>
Part 9 of 9: Go to Japan and Get Training
Step 1. Pack up and board the plane
Take only the essentials. You can buy things in Japan when you arrive or have your family send them to you later. Your department will be small and the training center too. He only wears suits, casual clothes and hygiene implements. Maybe a book for studying Japanese.
Step 2. Meet your training partners at the airport
Head with the instructor and your new group to the training center. You may be trained there for a time. Be friendly with your training partners.
You will have a couple of days of training. Don't take it lightly. It can be fun but long. You will perform tasks and jobs. They will help you learn how to do your job for the following year. Do not miss. Do everything meticulously. You may be kicked out of training and not sent to the designated school. Again, if you're not serious about training, the company may send you back home
Step 3. After the training, head to your designated school, meet your new co-workers and students, and enjoy your new life as an English teacher in Japan
- Make it fun. Students who enjoy their class will have a high motivation to continue studying.
- Be professional, friendly, and follow the rules.
- Get a college degree. You cannot get a work visa without this.
- Save a lot of money. Taking the interview and starting to live in a foreign country is expensive.
- Get ready to step out of your comfort zone! You will have to captivate the interviewer and your students.
- Do your research before making a 1-year commitment.
- Start studying Japanese. You don't need it, but it will be useful to you.
- Private English classes in Japan can also be very lucrative, with or without a college degree. In particular, there are many adult learners ranging from beginners to intermediate who are looking for some extra English classes to help them advance in their career. There are several companies and websites that can put you in touch with students. However, be sure to meet them in cafes or other public places.
- Do not commit crimes in your home country. If you have a criminal past, you will not get a visa.
- Don't lie on your resume. For example, if you write that you are fluent in Japanese, you could be placed in a school with non-English speaking Japanese staff. Just tell the truth. Don't be ashamed of your ability.
- Do not breach the contract, otherwise, your employer will hold you responsible for any damage that the company suffers: monetary or otherwise.
- Depending on the company, you may have to sell things to students. This is part of the job and has to be done. Prepare yourself mentally for it.
- Some English schools have gone bankrupt in recent years. This could happen to yours too. However, your work visa is not annulled for this. You can still get another job in Japan since living there and already having a valid work visa is a great advantage for entrepreneurs.
- Never commit a crime in Japan or exceed the duration of your visa. They will arrest you and deport you. The school will be affected and will hold you accountable for it.
- Working without a proper visa is a crime in Japan. Legally, you cannot work with a tourist visa. Get a work visa or a spouse visa (being married to a Japanese citizen) if you want to work. Remember that work visas have limitations regarding the type of work you can legally perform. If you have a work visa as an IT specialist, you cannot legally teach English. Breaking these laws will result in imprisonment and subsequent deportation. Teaching independently can also be rewarding, but you do need to follow the laws.