My 10 Top Tips for Teaching English in Japan

1. There are lots of Japanese expats living and working overseas with their families. Before I went to Japan to teach English, I gave private English conversation lessons to the wives of Japanese expats living in Australia. I asked them to provide references for me in Japanese and this really helped me to get a job in Tokyo. Get in touch with your local Japan Society and make some friends. Many Japanese people who live overseas are looking for locals to teach them English privately and this will be good practice for you before you go and teach in Japan.

2. When you apply for an English teaching position in Japan make sure you include a passport size photograph with your resume. Also, make sure your CV is up-to-date and it communicates why you think you’d be a good English teacher in Japan.

3. If you have a university degree in any subject and/or a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate then you shouldn’t have any trouble finding work as an English teacher in Japan. Knowing what qualifications you need, whether you’ll enjoy the experience and the amount of salary you should expect are all points you may want to consider before leaving your own country.

4. The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme is very famous for recruiting non-Japanese people to teach English all over Japan for at least twelve months. I know this is an excellent programme but there are many other schools in Japan which offer great salaries and good working environments such as Aeon, ECC and Interac. I’d also like to mention there are lots of small private English conversation schools to consider that are looking for teachers. They are advertising in the Japan Times newspaper or online. These schools are often looking for a foreigner to teach for just a couple of hours per week and at these places you can pick up some extra money teaching on your days off.

5. Look out for English teaching jobs that offer free or subsidised housing as it’s very expensive and difficult for foreigners to rent an apartment in Japan. Real estate agents will expect you to provide a guarantor and there are lots of upfront fees even before you start living in an apartment so free rent provided by your Japanese employer can save you a lot of money.

Teaching English

6. Make sure you buy a few nice suits before you go to Japan. You’ll need to wear these for interviews and you’ll continue to wear them when you are teaching. Japanese companies like their English teachers to look polished and professional. Imagine you’re applying for a position as a general manager and in the interview you have to look your best. If you do this then you’ll dress appropriately for an interview in Japan and you’ll make a great first and lasting impression.

7. Always be on time when you’re going for interviews and teaching classes. You’ll be required to prepare your English lessons for at least fifteen minutes before the start of each class so don’t be late. Japanese professionals do not tolerate tardiness. One of the major reasons for being late in Japan is that foreigners often get lost trying to find the right platform at train stations to get to their destination. For example, Shinjuku station in Tokyo has millions of people passing through it every day and it can be difficult to find the right train line amongst a sea of commuters, so make sure you leave your home early if you’re going to an English language school you’ve never been to before.

8. Remember that honesty and integrity are very important attributes in Japan.

9. When you teach English in Japan you should try and make your classes as interesting and as memorable as possible. Make sure your students learn something new at the end of each class and always make sure your personality shines through. For example, you could teach your Japanese students some slang or something interesting about your own country. If you’re from the UK, you could tell your students the Queen’s favourite residence is Windsor Castle or you could talk about the six wives of Henry VIII. If you’re from Australia you could talk to them about how koalas love to eat eucalyptus leaves or about the history of Ned Kelly. If you’re from America you could explain why President Obama is so popular or talk about Thanksgiving Day traditions. You can use these subjects to start interesting discussions. Remember students are often asked to evaluate their lessons so make sure they leave your classes with a smile on their faces.

10. Every month, you’ll receive a substantial salary as an English teacher in Japan so make sure you save at least 10% of what you earn.

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Comments

35 Comments

  • anupam reddy says:

    thats good…!!! ( http;//luvisareligion.blogspot.com)

  • Hi…………
    Thanks for your marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back from now on. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a nice day.

    Teaching English In Japan

  • Hello, Renae. I’m Shen from Malaysia. I found your blog from The Japan Blog List. It is a very nice blog! Great tips for teaching English in Japan ^^ Thanks.

    One of my friends from UK is considering an English teacher job in Japan. This article helps a lot! I will introduce your blog to her. Thanks again for the nice tips and keep up with the great writings. ^^

  • Hi Shen, thank you for your lovely message. I’m so glad that you like my blog. If you or your friend have any questions about Japan or teaching English in Japan please send me a message on the BIO page of this website and I’ll do my best to help you. — Renae :)

  • Alexandra says:

    Would you please advise what are the minimum qualifications you must have before you can be employed to teach English in Japan?

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon. My email is: wildewood1@gmail.com

    Thanking you.

    • As far as I know, you need to have a university degree or a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification or a TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language to Speakers of Other Languages) qualification.
      Good luck and I hope you decide to teach English in Japan because I really enjoyed the experience.

  • tokyojoe says:

    Just a good resource for anyone wanting teaching work but more exciting is extra/movie work in Japan which you can do for fun. There are jobs that pop up with no experience required on http://www.alttokyo.com. Currently the acting/movie producers group have some extra work next month near Ueno.
    here is direct link http://www.alttokyo.com/groups/film-making-acting-extras/
    I have uploaded my resume and have email job alerts set for ALT teaching work which seems to be plentiful these days.

  • karen says:

    grreat information

  • karen says:

    is there kiwis there teaching english

    • Hi Karen, thanks for your comments. It’s nice to get feedback from another Antipodean! There are definitely Kiwis working in Japan and teaching English. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a page dedicated to New Zealanders working in Japan, mainly as English teachers. Click HERE for details. :)

  • Carmen says:

    Hello!
    I’m thinking of doing a Tesol or tefl course when I’m done with my current uni course. I’d probably be about 21 by that time, Would younger people wanting to teach English in Japan be able to find jobs there?

    I really want to do this one day and I’m not sure what to expect.

    • Hi Carmen, thanks for your message. I was 21 when I first taught English in Japan and I really enjoyed the experience. If you’ve completed a university course then you don’t really need to complete a Tesol or Tefl course but it may give you an edge over the other applicants. I wish you all the very best of luck and I’m more than happy to answer any more questions about teaching English in Japan. You can also contact me directly on the BIO section of my website — Renae :)

      • Ella Mason says:

        Hi,

        I messaged you months ago about teaching English in Japan however you didn’t reply. Are you contactable anymore?

        Ella

  • Mr Coco says:

    nice blog, steer clear of certain eikaiwas and you’re teaching experience will be wonderful http://questions12.wordpress.com/

  • source says:

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  • Romy says:

    Hi I just read your article and although you said if you have a TEFL certificate you will find work in Japan I’m struggling to find any jobs where you don’t need a university degree as I will just be out of school if I were to teach English in Japan. So I was just wondering if you knew any programs or organisations which had any jobs for people without a degree but with a certificate of some sort, thanks!

    • Hi Romy, thanks for reading my Cherry Blossom Stories Blog. The bigger, better-known English language schools generally only hire teachers with a university degree so I suggest you steer clear of schools like Aeon and ECC and approach the smaller private schools. They usually pay just as much as the more prominent English conversation schools, they are often more relaxed in their approach to teaching methods and they’ll probably also pay for the transportation costs from your home to their workplace. Take a look at the schools like ‘CLICSCHOOL’, ‘Queen’s English School’ and ‘Knock Knock English’ on the Jobs in Japan website today. I haven’t been in contact with these schools but the names of the schools suggest they are small and private. If you present well in a suit for interviews and prepare a good CV then I’m sure you’ll be fine. Good luck and please let me know whether you get a job in Japan!

  • blogster says:

    Renae, some good points there, particularly 1 and 3. As a fellow Australian, can you recommend any specific Japanese groups/societies that may well be beneficial to get in contact with here in Australia? Also, how long have you been teaching in Japan?

    • I’ve been living in the UK for nearly ten years so I can only recommend a visit to The National Federation of Australia-Japan Societies’ website or you could also get in contact with the Consulate-General of Japan and I’m sure they would be happy to help you get in touch with Japanese groups/societies. I’m not teaching English at the moment but I did teach English to the Japanese for over ten years in both Japan and Australia and therefore I have a lot of experience in that area.

  • john says:

    A good Japanese level is also needed (according to my experience…).

    You can use free online matching sites like gaijin-cafe.net until you find a “real” teaching job.

  • Howdy! This article could not be written any better!
    Looking through this article reminds me of my previous
    roommate! He continually kept preaching about this.
    I am going to send this article to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Elias says:

    This was a great article! I’ve been applying at a number of large, English teacher companies (ECC, AEON) and didn’t know about Interac.
    Your tips are most helpful, Renae.

    I’ve also started Japanese classes – I think the language is fun to learn and also sounds cool.

    Thank you for writing this :)

  • Su says:

    Thanks for posting this, I found it very informative. After visiting Japan a few months ago I’m determined to move there and was tossing between the JET program or another English teaching position, although I’d like to live in Japan for longer than a year.

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  • Ian says:

    Japan has a future mindset. That means that’s why you should show up on time for your interview. It’s not Central or South America where tardiness is the norm. But if you are from anywhere in the US or any other western country that shouldn’t be a problem.

    It’s the more formal place in Eastern Asia for teaching too. All schools aren’t like that, but the big companies will require you to wear a suit. Before I went to Taiwan my friend pointed out that it was more casual. I used to wear flip flops to class.

  • Amadeus says:

    Hi,

    Although I really enjoyed the information here I would like to point out something the author seems to not be aware of.

    It is impossible to gain an appropriate working visa/sponsorship in Japan without a bachelors degree in any field. So the author is wrong in saying that a tesol course is sufficient for the smaller schools. It’s not the schools that really care about this, it’s the Law. For anyone without a degree and only having the appropriate Tesol quals. There is one way of obtaining legal work in Japan without a degree and that is through the working holiday program that some countries offer with Japan. In fact some schools would much prefer teachers on this type of visa due to the ease of employment, not having to go through sponsorship, less paperwork, easier contracts, etc. . The downside to this option is the age 30 limit, 2 year maximum visa and that some countries don’t offer this. So basically if you would like to teach in Japan or gain any employment with a contract/sponsorship you will need a degree first.

  • Tausif says:

    To get the attention of the students is a must for every good teacher. There is some methods of getting the attention such as at the start of the class, one should talk about a topic which is very interesting and also inter-related to the subject that the teacher is teaching as it is mentioned above. Again, one can talk about the topic that are very enjoyable amongst the students for example, football which is greatly known as the most spectacular game in the world. Thanks for sharing such a valuable topic Lucas. I really appreciate your thoughts. Keep up the good work.

  • Payal Patel says:

    Thanks for sharing this blog regarding the ways of teaching English in Japan, this is surely going to help me in my related topics.

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