Wondering what it’s really like teaching English in Japan? For starters, the stereotypes about the students in Japanese culture are generally true. Your typical Japanese student will be shy, quiet, modest about their ability, good at reading and writing but reluctant to speak, and reserved when it comes to voicing their opinions.
Teaching kids can be a lot of fun, but adult classes can be a struggle if the students aren’t willing to talk! However, you always get students who buck the trend, and a lot can depend on class dynamics. Japanese students expect their teachers to be formal, respectful, professional, and to support their learning without pushing them too hard. English teachers teaching abroad will have respectful students willing to listen, in response.
Japan is full of unusual teaching gigs that probably seem a bit odd compared to your prior teaching experience. You might get offered work teaching English to employees in a bar so that they can attract foreign clients. You may be offered a short gig teaching Christmas carols to kids in a non-bilingual kindergarten, just so they can perform them at the Christmas talent show. Your private language school might run ‘parent and baby classes’ where you’re teaching someone who can’t even speak Japanese yet.
The best thing to do when faced with this sort of lesson is to laugh it off and go with the flow – it’s just part of the job. Either way, you're teaching English in Japan.
If you want to see the latest English teaching jobs in Japan, don’t forget to visit The TEFL Org Jobs Centre. You can also see the highest-rated bilingual or international schools in Tokyo by visiting the Good School Guide.
Private language schools
Working at a private language school in Japan is where most new TEFL teachers in the country will start. You might be teaching full-time at one of the big international schools or part-time during evenings and weekends at an ekaiwa.
Teachers at private language schools in Japan can expect to work around between 12-30 hours per week, depending on whether they are full-time or part-time. Classes will usually start between 10am to 1pm and last until 6pm or 10pm, five days per week, typically including the weekends.
There are numerous chain companies that hire across the country, and with all materials provided, it’s a great choice for new teachers. A job at one of these schools will most likely include flight reimbursement, health insurance, pension, social insurance, and local travel reimbursement. Some also provide accommodation (at a cost) or can assist in finding somewhere to rent. At an international school, it’s possible to earn as much as 600,000 Yen (£4,360 / $5,730) per month.