Land of the Rising Sun

Japan is a major draw card for anyone looking at teaching English overseas.   Living in the Land of the Rising Sun, is an experience par excellence for any westerner.  Known for its rich and unique culture, it is a nation both ancient and ultra modern at the same time.

For the first time TESOL teacher, Japan offers free or subsidized accommodation, competitive salaries, health insurance, and sometimes reimbursed airfares.   It also offers a developed infrastructure, high speed everything, from transport, to Internet, and a customer service culture like no other.    What ever your penchant, Japan has it covered.

When it comes to teaching English in Japan, we start with the public school system, that includes English as a compulsory part of the Japanese curriculum.  Jobs in the public sector are known as ALTs, or Assistant Language Teachers.   One major benefit of these jobs is that they get public school holidays.  A downside is the inflexibility of the school system and ineffective teaching methods.  The focus is largely on passing exams, rather than conversational fluency.  The result is students who can explain English grammar but cannot use it to communicate.  Hence, a large English language industry exists outside the public system, catering to the need for conversational fluency.

English Conversation schools, or Eikaiwa, as they are known, can be found everywhere.  Large Eikaiwa chains, such as ECC, AEON, Berlitz, are often located at busy train junctions, and shopping centres.  These chains run annual recruitment drives in English speaking countries looking for fresh faces to head up their classrooms.    Alternatively, smaller family owned operations exist of varying sizes, and quality, particularly outside the major city centres.  They generally offer lower pay but offer more freedom and flexibility than their larger counterparts.  Regardless, English language in Japan is business, and there is an expectation that teachers will understand this and assist with marketing and merchandising exercises to ensure the success of the school.

Salaries for first time teachers start at 250,000 yen, and working hours are variable.  In Eikaiwa positions, afternoon and evening work is common, as is weekend work.   Jobs may advertise 25 teaching hours, but the expectation is that you will be present for 40 hours a week.

The basic requirements for getting work in Japan is that you are fluent in English, have a certificate iv in TESOL qualification, and can legally live and work there.  To obtain a work visa, a bachelor degree of any description is required, alternatively working holiday visas give non degree holders up to two years in the country.

These days, Japan is a very affordable place to live, work and play.   Scoring cheap rent, technology, and eating out nearly every night are just some of the perks of teaching English in Japan.  Other great things to do when teaching English in Japan include skiing, trips to Mt. Fuji, or visit to a traditional bath house.



  1. Rachel on August 8, 2017 at 3:51 am

    I’m TESOL certified and I do have a Bachelor’s degree from the Philippines. Would my degree be considered? I was born and raised in the USA and my nursing degree is from the Philippines. If I pursued nursing in the states, my degree is definitely accredited with US standards.

    • TEACH on August 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Hi Rachel, on first glance I would say yes… but often it will depend on the institution that you are applying to. If I were you I would certainly reach out to schools and institutions in Japan, if that is where you would like to tutor / teach. Qualified tutors are in big demand. Rachel what TESOL qualification do you have? you may want to consider upgrading your TESOL qualification to give you the best possible chance of employment. Remember: it is competitive even where there is demand. You want the best job you can qualify for.

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