Teaching English in Japan

Teaching English in Japan is becoming a huge industry. In Japanese high schools and universities, a second language is a prerequisite- and English is the single most taught language in the country. As Japanese businesses interact more and more with the rest of the corporate world, the skill of speaking English is becoming vitally important to the Japanese people.

If you're interested in teaching English in Japan, chances are good you have a love of Japan, a passion for language, and a major sense of independence. It's not always an easy career, and it requires a major commitment on your part.

Let's look at some of the aspects involved in this exciting undertaking.

Types of Teaching Positions

There are four main types of English teachers in Japan.
High school teacher. Japanese high schools teach English as a requirement.
University teacher. English is a popular course for Japanese university students, particularly those going into a business-related field of study.
Conversation school teacher. Conversation schools are similar to community classes in America, and are open to all age groups and skill levels. These classes generally teach conversational English.
Business English teacher. Many corporations will hire teachers to teach their employees basic English for interacting with overseas investors and consultants.

Teaching Requirements

The type of certification you'll need to teach English in Japan depends on what type of teacher you're interested in becoming. Many English teaching jobs in other countries require TEFL or other English-teaching certifications for all teachers. Japan, however, does not consider this a prerequisite, and has the largest number of uncertified teachers of any industrial nation.

If you wish to teach in a conversational school or perhaps a high school, a college degree is satisfactory. University teachers and other high level schools generally require post graduate degrees.

Keep in mind, however, that even though it is not required, TEFL certification will give you quite an edge over non-certified applicants. As competition for teaching positions increases, getting a TEFL or other teaching certificate is a good way to put yourself ahead when it comes time to find a job.

Getting to Japan

If you're prepared to work, the next step is finding an English teaching job in Japan. Although you certainly can go straight there and begin your job search in person, we recommend lining up a job before you leave. The internet and teaching job databases will likely quickly become your new best friend!

Keep in mind that you will need a Japanese work visa for your new job. This can be an extremely time-consuming process, and visas must be filed from your home country. The good news is that once you've been hired by a school, chances are good they will assist you with the work visa and other arrangements. Some schools will even pay for your airfare to help you get back and forth. Work closely with your new employers to ensure the scheduling works out for everyone and to save yourself unnecessary stress.

What to expect

If you've found yourself a job and made all the arrangements, the only thing left to do is get started. Keep in mind that teaching English in Japan will, in most cases, require at least a year of commitment. After all, you'll need to be present for an entire school term if you're teaching in a high school or university. If you've been hired by a conversation school or business, your terms will be decided between you and the employer.

It'll be a lifestyle change, and it'll be a definite challenge. But after all- you wouldn't be doing this if you weren't ready for some adventure.
By Michelle Simmons