Guest blog by One Coin English

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics coming up a lot of Japanese people, young and old, are looking to learn or brush up on their English. English teaching is in higher demand than it has ever been and with that comes plenty of opportunity for English speakers looking to live and teach in Japan. A lot of people want to try getting the full experience of living and teaching in Japan, in fact, you’re probably taking that first step and researching how to do so right now. Still, with all the different types of teaching jobs available it can be confusing to try finding a teaching position that would be the best fit for you. Well don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll give you an introduction to a few common types of teaching jobs and opportunities waiting for you in the land of the rising sun.


ALT (Assistant Language Teacher)

Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) positions are the most common teaching position in Japan and the job is exactly what it sounds like: you will be assisting a public or private elementary or Junior High School teacher with teaching an English class. The only requirement is that you have a Bachelors’s degree of any kind, even those outside of the teaching field! Although this may sound surprising, since the job is to assist a licensed Teacher to give English lessons, specialized degrees and certifications are not necessary. The main reason for this requirement is so you are eligible to receive visa sponsorship for an instructor visa which you would need a bachelor’s degree to get (Though we have also heard of some companies accepting working holiday visa holders.)

Most ALT positions are through ALT dispatch companies although some schools do hire ALTs directly. For the most part, direct hires do tend to have a slightly higher salary than those working through dispatch companies (Starting monthly pay of around 230,000 yen for dispatch companies vs 280,000 for direct hire.) One perk about ALT companies is that many of them hire people from overseas so it is a good position to consider if you want to have work set up before coming to Japan. They usually provide assistance with setting up bank accounts, finding housing, and anything else you might need to get settled when you first arrive. 

ALT companies have contracts with different public and private schools in Japan, mainly Elementary and Junior High Schools, which they will dispatch teachers to. Most ALT dispatch companies have contracts with many different schools in different locations and a lot of times you may even be assigned to multiple schools at once.

A typical Japanese Elementary School

As with every type of work, there are upsides and downsides to being an ALT. The nice thing about ALT jobs is that they are a relatively stress-free job without too much of a heavy workload. That being said sometimes you may end up with a little too much free time between classes and it may take a while before you figure out how to keep productive! One of the most common concerns that ALTs begin to have after working for a few years is stagnation as there is usually not too much available in terms of career advancement and salary increase.

ALT Companies

Interac – https://interacnetwork.com/how-to-apply/job-description/

Borderlink – https://www.borderlink.co.jp/alt/

ELT (English Language Teacher) at a Private School 

Now, if you are a licensed teacher in your home country or have certain english language certifications, another route you may consider is teaching at a private Junior High School or High school. For people that are passionate about and interested in a career in teaching, private school is usually the best choice due to its cushy salary (Ranging from 300,000 to 420,000 yen per month) and the fact that you will be in charge of a whole class not just assisting! The requirements for teaching at a private school do vary depending on the school, most require a bachelor’s or master’s degree and a valid teaching license in your home country or a TESOL or CELTA certificate. The general rule of teaching with private schools is the more requirements a position has, the better the compensation will be.

Unlike an ALT position, teaching at a private school can be quite demanding and is not a working holiday type of job. You will be the main teacher of a class, preparing the lessons, managing students, going on school trips with the students (sometimes on your regular days off.) The position is a commitment and there are usually expectations that you assist in after school clubs and events, speech contests, and meetings as well.

Job Portal with Private Schools
Gaijin pot – www.jobs.gaijinpot.com

English Teacher for children

There are also a lot of privately owned English conversational schools for children that you can teach at all over Japan. Ages of the children at these schools are usually 3 to 12 years old. The requirements to be an English teacher for children will depend on the company. For most larger Chain schools you will need at least a bachelor’s degree and possibly some experience teaching children. For the smaller schools, there is usually no requirement for degrees, certification or experience. If you are a student or on a working holiday visa and want to make some decent money from a part-time job, teaching children may be for you.

When teaching the younger kids you’ll most likely be dancing, singing, and bringing all the energy you have to the activities you will do with them. Before getting into this type of work, it is good to know that teaching children can be very exhausting at times, so if your schedule is already hectic, we wouldn’t recommend this as a side job. For the older children, you would most likely be focused on conversation practice and preparation for the EIKEN or TOEIC exams. 

Depending on what company you work for the amount of preparation needed will differ drastically. Usually, bigger companies would have more structured lessons and materials. If you are new to teaching out this can be great as it cuts preparation time down by quite a bit. The smaller schools don’t always have structured lessons but will usually give the teacher more freedom in expanding and creating lessons, though this can be quite a lot of work. When applying for a position in these private English teaching schools it is always good to ask about the materials that they use and if you will be expected to create any lessons yourself. The other challenge to consider is, similar to ALT positions, many people start to feel stagnant as there is little gained in terms of career progression.

"Teaching kids can be very exhausting at times, so if your schedule is already hectic, we wouldn’t recommend this as a side job."

Job Portal for Teaching Children

Jobs in Japan – www.jobsinjapan.com

English Conversational School Teacher (Eikaiwa)

English conversational schools or Eikaiwas are a very common type of English language school you will find around Japan. The lessons taught at Eikaiwas will usually be either private lessons or smaller group lessons. Most of the larger chain Eikaiwas will require a bachelor’s degree, though the smaller schools don’t always have this as a requirement so student and working holiday visa holders are also able to work at Eikaiwas. The student base of Eikaiwas will be either both children and adults or only adults. In terms of salary, the schools can differ quite a bit depending on the Eikaiwa that you work at and their customer base, but on average it would range from 220,000 to 255,000 yen per month. The salary of Eikaiwas that only cater to adults tends to be a bit lower than those that cater to both children and adults as there are many more geared towards adults. 

In terms of the materials used, you will usually be using very structured textbooks and lesson plans. Bigger Eikaiwas usually have their own inhouse materials and curriculum while smaller companies tend to use textbooks from major publishers. Still, it is always good to confirm if the company you are thinking about working for does provide lesson plans and ask a little about the curriculum they use. 

Getting a job at an Eikaiwa is a quick and relatively easy way to get a work visa in Japan. Many of the larger companies provide visa sponsorship off the bat and there are some that even hire from overseas.

Eikaiwas

Business English Teacher 

Business English Schools are companies that cater to business people trying to learn English for work. Most of the time you would be teaching in classrooms of your company or your client’s company office. Working at a business English school will usually pay a little more than regular Eikaiwas, with the monthly pay being around 280,000 yen a month. To be a business English teacher all you would need is a bachelor’s degree. That being said these companies are very selective when hiring teachers and having business experience does give you quite an edge against other candidates for the job. If you don’t have business experience, it is crucial that you show the interviewer you are serious about your interest in business and carry yourself professionally. 

In terms of the teaching styles and methods, business English schools and Eikaiwas aren’t too different. You’ll be provided with lesson plans and materials to use by the company. But while the structure of the lessons are similar, there is a layer of formality from the suit that you will be required to wear to the formal speech that you use. Most times there will be a lot of role-playing business situations, negotiations, and meetings, talking about business topics and teaching the student phrases and words they will find useful in a business environment. The majority of your students will be people in there 30s or 40s in middle to upper management that need to deal with foreign clients for their company.

The majority of your students will be people in there 30s or 40s in middle to upper management


The great part about teaching business English is that you may have the opportunity to speak with people in very senior positions in companies and get a better understanding of business in Japan. If you are someone that is looking to get into business in the future, be it in Japan or back home, giving these lessons can be a great way to get good insight. On the flip side of this, you may teach people who are being forced to attend lessons by their company and have very low motivation to learn. When a student is checking emails rather than listening to the class, there is not a lot of progress that can be made.

Business English companies

Berlitz – http://teach.berlitz.co.jp/
Tryon – https://tryon.co.jp

That would be just about all you need to know about the different kinds of teaching jobs in Japan, from young children to business people. Each type of teaching position has its benefits and downsides, what it comes down to is what you are looking for in a job and which position can meet your needs. So what kind of teacher will you be in Japan?

Want to find more information and sites about teaching in Japan? Check out Teach Today’s Listings Directory for Japan!


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