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So you Want to Teach English in Japan?

Hey, kids! Welcome to our web site all about riding the gravy train in Japan. What's that you say? I can make money just by existing, by simply showing up and speaking English?! Yep, you sure can! Our site is dedicated to all you carbon blobs out there. Learn how to tie a tie and nod your head thoughtfully and you're in!

Seriously though, before you go for that inexhaustible teat, you need to know a few things. What we are talking about here is the poop, the goods, the news, the rumors, the gossip, the truth and the utterly unsubstantiated tales of eikaiwa (English conversation to you newbies).

Why? As an English teacher, contrary to what you may believe or have been told, you are an entertainer and salesman. You are the official English-speaking person. You are the Norman Rockwell, rosy-cheeked, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, apple-pie eating, product of the suburbs;a pet gaijin to some Japanese.

You may think you are a shoe-in with your TESL or RSA certificate but the fact is you don't really need it (well, Immigration wants to see it so they can keep riff-raff out but that's another story). Any person who can speak English clearly and wear a suit properly can teach English in Japan. In fact, most Japanese figure that if you are a native speaker of English, you are qualified to teach.

We are not out to criticize English language learning; learning a second language is a noble and worthy pursuit. If anything, we wish there was a lot more communication between people all over the world. Our beef is with the large schools such as GEOS, AEON and NOVA where more entertaining than educating is going on. English is being taught professionally and being taught well in Japan. However, such institutions are few and far between; eikaiwa simply rules the landscape the way fast food rules North America. Keep this in mind as you read on: eikaiwa is a McJob.

Read our stuff. Learn. Laugh. Cry. Shout. Get angry. Agree with us. Curse us. Just promise to keep an open mind and respond.

Cheers,
Chris and Shawn

Comments

Ma'am right now is a really bad time to come look for work in Japan as an ESL teacher. With Nova falling apart and with thousands of Nova teachers looking far and wide for another job. Its going to be real tough for anybody coming here looking for a ESL job for awhile.

Your age...I dont know if its a factor or not, but I can say at my Nova branch we have a one male instructor who is in his late 50's....but thats pretty rare to see instructors over 40. Im not saying it doesnt happen I just dont see it, with the exception of the gentleman at my branch.

Japan is a Great place to live for a while....but my advice is to stay where You are now and wait until sometime next year, and hopefully this situation while have cleared up a little.

Kyoto is a real popular place for westerners and its tough getting a ESL job there during "normal" conditions.

Angliu, I am the same age as you and probably in similar condition :-) I applied to work at Nova when I was 47 and they did take me on, but the culture shock of being the oldest foreign woman the students had ever seen was a lot worse than the culture shock of being in Japan (that was fun). In the event I realized on day 1 what Nova was really all about and escaped to a proper job within 4 months of my arrival. I can't speak for the other schools but please be aware that what the students want above all is young, sexy, preferably male teachers (and by young I mean definitely under 30) so you may find it hard to get a place. But if you do make it you will have a wonderful time. I may still retire to Japan ... it was the best time of my life once I got out of the nightmare world of eikaiwa.
Good luck !

I'm interested in applying to one of eikaiwa schools but am also concerned if this is the right move for me. I would rather have a job lined up in the states instead of going directly to Japan to try my luck (I am in my 40's, and not willing to take the chance of not finding a job). But I've heard so many horror stories regarding the conversation schools, so I'm not sure what other avenues I can pursue. I would like the experience of becoming immersed in the Japanese culture, but what would you consider to be a "proper job"?

I started teaching English in Japan seven years ago, and I'm in my late 50s. I haven't found Japan ageist at all, and I love it here. Better to secure a job before you arrive as there's so many looking for work at the moment because of Nova's financial problems. I met an eikaiwa teacher yesterday who seemed old enough to be my mother and she was doing fine, and she teaches both in the branch and in elementary schools. It may be difficult to get Kyoto, but you could nominate it as a first option. If you lived somewhere in Osaka, it'd take you 40 minutes to get to Kyoto on your day off. Transfers are usually possible from one branch to another.

Hi there,

I come from Quebec, Canada, and our education system is somewhat different. I studied in an institution called "cegep" and currently have what we refer to a a "DEC" which is essentially a college-level degree. I am currently in second year of university and working towards getting a BA, but I really wanted to take some time to experience what it's like to teach English abroad. I am not currently ESL certified, but am going to take the Oxford seminar in November. My ponders are as follows:

1) Is the ESL certification all that helpful in terms of actually GETTING a job? I know that it does in some cases equate to a salary increase, but as for getting the job, I've also heard it's pretty irrelevant... Because it is costing an arm and a leg. (the course I want to take is around 1000$ CAD)

2) I DO have a degree, but will it be recognized if it doesn't say "BA" on it? And if generally not, does anyone know any alternatives for me? I had applied for NOVA a while back and they were going to hire me, but due to their bad record which I then found out about, I refused. However, I don't know of any other companies that would recognize my diploma. I was thinking maybe smaller scale, or something like that.

3) (this is somewhat unrelated) I was also wondering if there are any good places with short-term contracts, say 3-6 months. Ideally, I would like to leave soon, and come back for next September.

Anyway, I appreciate any feedback I could get on these issues. Going to Asia to teach has always seemed like a wonderful experience, and I'm just in the process of information hunting. Thank you very much!! Great site you've got going here. ^_^

Look into a working holiday visa. I am pretty sure Canada and Japan have a reciprocal relationship on them. That might be the ticket for you.

Teaching qualifications will count for nought in most schools.They dont value them at all except the best schools.The other crappy eikaiwas will hire anyone.The most important characteristic is that you arent a wallflower and can talk the drawers off a model.If you can entertain in some especially by making them laugh, this will hold you in good stead.ABC language center which closed thank God was using French, Spanish, German natives to teach English.Most students just want the experience.
If u wanna move up in the fake eikaiwa world, bring your kneepads and pucker up because these people are skanks of the lowest order.

Ok.

Thanks for that colorful advice, heheh.

Hi,

I'm an English 17 year old and currently in my second year of college. After completing my A levels, I'm considering taking a gap year in Japan which I hope to fund by teaching English. I was just wondering whether there is any chance of me doing so as an 18 year old with my only relevant qualifications being an A and A* in English Language and Literature respectively ?

P.S - I know that it doesn't come across in this comment, but I've been told throughout school/college that I write exceptionally well and as though I were older. I could produce a number of examples at interview or something if this would help at all ?

Thanks a lot,

Billy

Billy,

You sound like a very together 18 year old and I'm sure your English ability is better than most of the people currently working in Japan. Unfortunately for you the fact that you are 18 and don't have a complete university degree is going to prevent you from getting many 'proper' jobs in Japan. You may be able to get private students, which could provide some decent spending money for you. However, many schools want a university degree and with some there are age restrictions. I would do more research before I come if I were you. Also, as I'm sure you're aware of, now is not the best time to come seeking a job. I wouldn't recommend that anyone come to Japan seeking a job as an English instructor right now. But, coming to Japan as an 18 year old student, is not a bad idea at all. It's a great way to expand your horizons and it's a fairly target rich environment for a young man with a strong libido. Again, if you're not too concerned about how much money you make as an English instructor, you could do fairly well with private students, charging 3,000 to 4,000 yen per hour.

Hello all,
I am taking a TESOL Certificate via the Australian Training Academy, a Cert III in TESOL. I also have completed a 3 year degree in International Relations, I would like to continue my career in education and in social development.
What would be the best type of schools for me to teach in, in order to get the best experience in cross cultural communication or more to the point, something for my CV?

Thanks!
-Lourdes

Try the ALT route (Assistant Language Teacher) and go for a country side posting. Most of the eikaiwa aren't really about teaching and REAL ESOL's will snicker at seeing one of those on your resume.

ALT positions CAN be total monkey work too, but a good school with good teachers and students will be a very rewarding experience for you. Be careful when you look into who you work for, and don't forget the whole language industry in Japan is soon to be plunged into turmoil with the imminent collapse of NOVA.

Good luck!

so ALT stands for Assistant Language Teacher!!

all this time I thought it meant Arse Licking Tool

If there is anyone from Australia, what are the best organisations to go through to get a TESOL Cert that is well recognised?

Is Seek a good idea?

Thanks again!

Lou- Try universities such as Macquarie, University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland, etc, if you're interested in TESOL.

Japan isn't the language teacher's paradise that it once was. I wouldn't recommend coming here as a career move right now unless you have post-graduate qualifications in teaching, good long-term jobs are very competitive. If you just want to travel and pay your way, a working holiday visa and an eikaiwa job are a good foot in the door.

I hope Nova goes under and all the "college educated" eikaiwa teachers who came to Japan for their Japan fix, who are too stupid to know that they've been taken advantage of, who lowered the conditions and salaries in the eikaiwa business by accepting bad conditions, who screwed up the lives of people who are serious about living here and have no recourse but to take the eikaiwa jobs that have been screwed up by the new crop of eikiawa teachers who came and went after the bubble. Yeah I hope all of you dumb shits go back to where you came from. You are all so stupid believing that your 3 million yen a year income is good. You compare your measly 250,000 yen a month salaries to that of young Japanese salary men who get maybe 180,000 yen a month and think you're doing well. You losers! Don't you realize that a salary man's twice a year bonuses adds 50% to his salary. You need at least 6 million yen a year to be average in this country. An article in the newspaper mentioned that anyone making less than 4 million a year is considered poor. I think any foreigner making less that 6 or 7 million yen a year in Japan is a loser.

"You need at least 6 million yen a year to be average in this country."

Is that so?

Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007

Private-sector wages continue to fall
Kyodo News

The average annual wage in Japan's private sector in 2006 fell 0.4 percent from the previous year to ¥4.35 million for the ninth straight year of decline, according to the National Tax Administration Agency.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20070930a2.html

The 4.35 million average includes freeters who work low paying wages at Lawsons, McDonalds, etc.

The 6 million I'm talking about is for college educated people who work in normal jobs, not the freeter type of jobs.

Also the 4.35 million just covers the take-home pay before income taxes.
And when you consider all the benefits that normal employees of normal companies get, such as health/unemployment insurance being partly paid, low interest subsidized housing loans, etc. It'd take about 6 million yen to equal it (if you're an eikaiwa teacher with little to no benefits).

If you are an eikaiwa teacher, don't ever let yourself believe that you are making an average to above average living over here. If you think you are, then try to pay a loan on a house, a car; get all the life/health insurance, and raise a kid or two, and try putting away a little for your kids' college. The average Japanese is doing that. I don't see many loser Eikaiwa teachers doing that. And if they are, they are working more than one job and probably teaching private lessons too. Really struggling!

But then average eikaiwa teaching losers don't care about committing to or leading stable lives over here. They just want to get their "Japan experience", have fun, and then leave after a few years.

I speak from experience as I've also done the eikaiwa thing here. And I never felt like such a loser then when I was doing that. And the Japanese don't respect you either. They know what you are.

Now I'm generalizing to make a point. There are eikaiwa teachers who know the score and are trying to better their situation and get out of that racket. But as I like to say, If the shoe fits, put it on, and then stick it up your a**.

I see where you are coming from now. Still, you said, "If you think you are, then try to pay a loan on a house, a car; get all the life/health insurance, and raise a kid or two, and try putting away a little for your kids' college." Not only is that possible, I have done it. Granted, it`s not easy on a language instructor`s salary, but not being spendthrift I found it can be done.

Done! Not only am I surviving, I spend roughly 1 million yen a year on travel, and I still am paying down my debts and putting away a bunch of money for retirement. My girlfriend has a similar job and makes about 1.5 times what I do. It's not our fault you're too dumb to manage your money properly.

Oh, and I average 1 hour of private lessons a week, but only for the 39 weeks a year that I actually work.

So cry for me and my struggles, then stick it up your own damn ass! Loser!

You know what? I'm honestly pretty damn sick of all these mental cases who think you can't have a very good life on an English teacher's salary. What do you critics do, drink all of your money away? Damn, you must be bad with finances!

I and my friends are proof that if you have even a little bit of intelligence in your head and aren't a complete alcoholic, you can get by quite easily on an English-teacher-in-Japan's salary.

No need to get so huffy!

Both sides are at least partially correct. 250,000 or so a month is far from any great salary in Japan. However, while it certainly should be nothing to be at all proud of, it is more than survivable. However, I sure would not want to support a family on it. Also, as you notice every time you go home, your material standard of living is obviously much lower here. That helps keep more money in your pocket.

I do not think most Japanese have any real respect for the job, but it certainly perks them up for some free English practice if they hear the job title.

I was fighting fire with fire. That works, doesn't it?

Seriously though, that poster is far from the first person to post something like that on these forums, and it's almost always written with intent to insult and degrade. I don't usually let it go unanswered anymore.

A week ago, I met a guy who was advising me on how to "get out of the teaching thing". After a few minutes, I discovered that he works more hours a day, more days a week, more weeks a year, and makes less money than I do.

But you're also right when you say that life in Japan is less materially dependent than one in a typical Western country. The biggest plus is the total lack of need for a car, if you live in a town with a reasonably large population. Low taxes also help.

"250,000 or so a month is far from any great salary in Japan."

By the way, who said 250,000 a month? I made a little more than that, even at Nova. Now I'm still in the English teaching business, but I make somewhat more.

while the average teacher earns only 250,000 yen a month, you must remember they are working considerably less hours than the average japanese businessman.

35 hours a week will get you 250,000 a month.
thats working 7 hours a day 5 days a week.
Include 4 weeks of paid vacation per year and all public holidays off.

Ask a Japanese businessman the ammount of times he works up to 12 or 14 hours a day as 'service' to his company.You will find its a common occurance

Most Japanese businessmen work 5.5 0r 6 days a week, find it difficult to take an extended vacation beyond a week, and often spend their day off sleeping because of being overworked.

250,000 is a base salary that can be increased quite easily if your willing to work as long as the average japanese business man earning 6 mill a year.

"The 4.35 million average includes freeters who work low paying wages at Lawsons, McDonalds, etc."

It also includes highly paid professionals such as doctors, lawyers and stock brokers. So, if you have a medical license or passed the bar back in the US, then I completely agree that you are wasting your time by teaching eikaiwa. Other than that, there are plenty of Japanese doing worse than eikaiwa teachers.

"try to pay a loan on a house, a car; get all the life/health insurance, and raise a kid or two, and try putting away a little for your kids' college..."

Done it! Don't have kids yet, so that has to wait. But my wife and I own a nice two-story house in the suburbs, we have 2 cars, investments, working on savings for retirement. And for most of my 13 years in Japan I've been nothing more than a lowly English teacher. Most of that time was spent in eikaiwa. If you don't have it so well, that's only proof that you don't know how to manage your own money.

A lot of eikaiwa teachers are young, just out of college, looking for some adventure before going home to their regular life. I don't see anything wrong with that. But of the ones who stay in Japan I've noticed two distinct groups; people who adjust to living here and find a way to succeed at whatever they choose to do; and embittered loosers who are forever angry at everything, angry at Japan for being a bad place, angry at other teachers for 'stealing' their livelihood, angry at the economy, angry at the government. These angry people never seem to take any responsibility for their own predicament. I wonder which group you're in?

Stop your bitching and moaning and do something constructive with your life. If Japan is so miserable for you, why do stay?

You are absolutely correct about the two distinct groups. I was also in Japan for 10+ years and made a very good go of it. I had to return to my home country for family reasons, otherwise I'd still be living and working in the lovely countryside of Japan. I hope to go back some day, too. (I suspect that people like us probably do well wherever we live. It's just in our character and work ethic.)

I agree with the comment that there are alot of teachers who come to Japan and whine about their jobs and about Japan. I have had a great 8 and 1/2 years experience in Japan. My first two years were difficult, not because Japan was a was a bad country but that I had to adapt to my new life, and a large portion of adapting to that new life was getting along with fellow Canadians! I also had to overcome the language. I have travelled extensively around this country and have nothing but praise for the people and the culture (notice I exclude history, as some of their history has been violent). I find that expats who complain have virtually been whiny people who don't want to put any effort into anything or don't want to adapt or see the reasons why things are different from their own country. However, I have found a small percentage of people who have valid criticisms of Japan and they are married to Japanese women. So yes Japan has it's flaws, but no doubt so does the country from which these people compain. In summary, Japan has been awesome and even Nova has been very good to me. It has delivered on all it's promises and allowed me to transfer to 3 different parts of this great land. I have met many great people and I feel I have helped alot of people learn a new language and a new culture.

I personally get pissed off if I have any money left at the end of the month. I can't get rid of th estuff fast enough!

I`ve taught Eikawa for a while now. Have a new Condo bought just 2 years ago, along with new furnishings, a new car 2008 Mitsubishi outlander. I don`t own a yacht or a plane. But I`d say have done well.

I think in terms of the actual skill and experience required to teach conversational english the wage is very good. Jobs that require no experience usually pay minimum wage or a little above it. I know people with degrees think they are entitled to a wage well above the poverty line/minimum wage but thats not reality for most people with B.A s. Gaigins always assume that they are better than other gaijins, or they are different than other gaijins and I believe this stems from not being able to fully accept that being a gaigin has undeserved perks that most people are not used to.

What is the difference between a "gaigin" and a "gaijin"?

gaijin is a word, gaigin is a typo. hehe ^^

What on earth are you talking about?

Hey guys I`m just another Nova employee who has been screwed big time by the masterful acts of Nova`s illustrious management team. I`m currently living in Asahikawa, Hokkaido looking for a job. However I`ve been unsuccessful so far. Does anybody have an idea on how best to get an english speaking job here? Thankyou for any help that you could give me.

Go to AEON Japan Corporation, and search for required requirements for EFL Teachers and possible assistance for job placement.

I think the best way for you to get a job is to write speculative e-mails with your CV, to all the major language schools. If you access gaijinpot online you will find a whole list of schools advertising vacancies, although they won`t all have branches in Hokkaido I`m sure it will give you some leads.
You also need to register with Hello Work if you already haven`t.
Good Luck Mate.

Hey English Teachers,

Nova had a good idea by teaching English over the "Internet" but they gave me the idea to do it for the world. I've been teaching English online (by using Skype.com) for the past year, and my best month I made about $1,500 while I was working full-time at Nova's MM Center. Let's face it, we all want to make money to eat sushi. So let's help each other. Check out my blog, and I will take you on my journey of teaching English online. If you like what I have to say, feel free to visit my Google ad sponsors. Any way, click here:

http://HowToTeachEnglishOnline.com

And if you want to see my site that prospective students see:

http://EnglishKitty.com

If you have any questions I have plenty of free-time as Nova screwed me too: verycoolwinter@yahoo.com

Warm Regards,

John

I am from Sweden and my question is very simpel. If you would like to teach english in Japan, is it vital that you are a native speaker in the english language?
I am not a native speaker, but I think that I would do jsut fine as a english teacher in Japan. What do you think?
And I would be happy if someone could give me a list of jobs that is suited for a foreiger.
It would help alot if someone could answer quickley as possible!

//A Swede who loves Japan

Most companies hire native speakers only but Gaba I have heard also hire non native speakers depending on your level and command of english.
Here is their site http://careers.gaba.co.jp/

GABA is the place for you. When I worked there, I'd hear teachers giving feedback at the end of lessons:

"You English ist good, yah, but you heff doo be careful viss de grammaaah"

Or "Meeester Tanaka, you are beery berry good stoodent, but you must study much possible".

GABA says (official training blurb) "English language no longer belongs to Native English speakers. It is now primarily the language for international communication, and therefore must incorporate international cultural ideas and inflections"

Hidden meaning: If we hire Non Native speakers, we can keep the wage bill down. F***ING GENIUS!!!

Websites like Jobs in Japan offer a good variety of jobs for foreigners, even non-native.
You can also try private teaching through systems like private language students

I'm British, but I know that GABA and some Non-natives are spreading the BAREFACED LIE that a Non-native can teach English just as well as a native. If there are people stupid enough to believe it, and pay you for English lessons, congratulations.

French lessons, anyone? Je voudrais un pile de yen, old chap.

This site is; ENGLISH, ONLY.
You can type in your own native tongue, but....it's probably like talking to a wall.
(To be able to work for us, you have to be able to talk to "student posters" on the wall, in ENGLISH.)
You will only get replies, from your "own-kind", if not none at all!
Must be difficult to find work with a language/tongue of little/no value, on this earth. Ha Ha Ha!

G Comm. Director or EC Eikaiwa G Communication whatever name you like if you notice the swede posted his question in english and is interested in teaching english.

Do you fit our high standards of becoming an English teacher in Japan?
http://www.letsjapan.org/?q=horror_in_hokkaido.html
Imagine selling a Harley Davidson that's copied and made in China?!
That' FRAUD!

to follow NOVA. #1 Rip-off school in Japan.

GABA is a flashy, overpriced bag of crap. I worked there for two months after Nova crashed. At Nova, I disliked the company, liked my coworkers and students, and thought the staff were ok. But I enjoyed being there.

But GABA made my skin crawl. It's not a company, it's a racket.

"It would help alot if someone could answer quickley as possible!"
Shit, where has "standards/quality" gone?
Huh? Or...? Is the Swede going to sing that in class?
Hey! Might get away with it, in Japan!
I mean, "you do!"

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