Whether your dream is to live in Japan, be a teacher, consider a career change, or gain experience in an international work environment, teaching English in Japan can be a rewarding experience.
Part 1 of 9:Meeting the Basic RequirementsDownload Article
1Earn a bachelor's degree. Having at least a bachelor's degree is a requirement. This is not a requirement for the job, but rather for the work visa. Without a work visa (or a spouse visa if you are married to a Japanese citizen) you cannot legally work in Japan. This is an immigration law. Without a bachelor's degree, Japan will not issue you a work visa. You don't want to break the law in Japan. If you are caught working without a visa you will be detained and deported. Your bachelor's degree doesn't need to be in English or teaching, but it might be more useful. Any bachelor's degree will do.
2Start saving money. If you do want to work in Japan then you will need a lot of money. It is recommended to bring at least $2,000 with you to help you get started before you get your first paycheck. In addition, you will need to buy suits for your job. Most schools will require you to wear a suit, but some let you take off the suit jacket in the classroom, especially during summer time. You should have at least 3 nice suits. Also, you will have to pay for your plane tickets. Depending on your interview location, you may need to fly there (even within your own country). You also need to pay for your own flight to Japan.
3Have a clean past. In other words, no arrests. The government will not issue a visa to someone who has committed a crime. Small crimes several years ago may be overlooked, but anything in the past 5 years is almost a guarantee than your visa will be denied.
Part 2 of 9:Doing your ResearchDownload Article
1Look for a school to teach at. There are hundreds of English schools in Japan. Most of them are private and they are usually called"Eikaiwa"which means"English Conversation". These schools generally offer a good work environment and are very easy to join. They also help you with getting your life set up in Japan. The pay is also good for an entry level job.
Use the internet and read about the different types of schools. There are maybe 4 very famous ones with branch schools all across the country, but hundreds of smaller ones too. Start by making a list of the famous schools in Japan. Or, if there is a particular city that you want to go to, try looking for schools in that city.
Read former teachers' experiences on the internet. Many teachers will write about their experiences while working at their schools. This is a good way to see the pros and cons or each place.
Visit the school's website directly. They will provide a lot of information on salaries, types of lessons, housing, responsibilities, and so on.
Read students' comments. If you can read Japanese, it is a very good idea to read student's comments about the school they went to. This will give you the best information on that company's atmosphere. Students' comments usually differ greatly from teachers' comments because they see the school from a different perspective. Reading both will help you choose the school that's right for you.
2Read about life in Japan. Your work life is only a part of your life in Japan. You should read up on Japanese culture and mannerisms. Read people's personal experiences rather than books. Books often contain stereotypical or outdated information. Real people's experiences will give you better insight on life in Japan. Does this type of life suit you? Remember, you will be working in a Japanese work environment (depending on the school), and probably all of your students will be Japanese, so it's essential to understand their culture.
3Review English grammar terms and commonly misspelled words. You will probably have a short English test at the interview. It will include conjugating verbs in different tenses (for example: Past Perfect), and also a spelling section. It is highly recommended to find a list of commonly misspelled words and to practice conjugating irregular verbs, even if your native language is English.
4Start learning Japanese. You don't need it for your job, but it's useful for reading student's names and also for using the computers. You will likely need it for you life in Japan, especially if you don't live in a big city.
Part 3 of 9:Deciding If This is What You WantDownload Article
1Keep the following in mind when making your decision:
Most companies require a minimum 1-year contract. In other words, you must live in Japan and work at that company for at least 1 year. You will have Golden Week, Obon, and New Year's vacation which you can use to visit your family in your home-town. Other than that, be prepared to be separated from your family and your friends for at least 1 year.
Do not break your contract. It is not easy for a company to scout new teachers, do the paperwork, and train them. Between the time you leave and the time a new teacher comes, your school will be in a lot of trouble. They will have to send a substitute or emergency teacher, which is very expensive. If you break your contract the company can hold you accountable for those expenses and will charge you, even if you move back to your home country.
Furthermore, the students need a teacher who will be there for them. If you leave suddenly then your students' motivation will drop, and they don't deserve that. Are you ready to make a minimum 1-year commitment?
Part 4 of 9:Applying for an InterviewDownload Article
1Visit the website of the school you are interested in and see when and where they are holding interviews. Find a suitable interview location and time for you. Follow the school's instructions on the website and apply.
You might have to write an essay about why you want to work and live in Japan. Follow the guidelines set by the company. Following guidelines is not only important in these schools, but in all of Japan. You should write about how you love Japan and love teaching. Highlight your strengths in the essay as well.
These schools are looking for enthusiastic teachers, so you might want to include words like"deep interest""overwhelming passion""intellectually stimulating"and so on. For example"I have held a deep interest in Japan and teaching since I was in junior high school. In our history class, we learned how to write our name in katakana and it really piqued my curiosity in the culture. Furthermore, I have an overwhelming passion for learning and teaching and hope to pursue it in my future."Using these words will let the employer know more about your personality.
Your essay should show your personality, but it should also reflect your English ability. You will probably be required to teach students from beginners to advanced. Using advanced vocabulary and expressions will make your essay stand out. For example, instead of saying"I have always wanted to be a teacher."say"I have always had my heart set on a teaching career."
Do not use slang, which can be considered unprofessional. Being professional is extremely important and these schools pride themselves on that image. Show that you are a well educated, determined, professional, and competent individual with a lot of energy and passion.
2Write your resume. This is pretty simple. If you don't know how to do this, there are some great articles about writing resumes on .
3Proofread everything. A sure way to get your application denied is to have it be riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Proofread it several times and have someone else read it too. If you really aren't sure about some of the grammar, read about grammar rules on the internet. Chances are, you will be doing this anyway at your future job for more advanced grammar so you can explain it clearly to your students.
4Make a lesson plan. You should make a 50-minute lesson plan about what type of lesson you want to teach. If you are accepted for the interview, you will choose any 5 minutes of your plan that you want to demonstrate to the interviewers. Make your plan for a beginner class (intermediate may be acceptable). Make it fun and engaging. The only speaking you should do is giving instructions. Make the plan so the students do the speaking or activity amongst themselves. Remember, you are applying for a job teaching English conversation, so make the students practice conversation. Give them some target vocabulary, a grammar point, and a situation to work with.
5Send everything and wait for a reply.
Part 5 of 9:Going to your InterviewDownload Article
1If your application is accepted, arrange to attend the interview. Most applications are accepted, but the interview is where most people are weeded out. Your interview will likely be in a hotel, so book a room there. The interview may be in two stages, with each stage on different days. If you pass the first stage, then the next stage will be the next day. Book at least 2 nights in the hotel.
2If you need to fly or take a train, arrange it as soon as possible. Just as there is no excuse for being late to work, there is never any excuse for being late to an interview. Arrange your travel plans accordingly.
3Dress the part.
Bring two suits, nice shoes, a nice pen, a pad of paper for notes, and any props or materials you want to use for your lesson. If you have print outs, print them in color. If you are using flash cards, laminate them. Make it as professional as possible. Your lesson demonstration is only 5 minutes, but the amount of work you put into preparing will impress your interviewers. Never start your demo lesson without some pictures or props. Iron your suits and polish your shoes.
Don't bring perfume, extra makeup (foundation only is okay) more than 1 pair of earrings, more than 1 ring, any other flashy or colorful accessories. While people in Japan do wear many accessories, they do not wear them in the office. Excessive makeup like eyeliner and eyeshadow is frowned upon. Painted nails are a big no-no. (Clear polish is okay though). These things are unprofessional and won't even be allowed at your school if you are hired.
If you are a woman, wear stockings and closed toed heeled shoes. Do not wear ballet shoes. No bright colors (pink, red, yellow, orange) and also do not wear all black. Schools want to show a professional, but"bright"friendly image. Think about that before you go.
If you are man, shave your beard or trim it very short. It is relatively rare of men in Japan to grow beards, especially businessmen. If they do have one, it is always neatly trimmed. This will be a requirement at the school if you are hired.
Hide any tattoos. Your school will not hire you if you display a tattoo. Some schools are okay if you have one, but you must keep it hidden and never tell students. The students"might"not care, but if they tell the staff at your school then you may have trouble.
Part 6 of 9:Having the First InterviewDownload Article
1Arrive early. This is important for your future job and most events in Japan. Always arrive 10-15 minutes early.
2Don't speak Japanese to anyone. Japanese is usually not required for this job. Also, at your school you will likely be prohibited from speaking Japanese to the students or even in front of students. Speaking Japanese to an interviewer or during your demo lesson is a good way to fail your interview. Again, the schools do not want you to speak Japanese at the school.
3You will be introduced to the company. Take notes and listen carefully. Ask questions to show your interest and show that you are actively listening.
4Mentally prepare yourself for the demo lesson. You should have already decided which 5-minute part you want to demonstrate. There will be several interviewers and many interviewees. The other interviewees will be your students. And you will be their students when it is their turn. You will likely have more than 1 interviewer watching your lesson. Be prepared for it. Take a deep breath and drink some water.
5Teach your demo lesson.
Smile a lot. This is a huge plus. Smile and make your students smile. Happy students are students who will want to continue studying and will love to come to your class. So, smile.
Give instructions clearly, slowly, and simply. Speak only when necessary.
Use gestures. Go overboard. Be funny. Schools want a teacher who can explain things without using words and also someone who can hold students' attention. Using gestures and smiling a lot will also help you forget about your nervousness. Enjoy yourself and your students will enjoy it too. And so will your interviewer.
Teach them something. Even if they have"free conversation", teach them more advanced phrases. For example, if the topic is"Talk about a trip you took"and a student (interviewee) says"It was great.", teach them"it was fantastic"or"it was out of this world". Teach them something, but make sure they talk a lot and practice what you taught them. You can even make them repeat once or twice.
Don't get upset with your students. Chances are, one of your students (another interviewee) will try to make your demo lesson harder by asking an unrelated question or by not following instructions. Don't worry. Just smile, answer it if you can, and continue the lesson. If you cannot answer their question, do not worry! Just say"That's a very good question (student's name). Let's talk about it together after the lesson. Let's continue now."In your school, you will have student's like this. Knowing how to handle them and control the lesson is essential for a teacher. Promise to help them, but at a later time.
Don't talk too much. Don't lecture. You are teaching English conversation. You want your student's to talk.
Don't make another interviewee's demo lesson hard. Be a good student. Do exactly as you are told. Interfering with another person's demo lesson will look unprofessional.
6Wait for a letter from the interviewers. You will either be invited to a second interview, or you won't.
Part 7 of 9:Having the Second InterviewDownload Article
1The second interview will be more like a real interview. It will likely be only 1 interviewer and you. They will ask you the typical interview questions. Be prepared with your answers.
2Teach a second demo lesson. You cannot prepare for the second demo lesson. It is sprung on you without any warning. It will probably be a kid's lesson. The interviewer may show you a book, open to a page, and tell you"You have 1 minute to prepare and then 3 minutes to teach me something from this page. Also, I am a 5-year-old."The interviewer will leave the room and you have a short time to look at that page and decide what / how you want to teach. Let's imagine there are zoo animals on the page.
3Mentally prepare yourself to step out of your shell. The interviewer will return but they have the mindset of a 5-year-old. They won't act up, but they will act sometimes like they don't understand you. Do what you need to to teach them something and make it fun. Even be funny if you have to. If your page is zoo animals, make animal noises and then say the animal's name. Use gestures too. Make your arm an elephant's nose. Say"together"and do it with your student and then repeat the animal's name. This may be weird for you, but it's fun for a 5-year-old. Also, they are unlikely to forget the vocabulary you taught them! You will have to be able to teach lessons on the fly sometimes, so being able to prepare in a short time is essential.
4After the demo lesson, tell the interviewer what type of place you want to work in Japan. Be specific. Big city, small city, countryside, ocean, mountains, and so on. Also tell them if you want to teach kids or adults. Tell them exactly what you want. If they want to hire you then they will find a good place for you, even if it takes a few months.
5Finish your interview and go back home. Wait for a phone call.
Part 8 of 9:Getting Hired and Doing PaperworkDownload Article
1If they want to hire you, then you'll get a phone call. If you were an energetic and friendly teacher who put a lot of effort into preparing a demo lesson and could also teach a fun lesson off the cuff, then you should get a job as an English teacher in Japan.
2Follow the recruiter's instructions to get a visa, certificate of eligibility to work in Japan, and also your starting date. Ask any questions that you may have.
They'll send you a contract. Read it very carefully. Very carefully. Remember, it is a legal agreement. Don't break it and don't take it lightly.
3Get a passport if you don't have one.
4If you take any medicine, find out if you can get the same or similar medicine in Japan. Some medications are illegal in Japan.
Part 9 of 9:Going to Japan and Receiving TrainingDownload Article
1Pack everything and get on your plane. Bring only the bare necessities. You can buy things in Japan when you arrive or have your family send them to you later. Your apartment will be small and the training center will be small too. Just bring suits, casual clothes, and things for hygiene. Maybe a book for studying Japanese.
2Meet your fellow trainees at the airport. Go with your trainer and new group to your training center. You may receive training there for a while. Get friendly with your fellow trainees.
You'll receive a few days of training. Do not take it lightly. It can be fun, but it's long. You will receive homework and assignments. They will help you learn how to do your job for the next year. Do not skip them. Do everything meticulously. It is possible to get kicked out of training and never sent to your branch school. Again, if you don't take training seriously, the company can send you back home.
3After the training, go to your branch school, meet your new co-workers and students, and enjoy your new life as an English teacher in Japan!