We often hear, "I can't get hired from Canada... can I still go to teach English in Japan without a visa?" As a matter of fact you can. Do people do it?
Yes and in droves. Hundreds maybe even thousands every year.
One thing to keep in mind is time and money. Why? Because if you intend to teach English in Japan and arrive there without a working visa, (via a landing permit) you’ll have 3 months to find work. (Your landing permit or tourist visa as it used to be called is only good for 3 months).
Getting teaching jobs generally isn’t a problem – especially in spring. Keep in mind that many giant English conversations schools don't hire from within Japan. What does this mean? If you want to teach English in Japan, and go there without a working visa, you'll probably wind up teaching for one of the many smaller (multi-branch) schools. Or you'll be hired as an ALT.
Teaching English in Japan and Some Considerations
Money gives staying power and time to decide what’s really right for you. Heading off to teach English in Japan without at least $3,000 is risky. (If you’ll be staying with someone this is a whole different story. You can get by with much less).
Remember you'll most likely be interviewing for multiple positions over several weeks. Looking desperate in an interview because you’re almost out of cash is not a good position to be in. Having said this, because you don’t have to go where Geos, Nova or the Jet Program sends you, you need to:
1. Apply for your
2. Begin your internet search for jobs in Japan. Job listing, resume posting and student finding page. Also, check out the Monday’s edition of The Japan Times for listings. Monday is the big day for listings. Other days will have few.
3. Start studying some Japanese! Although it’s not necessary for finding jobs in Japan, it makes it a whole lot easier to teach English in Japan not to mention a metric ton more enjoyable. It reduces culture shock in addition to rapidly widening your social circle. (The Ultra-fun part of living in Japan).
4. Set your date. Early spring is the best time to look for jobs to teach English in Japan, as schools do the bulk of their recruiting for the year in spring. If spring doesn’t work for you, don’t worry there is still a lot of hiring done throughout the year. Keep in mind that your average English teacher only teaches English in Japan for 3 years before packing it in - so there are quite a few vacancies throughout the year.
Survival Tip To Teach English in Japan
Don’t fly near Golden Week (late April to the first week of May) or Obon – mid August or close to Christmas. Why? Firstly, plane tickets are nearly double in price and second, the whole country is on holiday so you won’t be able to get any interviews. Lastly, everything (trains, restaurants, hotels tourist attractions, roads etc.) are crowded at these times. When we say crowed we mean crowded.
5. Write your resume, letters of introduction and letter about why you want to teach in Japan. We highly recommend you have them in electronic format so you can quickly change your contact information if you need to. Need help picking the right resume format? Here's some help with picking the right resume format. Here's a bit of advice on writing with power and clarity.
6. Pick your city. There are a few things to consider here. Many say to teach English in Japan is a snap - just show up and WHAM you'll have a job and housing in a jiffy. This really isn't the case any more - sorry. You need to think about whether there will be available housing for foreigners or whether you're going to try to rent your own apartment.
Often very small cities won't have "gaijin houses" or guest houses. So finding a place to stay can be tough. Often, the decision to teach English in Japan is based simply on availability of accommodations and not other cultural or employment aspects. Here are some pointers on the differences on big and small city living and teaching in Japan. This bring us to...
7. Deciding on housing. We personally don't recommend trying to rent your own apartment. (If you don't have friends in Japan that are Japanese nationals or don't have a spousal visa). Also we recommend you don't take this step until you've been in Japan for well over 6 months. As getting set-up isn't cheap. Small cities often don’t have "gaijin" or guest houses.
If this is the case, rather than blowing 10,000 yen a night to stay in a hotel, you might consider a cheaper alternative of staying in either a youth hostel, minshuku or ryokan. Still with so many going to teach english in Japan, guest houses are found in most major cities.
Many gaijin or guest houses accept credit cards and will take your application over the internet or by phone. Some allow you to move in as quickly as a week after your application is approved.
8. Next stop: Start shopping for cheap round trip tickets.
Survival Tip: Make sure you buy a round-trip ticket. Japanese immigration authorities want to make sure you’ll be going home if you don’t get a working visa. It might be a very short trip if you buy a one-way ticket.
10. Check out our list on what to bring and what to leave home! Tips for packing for your adventure. Leave Old Yeller at home but make sure to bring a lot of cash.
11. Get ready for your flight. See our section on baggage requirements, coping with jet lag and more. Coping with jet-lag, baggage requirements and how to survive the flight.