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English Teaching in Japan - Common Questions We are Often Asked - an FAQ

English teaching in Japan is a big step and many have quite common questions - especially those hailing from Western countries like Canada and the U.S. simply because Southeast Asia is so radically different. So to shed a bit of light on this, we've started listing questions that we are so frequently asked.

English Teaching in JapanEnglish Teaching in Japan

Hi, I was wondering what it would be like to bring my family with me to teach English in Japan. How difficult would it be to bring my daughter (3) and my spouse who works remotely? I have a Bachelors in interdisciplinary elementary education, have worked in schools in America, and am a native English speaker.

Our Response:  Hi Aundria, for you personally it would not be difficult given your obvious qualifications to get sponsorship and a working visa for teaching. One thing you need to keep in mind is that your family can not piggy-back on your visa. The rule is 1 person, 1 visa.

So each family member would have to apply for a visa that suits them.You may bring your spouse and your dependent children. ... After the issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility for a Dependent Stay visa, your family can go to the Japanese Embassy or a Japanese Consulate in your home country and get the visa issued. After this procedure, your family becomes eligible to enter Japan.

English Teaching in Japan and Commonly Asked Question we Receive

What is the age cut off for teaching in Japan?

Our Response: Hi Walter,
This is probably the most widely asked question and is generally asked by those who are not exactly in their 20's. Unfortunately we can't give you any hard and fast rules on this. However we will say that in general ALT work, The JET Programme etc. focus on younger teachers. For example The JET Programme is a youth to foreigner exchange program so older teachers are generally not hired.

Smaller schools who want seasoned teachers favor older teachers who don't view Japan simply as a big playground serving sushi. Also if you have some teaching experience and TEFL certification there is room for older teachers in managerial positions over the "young guns".

So to sum it up, teaching is not like the military where there is a definite cut-off  in age for infantry. The military is static, teaching in Japan is not. It is dynamic. Large chain schools like ECC, Aeon, Nova Holdings etc. lean heavily toward youth. Keep in mind these are merely entry level positions. Schools that require experienced mature teachers lean toward older teachers. Teachers who exhibit the characteristics of care toward students. 

Lastly, remember that teaching in Japan is a market. Market needs vary and so teachers also vary to fill up the market. So if you are an older gentleman, you'll need to find that niche in the market that suits your skill set and age.

English Teaching in Japan and the Second Most Commonly Asked Question we Receive

How much may I earn teaching English in Japan?

Our Response: HI Abbas, This depends entirely on your  teaching experience and if you have taken TEFL courses . What we can tell you is that the more experience you have, the more you are worth to the market. If you have little or no experience and are direct hire meaning you were hired directly by the school you can expect to earn around 250,000 yen per month. If you were hired through a dispatch company  (thus not a direct hire) you can expect around 220,000 yen sometimes less. They take a cut out of your salary every month.

"If English teaching in Japan doesn't work out, do many tourist areas in Japan hire English and Japanese speakers?"

Our Response: Hi Kayla,
Regarding English teaching in Japan that is a good question. As a matter of fact they do. Many tourist areas need bilingual tour guides to show off city attractions and historical sites etc. Tour parks like Tokyo Disney Land and Universal Studios Japan need them. Here is a link to they have listings for work for bilingual workers at USJ.

Even non mainstream tourist cities like Kobe use them to conduct city tours. So in short, you are not limited to the classroom. Note: we did not say they are easy to find but they are there.

Map of the MidwestMap of the Midwest

"I am a 62 year old UK qualified teacher, with a TEFL certificate, and 14 years experience teaching experience in the Czech Republic. What would my prospects be in Japan?"

Our Response: Hi Derek, because of your deep base of experience and very obvious qualifications you shouldn't have trouble finding work in Japan. The snags you will run into is that entry level large chain schools probably won't employ you.

(But then again with your experience why would you want to be bossed around by a twenty year old with a fraction of your teaching experience anyway?)

Something that might present a bit of a problem could be your accent. This is a case by case situation as it depends on the needs of the school. Some schools only hire teachers with the clean Midwestern accent. ie Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, South and North Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan - as indicated in the map above in orange color states.

Other schools value diversity and so would be eager to employ  you but it is going to take a bit of digging and research on your part. Also something of paramount is to ensure your potential employer that you are in excellent health. This presents a serious concern to employers, so you need to be aware of this. English Teaching in Japan and Common Visa Questions Visitors Ask

 English Teaching in Japan and
Common Visa Questions Visitors Ask

"I  am a certified English teacher, with 20 years of experience, may I teach in Japan?"

Our Response: Hi Robert, because you are a U.S. citizen and Japan doesn't have a bilateral agreement with America, you need a visa. However because of  your extensive teaching experience you qualify for a working visa.

There are 2 visa options available to you. The two types of visas most relevant to someone looking to teach English in Japan are the instructor visa and the specialist in humanities visa. The two visas serve essentially the same function but allow you to work in different places,  the instructor visa allows you to work in public schools like junior high school, high school and elementary schools.

The specialist in humanities visa allowing you to work for private language schools or companies. This would be eikaiwa work like for Nova Holdings, Gaba, ECC or the masses of private schools out there.

However the biggest obstacle will be to find a company that will sponsor you so that the Japanese government will extend the working visa to you. Many schools now do Skype interviews (tips for doing this here.)  So you probably won't have to be flying around the country.

The schools I mentioned earlier ECC etc. lean towards young teachers and if you have 20 years in the trenches, I suspect you are over 20 years of age. So it would be tough to get hired by the big 4. TEFL certification MyTEFL 120 Hour could give you an edge considering that you are not a fresh face straight out of college. Age has no factor in issuance of the visa. It's simply a government mandate that exists because of the agreement between the USA and Japan.

Best of luck to you

What kind of Bachelor's Degree are many companies looking for? I'm heading into University soon and I would like to know what kind of degree would be the best to go down. Thank you for this website as it has helped me understand a lot of information about English teaching in Japan.

Our Reply: Mathew, Firstly when you say a "company" what do you mean? IT or computer related? If you mean teaching English then really any degree will do for entry level ham and egg style teaching / entry level. However higher paying jobs often shop for two things TEFL certification and a degree in education and often early child development degrees (for those employed to teach very young learners.

You should also consider getting TEFL certification of at least 120 hours. Really you can't learn much in a "taster" course of 60 hours. Of course 120 hour courses are more money but you're getting a lot more education. You might check out Mytefl's 120 Hour course. We hear a lot of good things about them. Also i-to-i gets positive reviews.

More Related Articles...

Cover Letter For Teachers - Do's and Don'ts for Writing Effective Cover Letters. Common Mistakes & How to Avoid Them.
Resume Format - Help With Choosing the Right Resume Format For Your Situation. 
Teaching Resume - How to Write One, Common Mistakes & the Importance of Including Your Photo Plus How Resumes for ESL are Different Than Foreign Ones.
How to Make a Resume - 10 Tips and a Step by Step Guide to Making the Strongest Resume Possible & Common Errors.
Interview Tips - Strategies & Help for Your ESL Interview.
Sample Teaching Contract - What They Look Like.
Teaching Contracts - Common Stipulations You'll Find on Large Eikaiwa Contracts. 
Teaching Jobs in Japan - Photo Tips for Your Resume, Cover Letter Tips and Some Pointers on Your letter of Introduction/Recommendation.
English Teacher - What Large English Schools Look For & the Differences Between Big & Small Schools - Atmosphere, Salary etc.
English Schools in Japan - The Differences Between Large Eikaiwa and Smaller Mom & Pop Type Schools. Salary, Teaching Atmosphere etc.

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