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Plan Your Gap Year in Japan! English Teaching  Might be Just the Ticket

 "Hey, plan your gap year in Japan man!" Many hear such things from their college buddies right after graduation.  But it's  an awkward time as the recent grad grapples with all the options that luminous year represents.

Frankly it had not occurred to us to write such an article until we got an  e-mail from a recent graduate who wanted to travel abroad  and take an ESL teacher training course but was having a lot of trouble convincing her parents it was worth the price or even that it was something she should spend her time pursuing in her gap year.

Shibuya JapanShibuya! Need to Party till ya Puke?
Try on Shibuya During Your Gap Year

Her parents were worried about nearly everything about teaching abroad from crime statistics to not having enough money to get by. So she shot us an e-mail on what are some of the positive aspects of spending her gap year in Japan. She needed some info. that she might use to talk to her parents about. So we put together a  list of positive points about planning for a gap year working in Japan for her. And it kind of went something like this.  How to Plan your Gap Year in Japan:

First Off Mom, Get Your Geography and Economic Facts Straight
Teaching ESL in Japan is not the same as teaching in a 3rd world country. There are unions that protect teachers' rights and millions have taught in Japan over the years. Heard of the JET Program? Not exactly a shady fly by night operation. The Japanese government runs it, competition for placement is fierce for a good reason.

Japan has the 3rd largest economy in the world. (2016 statistics) The nominal GDP of Japan is $4.73 trillion, its GDP (PPP) is $4.93 trillion, and its GDP (PPP) per capita is $38,893. Source:

Women also have special safety concerns that men to some degree don't face and as long as we are talking about how to  plan your gap year in Japan it might be helpful to note that your top 10 most dangerous cities to live in as of 2016 are: Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Central African Republic, Ukraine, Sudan and Libya. Source: Institute for Economics and Peace. Japan ranks #9 for the most peaceful nation according to their ranking system that utilizes 24 metrics.

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy:

Gap  Year Ideas & a Video on Planning Your Gap Year With Fun Stuff to do in Tokyo

From the raging throngs of people all over Tokyo and its piles of hotspots like Shibuya, Ginza and the like, Mark Wiens takes us through the streets of Tokyo for the best and cheap things to eat, places to shop, famous markets for clothing, snacks, sushi markets, traditional tea houses and about anything you can think of. The sky is the limit in Tokyo, or more precisely your wallet is the limit.

Plan Your Gap Year Right and Learn a Valuable Second Language

Bilingual job candidates have an edge when it comes time to compete in the job market. Japanese companies whether they are in Japan or overseas value employees who can handle two languages so in terms of enhancing ones employ-ability it carriers weight and living in the culture cranks up the learning curve massively. It's not like  Rosetta Stone's delusional version of "immersion". It is the real thing. Total immersion. The kind of immersion that results in you peeing your pants if you can't figure out how to say "Where's the toilet" in Japanese.

Benjamin Franklin
When in doubt, quote great men. "A man who empties his purse into his head can never be robbed." The money you might spend for an Online TEFL course or on-site course you can make back in 2 or 3 months.

Your average ESL teacher in Japan can easily save $ 300 to $400 a month or better.  Down and dirty breakdown on expenses and how to save money while you work in Japan here. Or to put it another way  and put some spin on it you can say it like this:  "Dad, I need to pay down my school loan  as fast as I can. I can probably get nearly one-half paid down teaching in Japan pretty quickly". If that doesn't get his attention I don't know what will.

Plan Your Gap Year:  Some Job Search Guidance and Help

Most TEFL certification providers also offer help with finding jobs and answering questions regarding how to find a job that will get you on your way. Some TEFL providers like ITA actually go the extra mile and talk to parents about working overseas and their support network for their graduates.

Planning for A Gap Year in Japan is Common - Kind of Like Sliced Bread
It's not like teaching abroad is something new. Stats are stats and nearly one billion people are studying English on this planet. Economics would indicate that you need qualified English teachers to handle the work load and you do - to the tune of roughly 300,000 teachers. If you are planning for a gap year in Japan make sure to check out our list of things to bring to Japan.

No Better Way to Find Out What You are Made of
If you have been wanting to find out what teaching ESL in Japan is all about and got a gap year coming up,  there is No better time to scratch that itch other than jumping into the fray and testing your mettle. Some love it. Some hate it but one way or another you're going to get an answer to  your question.

Plan Your Gap Year Right: Nothing Exists in a Vacuum

Teaching skills are exactly that - skills and you can apply them in other endeavors. Whether you are teaching ESL in Japan or land a job in your home country teaching a staff how to operate a new I.T. system,  during your gap year, at least you got some valuable experience explaining things coherently and experienced speaking in front of groups polishing your presentation skills - something any company engaging in any business needs personal for.

And a Final word or two
Lastly, if you find out it's definitely not for you, no harm no foul you - found something out. If you love it and want to pursue it, there are career advancement opportunities all over the place and if you want to run the show your way there isn't much stopping you from owning your own school, making the big money and stop jumping through hoops that others set up for you.

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