By: Erin Honigman
If you're interested in teaching abroad but can't seem to figure out where to apply, then look no further. Japan is a breathtaking country that has something to appeal to every type of TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) teacher.
The sublime natural beauty of Japan awaits you!
If your top priority is gaining valuable career experience abroad, Japan is your best bet. One of the most lucrative hot spots for TEFL, Japan has a high demand for English teachers. Furthermore, in Japanese culture, teachers are highly respected members of society. The Japanese education system is one of the best in the world; consequently, teachers are held in high esteem. And lucky for you, high esteem translates to: high paychecks. TEFL teachers in Japan can expect to make salaries ranging from $2,000 and $5,000 USD per month.
More concerned with your weekend travels than your actual job? You'll be pleased to find that every corner of the island is worth exploring. Japan is one of the few East Asian countries to preserve traditional customs as well as embrace modern technology. You'll find yourself surrounded by beautiful, quiet temples one day and in the middle of a fast-paced city the next. From beaches and temples to mountains and hot springs, the land of the rising sun has it all.
So, what are you waiting for? Keep reading to decide how and where you should teach English in Japan.
How to Get a Job Teaching English in Japan
Before you set your sights on the perfect city, make sure you meet the qualifications necessary to teach English in Japan. Japan has a variety of schools, including public schools, private academies, tutoring jobs and cram schools. The government also offers teaching jobs through the highly coveted and competitive JET program. Another popular conversation franchise that is hiring all across the country is AEON. You can find more about each program at their websites.
The basic requirements to acquire a job in Japan are a bachelor's degree and a clean criminal record. Native English speakers are generally preferred. You don't need any prior teaching experience. Simple, right?
However, depending on the type of teaching position you're leaning toward, you should seriously consider participating in a TEFL course. Most public schools don't necessarily require TEFL certifications, but they are viewed as assets during the teacher selection process. A TEFL certification will make your resume more competitive and help you to land your dream job in Japan. It will also give you the skills you need to manage a classroom full of eager learners.
Luckily, it's easy and convenient to complete a TEFL course online. You can find an accredited way to get certified, such as the UK's most experienced TEFL course provider, The TEFL Org. There are a wide variety of courses available, so you can find one that suits both your budget and your learning style. Check out these great resources available online:
Where to Teach English in Japan
Once you're qualified to teach in Japan, it's time to choose where you'd like to work. Japan has four main islands as well as several smaller chains of islands. While you're likely familiar with bigger cities, there are plenty of places to look for jobs, and we've listed a few here. You can check the jobs currently available in each location at the English language job board, https://gaijinpot.com/. Here are the six best places to teach English in Japan.
It's no surprise that Tokyo tops off the list of places to teach in Japan. One of the most developed cities in the world, Tokyo is an epicenter of culture, music, and art. There are areas of the city to suit every type of interest, from geeky gaming neighborhoods like Akihabara to high end shopping and dining in Shinjuku. Tokyo is highly accessible, and you can easily ride public transportation to get from one part of the city to another. Many teachers choose to live in areas with a lower cost of living and commute to their various teaching jobs.
Tokyo has a population of about 9 million people, which means teaching jobs are in high demand. The TEFL scene in the city is diverse, and you can expect to find jobs in both public and private schools. You might also find a job tutoring English at a business or an after school academy. There's no shortage of work in Tokyo, so you can choose the job that's best suited for you.
If the capital is too much for your personal taste, then try Tokyo's little brother, Osaka. The metropolis of Osaka is the biggest city in Japan's southern Kansai region. It is just as modern and a bit more affordable than the nation's capital. The best part? The food. Nicknamed "the nation's kitchen," Osaka is a mecca for foodies. Delicious street food is widely popular and available throughout Osaka, especially in such tourist destinations as Dontonburi and the American village, Amerika-mura.
With a land area of 225 square kilometers, there are plenty of places to teach in Osaka. You can find teaching jobs in schools throughout the city or in language centers in more populated areas.
To experience tranquil beauty and immerse yourself in Japanese culture, try finding a teaching job in Kyoto. Home to temples, shrines, geishas, and Japanese gardens, Kyoto is the perfect location for those seeking to learn more about Japanese history and traditions. It's also a tourist hotspot for the cherry blossoms in the spring and for the colorful leaves in the fall. Kyoto is a small city with an efficient public transportation system and easily explorable by bike. If you're worried you'll miss out on big city life, the high speed train will take you from Kyoto to Osaka in just fifteen minutes.
Because Kyoto is smaller than Osaka and Tokyo, there are fewer jobs available. However, with a TEFL certificate in hand, you're bound to find a position through a government program or at an English language school.
Located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is the fifth largest city in Japan. It's surrounded by mountains and the perfect winter haven for snowboard and ski enthusiasts. It's also home to its namesake, Sapporo beer, and there's no shortage of the beverage here. Sapporo is more affordable and budget friendly than bigger Japanese cities, with reasonably priced restaurants throughout the city. And, according to expatriates, Sapporo has a close-knit community of foreigners living there who frequent western bars and cafes.
Because Sapporo is so popular among foreign teachers, the job market is competitive. Make sure you're certified to teach in order to increase your chances of landing a job here.
Okinawa is the perfect place for those beach enthusiasts who love tropical climates. Do you like scuba diving and surfing? Then apply to teach in Okinawa. It's hard to believe that Okinawa was one of the biggest battle sites in World War II. Today, the beautiful island is peaceful and serene. It's also famous for its food, and because the climate is so distinct from mainland Japan, the island diet is also unique. The Okinawan diet focuses on fresh fruit and vegetables, and it is often credited for local islanders having some of the longest lifespans on the planet.
The island of Okinawa has some unique job opportunities. Because of the military presence there, you might find yourself teaching English on a military base. There are also jobs in public schools, including some opportunities to work in high schools on the island.
A less popular but visually stunning place to teach English is Yamanashi prefecture. This area is only a short trip from Tokyo by train, and the views will leave you speechless. Yamanashi is surrounded by mountains, and if you're lucky, you'll have a clear view of Mount Fuji on your daily commute. The area is also known for its beautiful lakes, hot springs, shrines and even a fun amusement park.
One place to find a job in Yamanashi is Kofu city. There are plenty of language academies in Kofu, so you can find a job in the mountain capital of Japan.
Ready to Head to Japan?
As you can tell, Japan is a country full of diverse nature and culturally unique cities. No matter where you choose to teach, you're bound to fall in love with the country. Another bonus is its proximity to neighboring countries, so you'll really be able to do some exploring over your vacations. Before you apply to teach in Japan, be sure to do your own research and read reviews from previous teachers in Japan.
Teaching English abroad is a great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the world around you. So what are you waiting for? Get certified, and start exploring Japan.