Once you’re ready to teach English in Japan there are several choices that you should consider. First decide what type of teaching interests you, then research related companies.
Here are four common ways to teach English in Japan:
Eikaiwa are tuition based English conversation schools. You will have students as young as two years old and as old as 90.
Usually University English teaching jobs require at least six months of experience teaching English and you must have a bachelor’s degree.
Work as an Assistant Language Teacher in Japanese public elementary, middle, and high schools.
Business English jobs usually require six months to a year of English teaching experience. You will travel to local businesses and typically have a more flexible schedule with slightly higher pay.
Here are companies where we or our friends have worked. Some were great experiences some were okay experiences, but either way you get to live in Japan – and that is awesome!
My top recommendation is ECC (an eikaiwa) While we did not teach for any companies other than ECC, I had friends who had bad experiences teaching for AEON and ECC was a great place to work.
For ECC, we taught 29.5 hours per week. We taught about half kid’s classes and half adult classes. Kid’s classes are very popular and you will most likely be teaching kids if you get hired by ECC. The longer you are with the company the more control you will have over what percentage of kids and adult classes you teach.
We received 5 weeks paid vacation and 1 week paid sick time per contract with ECC. Normal contracts last one year and ECC highly encourages teachers to stay through at least one full ECC school year beginning April 1 ending March 31. Our salary was 250,000 yen/month (about $2,500 USD) each.
While teaching with ECC you will travel up to one hour by train (sometimes longer, but it’s rare) to different schools. You will often teach at a different school every day, although ECC does attempt to schedule you multiple days a week at the same school.
If you begin working for ECC anytime other than the beginning of their school year (April 1) most of your teaching initially will be substitute shifts filling in for sick teachers.
ECC is great about hiring couples (both dating and married) and assigning them to the same city and giving them the same days off. I was surprised how many dating couples had come to Japan together to teach for ECC.
ECC will find you a mostly furnished apartment and they are happy to answer any questions and help you with acclimating to Japan.
The ECC personnel in Nagoya were super helpful. Personnel were in charge of our schedules so we spoke with them on a regular basis. They made sure we felt comfortable navigating the trains, finding the schools, and prepping for lessons. I had to call them several times when I took the wrong train and when I got completely lost looking for a few of my schools!
*To be eligible to teach for ECC you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. ECC does not require any teaching certificates.
Aeon, similar to ECC, is an eikaiwa. Teachers usually work with a mixture of kids and adults. Our friends who worked for Aeon felt overworked. While they were paid for 40 hours per week of work they often worked overtime doing administrative work and class preparation. I believe the pay is slightly higher than ECC due to the longer hours.
We had a good friend who taught French with Berlitz and he had a fairly flexible schedule and made good money. As with all the English schools, the longer you teach for them the more priority you have in choosing your schedule.
Japan Exchange and Teaching Program is a government run English teaching program. As a JET teacher you will most likely work as an ALT and may be placed in rural areas. We had a friend who worked for JET and was placed in Kagoshima (located in rural Kyushu) for 3 years. His overall experience was good and he got to use his Japanese extensively – although speaking Japanese is not a requirement for JET.
Once we moved to Tokyo, Blaine was able to get several jobs teaching business English with both Berlitz (Phoenix Associates) and ECC business English division. He was only able to get hired as a business English teacher after his experience working as a teacher with ECC. Most Business English jobs want their teachers to have at least six months of English teaching experience. Business English pays better (on average $40/hour) and the schedule is very flexible. Most business English teachers work about 20-30 hours per week with different companies. You will likely travel to different offices, so being comfortable navigating big cities is essential.