I stumbled upon your blog today. I’ve got an offer to teach in Japan at NOVA. I’ve been doing some reading and it’s not a highly ranked place to work amongst teachers currently in Japan. I saw that you guys were both working with ECC.
Would you say it was a pleasant experience? How easy/difficult was it to relocate to Tokyo and find a new job? Many people are telling me to just go and once I arrive to start looking for a new school to work for. What are your thoughts on that?
Congrats on the job offer.
I definitely recommend ECC (especially when you’re first starting out in Japan). ECC is very good to their employees. We had a two week intensive (tiring) training with ECC as soon as we got to Nagoya. We worked 29.5 hours per week (never more, unless we choose to take on occasional extra work for extra pay. But there’s no pressure to take on extra). We had 5 weeks paid vacation plus paid sick time. After about 4 months we felt very comfortable with teaching and didn’t have to do much prep work. At ECC you do not have to create your own lesson plans, you just have to prep the lessons plans you are given.
ECC (at least in Nagoya) is heavy on kid’s classes. We taught both adult private lessons, adult group classes (up to 8-10 people), and kids classes (usually 6-8 kids). Neither Blaine nor I loved teaching kids classes (some teachers do), but we both preferred adult lessons.
After a year with ECC, Blaine found it very easy to get business English teaching jobs in Tokyo. He interviewed for business English positions once we were in Tokyo.
Finding jobs in Tokyo was relatively easy. I was a personal trainer in the US and I found a great personal training studio in Tokyo run by Australians (Club 360) and got a job after about a month of interviews. Because of Blaine’s experience with ECC, he found business English jobs with Phoenix Associates (a branch of Berlitz) and with the ECC Business English division.
It is much easier to find jobs once you’re in Tokyo. However, it’s a very expensive place to be without a paycheck. So if you’re going to come and apply for jobs, I recommend having a significant amount of savings to get you started (probably $3000-4000). You can live in shared housing to save money when you first move to the city.
Blaine recommends working for at least 6 months with NOVA (or a similar company – ECC, Aeon) and after your initial teaching experience you will be able to find better and higher paying business English jobs. Unless you find that you love kid’s classes, in which case you would probably enjoy staying with ECC.
January – March is peak hiring season for English conversation schools (like Berlitz, ECC, Aeon) because the school year in Japan starts in April. You can also look into ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) positions and work as an assistant English teacher at Japanese middle and high schools.
Let us know if you have other questions!
I don’t know if you’ve been to Japan, but it’s a wonderful place to live!