Is Teaching English in Japan Your Dream Job? Here Are 3 Ways to Get Your Foot in the Door | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Is Teaching English in Japan Your Dream Job? Here Are 3 Ways to Get Your Foot in the Door

By Caitlin Collins Oct 11, 2018

Ever thought about teaching English in Japan?  With the 2020 Olympics looming over Japan’s collective heads, the English-Language-Learning industry has recently been kicked into overdrive.  Hundreds and hundreds of new companies and schools are popping up all over the country, and tried and true ALT dispatch companies are ramping up their hires for the next few years– Now’s the perfect time to give it a try!

So whether you’re new to Japan, or just looking to break into the Eigo-Sensei game– Let’s learn about the three most popular ways to teach English in Japan.


  1. Assistant Language Teaching (ALT)

Being an ALT is the most traditional route to teach English in Japan.  As an ALT, you are in the classroom of a Japanese public or private high school, team teaching English as part of the students normal curriculum.  Some schools will have you teaching solo, while others will have you team-teach with a native Japanese teacher.

As an ALT, you are either hired directly by the school (unusual if you are applying from outside Japan), or by a larger dispatch company.  Some of the biggest ALT dispatchers are JET, Altia, and Borderlink.  ALT’s are dispatched all over Japan, from the biggest cities to the most rural remote areas.  Usually, teachers have little to no say to where they are placed if they are hired from outside Japan.

ALT’s teach all grades, from primary through high school.  Most teach various grades, depending on the size of the school, and depending on the region, you may have to travel from school to school throughout the week.  Other duties of the ALT include assisting with English-club, helping run extra curricular events, and assisting with lesson planning.

The experience of the ALT varies widely depending on your school, dispatch company, and location.  HoBut one of the overall benefits of being an ALT is the consistent schedule, a chance to form meaningful bonds with your students and watch as they progress, and having all of the school holidays off with the students– Hello summer vacation!



2.  Eikaiwa Teacher

Eikaiwa, or English conversation school, is the preferred style of English school for busy adults and older students.  Eikaiwa’s generally teach students of all ages, from babies through adulthood, and offer both group and one on one lessons.  Different schools may offer other different or unique style of lessons as well.  Generally, teachers are expected to teach all of these different styles and ages all throughout the same day.

Eikaiwa schools are in both major cities, and more rural areas, but the vast majority will be clustered around major train stations.  The larger companies like Aeon, Gaba, and Nova, operate schools all over the country– but there are also many regional and local Eikaiwa schools.

Working in an Eikaiwa is vastly different than working in a school as an ALT.  Generally, all the materials and lessons are provided to you by the company, and teachers teach many short lessons of varying levels and difficulties back to back throughout the day.  Eikaiwa teachers generally work during the off hours, as this is when most students will be available for lessons, and are expected to work weekends.  Schedules can be a bit unpredictable, time off difficult, and teachers may be expected to work long hours– as a result, major companies expect turnover to be quite high.

However, one of the benefits of working as an Eikaiwa teacher is the communication skills you’ll build working with such diverse groups of people.



3.  Kindergarten or International School Teacher

This type of teacher has become vastly more popular in the last five years!  Many parents in Japan are hoping for their children to have a bilingual education in both Japanese and English; and as a result they choose to send their children to an international kindergarten or primary school.

Your responsibilities in these types of school will vary drastically based on the grade or the individual school.  Some schools choose to have English teachers team-teach with a native Japanese teacher, or for them to teach all on their own.  You may also be expected to teach a variety of subjects in English– not just the English language itself!

Expect a lot of responsibility in this type of position, you will be expected to create lesson plans, build curriculum, monitor student progress and communicate said progress with their parents.  As a result, many schools and kindergartens expect their English teachers to hold a higher degree in teaching, or at least have a lot of prior experience teaching.



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