Next post comin' at you from the illustrious Come On Out-Japan blogosphere. This one's all about opportunities to live and work in Japan as an English teacher. Opportunities for such a position are actually quite abundant, and increasing in demand as Japan nears the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In anticipation of the nation hosting so many foreigners, many Japanese institutions are seeking to make significant improvements in terms of proficiency and prevalence of English language skills.
Among students of Japanese and Japanophiles at large, there are a few organizations providing English-teaching jobs to westerners which are quite well-known with positions that are highly sought after! If this is something that may appeal to any of our readers, we certainly encourage that you inquire. Don't forget, we plan to continue our annual English Camp program as well (comeonoutjapan.com/program-info/toshin)! However, if you're looking for something more long-term, and you're pretty sure that you'd like to live in Japan and could do a good job teaching English as a second language, you may want to consider one of the various organizations offering jobs as ALTs (assistant language teachers) and CIRs (coordinators of international relations). Before you go filling out any applications, you may have a few general questions, and it is probably worth noting that each of the organizations mentioned in this post require a bachelor's degree of all participants.
1. Japanese Language Proficiency- How Important Is It?
- Not at all.
Well, let me be more clear. As far as I have researched and in my personal experience, these companies do not tend to require Japanese language ability. I think they certainly encourage Japanese language ability and it is probably safe to say that candidates demonstrating familiarity with Japanese language and culture may be considered more seriously as recipients of available positions, but at least on paper I have not seen that such ability is absolutely necessary.
2. What are the finer details? What sort of contract will I be signing?
- Of course, each organization has different stipulations and modes of operation, so the nature of your work agreement will vary depending on which one you potentially gain employment through. Below, we cover some of the criteria you may want to consider most heavily.
a) Working hours: The four main organizations offering English-teaching jobs to westerners which we cover in this post all require what is essentially a 35 hour work week apart from breaks and lunch, etc. These organizations do all offer some degree of vacation time, however, which varies.
b) Salary: The amount of pay, like virtually all aspects surrounding this type of employment, will vary between each independent organization and contracting company; but to give you an idea of what the pay can be like, below is an excerpt from the JET Program website. JET is probably the most well-endowed and most prestigious organization offering gainful employment to westerners hoping to teach English in Japan. However, as mentioned, there are definitely other legitimate organizations which pay comparable if lesser salaries.
"The JET participant’s salary is determined by the number of years of participation on the JET Program. As employment through the JET Program as an ALT or CIR is a full-time paid position, JET participants receive a monthly salary from their contracting organizations. Yearly salary before tax is:
• ¥3,360,000 a year for first year JET participants
• ¥3,600,000 a year for second year JET participants
• ¥3,900,000 a year for third year JET participants
• ¥3,960,000 a year for fourth and fifth year JET participants"
And to give you a better idea for what these amounts equal in dollars, that starting salary of 3,360,000 yen is currently worth just over 30,000 USD.
c) Travel and Transportation Reimbursement: Each organization offers different accommodations regarding travel to and from Japan as well as travel to and from work. For example, JET offers to pay for participants' two flights at the beginning and end of their contracts, but does not reimburse weekly travel to and from work assignments. Another company, Interac, does the opposite- reimbursing weekly travel but leaving travel to and from Japan completely up to the participant.
With so many things to consider in deciding upon which organization or organizations to apply for and ultimately work, I personally recommend that any interested persons create a sort of criteria or preferences sheet and try to discern what specific factors are most important to them. This will make sifting through all of the available opportunities much easier as there's definitely quite a bit of variation between each.
3. How long are the contracts / How long can I stay?
- JET offers one-year contracts with the opportunity to renew the contract up to four times for a total of five years as a JET participant, providing the participant performs suitably! Even after their time as a JET participant, individuals may be able to remain in Japan by providing proof of employment to the Immigration Bureau of Japan and by satisfying other pertinent requirements. Interac offers positions which last from early April or late August until March of the following year and seems to offer the chance to renew the work agreement indefinitely to interested and capable participants. A third company, Aeon, deals in six-month contracts and also continues to offer renewal as long as participants maintain good performance. Finally, ECC offers start dates year round with the chance for renewal, but like JET asks for a one year commitment.
Aside from the comparative factors that we've already outlined here, there are some more facts to consider about each program that's been discussed. To finish up this post, we'll provide the links for the three organizations that have been mentioned as well as a short write-up explaining the nature of the opportunities they offer.
The JET program has been around since 1987 and has sent more than 60,000 participants to Japan to work not just in schools but on boards of educations and in government offices. JET is actually the only such program that operates in direct cooperation with the Japanese government. With participants from over 40 countries, the JET community is a global one. Visit http://jetprogramme.org/en/ for more information.
Interac does not operate directly through the Japanese government, but it does assign participants actual Japanese public schools and claims to be the largest provider of ALTs to the Japanese public school system. Actually older than JET, but obviously a private company, Interac was founded in 1972 is also a "significant player" in providing employees from abroad to Japanese commercial and government organizations. More information at http://www.interacnetwork.com/recruit/global.html .
Almost as old as Interac with a founding date in 1973, Aeon is a company which operates completely separately from the Japanese school system, but appears to be quite successful and relevant all the same. I've personally seen their advertisements and buildings during my time in Tokyo, and their website reveals them to currently have over 80,000 enrolled students across 250+ branch schools in every prefecture of Japan (prefectures are like states and there are 47). Students range from children to fully grown adults and even senior citizens and classes are taught as group or private classes. Their website (http://www.aeonet.com) even states that they offer furnished apartments, paid vacations, and flight allowances!
Technically even older than Interac or Aeon, ECC began over 50 years ago in 1962 as an English conversation club in Osaka! It now employs over 400 native English speakers across 180 schools. Like Aeon, ECC caters to a wide range of students from school children to retirees with its variety of offered programs. Explore their site at https://eccteachinjapan.com .
We really hope this blog post has been helpful to anyone interested in the prospect of teaching and living abroad in Japan! The accounts I've heard from current and former such workers in Japan paint the experience as one which is largely dependent upon the individual's true desire to live in and experience Japan as a nation. Often, participants of the aforementioned organizations find themselves in all different kinds of locations ranging from small rural villages to sprawling cities and everything in between. What seems important for the success and happiness of foreign English teachers in Japan is genuine interest in Japanese life and willingness to adapt to a new culture and language.
Stay posted for further posts on our "Additional Opportunities" blog as well as our culturally themed "We Love Japan" blog ( http://www.comeonoutjapan.com/english-camp/ ), and please follow us elsewhere for updates and information regarding further opportunities from Come On Out- Japan!