NOW Magazine - Career Companion - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOHN PAX­TON John Pax­ton is an ESL teacher re­sid­ing in Ja­pan. www.al­labout-teach­ing- english-in-ja­pan.com/job­sin­japan.html

If you’ve re­cently grad­u­ated from school and are at a cross­roads in the start of your ca­reer, teach­ing English in Ja­pan might be worth look­ing into. Be­lieve it or not, the English lan­guage learn­ing in­dus­try is a multi-bil­lion dollar one that em­ploys over 65,000 ESL teach­ers.

WHAT’S NEEDED TO TEACH In or­der to get a job teach­ing English in Ja­pan, you’ll need to be a col­lege grad­u­ate from any field (sorry, but two-year de­grees don’t cut it.) You pretty much also need to speak English at na­tive level flu­ency. Some peo­ple do find teach­ing jobs in Ja­pan even though English is not their first lan­guage, but this is an ex­cep­tion to the rule. You’ll also need a work­ing visa in or­der to work legally in the coun­try. Most em­ploy­ers will take care of this for you. Work­ing visas are good for one year with ex­ten­sions avail­able from one to three years. An­other help­ful trait is an in­ter­est in Ja­panese cul­ture. When you fly 10,000 miles east, things get pretty dif­fer­ent pretty fast. So hav­ing a de­sire to ex­pe­ri­ence Ja­panese cul­ture is a plus – not from the stand­point of get­ting a job but from the stand­point of en­joy­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence. Those who don’t have a nat­u­ral cu­rios­ity or de­sire to ex­pe­ri­ence for­eign cul­tures usu­ally don’t last that long.

GEN­ERAL IN­FOR­MA­TION Let’s start with money. You should ex­pect a wage of at least 250,000 yen per month. This is an en­try-level salary for those with lit­tle or no ex­pe­ri­ence. This won’t go that far in large cities like Tokyo or Osaka. You should ex­pect a bit more to com­pen­sate for the cost-of-living fac­tor in th­ese large cities. Large English schools like Nova, Aeon, Geos, Ber­litz & ECC will also of­fer two weeks’ paid va­ca­tion and most na­tional hol­i­days off. Schools dif­fer on which na­tional hol­i­days they ob­serve but the norm is eight to 10 per year. Ex­pect to work close to 40 hours per week. Each school is dif­fer­ent but you can ex­pect roughly 20 to 25 ac­tual teach­ing hours per week, with the rest be­ing of­fice hours. A typ­i­cal teacher will work five days per week with Sun­day and an­other week­day off. Teach­ers with se­nior­ity may get Satur­days and Sun­days off. Typ­i­cal of­fice hours are filled by grad­ing stu­dent work, tak­ing class notes, pre­par­ing fu­ture lessons or just chat­ting with stu­dents. Larger chain schools usu­ally have a fixed cur­ricu­lum. This means you’ll be us­ing their in-house texts, tapes and other sup­port ma­te­ri­als for teach­ing. For those who don’t have a lot of teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, this is help­ful in re­duc­ing stress (which you may be feel­ing with ad­just­ing to the cul­ture, learn­ing the lan­guage, etc). Stu­dents in your class will prob­a­bly be of all ages, lit­er­ally from 5- and 6-year olds to peo­ple in their 70s. Some schools deal specif­i­cally with chil­dren or adults but be­cause of the com­pet­i­tive­ness of this in­dus­try, most schools cater to all ages. You can ex­pect a healthy mix of chil­dren and young pro­fes­sion­als, like of­fice ladies and salary men as they’re called, to make up the bulk of who you teach. Most large chain schools will pro­vide you with some type of res­i­dence. This is a big help as it’s dif­fi­cult to find ac­com­mo­da­tions on your own with­out the help of a lo­cal per­son. Not to men­tion be­ing very ex­pen­sive. Although the type pro­vided will vary, ex­pect things to be on the small side. Teach­ing English in Ja­pan is an ex­pe­ri­ence best taken with an open mind. For those with an in­ter­est in Ja­panese cul­ture it can be one of the most en­joy­able and lu­cra­tive ways to ex­pe­ri­ence the land of the ris­ing sun.

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