Teaching English in Japan began many years ago. It is one of the most common non-Japanese languages taught in most private and public schools, or in other words, elementary schools.
In 2011, English lessons become compulsory in Japan, which required Japanese students to be taught English from 5th grade until the end of junior high school. However, in 2013 the Japanese government took a step further and introduced English lessons in the 3rd grade of elementary school.
A good number of high school students are able to speak English fluently by the time they are graduating. However, many Japanese students or Japanese people still have very poor English conversational abilities. A study conducted in 2013 showed that almost 72% of the Japan population aged 20-49 cannot communicate in English.
The reason why speaking English continues to be difficult for Japanese people is because Japanese teachers tend to rely on the grammar-translation method, which entails translating the English language into Japanese word for word. What’s more, the aim of the English teacher in Japan is always to prepare students for entrance examinations for secondary schools. So, English speaking aspects are often overlooked.
However, the Japan government, particularly the ministry of education is getting more competent English teachers through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, which brings native speakers to Japanese schools where they work as Assistant Language Teachers.
What’s more, many Japanese teachers want to improve their expressiveness, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, and they are now enrolling in English language schools in Japan so that they can be able to teach and speak English with confidence. On the other hand, self-access English learning is becoming famous in Japan, and English language schools are been created.
That being said, there is certainly a high demand for online English, and classroom English language teachers. Native English speakers are also in high demand across Japan. If you would love to teach English abroad, there are many English teaching opportunities in Japan for ESL teachers in both private and public schools.
Teaching Options in Japan
1. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme
Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme is currently the largest programme across the globe for public schools in Japan. What’s more, its aim is to make Japan a globally competitive English speaking nation by making use of native speakers also known as Assistant Language Teachers or ESL teachers.
What’s more, at least 90% of participants in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme are Assistant Language Teachers. If you reside in the UK and you would love to teach Japanese students, you can search for JET programme UK, or JET scheme.
2. Assistant Language Teacher
An Assistant Language Teacher is a Japanese teaching assistant, particularly a native English speaker, who works in public schools or local boards of education within Japan.
As an ALT, your work is to help Japanese teachers of English to teach English and you may be constantly involved in preparing teaching materials, as well as extracurricular activities like English clubs or English sports teams.
In other words, your role is to teach English to Japanese students or to team teach English language with Japanese teachers of English in either elementary, junior high, or high schools.
Your duties may depend on the level of English language you’re teaching, but they are never difficult because the Japanese teacher is the one who is ultimately in charge of the lesson.
The qualifications you need to teach in Japan are a bachelor’s degree in any subject and being a native English speaker.
3. English Language Schools in Japan
Another option for you if you want to teach in Japan is to look for teaching jobs in private or independent English institutions, which are also known as eikaiwa.
So, if you have the necessary qualifications and you love to teach, you may want to consider applying for a job as an English teacher in Japan. On the other hand, if you have completed your English course and you want to live and work in Japan, you may want to explore the various internships in Japan for English speakers so that you can acquire some teaching experience in one of the English language schools in Japan. Teaching opportunities are often available on a full-time and part-time basis.
You can also search for jobs under English universities in Japan. Working in colleges or universities is possible, but such positions are difficult to obtain because they require that one has Masters or Doctorate. However, with such qualifications, you can be able to teach English undergraduate courses.
4. Teaching Online English to Japanese Students
If you are a native English speaker, this is another option if you want to teach English online. The demand for online English teachers is increasing by the day and this is a convenient job that you can do from home with your own schedule.
In other words, you can be an online English teacher for Japanese students either on a part-time or full-time basis depending on the hours you are available. Another advantage of teaching English online is that the teacher is often giving an opportunity to charge her own rates.
What’s more, you will not be required to write on the board, but your teaching experience will certainly be like teaching at a high school or university classroom. When teaching online English, you do not have to worry about visas or commuting.
How an ESL Teacher can Learn Japanese
In addition to your teaching responsibilities, you’ll be required to engage in activities with the local communities and learn basic Japanese. So, the following will help:
1. Japanese Language Programs
If you have plans of becoming part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme or teaching English to Japanese students in English schools in Japan, you may want to enrol for Japanese Language Programmes. Studying Japanese is important because you will be able to understand information that is available in Japanese, and to communicate more knowledge about your country of origin to your Japanese students. You also get to build a strong foundation for your future career if you intend to live in Japan.
Studying the Japanese language also enables you to learn Japanese culture, which tends to be unique and different. You can choose to study Japanese at home, along with online reading lessons or study in a classroom.
2. Japanese English Exchange
Language exchange is a very important aspect of studying Japanese because the biggest challenge is often not to learn Japanese grammar, but to learn when to say what and to whom. So, the benefits of Japanese English Exchange cannot be overlooked if you intend to work or teach English in Japan.
So, you may want to find language exchange partners who can teach you Japanese as you teach them English. Some Japanese locals will try to befriend you so that they can learn and practice their English.
Short Term and Special English Language Programmes with English Language Homestays
The homestay programmes offer one to one flexible English courses that help international students to improve their English conversation and listening skills within a short time as they live with host teachers. These programmes are available in different locations including Brighton and Eastbourne. So, international students can enrol for short-term English course in UK or short-term English courses in London. International students can also study summer intensive English at the Brighton International summer school during the summer holidays. We also have a 3 month English course for anybody wishing to perfect their English skills with a crash programme.
These courses are also available to any English teacher looking to refresh vocabulary and communications skills, as well as use of English in the classroom.
These English courses are available during summer and throughout the year.
Japanese Exchange Programme
We also have a Japanese Exchange Programme, which enables participants to experience a new culture with a host family as they attend a Japanese high school or college.
By living with a host family, this programme enables participants to immerse themselves in a new culture and the Japanese language. So, if you are a British student and you would love to study abroad in Japan, you may want to consider joining a host family, which will help you start your programme with ease. The programme will also enable you to assess your confidence, enhance your Japanese language skills, and to be part of cross-cultural communication. So, if you want to apply for college or university studies, this foreign exchange programme also offers opportunities for internships in Japan for English speakers. Does this programme sound interesting? If yes, check out the Japanese exchange programme UK.
The English language is gaining popularity in Japan, and ESL teachers are in high demand more so due to the Olympic Games to be held in 2020. What’s more, the demand for online English teachers is also increasing. So, if you love to teach, Japan is an extremely safe country with very friendly and generous people. It is certainly a great place to live and work.
Knowing how to speak the Japanese language will certainly reduce culture shock for you and you will certainly be able to build lasting relationships and friendships.