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Guide to Japan and Teaching English in Japan

Michael Chan Former ELT News editor Michael Chan wrote this comprehensive guide to teaching English in Japan. It covers just about any question you might have, from the kind of qualifications you need to the differences between the different kinds of schools.

This resource is aimed at those interested in pursuing a teaching career in Japan. We welcome further additions and comments to this page. If there is information you cannot find in this guide - post your query on the Message Board or contact ELT News using our contact form

January 07, 2009

Why teaching in Japan?

A new culture, a new environment, money, personal development, professional development, adventure -- these are just some of the reasons why foreigners come to Japan to teach English. Japan is home to over 120 million inhabitants, and the popularity and necessity of studying English is met by a multi-billion dollar English-language-teaching industry. A continuous flux of foreigners entering and leaving the country means that there are always opportunities for those looking for teaching jobs in Japan. There are four main types of teaching jobs:

The Conversation School Teacher


English conversation schools (popularly known as ‘eikaiwa’ schools) can be located in almost every town and city in Japan. They hire native English speakers to teach conversational English to children and adults. The size of these schools range from small office buildings to national chains covering the whole of Japan.

The Business English Instructor


Some companies require their employees to study English for their jobs, others may also offer free or subsidized English lessons as a benefit for their employees. The highest demand for business English instructors is in Tokyo, since this is where most of the companies are located.

The High School Teacher


English is a part of the high school curriculum in Japan. Although all high school students study English, the emphasis is on reading and writing. It is often the case that most Japanese teachers of English can't speak English at all. The Japanese government-sponsored JET program hires over 2,000 native English speakers every year to teach in Japanese high schools.

The University Teacher


Many universities hire English teachers for their foreign language faculties. Working conditions and salaries are comparable to their Western counterparts. See the Universities page for more information about working in the Japanese university system.


Japan, perhaps, is the only advanced industrial nation in the world that has a large number of uncertified native English teachers teaching in the EFL field.

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