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So you Want to Teach English in Japan?

Hey, kids! Welcome to our web site all about riding the gravy train in Japan. What's that you say? I can make money just by existing, by simply showing up and speaking English?! Yep, you sure can! Our site is dedicated to all you carbon blobs out there. Learn how to tie a tie and nod your head thoughtfully and you're in!

Seriously though, before you go for that inexhaustible teat, you need to know a few things. What we are talking about here is the poop, the goods, the news, the rumors, the gossip, the truth and the utterly unsubstantiated tales of eikaiwa (English conversation to you newbies).

Why? As an English teacher, contrary to what you may believe or have been told, you are an entertainer and salesman. You are the official English-speaking person. You are the Norman Rockwell, rosy-cheeked, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, apple-pie eating, product of the suburbs;a pet gaijin to some Japanese.

You may think you are a shoe-in with your TESL or RSA certificate but the fact is you don't really need it (well, Immigration wants to see it so they can keep riff-raff out but that's another story). Any person who can speak English clearly and wear a suit properly can teach English in Japan. In fact, most Japanese figure that if you are a native speaker of English, you are qualified to teach.

We are not out to criticize English language learning; learning a second language is a noble and worthy pursuit. If anything, we wish there was a lot more communication between people all over the world. Our beef is with the large schools such as GEOS, AEON and NOVA where more entertaining than educating is going on. English is being taught professionally and being taught well in Japan. However, such institutions are few and far between; eikaiwa simply rules the landscape the way fast food rules North America. Keep this in mind as you read on: eikaiwa is a McJob.

Read our stuff. Learn. Laugh. Cry. Shout. Get angry. Agree with us. Curse us. Just promise to keep an open mind and respond.

Chris and Shawn


"Don't jeopardize my own chances of recieving continuing employment"

Kid, this LOSER is trying to fool you, with the oldest trick in the book. He is some long in the tooth, burnt out teacher, who's paranoid about younger, better, more enthusiastic people coming in, and jeopardizing his future. I've seen it before. You start at some company, and some old, burnout thirty year veteran sidles up to you, feigning friendliness, and opens with the gambit:

"What's a smart young kid like you doing at a dump of a company like this?

Why would someone be so keen on discouraging people from coming to Japan?

Maybe they are genuinely concerned that others don't get burned, by the Japan teaching experience.

But also, you're right, I think also they are trying to discourage the competition.

That's what the guy who keeps writing EIKAIWA=LOSER in big capitals seems to be trying to do. What he means is Eikaiwa is for losers like him, so please, young guns stay away, and let him keep his job.

That's right, folks. Work on the Jet Program and you will become native level in Japanese in one year. What? You don't believe me? Folks, do I look like someone who would exagerate?


He he

and have you noticed that this Eikaiwa = Loser guy never posts messages outside Eikaiwa Working Hours?

Dear living in Hokkaido dude

I wasn't involved with the Nova decable but I found myself out of work last summer (I was working at this god awful crazy school and had to leave quicky.. long story)

What I did was look at the local business directory (Yellow pages or equivalent), get the address of EVERY english school in the local area and find each place on the map (of course you'd need a Japanese buddy to help you do this!!)

I then plotted a little route, put on a nice suit and went round and visited all of them. There were about 10 schools I went to, and at the time no one said they had any vacancies. However the owner at the last school I went to passed my contact details onto one of her friends, and the next day I got a call being invited to an interview. (she actually called my back to ask for my details just as I was walking out of the school.. is that a twist of fate or what)

I've now been working at a lovely little school for about 15 months, and I've been very very happy.

Having said that though the Japanese owner is pretty dishonest and it's definitely not what I'd consider a long-term prospect.

Basically what I'm saying is it's the numbers game.. just go and get your face around and something will turn up (maybe I was lucky or maybe I made it happen for myself??) It's also a game of chance too. Some schools can be lovely and some schools can be absolute hell holes.

Good luck anyway

(It got so low at one point looking for jobs I even considered applying to Nova in the summer of last year.. thank god for that, eh!!)

The Black Knight always triumphs!

Did I just reply to a message that was like... way old???

Did anyone like my story anyway??!!

Maybe reply to some more recent messages then:

Teaching English in Japan is what you want it to be.

I used to be an IT professional back home but it wasn't a very interesting job so after a few years I thought I'd try something new. I'm now over here and really enjoying working as a teacher, teaching to kids and adults of every age. (I'm lucky though as I just get a chance to run the school how I want)

I make no bones that it's a long-term career or anything, I'm just enjoying it for what it is - a nice change from what I used to do.

My other half (Japanese of course!!) wants to have kids soon so I guess eventually I'll have to try and find something with better prospects, whether that's in Japan or back in my own country, we'll see!! (you can do a masters in EFL with a degree plus two years teaching experience, then you would be able to I guess get a "proper" job, teaching at a 18 plus college, whether that's what I want to do, remians to be seen)

Everyone says the JET programme is so fantastic but if you translate 300K into English money that works out as a bog standard Office Clerks salary, nothing more. Also you'd have to teach as an assistant to another teacher and you'd get no where near as much job satisfaction compared to teaching the lessons yourself. I'd rather work for 50,000 YEN a month less than the Jets and have 100% job satisfaction any day of the week. (I had to go out on site every week as an ALT to a High School during my previous job working at a private English school and this was be far the least satisfying
of all my lessons of the week) That's only my personal experience though.. I'm sure lots of the Jet students have a wonderful experience out here.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

Black Knight, my old foe

Hey Derry derry, Fol de ro

Tax in Japan is so comparitively Low

That Your Take home Salary becomes, in reality higher, though.


The Black Knight Always triumphs?
Have you not seeneth Monty Python and the Holy Grail?
Thou Victory is but Pyrric
But, Alas, that is another tale...

Right, I'm a very determined person. I'm taking a gap year between secondary and college next year and I'm going to Japan for three months, I got the money for the flight, but I can't find a job (I live in the middle of nowhere) and my parents wont help me financially, so I need to find a way of getting the money for acommodation. I've been researching all this for a year or so now, I booked m flights, I've contacted the hostels I'm staying at which in my eyes is the cheapest acommodation that I'll be safe in, average £80 a week (I'm travelling around Japan, not staying in one place) and I can probably get a couple hundered together, but obviously wil need alot more, kinda £700-£800 more. Since I wont be in full time education or with a full time job, and I'm only 16 (I could apply for the loan when I'm 17 before I go but I think it wont make a difference lol) getting a loan is proving impossible and I'm working the hardest I can to get thsi sorted and done. What way can I get the money together for it without scrounging off people?! It's so difficult and I need so much help, because wehn I got there for my three months I'll be choosing a college, uni and stuff, and i will be starting to build my future there (I'm moving there in 2010, if I decide to go to college there. I may go to college here in England then move there for uni and whatnot.)

What can I do? T_T Email me,

I'd really appreciate a reply.

You better be good at Japanese if you want to go to to uni in Japan. I think that most require level 2 or even 1!
As for building a future, I would not expect much unless you are over 20 with a BA AT LEAST.

For now, I think its best for you to just enjoy your trip, and not to think too seriously about it.

However, there are Japanese universities that have one-year intensive language study programs for foreign students, basically the equivalent of the ESL programs that colleges in English-speaking countries have for students whose English skills aren't up to par yet. A guy I knew who taught at Tokai University said their program was intensive indeed: 8 kanji a day, 5 days a week, eating, breathing, drinking the language. Once they finish, they start the regular curriculum, so in effect it's 5 years to graduate instead of the "standard" 4. Written Japanese in particular sets quite a challenge, so if possible be as familiar as you can with the language before enrolling in such a program. I'd guess there are details on the university websites. For whoever wants to do it, good luck and ganbatte!

Just found out I didn't make the JET list. Very sad but now reading this site I feel better than there are more choices out there.

Never mind. JET's a bit of a mixed bag, anyway. You never know where they7re gonna put you.

In conversation schools, you can apply for jobs in places where you want to be. I chose Yokohama. Hello sailors!

ive looked into the JET scheme and have concluded that its innability to place applicants in places they desire is a highly negative aspect. i was wondering if you could highlight some schemes or websites where one can search for posts which are specific to the city which they would like to work in. i have a BA in english literature but no teaching qualification. thanks.

I’ve worked with teachers or shall I say Entertaining clowns, who were complete nutcases and mentally unstable pschopaths who wouldn’t be fit to workback home. I’ve had to work with unprofessional, immature, tardy, chronically late, fake-personality, emotionally and mentally unstable, disease-ridden, personal problem ridden, whiny, backstabbing, theiving, pediophillic, unintelligent, crazy, violent, short-tempered, desperate horny as hell, alcoholic, cheap-ass, stingy, unhygenic, creepy, disgustingly ugly and old, and complete stupid dumb/jack ass teachers who can't spell and do basic paperwork. Seriously the eikaiwa industry needs to take a serious look at who they hire. There’s no proper screening process or behavioral - psycho test before they get hired. I truly feel sorry for the Japanese students who obviously love to waste their time and money on these foolish clowns.
Seriously, you lose brain cells if you do this degrading job, like a monkey on a leash performing to gullible customers. The only people making the money are the fat cats at the top. You get no pay raises, and no benefits that all the other full-time Japanese workers get. The HR dept are creepy losers too who hire any breathing body who can put a few English words together. You get treated like crap, no wonder teachers are like this. That’s the truth from my honest experience of Eikaiwa and the English teaching industry in Japan. Go work in that industry and you will find out what I'm talking about.

I’ve had to work with unprofessional, immature, tardy, chronically late, fake-personality, emotionally and mentally unstable, disease-ridden, personal problem ridden, whiny, backstabbing, theiving, pediophillic, unintelligent, crazy, violent, short-tempered, desperate horny as hell, alcoholic, cheap-ass, stingy, unhygenic, creepy, disgustingly ugly and old, and complete stupid dumb/jack ass teachers who can't spell and do basic paperwork. Seriously the eikaiwa industry needs to take a serious look at who they hire. There’s no proper screening process or behavioral - psycho test before they get hired.

Umm, you may be right about Eikaiwa workers, and JET and ALTS for that matter...but have you ever worked in a company outside of Japan? That pretty much sums up my time working in numerous companies in Australia and the UK!

Let's face it: almost all people who "work for the man" are like that. It is precisely one of the reasons companies like GM, Chrysler, JP MorganChase etc etc fail! And your description pretty much sums up most government and IT Professionals, too! And don't get me started on those low-life, working-class slobs.....

I think some of these people really need to be reported to the authorities. Unfortunately for you it seems you have been that traumatised that you have become one of them.

I have to say I'm quite shocked to read the OTT negative comments on being an English teacher in Japan. I'm a 'real' teacher with a TESOL and I used to teach in Japan with GEOS. Yes, these big schools are just out to make money and don't really care much for the teachers but it's all down to your attitude and motives for being in Japan at the end of the day.

During my time with GEOS the fact that I was constantly reminded by my manager about the school's goal and financial targets did annoy me, but contrary to many comments here I was never a 'sales person'. As teachers, we got on with our job of teaching, and the manager got on with her job of recruiting new students and reaching goals.

To be a teacher you DO have to have brains. The Japanese people may not be good at speaking English but they are very good at other aspects like grammar. If you don't know your stuff, trust me, the students WILL complain. So the people on this forum who say that these teachers are brainless losers are full of sh*t. It's not only insulting to the teachers but also to all those students.

Many of these people who go out to Japan and have nothing positive to say about teaching English, the Japanese people or culture have just got a serious attitude problem. Just because they can't hack living and working in a country that contrasts so much with their own.

I spent a wonderful 19 months in Tokyo and enjoyed making Japanese friends and learning the language. I also enjoyed my job as a teacher and was often very satisfied to see my students progressing with their English ability. I dare say some teachers who join these big schools have no real teaching qualifications and don't take their job seriously. But you can't tar everyone with the same brush!

My advice for anyone thinking about embarking on a teaching job in Japan is to just keep an open mind. These big schools do have annoying policies and ill-equiped managers, but as long as you are a good teacher and deliver quality lessons to your students then you can enjoy your time. Japan has a very different culture to the West and it's not for everyone. But to those who appreciate culture and diversity then Japan is a wonderful place.

Finally, don't listen to these idiots who claim teachers are 'scum'. They are the rejects of society who have no ambition and are most likely xenophobic philistines!

Well, as a real TESOL qualified teacher (what are your qualifications?), you would know quite well that a qualified teacher can produce better results than an unqualified teacher, in terms of targeting and improving the language deficiencies of any particular student, but a huge percentage of students, if given the choice, opt for the most entertaining teacher, whether they can actually teach or not. It is a simple fact. Language acquisition is often only a small fraction of what is behind the motivations of a student to attend “monkey in the booth” eikaiwa.

Japanese students may have studied grammar in school, but they do have enormous difficulty converting that knowledge to the spoken word – most problems I saw were grammar based, but the majority of students did not want to focus on grammar, because in their own minds, they paid for something else (sometimes just a laugh, sometimes to express things they do not feel comfortable expressing in Japanese, sometimes things of an intensely sexual nature).

It was quite amusing for a while, actually, listening to grown adults unburden their hearts, as if they were thirteen year olds desperately needing direction and advice. Pretty zany stuff, actually. It was cute to begin with, but pretty damn weird and pathetic, after X amount of time, to tell the truth.

The same story has been told over hundreds of thousands of times.

I agree - to do an honest job, by language teaching standards, brains are necessary. But you can get away with being a total clown, and being the most popular teacher in the school, without engaging your brain to a high degree at all, other than to find the discipline to do your show, over and over and over and over again (since the show, or the psychiatrist’s couch, in the most part, is what they really paid for). It is all about keeping your customer satisfied, and any which way will do, and not so much about being a technically good teacher.

Serious attitude problem? No, I don’t think so. The demands of the students and what Eikaiwa is really about, create the attitude problem.

Ultimately, a not giving a "rat’s ass attitude", but still doing your show, ends up becoming a survival technique. Gaining the mental discipline to permanently smile, whether happy or not, certainly helps – and you do have to use some form of brain activity to pull that off.

You can go to Japan, do a technically good job (qualifications help), and enjoy the differences Japan has to offer, but I would not recommend it for a long period. 19 months sounds like a typical amount of time, before batteries expire. Bit too long I reckon, but pretty typical.

Like it or not, a lot of eikaiwa teachers are pretty scummy (because actually, eikaiwa is notoriously scummy), and as far as long termers go, they are often pretty damn weird as well. In the most part, it’s a pretty innocent kind of “skummy” though – of course young folk do what they have to do, to get through the bizarreness of eikaiwa.

It is a shame standards in Eikaiwa, and the market in Japan, does not attract more people like you. They never will however. But when people like you come along, there is a place for you in eikaiwa, but you are no more value to eikaiwa than a dick that smells of beer, has no qualifications, can make people laugh, and just so happens to be a native English speaker.

Tough to accept, but that's life in Eikaiwa.


In regards to the message beginning:

'Well, as a real TESOL qualified teacher (what are your qualifications?)...'

I couldn't have put it better myself. You have perfectly summed up my experiences in Japan in Eikaiwa. I was sick and tired after 6 months.

As an additional point, I am now a fully qualified teacher having taken the (long and hard) PGCE route and having a 'TESOL' or some two bit EFL/ESL degree done over the internet does NOT qualify you as a real teacher! Sorry to break it to you!

Just my tuppence worth.

Well for a start, eikaiwa "teachers" aren't teachers, and the eikaiwa business isn't about teaching. It's basically about talking, and giving the impression that you're all professional and teacherly in order to keep the customers coming back, and under the illusion that they're being "taught".

Sure you can come over and have a wonderful time and appreciate Japan, but be aware of the realities of what you're getting yourself into, as have been stated often on here - zero skills development, the exploitative nature of the schools, and being blinded to that reality by images of the mystery and wonder of experiencing Japan by working for GEOS, Nova etc.

Sooner or later, you're going to have to move on from all that and face up to what you're actually doing with your life and career in the long term. Don't get caught out!

In the meantime, companies like GEOS etc will keep drawing people in with those intoxicating images, whilst cooking up a shoddy, duff product for unsuspecting customers, and treating their workforce with a lack of basic respect and dignity. As long as you keep these things in mind when you're all suited up at the front of class pretending to teach, there shouldn't be any problem.

The Ripper

Nineteen months usually means you didn't complete a contract. Nineteen months means you were still only in the virgin stage of existence here. Nineteen months means that you were a tourist with a teaching stint. Nineteen months indicates that you can't see both sides of the coin about teaching and living here.

God knows how many times I heard, "You are a good teacher, " and then I was ousted from a class months later because a student-bully would tell the school that my class was boring (because I was really teaching rather than entertaining).

I finally understood that to survive in the English teaching jungle you needed to entertain and charm the OLs more than educate at a ration of 10 to 1.

With few exceptions, young, cute teachers can get a long leash. But if you overstay your welcome into your forties and beyond, you are worse than a disposable diaper.

Anonymous, it's good that you stayed only 19 months. Your mind is probably filled with cute girls or self-effacing boys taking you to festivals and karaoke. That is only the genkan to life in Japan as an English teacher.

The idea of teaching “thinking” to “individuals”, while it sounds rather odd in a non-Japanese perspective, is actually what many Japanese crave – many they think they can get it, from going to eikaiwa – they think going to eikaiwa just might be the magic key, to unleash what they feel is totally absent within themselves – as if, by just sitting there, under the disguise of learning “English”, they can absorb by osmosis from a foreigner, the medicine needed to cure what they feel are severe cultural deficiencies, and thus find something within themselves to “unleash” – perhaps even finding the “individual” within:

“If I could just deal with this emptiness, and find within me what surely must be there and is oppressed, I just may well be able to escape this machine like reality.......I hope”.

After 28 years in Japan, I think your approach is a natural evolution based on profound experience and insight, and a refreshing and brutally honest way to go about “teaching”, in that it gets right to the heart of the matter, without pretending to be something else.

Your approach is a bit hammy and commercial for me, but hey, each unto their own (you sound like you are American, so fair enough) – at least you are honest and upfront about your role, and I deeply respect that.

As you have discovered, there is also a market for what you have to offer, for foreigners who find themselves in Japan, suddenly rudderless and directionless, simply doing what needs to be done (a common syndrome, for medium to long term victims of the eikaiwa machine – a loss of zest as if gained by "osmosis" during their repetitive and monotonous eikaiwa journey).

There really is, no such thing as easy money.

Good luck to you.


To be fair, he or she enjoyed the experience because he or she did what they were supposed to do. That is, to come over for a year or two and then go: in much the same way that young women are supposed to stay in their companies for 4 years of so, and then go and get married. People who don't do what they are supposed to do get clobbered in Japan. I'm not defending it, of course; just saying how it is.

That said, you can make it out here long term if you stay off the company radar by being self employed and good at what you do.

Richard makes some valid points, but there is nothing wrong with spending 19 months in Japan and enjoying it. Festivals and karaoke are fun. 19 months in no way means that you automatically didn't complete a contract - my contracts were always for a year, after which I had the option of renewing. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't. The bottom line: teaching English in Japan isn't meant to be a long-term career. Those who go over to Japan expecting to make a good living into their forties while teaching English are deluded. Why would you expect a school to pay you more when there are always a fresh crop of young college grads looking to spend a year or two in Japan teaching English? I was there once, and I got out because I was spinning my wheels - best decision I've ever made. It was fun, but in the end it became a grind. I got out before I became like alot of posters here : just another bitter, over the hill gaijin English teacher.


Good point. It's not a wise decision to choose Eikaiwa as your career. If you want to play around in Japan, don't expect to develop any useful skill set, earn a decent wage and don't mind numbing boring work, then it may be for you. But if you want a viable, sustainable career with upword mobility that you can continue into your forties, then the Eikaiwa industry is not not for you.


Does anyone have any thoughts on Rose English School or ECC?

I also find Thorn's comments extreme. I taught English for 2 years in Japan, and the Eikaiwa I worked for mostly had focused students with set goals who wanted structured, themed lessons. Despite the fact that I enjoyed the job alot and found my days rewarding, for some reason I too found myself thinking that I was some kind of loser and that I should go back to the UK and get a 'proper' job. Well, here I am two years after my return, working for a reputable financial company in London with a good salary. The only problem is, I am bored out of my mind and working with a bunch of mostly deplorable corporate climbers. I hate it.

Don't be fooled people, whilst ESL teaching in Japan is maybe not a long term career choice, at least it is enjoyable and involves interaction with people, unlike most of the nameless office jobs in the UK and also the US I that are open to graduates in obtuse degree subjects who would otherwise be left on the employment scrap heap. You will gain more skills from teaching ESL for a year at a decent school than in a lifetime in any crappy admin job. I worked with a lot of people in the same boat, who could not get a decent job in their own country despite having a degree. Many felt disillusioned and failed by the education and employment systems and were looking for something they could find value in. Most of them were intelligent, articulate and creative people who had far more to offer than 99% of your typical office employees.

I graduated in photography, and though I am still trying to make as a professional it in my spare time, I need something to pay the bills and am planning to go into learning support and do various teaching courses so that eventually I can teach photography to adult learners and hopefuly make a name for myself in what is a very competitive field.

For those looking for a rewarding career in a world with so many pointless office 'careers' where you leave with no tangible result at the end of the day, teaching must be one of the best. I can't see why teaching English in Japan or in any other country would not serve as a great introduction to this. It shows you are willing to try something new, and to jump in at the deep end. I am proud to put it on my CV, and I am sure it would be looked upon in a better light by prospective employers if those naysayers like THORN on forums such as this would stop portraying it in such a negative light.

hi there. i enjoyed reading your reply to the post and it has helped me with a lot of unanswered questions i had about ESL teaching. i do however, would like to ask for your opinion on applying for ESL jops with purely a BA degree in english lit. did you achieve the post through a certain company?? any help would be greatly appreciated. cheers.

Hey Guys,

I just finished Uni. and was thinking about teaching in Japan. I heard the pay is very good and it's a great experieince. Plus I think Japanese girls are really cute.

Any advice?



Hello Willie,

You sound like you will fit into the world of Eikaiwa perfectly. Please get yourself organized and get to Japan urgently.

Certainly, you will be paid a little more than your part-time job pouring cappuccinos at the local coffee job, while you were at University, and at the same time as finding the benefit of a little extra cash pleasing (although you will still regularly run out of money), you will be able to see Japan, and look at many cute Japanese girls.

Be forewarned, young Japanese are not as “gaigin” crazy at they used to be. However, middle aged and elderly woman are still very much prone to putting out, with very little effort required to get them into a sexually receptive mode.

The real beauty of Japan is, the older woman look younger than their Western counterparts. For example, if you put a 65 year old student on the bed springs, and you squint your eyes, she will look about 35 years old.

My advice is that you should bring a good supply of condoms made in the West. Apart from the fact that Japanese condoms tend to be far too small, STD’s are rampant in Japan.

Oh, and my other advice – learn to squint a lot, if sexually experiencing the orient is really what your motivation is.


Hi Thorn,

Is that your real name?

So only cougers like white men over there now? ....bummer
How many cougars have you bagged so far?
Have any of them given you an STD?

The money's not that great, huh?
I'm going to have to think about it some more before I decide.

What company would you recommend applying to?
I would prefer to not work with kids.

Thorn, could you give me your email address or face book URL, so I can contact you directly with mor specific questions.

If anybody else has any advice I would be very greatful.



How old must you be to start teaching english in Japan?
I want to move to Japan when I turn 18, but because I'm still young, money may be hard to earn. I heard that teaching english is a gold mine, if I can speak fluent Japanese and fluent english, can I start teaching when I'm 18 ? Or would I be considered too young ?
Is there any requirements for teaching english ?

Hi Alice,
At 18 you will be too young to get a job "teaching" english. Japanese do not want teenagers teaching them foreign languages, and you must have a college degree.
Your best bet would be to look into getting a job as a "hostess" in a big city such as Osaka or Tokyo. The pay and conditions are fantastic, you will be expected to speak english to the customers, and may even be allowed to perform "extra services" to make even more money! Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Best Wishes

Hi Alice,

To be an English teacher in Japan, you'll need at least a degree and a TEFL qualification. And even better, some post-TEFL experience on top of that. You'll also need some commitment to the profession, namely, be working towards an English-teaching Diploma or Masters.

That's going to take you at least another 3-4 years to reach though, so I'd say your best bet, if you want to come over when you're 18, is to try for a working holiday visa. That should get you over here for a year. Work-wise, you could try your luck with hostessing as Nate suggests, although you'll find yourself working in a semi-whorehouse environment with lots of leery Japanese businessmen drooling all over you, etc etc.

If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you could try eikaiwa (English conversation). All you need for that sort of work is to be a native speaker of English and to have very basic self-discipline, ie. turn up to work on time, dress smart, not smell too bad, and be able to string together some sort of vaguely meaningful sentences in English, even if they make little sense. You don't need any teaching qualifications or experience for it, as the job doesn't involve teaching, but just talking to people.

Unfortunately however, a lot of the eikaiwa aren't hiring overseas at the minute, so you'd have to rock up and try your luck once you're here, which will entail having to get some funds together to support yourself while you're looking for work. All in all, you'll need in the region of 250,000 yen a month to get by comfortably on.

As for it being a gold mine, at the moment wages are going down and work is drying up, with the average wages being 1,500-1,800 yen for a typical 40-minute "lesson" as they call them. That means you'll be having to build up in the region of 35-40 "lessons" per week to get by comfortably on. And that is going to be a very tall order at the present time.

Give it a shot by all means, but don't expect it to be a gold mine. Prepare yourself for a very tough and potentially demoralising time.

All the best, and good luck with your decision.

Wee Willie Winkie.

In addition, remember that eikaiwa management tend to be very unscrupulous in their behaviour, and in their dealings with their staff (see current top thread on this site about the head of G Com, an eikaiwa operator). I'd advise getting clued up about your rights (or lack of them) in Japan, as eikaiwa managers will try to exploit your lack of knowledge and experience of it in order to take advantage of you. In any case, as Willie says above, be prepared for getting into trouble after you get over here.

Take it from me, someone with several years experience of living and teaching in Japan.

The Ripper

Hey Alice!

I'm Living and working as an English teacher in Japan.
I am 19 and am a university student taking a year off to make some money and I have a T.E.S.l certificate.

It is easy to get discharged when reading to the reply's people posted to you question but you should be careful who you listen to. The first thing is it is not impossible to get a job at your age. I would take the TESL course and get the certificate it takes about 2 months. I would also save up a lot of money to support yourself with. I don't know why these people are fucking with you, but becoming a hostess is a horrible Idea!
I would not under any circumstances consider hostessing an option.

I recommend saving up for a few years taking and taking the TESL course so you feel more confident in you jobs searching. If you do come make sure you have a kick ass resume and cover letter and look for job teaching children.

My understanding was that you needed a degree to do a TEFL course, but maybe things have changed.

Definitely save money to support yourself if you're coming over without a job. If you get a job lined up before you come, sort out unemployment insurance. Companies are having a tough time, there's been a bankruptcy only last week, and one of the major eikaiwa schools has been paying its staff late, a sure sign of financial problems.

Don't look at it as a financial "gold mine". Try to enjoy seeing Japan and having some different experiences. If you end up working in eikaiwa, such as Nova or Geos, or dispatch ALT companies like Interac, expect to get into trouble. If you can get a job in a proper, accredited school, you'll be better off.

Most of the people on Cambridge courses have a degree, but Cambridge don't absolutely require one and schools do from time to time accept people who don't have one (with some need to justify that decision).

However, there are so many providers of TEFL courses apart from Cambridge out there now and so much competition to attract students that there may well be higher numbers without degrees getting certificates from one provider or another than in the past.

I don't think these courses do that much harm, but then again how much good they can do in the space of four weeks or so who knows?

I am a Cameroonian and I just graduated with a BA in English. I just heard about teaching in Japan and will like a little adventure. Could somebody be so kind to link me up to these teaching opportunities.
I will be happy to get some info about teaching in china and both its advantages and disadvantages. My email;


I'm afraid you won't be able to teach with just a BA in English. As stated below, you'll need a TEFL qualification to start developing teaching skills.

If it's English conversation (Eikaiwa) you're after, see my post below about it. Opportunities are few and far between at the moment as several of the big Eikaiwa chains have stopped hiring overseas.

You could come over on a working holiday visa, but be warned, it will not be easy to find work in Eikaiwa at the minute. People may tell you otherwise, but people who say that are probably working in the management of an Eikaiwa chain or franchise, and are trying to paint a rosier picture of the situation in order to attract recruits.

Scour the internet for as much information as you can on it - research who is hiring, your likely pay, conditions, living expenses and that sort of thing. Make as well an informed decision as you can, and be prepared for a hard slog.

Take it from me, someone with experience of both Eikaiwa and TEFL teaching in Japan.

If you want to hear actual interviews with people who teach English in Japan, there's a podcast called "The Japanofiles". It's at

The penny-pinching, promise-breaking pack of Peppy pirates, punks and pigs who are pretending to be positive, are providing pitiful pay and peanuts to its poorly punctual and passionless part-time personnel. Please pamper the pupils and perform peppily for the parents to keep pay and profits pumping and our performance bonus peachy. Pray the Peppy purse doesn't pop or there'll be plenty of peeing pants and piles of poo from the people in the publishing prison. Protest and push for more perks but prepare to be punished by the Peppy police! Pack up and piss off to more positive and profitable pastures or prepare to persist with poor peasant-like conditions!

Hello all.
I'm 18, have just finished college and I am going to Japan very soon :)! I have almost completed a TEFL course but I do not have a degree.
What are the changes of me finding a job that will give me enough money to live from? I think I would feel most comfortable teaching english to children / teenagers seeing as i'm only 18 myself.
I will be living in Togane - shi, Chiba prefecture so any places/job vacancies near there would be best :).
Thank you


I am 19 and currently working at an children's international school in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture.
I am Canadian and am a university student and have a T.E.S.L too. It is awesome your going to have an awesome time!

My tips for you are:
1. Check out Gijin pot! it will have a ton of jobs for your area
2. Without a doubt make sure you bring enough money with you to support yourself with in case you don't get a job right away.
3. Teach children! Because you don't have a degree you will have a way easier time finding a job teaching children.
4. Get a suit and dress the part and don't bring up your age. Most importantly be Genki!
5. Spend a lot of time making a kick ass cover letter and resume and embellish it a little!

Have fun and good luck! feel free to e-mail me!


Hi!!! im also 19 and am currently in University, Actually the university of Trent, in Ontario, wondering if you could give me some advise about finding work in Japan, i dont have a degree and you dont either right? wondering if you could email me?
would really appreciate it :)

OK so I am gaijin as is my partner; she is currently living in Japan on a contract with a Working Visa, I am working in the UK. I am early 30s, with college qualification but no degree, but many years of working, even running my own company. I've read mixed reviews and just wondered how likely it would be for me to get a job out there. Maybe a holiday working visa would be ok? Any info greatly appreciated. Cheers

Ok, I'll just flat out say I did not read all the comments here haha. But I have some stuff I've been wondering about for a while so I figured why not ask here?

I've been considering going to Japan to teach English for a while now. I'm in my second year in university more or less working towards an English degree, at least for the moment. I'm also taking my second year of Japanese. I've looked around on different websites so I'm not totally clueless about teaching abroad, but I have two questions for now that I'm still wondering about.

#1: I'm a bit hazy on what the qualifications are. I know I would have to earn a TESL certificate, which I'm pretty sure takes a fairly short time to complete. But what kind of college degree/major do employers look for? English? Education? Anything in the Arts? Which is the best to have, in your opinion?

#2: I understand that native English speakers are the most sought-after. I was born in Mexico and my first language is Spanish. However, I've lived in Canada since I was 5 years old, so that's about 15 years now, and I consider myself to be more fluent in English than in Spanish. I don't have an accent and I don't really look stereotypically Latino, I'm tall and not that dark skinned. I read somewhere that even people whose first language isn't English CAN still teach it overseas, so I'm just looking for a second opinion, I guess. Would my background be a very big obstacle? I can obviously speak English well, so I don't think interviews would go badly in that sense, but I'm just worried I may be rejected in favour of more "Western" candidates.

I think I'd really enjoy doing this as a career in a few years and I'm trying to get as much information as I can. Any help would be really appreciated! Thank you so much in advance :)

to answer your questions:

#1: Getting a TESL certificate will definitely help, if not for bolstering your resume, (and assuming you have no teaching experience) then it can give you a look into what teaching ESL is like. In terms of college degrees/majors etc, it probably don't matter that much, you can probably find employment based on the strengths of your TESL and native speaker status. However, if you plan to look for a non-eikaiwa job such as a school ALT, a BA Edu or your English degree might be helpful.

#2: I am a Taiwan-born Australian and Asian in appearance. I stayed in Japan for 2 years and taught for about a year. I think as long as your English is up to scratch, as yours obviously is, then there should be no problem. Sometimes the students actually appreciates the background diversity. As for employment, I say if the company chooses a more "Western" looking applicant based on his/her appearance, then you probably don't want to work for them anyway..... there will be plenty of employment opportunities for someone who genuinely wants to work there. One "selling point" I used in my interviews was that "being culturally ethnic and having to learn English and a new culture, I am better equipped than most to teach and impart my knowledge of the process to students." I think it worked.....

Hope this helped. Good luck with it!

Thank you so much for your reply! I had almost forgotten about this post, haha.

It's great to hear there's opportunities for all races. I was totally thinking of saying something similar on my applications/interviews, about having been taught ESL myself! Thanks for all the tips.

It is so easy to check out what the conditions are like in Japan these days, but it looks like nobody would believe us anyway. Let them come over and check it out, then maybe the word will finally get out.


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