You are here

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


Just curious, whats the best way to get your TEFL. I kinda wanna take it online, but will it be less recognized then any others?

Hi there everyone,

If you are thinking about coming to teach in Japan, then I really hope you read my advice. There is a lot of negative comments posted on these discussion boards about teaching English in Japan. For the most part, it is not really true. Sure, there are some losers that come over to Japan and take advantage of the fact that they are 'gaijin'. But you know what, a jackass is a jackass, regardless of where they live. Eventually, these kind of people get a reputation and are filtered out, even by the Japanese who come to realize that behind the gaijin mask is an unintelligent and socially inept person.

My theory is this: A lot of people who post all of these negative comments about the gaijin 'losers' are actually losers themselves. Like I already said, there are some losers here, but arent there plenty of 'losers' back home as well. In my opinion about 60 to 70 percent of the gaijin I know or meet are really interesting people and fun to be around. Some of them might be a little different, but you know some of us, including myself just became fed up with our own cultures. I am from America. Of course I love my country and there are certain aspects of my culture that I miss, but at the same time I just cannot deal with the typical American lifestyle. Im not trying to put down America or the West, but it just gets a bit boring sometimes. There are some of us who need something else in our lives and I am one of those people I suppose.

Now, it is true that a lot of men come to Japan and get hooked up (sometimes married) with Japanese woman. Honestly, I have come to have a thing for Japanese woman and I am in a serious relationship with one. With this being said, I heard many comments from Western woman saying guys like me are 'losers' and we have to get an Asian because we are not capable of scoring one of our own. Again, this may be true in some cases, but most of the time it is not. I have met guys in Japan, who are married to Japanese woman, who probably get lots of woman anywhere they live. Also, Japanese girls have gotten the reputation as being stupid or easy. Again, this not true. Of course, there those girls who hang at the bar and have a bit of fun. However, dont the same kind of girls exist in Western countries at the bar? So, is it ok for a western girl to go to a bar and eat up all the attention, but if a Japanese girl does, she is a slut. I guess what I am trying to get at, there are good and bad girls everywhere. Of course there are some skanky Japanese girls, but there are also a lot strong, intelligent, fun, pretty and loving Japanese woman as well.

i guess what I am trying to say here is this; dont get caught up with all of the negativity and sterotypes. If you come to Japan to live for one year or a few years, enjoy your time here and live your life here. And if your a gaijin (man or woman, cause girls do it to), remember, if you think you are a rockstar when you get here, remember most of that is just the Japanese culture of flattering foriengers. So keep a perspective on things.

As for myslef, I am definitely not a loser. I am a person that enjoys my life and I recently found a new life in Japan. I am 28 years old and I have a master's degree in political science. Im not like a nerd who is shy around girls or has ever had trouble finding a girl. Im sure I could find a career doing something in America, but Ive chosen to stay here in Japan (Sapporo actually).

Japan is a beautiful place, but one can only understand that if he or she can open his or her mind and be positive dayo!

peace to all you haters


I was wondering if your comment is still relevant and if I could ask a few questions about careers in Japan.

Thankyou in advance


you`re right, too true!

I think there are only haters on this site.

Teaching English in Japan is a great experience and a fantastic way of living in Japan an also getting to travel and experience the country. I would highly recommend working at one of the local schools rather than the eikaiwa route. I can highly recommend a company called ALTIA CENTRAL whom I worked for with for 7 years. I don`t recommend the McDonalds route of Eikaiwa schools such as NOVA and GEOS as you will just be part of the fast food chain of making money for the company

The ONLY difference between ALT/ELT sourcing companies and Eikawas is...well, nothing really.

You can be a scant prouder saying you're an ALT, I suppose, but you're all the same.

When it comes to recruitment? ...same.
When it comes to salary?...same.
When it comes to company profit? ...same.
When it comes to average quality of English instruction? ...sadly the same.

So I wouldn't point at others and make such claims.

I would highly recommend working at one of the local schools rather than the eikaiwa route.

I don't much fancy spending all my time in buildings that should have been demolished thirty years ago, helping to maintain an education system that is basically broken. Of course, if you assume the main point of the Japanese education system is to give the kids of rich an important people a free ride to the top and turn everyone else into non-entities and failures, then it does actually work pretty well. But how's being an ALT better than working in eikaiwa?

Is it possible to apply for the job if I'm not from an English speaking country but have a university degree in English?

Yes, it is possible as it is a normal thing to hire fresh-out-of-college Japanese teachers who still can't use English conversationally. Generally, most schools have maybe one or two native English speakers and are surrounded by other Japanese "English" teachers. If you have light skin and light eyes and light hair, then you're a shoe-in, no matter your English level. This, I'm sorry to say, is the reality.

Hello everyone!
I would like to go in Japan to teach English there, how can i find job posts for this?

Search the Internet for "English teaching jobs in Japan". Or try the Eikaiwa Wiki at the top of this page and look up the websites of the English "schools" listed there. You'll also find information about those "schools" on there too.

PSsst.... It might be a good idea not to apply for GEOS though, if they're still hiring. But don't tell anybody I said that....


I applied for a job, but recieved a harch reply from the potential employer. I would like some wisdom from you pro's as to what i should do. Please see the communication below-

Subject: Your New Saturday Teacher
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 20:48:44 -0400

Hi xxxxx,

I'm your guy for classes. I know the Eikaiwa racket well, in fact I worked at NOVA, the biggest and most successful English school in the world, for two whole years. Many say I was the most popular teacher in Osaka, especially among the ladies. So consider yourself lucky, you are going to hire one of the best teachers in the business.

I have to tell you that I don't really like kids classes much, kids are a rude and they don't care about learning, but since you're paying a decent salary, I'll take the gig. But please, try to give me the better behaved kids, if the children disrespect me, then I insist they are punished.

Regarding the cirriculum, I'll take a look at what you got, if it's decent, I'll incorporate it, if not...sorry I don't teach trash.

I'll be around for a year and have a current Visa.

My Resume is attached

I can start in April, just send me over a map and my start time.

See ya then!

-Fukuoka's #1 Teacher and Gaijin Entertainer-
### #### ####

My Resume

English TEACHER (PreSchool-Adult)
Dedicated teacher eager to resume full-time teaching career. Offer a proven track record of commended performance teaching all ages, with a passion for education and a commitment to optimizing student and school success

Core Competencies
— Speaking English
— Writing English
— Creating Interesting Games
— Good Looking and Charming
— Good Gesture Techniques
— Learner Assessment
— Experiential Learning
— Special Needs Students

NOVA Umeda Brach, Osaka, Japan
Substitute Teacher (K-12), 09/05 to 11/07
Hired as a full-time teacher, instructing all age levels to classes up to 4 students.
Key Contributions:
— Earned high marks for the quality of classroom teaching, lesson plans and instructional materials used in teaching diverse techniques.
— Developed innovative approaches that were held as the model standard for meeting branch goals in areas including technology integration across the curriculum, experiential learning, literacy and diversity.
— Taught students and individuals with learning challenges and a lot of students with social disorders, that were really boring, and some were actually crazy.
— Consistently commended for ability to redirect students exhibiting behavior problems by replacing disruptive, unproductive patterns with positive behaviors. Led branch-wide in-service on classroom management.
— Served on NOVA’s taskforces focused on curriculum development, textbook review.
— Quickly became a “first-to-call” guy for working overtime and filling in when other instructors were sick.
— Personally requested by many students to teach lessons. Primary Caregiver, 6/07 to 12/08

Education & Credentials
BA in Elementary Education, 2004
Indiana Teacher Certification (Grades K-6), 2004

No Answer. So I followed up...

Subject: RE: Your New Saturday Teacher
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2010 01:24:06 -0400


Please answer my email as soon as possible, as my services are very valuable and I am constantly getting offers to work for a wide variety of companies and positions.

Your prompt reply is appreciated.

xxxxx xxxxxx
-Fukuoka's #1 Teacher and Gaijin Entertainer-
### #### ####

Still no response, so followed up again-


I was expecting you to have replied to my request for the map to the location of where I will teach for you and my exact start time.

A prompt reply at your earliest convenience is appreicated.

xxxx xxxxx
-Fukuoka's #1 Teacher and Gaijin Entertainer-
### #### #####

Finally some jerk from the company's office in Tokyo sent me this.

xxxx xxxx:
I am the director of xxxx xxxxx Children's Academy, the organization towhich you submitted your resume. Since you continue to spam Ms. xxx regarding our lack of interest in you, I want to disabuse you of a few misunderstandings you obviously have about yourself, your professionalism,and your qualifications in general. xxxx xxxx is niether impressed by, nor interested in, your application.Your experience as a teacher is barely adequate. You are supposedly acertified teacher with a degree in Elementary Education, yet you refer toyour chosen profession as a "racket" and a "gig". Your comments regarding children were extremely reckless considering that our business isexclusively about teaching children. You represent yourself as being rude,arrogant, flippant, inappropriate, and completely unprofessional.

You utterly fail to impress on any level. You committed basic spelling mistakes and grammatical errors on yourresume. "Speaking English" is not a core competence for a native English speaker. It's a given. The state of Indiana has no record of a certified teacher with the name xxxx xxxx, and they keep records of expired certifications andcertification history for over 30 years. Essentially in perpetuity as far as tenure is concerned. In addition to being grossly unprofessional and openly arrogant about whatis, frankly speaking, a mediocre resume, you misrepresented or confusedyour identity. This is highly suspicious, regardless of anything else. Whether it was intentional or accidental, even the hint of fraud or misrepresentation disqualifies you from even basic considerations.

"xxxx xxxx" doesn't exist on the internet,has no records of having attended or graduated from Indiana xxxxx University, and is not certified as a teacher in Indiana. Please do not contact us again. There is nothing to discuss.

Best Regards,

I know he was probably just having a bad day, but dang it, I need a job. Any advice would be appreicated!

That is the most hilarious resume I've read in years. "Taught students with learning challenges, and a lot of students with social disorders, that were really boring, and some were actually crazy." Before that line it sounded like you actually had a real (ish) resume.

You can't actually be serious. Surely no one can be this on themselves. If this isn't a joke, then the reply you received was spot-on, it's almost exactly what I would have written if I received the same correspondence from you. Except I don't think I could've been so polite.

My advice: stay in America and find a position that's looking for over-confident douchebags. I think you'll be happier that way, and you'll be doing America's international relations sector a massive favor.

Actually, the guy is Canadian which pretty much says it all. They usually carry a huge inferiority complex from my dealings with them in Australia and Europe, so I would not expect less. Kind of ironic given that Canadian never seem to shut up about American-this and American-that...See inferiority complex. I guess it comes from always being the smaller, less popular (read: population reality) brother that doesn't seem to get enough attention.

That's not very funny you know. Ironic considering the amount of time you put into it.

Ignorant people think it’s the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain’t so; it’s the sickening grammar they use. – Mark Twain

"Good Looking and Charming"

This is the funniest thing I've read in ages. (I'm assuming this isn't actually some kind of wind-up)

Sorry mate, don't have a lot of sympathy for you.

If you write "I'm Good Looking and Charming" in an application form then don't be suprised if someone writes back and takes the piss out of you.

And what you are doing with a BA in Education applying for this shitty job anyway? Shouldn't you be appliyng for BOE direct hire elementrary school positions? You'll jump the gun on most people out here - the average westerner has a non-teaching related degree. Don't set such low standards for yourself.

I found this to be an interesting albeit old, and full of typos, blog about Japan. It is amazing how, even today, this blog is still relevant. I guess Japan never changes. I love the link to the "racist Ishihara doll"

I guess, now that Japan is fading into history as a "has been" country that once was something, one can only wonder if Japan created their own mess with their nationalism and racism. For example, I know that there are a lot of huge companies with offices around that world who have pulled out of Japan after they realized what a pain in the ass Japanese are to deal with. I guess Japan got the justice it deserved.

I love teaching in China, and wouldn't go back to Japan for, well, all of the tea in China. China has it's problems, but none compared to the bullshit racism, and harassment I had to deal with in Japan. Really, it is a whole different, and better world here. If China ever let the currency float to it's normal levels, the Chinese will be able to afford to pay their teachers more than Japan, and then noone will ever dream of going to...what did you call it? Juupan?

BTW, I did not write the blog in case you are wondering.

Shawn, who runs this blog, and Chris, who long ago moved to Vancouver, both of whom I have never met personally but have liked since 1999, always meant the best for this web page, which was a web page before the word "blog" was regrettably invented.

I taught English in Osaka in the years 1988 - 1993, which would make me an old hand. I married a Japanese, had a son with her, divorced her, and again regrettably, have to go back to Japan twice a year to pick him up and bring him back to Montreal.

I have no idea about the teaching conditions now, but let me tell you, we were serfs back then. Nowadays, although I won't exactly say the Japanese "grovel" in my presence, they're sure as hell amazed that I can speak fluent Japanese in their own dialect and I get none of the old "Joozu desu ne" that I always used to get.

When I taught English in Japan it was always made clear to me that I was only a worker; staff half my age ordered me around and tools masquerading as overlords controlled my life in mindless chain schools. No more.

They've had the shit kicked out from under them and finally they're beginning to realise that, yes, Tojo was a bad guy and the Greater Co-Asian Prosperity Sphere thingy may have been a bit of a bumble after all.

I for one don't mind their grovelling, because I sweated my ass off grovelling for them for five years.

And if you plan to teach English in Japan, I would imagine that there are plenty of them left who will make you grovel for every yen.

Was in Japan for 15 years with my Japanese wife and daughter. 12 of those years I was self-employed teaching English at companies large and small in our area. Made a decent living and never once considered working for someone else. Would have killed myself before going back into an English school. They were good years and I don't regret them. When I look at my peers who have been harried in ways an English teacher in Japan is not I feel a bit sorry for them: they haven't had a space in their lives to get to know themselves and it shows. On the other hand, they have careers that are further along than mine. What really got to me in Japan were other long-term white gaijin men who moaned "As long as I have been in Japan what would I do if I left?" Down to the person this was the common refrain and I was determined not to let this be my future so I simply up and left and few years ago. Has it been easy being back in the States? Hell no. Do I feel better about myself now. Hell yes. Do I sleep better. Fuck yes. Would I go back some day? Unsure. If I did it would be on my own terms with a new elan. Yet the longer I am here the less I want to go back. What would I tell a younger man considering staying in Japan long term whether he is teaching or not? I'd tell him to consider that unless the only thing they want in life is to become a professional gaijin in Japan there is only a short time they can go after their dreams in their home country. After a certain age it simply becomes more difficult. They can always come back to Japan with their Japanese spouse at an older and wiser age if they want.

Sounds like someone doesn't like Japan very much.

Yes a bit lacking in substance, yet I can understand the bitterness. Berlitz has become a bit of an industry ass-clown. Potential reasons for this diatribe:
- Berlitz gaijin management have been reduced to a very small number of old hacks, who have there backs against the wall. They know their futures if Berlitz goes under are not that rosy, so they are in 'wounded bull' mode (hence the suing of the union members - WTF?). When the union started to negotiate with the parent company (Benesse) directly, they became HOPPING MAD. Talk about major disempowerment (as in small-willy).

- Berlitz only continue to exist because of Benesse, who continue to bankroll them. It was stated in company literature that the big B would have gone goldfish if it wasn't for big brother. FACT: Benesse's postal budget is larger than Berlitz's entire budget.

- Berlitz still has (?) the unpaid/no transportation/ no guarantees training system. This would have been acceptable (just) when Berlitz had good wages and good conditions, but now it is just basically a tarted-up eikaiwa, this is totally out of order. They want to project their former glory, but shell out peanuts on day-laborer contracts.

- Gay mafia. Yes I think it it is alive and well, but not that much of a problem (the guy who trained me was ultra-camp). The huge issue I had was asshole hacks who had been around since the 70's or 80's, and got a ridiculous amount of money for "teaching" a handful of lessons per week. These pricks (who were accountable to no one) would come into the school and the staff would treat them like gods. They were nothing! They were just dudes who had done nothing but glorified eikaiwa all their lives. WTF?

So if you are coming to Japan, SHOP AROUND, because if you start weighing things up, the mighty Berlitz (with the "BERLITZ METHOD": for fuck's sake, it's just standard enlish teaching - just look at the textbooks) perhaps ain't worth getting involved with.

I wrote the stuff about Berlitz (Re: Avoid Berlitz). I'm a bit out of the loop now, so someone please throw me a bone. Does what I said still hold true, or am I out of touch? Gee Wiz... If I would have written this stuff in the glory days of LJ, my ass would have been flamed a plenty by now for even daring to share.

Come on you current BERLITZ people, what's the skinny? Am I correct to tell new comers to be careful, or am I just venting my bitterness?

This article contains very little real dirt at all on Berlitz. Most of it is very general in character. Such dirt as there is, it is sleazy low ball stuff that nobody, expecially anybody who finds homophobics irritating, could give much credit too.

The fact that names are named at the end implies that the author did work for Berlitz at some time, but if so you'd think he would be able to come up with a better inside scoop than this.

I am glad I found this place. I will avoid going to Japan to teach English. It sounds really awful. Thanks.

I am glad I found this place. I will avoid going to Japan to teach English. It sounds really awful. Thanks.

You sound like a different "Nova Old Timer" from the one who seems to think he's Clint Eastwood. Just a coincidence?

Well if you get promoted to a senior manager position can you expect a better deal? Is it possible to get paid $90,000 to $120,000 per year? What do the top brass foreigners in Eikaiwa Corporations get paid? I have seen the Instructor salary and it is really bad I agree but if one follows the career path can success be found? I'm really considering working for an Eikaiwa Corporation but I need to know what the best I can expect is. Otherwise it could be a really expensive mistake. I don't seem to be able to get current information on foreigner big brass salaries in Eikaiwa Corporations today at all. There is some wishy washy stuff about career paths and stuff but no-one says exactly what the top ranked foreign officers get. Please help.

What foreign "top-brass" get paid now and what they get paid in the future are two different things. I think in the future the pay will be relatively limited. $90k per year, NO WAY !!! Nearly all the top-brass are Japanese not foreigners !!! Foreigners are limited to being teachers, or perhaps the next level up ! Don't think of Eikaiwa as a career that would be a deadly mistake. Eikaiwa is a job for a year or so, so you can look around Japan. Nearly all Eikaiwa jobs are 12 month contracts, most of the time you aren't even considered an employee.

In short you can't think of working in Eikaiwa as having a job at a company in the normal sense like in Europe or North America. Think of it as more like a job for Migrant workers such as mexicans working on a farm or in a factory. What are the prospects for them? Yours are somewhat less.

Will it be hard,if not impossible, for someone like me to obtain a teaching job in Japan?I mean,will they just laugh at me and tell me to get out?I legitimately want to teach,for as long as I can remember,and I've always had an interest in Japan.I want to go,I'm working on my bachelor's right now,and I'd hate to discover it was all for naught.I just want to go so that my daughter can get a decent education(the teachers here simply don't give two-shits about anyone but their-selves) and to experience the rich culture they have.After reading into all the posts,I've become somewhat depressed,I feel as though I've simply made a fool of myself thinking that someone like me would even be considered for teaching Japanese students.

I feel like a jackass...........

So is this still the story these days, after all the tragedies in Japan? Rock up, speak English and done? I'm thinking of finishing my course mid next year (In Australia) and am considering going there, so would any of the programs still be worth doing? I keep hearing horror stories... not so many good stories... and one stories sounded incredibly depressing... Then there's the fear of getting sent to a place that's radio active..


Subscribe to Comments for "So you Want to Teach English in Japan?"