Teaching English in Japan Does NOT Suck!

Shea in Japan - Teaching English in Japan Does NOT Suck!
If you're wanting to come to Japan to teach English, you'll run across a lot of negative opinions about the English teaching business in Japan. I'd like to paint a different picture. (Note: If you'd rather watch a video on the subject, I've embedded it below).

Japan is a place that attracts many people for various reasons. I, just like many others, had a goal of someday living and working in Japan. I always had it in the back of my mind since I was a kid, but I didn't ever think of how I was going to do it. Then, when I was graduating from university, I found out about teaching English abroad. I considered many countries before settling on Japan. I thought, "Hey, I always wanted to go to Japan so let's do this!". So I started researching how to get a teaching job in Japan.

First, I came to find out that to get a teaching job in Japan, you really only need a college degree and be able to speak English at a native level. This is important.

The way I ended up coming to Japan was through an eikaiwa or "English conversation school". These are not schools in the traditional sense, but businesses aimed at teaching English to students. Students sign up for lessons, often based on contract. These eikaiwas range from small, one teacher schools to giant corporate schools with branches all over Japan. The thing to keep in mind here is that these are businesses. Their goal is to make money. There is a degree of selling involved with eikaiwas. These are often what people who come to teach in Japan complain about. They complain about having to wear a suit. They complain about having to sell products. They complain about having to always be "genki" or energetic and smiling, saying it's too tiresome or draining. And they complain that they have to follow the lesson plans laid out by the school. They fail to understand that eikaiwas are a business with the goal of making a profit. The students are also customers, and with any service industry, one of your goals is to satisfy the customer. If you go in, looking tired and worn out, it doesn't matter what you teach, the student may feel dissatisfied. 

The students must enjoy the lesson to be able to learn the language. Let me repeat that again, the student must enjoy the lesson and language in order to learn. That's how we all operate. You learn better when you are enjoying yourself and having a great time. You don't learn as well if you are bored or upset at something. 

Once you understand this and how it all works, you can come to terms with this line of work. Most people who come through as "teachers" in this business only last a little while. They either move on to something else such as working at private or public schools, move back home, or go into other fields.

Now, if you really want to be a teacher, you can get a certificate that qualifies you to teach English as a foreign language. With this you can land teaching jobs at schools and universities. While most schools in Japan admire this, it is still often not required.

But do not come into Japan expecting to be a "teacher" at most public schools. They hire you as an ALT which means an Assistant Language Teacher. You are there as a supplement to the teacher in the classroom. Some Japanese teachers will let you have lots of freedom to plan the lessons and do a great job. But this is not guaranteed. You do the best with what you are provided with.

I've worked in eikaiwa, at a private school(not as an ALT, but as a co-lead teacher), and I teach private lessons on the side. I have seen advantages each, and downsides to each. My personal preference has been private lessons and working at the private school. I got to teach the same kids each day during the year. I plan their lessons, crafts, activities. I get to play with them and teach them about the world around them. I help plan their big events such as sports day and school plays. It is a lot of work, but for me it is the most satisfying.

I've enjoyed eikaiwa as well, because the students you meet there want to be there and have lots of motivation to learn. What I've found best is working for smaller schools, because you might have more freedom with how your lessons go. But this industry can be a mixed bag.

But I'm going to say it again. Teaching English in Japan does not suck. Not in and of itself. There will always be bad experiences people will have. But you know what? It's how they handle the bad situation is what is important. If you feel unhappy or unmotivated at your job, your best option is find what makes you happy. If your goal is to just come to Japan for a short while and experience other aspects while teaching English as your ticket in, then great! But while you're here you should want to do a good job. Or it could taint your entire experience in Japan for the worse.

You always have an option!

If you don't like what you're doing at the present, you have the option to find a different school to work at. You have the option of going home, or you have the option of starting your own school or teach private lessons. You make your own experiences in life. If you think English teaching sucks, then don't do it. Move on to something else. Don't stay here for over a decade and complain about how horrible it is, while still doing the same thing day in and day out. You always have options. And in Japan, you can always find work teaching English. There are motivated students out there, and when you find them it can be great for everyone involved.

I've made a video on this topic, give it a watch. Be sure to check out the other videos on my channel as well.

All the best,
Shea


Teaching English in Japan Does NOT Suck! Teaching English in Japan Does NOT Suck! Reviewed by Shea Roberts on 7:16 PM Rating: 5
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