Japan needs English.
Japan needs teachers of English.
You could be teaching English in Japan, very soon!
‘World language’ is how English is often referred to; not surprising since 2 billion people, which is more than 20% of the Earth’s population, speak English.
English Worldwide, a book by the renowned English Professor David Crystal, states that out of about 200 countries in the world. Among these 67 have English as their official language and another 27 countries have English as the secondary ‘official’ language (that is, principal language for official and business communications).
English is the language of business, of science and technology, of major media outlets and the internet, and also a large part of the world of entertainment,
English is the lingua franca of the modern globalized world.
English opens doors.
And the Japanese know that.
Japan, the land of the rising sun, has a strong economy and is a tech–giant. So, Japan attracts the best minds from all over the world.
However, the vast majority of the Japanese lack communication skills in the English language. The Japanese have realized what they are losing out on and have been trying to catch up. The majority of Japanese want their children to have a good grounding in the English language particularly the ability to speak fluently.
Moreover, stronger English language skills have proven to improve attitudes towards foreigners.
English language proficiency is a pre-requisite for the citizens of a country to fully harness and enjoy the benefits and fruits of globalization.
All these factors together contribute to a need for quality English learning as well as the requirement for quality English language teachers in Japan.
English in Japan
71 is Japan’s average total score on the TOEFL (2019) – the second-lowest in Asia – as per Educational Testing Service (ETS), the creators of TOEFL. Japan’s average score has been hovering around the 70’s for several years now. This is despite the fact that English is a compulsory subject for six years in Japanese middle school and high school.
There have been efforts to introduce communication-based approaches since the 1980s, but with limited success. One reason is that teachers themselves have been taught using grammar-translation only and they do not know how to teach using other methods (Rosenkjar, 2015; Steele & Zhang, 2016).
There is a lack of confidence amongst these teachers when it comes to actually use English in front of their students.
Mouer (2015a, 2015b) argues that fuller engagement with the rest of the world is a pressing challenge for Japan. This means that the Japanese need to use their English communication skills effectively to engage with others, not only for conducting business but also for purposes such as informal networking and socializing.
Japanese companies have tended to rely heavily on other companies within Japan to develop their technology
Japanese teachers (natives) teaching English
An obsolete method of teaching English in Japan
For a long time, English has been taught through the grammar-translation method at Japanese schools and universities, which is inadequate, to say the least.
Japanese teachers tend to depend on an obsolete methodology for teaching English. Japanese teachers teach English as per the official guidelines which are largely teacher-centered with an emphasis on rote memorization.
The English language testing system also has a role in aiding and abetting this rather ineffective system of language teaching. English language tests are based on passing old-fashioned tests, to check the knowledge of rote-learned complex grammatical structures.
So, students memorize vocabulary and syntax structures to reproduce onto a test sheet but are unable to reproduce them in different and dynamic contexts.
For all practical purposes, students are unable to produce language as and when needed in an interactive manner. This methodology of teaching is minimally effective and has resulted in the inability to work in English at the workplace.
What is needed?
This defeats the very purpose of learning English, which is to enable enabling and clear communication and rapid transmission of information with international colleagues and fellow global citizens.
In today’s globalized world, international exchange of information about cutting-edge and emerging technology, processes, or techniques is happening daily. This frequency is only set to increase drastically.
Time lost in translation, miscommunication, or incorrect comprehension could prove very dear. Even worse, it could even unmake!
One learns a global language for a global reach which accrues global benefits and not to pass antiquated tests!
The market for teaching English in Japan is clearly evident, and is quite big!
A Communicative Approach
What it means- A Communicative Approach is an approach to language teaching that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of study.
The communicative approach is based on the idea that learning a language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning.
When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used, and this will allow them to learn to use the language.
Communicative activities are essential, continues the British Council’s web portal. Activities should be presented in a situation or context and have a communicative purpose.
- Typical activities of this approach are games, problem-solving tasks, and role-play.
- There should be an information gap, choice, and feedback involved in the activities.
- Development of the four macro skills — speaking, listening, reading, and writing — is integrated from the beginning, since communication integrates the different skills.
The role of the teacher is only that of a guide, a facilitator, or an instructor. A teacher, teaching English in Japan, must follow this methodology to improve the communicative competence of his/her students and to successfully meet the objectives of the language school.
Teaching English abroad – Requirements
General criteria to be able to become an International English teacher and teach abroad (including teaching English in Japan):
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, preferably English, Applied Linguistics or TESOL
- Have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification
- Be able to/ committed to teaching English abroad for at least one year
- Be able to obtain a clear background check (that is, a government certificate that shows no criminal record)
- Ideally a citizen of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa or near-native fluency
- Energetic, adaptable, self-dependent, and reliable. Flexible mindset, especially in matters related to culture.
The Land of Rising Sun –Japan
This land of the rising sun. is an alluring place and has it all for such a small country from the tropical Okinawa, to some of the world’s best architecture. The small country is really safe, and you can easily navigate your way around.
Over 70% of country’s ex-pat population are English teachers.
Teaching English in Japan
For teaching Nipponese, the right personality – personal characteristics and attributes – are as important as the right certificates. Schools understand that foreign teachers, on their maiden venture to teach in Japan, experience a culture shock. However, they expect foreign teachers to adapt and adjust to Japanese culture sooner rather than later.
Schools want to have confidence that a foreign teacher, teaching English in Japan, is able to work without constant support for adjustment issues and will not ‘do a runner’ in the first few weeks on account of culture shock. Japanese schools want to see a foreign teacher teaching here to engage a class and deal with the culture, quickly and confidently.
The most important aspect of an ex-pat teacher teaching in Japan is to be friendly and establish a good rapport with students. Complaints from students on relationship problems with the teacher could prove to be a challenge and, if left unresolved, could land the teacher in an unenviable position. Once the cultural-fit or a good rapport is established teaching in Japan could be a cake-walk.
TEFL course and certification – What, and why?
A TEFL course covers topics including teaching language skills, grammar and vocabulary, lesson planning, and classroom management. A TEFL course covers a range of topics:
- Principles of effective teaching, and a range of teaching techniques
- How to develop lesson plans – Plan and deliver effective lessons that meet class learning objectives and promote productive learning.
- How to Teach English Language Skills – Teach the different ways of teaching the four language skills – Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking.
- Simplify English Grammar – Simplify complex English grammar concepts for English Language Learners (ELLs).
- Teach Vocabulary (also known as lexis) in context – How to increase students’ word power along with collocations, phrasal verbs, idioms, proverbs, formal vs. informal English.
- Classroom management – How to manage your classroom and student behaviour to create a welcoming, and safe learning environment.
- Identify Learning Styles – Various learning styles, their characteristics, identify different learning styles, and adapt lessons to suit students and their needs.
- Build Effective Learning Materials – Identify, adapt and personalize a wide variety of text-based, and digital material for use in the classroom.
Why take Henry Harvin’s TEFL Certification Program?
Henry Harvin offers a well-rated TEFL teaching course and certificate
Henry Harvin offers a 100+ hour learning TEFL course. Researched by subject matter experts and developed together with TEFL industry experts and the learner is exposed to the latest methodologies of English language learning particularly student-centric learning, pair learning, and group learning.
Learners are well-grounded in Grammar, Vocabulary, and Function. They are taught a variety of methods, especially digital methods, to teach and develop the 4 key skill areas of students.
Teaching English in Japan or anywhere aboard would be much easier and simpler. You would be job-ready on completion of this TEFL course, which comes with a TEFL certificate.
Other benefits of Henry Harvin’s TEFL Certification Course
- The course fee is $600, but now on offer for $299
- Job support with 1200 partners and placement in several countries abroad
Teach English in Japan – The Avenues
The key to happy and fruitful employment, as a teacher in Japan, is to work for a well-known school and to obtain a fair and clear contract. Many teachers get contracts with generous salaries and other benefits. For a majority, teaching English in Japan is an enjoyable, rewarding and memorable experience
However, guided by misinformation, a minority who had dreamt of teaching in Japan find themselves in difficult positions with long hours, low pay, and little benefits. A dream turns into a nightmare.
Be very careful before you sign on the dotted line. Check credibility, and reputation of the place of work. Read reviews about the company. Ask opinions from serving employees or those who left recently. Ask them about their experience of teaching in Japan and about the approach of the management to its employees.
Here are the best avenues to choose from:
Types of language institutes and programs
Four main types of teaching opportunities in Japan:
#1. The JET Programme
The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme is operated by local authorities in cooperation with Japanese government agencies. JET’s primary purpose is to endorse international exchange and enjoy an excellent reputation in Japan and abroad.
#2. Conversation schools or eikaiwa
English conversation schools, known as eikaiwa, are found all over the country. These conversation schools provide the highest number of job openings to teach English in this country.
Choose major schools that have several branches across the country, particularly in major cities such as Yokohama, Osaka, or Nagoya. Select schools reviewed independently in the media and considered as the best places to learn English by the Japanese.
Most recruits native English speakers from outside to teach conversation classes to children and adults.
The norm is a five-day workweek. A typical workday consists of five to seven teaching hours, conducted (mostly) in the afternoons or evenings. Most classes have around 12-14 students.
These are usually university students or business people who are preparing to study or work overseas or those simply trying to improve their English skills.
Eikaiwa presents the best opportunities to teach English in Japan.
#3. Elementary and high schools
English as an academic subject is a compulsory part of the school curriculum in Japan for six years. Several elementary and high schools hire assistant language teachers (ALT).
Employers generally prefer those with qualifications and experience to teach English, though many ALT jobs do not require English teaching experience or a TEFL certification.
#4. Colleges and universities
The major colleges and universities in Japan have foreign language faculties and employ full-time language teachers. To teach English in Japan at the college or university, a master’s degree in English / Applied Linguistics / TESOL with several years of teaching experience is the minimum criteria.
A Ph.D., in the above subject areas, with a few years of teaching experience, is always preferred.
Internet advertisements and newspapers are the most common source of teaching jobs in Japan. For example, The Japan Times (Monday edition) is a well-known newspaper resource. Well-known job portals such as English Teaching Job, Classifieds in ELT News, Gaijinpot.com, Jobs in Japan, and O-Hayo Sensei are also reliable.
For teaching in Japan, a job contract before beginning the job is a basic and minimum requirement. A guaranteed monthly or hourly salary should be specified.
A clear understanding of your contractual obligations is a must before signing the contract.
A basic teaching contract should include the following: salary, working hours, a period of the contract, severance pay, income tax, medical insurance, holidays, transportation, and travel allowance for the flight back home (on completion of the period of the contract).
Entry and exit requirements – Visa matters
To begin with, your employer (who is also your sponsor) arranges your certificate of eligibility. To get the certificate of eligibility, provide
- (i) proof of education and
- (ii) a letter from your employer to the embassy/consulate of Japan in your country. A visa is issued by the Japanese embassy or consulate after verification of documents submitted
The Japanese employer usually assists in communicating with an embassy/consulate of Japan and in obtaining your visa from the Immigration Bureau of Japan.
Teaching English in Japan – Job application – top tips
Your job application, consisting of a Cover Letter and a CV, is the first point of contact. They represent you – your professionalism and competence – and must be impressive and convincing.
- A cover letter is not ‘a necessary evil’. On the contrary, a cover letter can be/is a significant part of your job application.
- You could use the cover letter to explain what attracts you to teach in Japan (‘Why Japan?’). Ideally, the writing must a business casual/conversational style.
- You must come across as an energetic and enthusiastic individual who would be happy and thrive in a unique culture.
- An adaptable individual who understands people, their aspirations, and their mindset and has the ability to mold own expectations and fine-tune communication suitably.
Getting ready to teach English in Japan
Writing a Cover Letter – 6 key points to watch out for!
- To address the hiring manager, use his/her name. Write ‘Dear Hiring Manager’, if you do not know the hiring manager’s name. Do not assume gender.
- A snappy and attention-grabbing opening line works in your favor.
- Clearly mention the position applied for.
- Do not repeat or summarize your CV; instead, show reasons for job-fit and instances to establish and prove cultural competence.
- Focus on your competencies you can offer to help the company reach its objectives.
- In the absence of e teaching experience, focus on your strengths and transferable skills, academic achievements, and awards at high school or college and success in extracurricular activities and community leadership.
Preparing your CV – 6 Must-Do’s
- Include all the following information which you normally do not include such as :Full name: (as it appears on your passport), Nationality, Passport place of issue and date of expiration, Date of Birth, and place (include state/ province too).
Professional Experience / Employment History
- List past employment with full details – job title, mention core skills, responsibilities and accomplishments, awards or special mentions
- Company and job details (past 10 years) – the name of companies, location, details (staff employed, turnover), the period of employment,
- List highest qualifications first; write in reverse chronological order with the name of the university, college, location, and year of passing.
- List formal training, workshops, prizes and awards, certifications – give relevant details with the year and brief context.
- List language proficiency with competence level (expert, intermediate; speaking only); proficiency in Japanese is an advantage. An Academic IELTS Band 8 is mandatory for non-native speakers to teach English in Japan. Attach proof of achievement.
A strong cover letter and a well-written CV enhance/attract interview opportunities.
Finally, the ex-pat community is amazing. Most foreigners are in English teaching jobs in Japan. It is easy to connect with others on social media or Facebook groups.
Teaching English in Japan can be incredible especially if you are prepared and job-ready.
And Henry Harvin just does that.
Are you ready to pack your bags and try your luck at teaching English in Japan?
At the end of the day it came down to one fundamental question, do you or do you not wish to teach English in Japan?
Fortune, has always, favored the brave
See you in Japan…teaching English