Japan is thought to be a difficult country for immigrants, whether temporary or permanent. But as an English teacher, it is the most viable option to make your way to Japan and live there. But there are certain aspects to consider before diving into this job. I have once got the chance to teach English in Japan for two years and it was one of the most wonderful and life remembering experiences. I gained a lot as a teacher both professionally and personally. From a former teacher, here are seven secret benefits you should know before considering teaching in Japan. It will be a beautiful experience of a lifetime!
1. An easy gateway to the Japanese job market
For a foreigner to get a job in the Japanese market is often followed by many pre-requisites, like having a certain level of Japanese proficiency and an already in-hand working visa. And it is almost next to impossible to get a job without this. But fortunately, for an English teacher, it is exempted. Japanese government’s efforts to globalization are paving the path for English teacher vacancies, increasing the demand for English speakers. If someone puts in serious effort to apply in multiple companies, will notice that it is not difficult to get a job there. Companies will sponsor a working visa and there is no need of speaking in front of them before, they finalize you as the perfect candidate for their job.
It is important to note different teaching opportunities while doing job research before you get into the teaching world. In case, if you go for federal programs it allows teaching alongside Japanese teachers in institutions from elementary level to high school. And there are otherwise, well-regarded sites such as Dave’s ESL Café, O-hayo Sensei, and others offer opportunities to teach at private schools and eikaiwa (English conversation schools). It should be kept in mind that salary and benefits vary drastically from job to job, so it is advisable to pay high attention while choosing a job.
2. Become a part of Local Community
The first and foremost problem a person faces after moving to another country is the language and cultural gap. And for a long time, you feel alien to the community but teaching allows you to become a part of the community. In starter, your student mostly lives near you (with their families) and you’ll more like to find familiar faces around you especially when teaching in rural areas than metropolitan cities. This makes it easy to break the ice and initiate conversations. And the demand for English teachers is quite high in rural, so you’ll be getting a great chance to know the community as people of rural areas are less reserved than city dwellers.
School act as a perfect platform for socializing and taking part in community activities. You can build strong bonds with students and even with their parents. As students always share their dreams, likes, and dislikes with their teacher. During my service period, I use to play with students during recess and have lunch with them. There are many afternoons which I spent while playing with badminton clubs and running laps with track and field club. There is always boundless energy and athleticism in students that you can’t help your self to stay away from co-curricular activities. And the friendly relationship with colleagues is always mesmerizing, you can go out with them, have dinner or tea. By making Japanese friends, you also get a good command of the Japanese language.
3. Facilitate International Exchange With Your Students
From the point of view of intercultural exchange, teaching in japan gives you privilege that other jobs cannot. While teaching about different countries’ cultures and customs to facilitate international exchange, as a Singaporean I proudly introduce some of the mouth-watering dishes of my country like chili crabs and Hainanese chicken rice. We together learn about different cultures, how they live and celebrate festivals like Christmas, Halloween, etc. and children were quite shocked to know about them, they couldn’t believe that not everyone experiences snowfall on Christmas. I am sure you’ll be quite amazed to know about the Japanese viewpoint of the world.
And during this, I also get very interesting cultural insights into Japanese culture and their values. While teaching English to Japanese, it was necessary to make my lectures interesting so that students listen and get involved in it. One method is to add elements from pop culture, for which the Japanese were crazy. In those days a mushroom cultivating game Namoka was very popular there so I used cute mushrooms to teach them about color, place, and adjectives. Another anime series One Piece and Naruto was very famous which resonates with the students and the values they admire. While planning lectures, I come to know how Japanese people see things and what stimulates their response.
4. A good pay Check
The first question that comes in our mind while looking for a job is, how much I’m gonna paid?. Is this money enough for me to survive there?.
And the answer to this question is, japan pays a pretty decent paycheck to their teachers, for full-time jobs can vary between 200,000 and 300,000 yen (roughly 1,600 – 2,500 USD) per month, which is more than the average salary of japan’s university fresh graduate. And if you have authorized teaching certificates and have experience of teaching in your country, there is much more increase in facilities and pay wages.
Japan is thought to be an expensive country to live but frankly, 200,000 and 300,000 yen is more than one needs to have to live there. Especially if someone chooses to live in the countryside, their cost of living is quite low and for big cities, there are many money-saving hacks which makes it easy to pay all bills, rent, and groceries. I traveled to more than 30 prefectures during my two years in Japan on my English-teaching salary!. So if one knows, how to budget his expenses then he’ll live there without having any difficulty
5. Pathway to personal growth
Teaching in japan leads you to the pathway of personal growth in many fields, whether it is language, interaction with people, or cultural awareness. Because of teaching I have to interact with students in Japanese which improved my Japanese. And it also pushes me to improve my presentation and communication skills so that students can better understand my lectures and this also helped me to have good relations with co-workers and friends. I also became culturally aware, that one thing that is thought to be right in my culture is not necessarily right in others. Like I learned how to say “No” indirectly in japan so that another person doesn’t feel offended while in my culture to say “NO” straightforward is considered to be the best option.
Living in japan also aided me to discover my hidden potential and make me more disciplined. I couldn’t believe how versatile work I can do now, which I never thought to do in my homeland. Japanese culture is quite different from the rest of the world and sometimes uniqueness in their norms confuse foreigners what to do and it forces you to dive in yourself and use problem-solving techniques to make life easy because moving to that much culturally different place requires discipline. You’ll be amazed to see yourself a better and confident person.
6. Get an Insider’s Look Into Japanese Culture
No matter which organization you choose to work whether public schools or private eikaiwa, you have to interact with their culture and you’ll be amazed how they impart values to their children. Have you ever noticed Japanese football fans picking garbage before leaving the stadium?. This is because every day they are trained to clean their classroom for 45 minutes and everyone works together on this task. And the most interesting sight for me was to see the Principal sweeping floor. This made me realize how Japanese children are brought up and how much their adults put in the effort to set standards for their coming generations to follow.
7. A career as an English teacher
Many people explore different fields after gaining teaching experience but if you are passionate about teaching and feel that it serves a fulfilling purpose then you should continue to pursue it and strive to get the senior position. For this get enrolled in university for a Master’s degree. After getting a Master’s degree you become qualified to teach at the college level. AJET offers an array of such programs that you may want to consider.
And if you don’t want to teach anymore and still want to work in the educational department. You can apply for the managerial post at eikaiwa School especially when you have several years of teaching and have a good command of Japanese, this allows you to mentor newbies in teaching work and helps them to plan lectures. Otherwise, you can become an entrepreneur, set up one of your own eikaiwa schools, teach Japanese students the art of novel writing, or become a mentor for newbies. So the sky is limit what you can make your career. If you are crazy enough to think about it, you can also achieve it.
Am I successful in making clear how much an English teaching job can be rewarding?. What personal and professional goals one can achieve by pursuing it? For me, it was the most amazing adventure of my life and I advise all of you who love change and have the courage to face little difficulty in making yourself a better person must apply for this position. I’m sure coming to japan and experiencing a completely different world will be a great experience for you.