Employers of English Teachers in Japan
Juku and Yobiko Schools
Juku and Yobiko schools range from reputable, licensed ESL (English as a Second Language) institutions with hundreds of students and teachers, to the small, entrepreneurial outfits that spring up every year throughout Japan. Classes are generally quite small and most students are adults – college students cramming for English exams, business people trying to advance within their corporations, etc etc. Classes last 1 hour, and teachers are usually asked to converse informally with students between classes. Shifts last 6 to 8 hours and end around 9pm.
Many Japanese companies encourage their employees to study English, and set up classes “in-office” both before and after work. Foreigners are hired to teach these classes.
Although working for a famous Japanese corporation may sound exciting, it’s often not. Hourly salaries tend to be high but inconvenient hours and limited work time (twelve to twenty-five hours per week) cause in-company teachers to earn substantially less than in-house or private teachers.
In-company classes are larger than in-house classes, with about ten students per teacher. They usually last two hours and require some preparation. While some companies provide a curriculum, most ask teachers to come up with appropriate discussion topics. Many teachers prepare for class by clipping magazine or newspaper articles to discuss with their students.
Teaching privately can be personally and financially rewarding. However, private students can be difficult to find because often you need to be introduced to your prospective student by a trusted friend. Established private tutors make anywhere from ¥4,500 (US$40.50) to ¥9,325 (US$84) per hour in Tokyo, somewhat less in smaller towns.
Conversation lounges are a combination of informal English school and social center. Generally, native speakers can go free of charge, but the Japanese patrons pay per hour for the time they spend there. Sometimes these establishments hire a native speaker to make sure the conversations keep flowing and everyone gets a chance to speak English. The number of jobs at these places is much lower than at proper English schools, but it’s worth looking into for people who would enjoy the less structured, conversational format.
Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) Positions
ALTs are placed in public schools to work in conjunction with Japanese teachers of English. Duties include demonstrating proper pronunciation, aiding the teacher with language training, and providing general teaching assistance.
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) Positions
CIRs are placed in government offices to assist with business related to international activities in local areas. CIRs are often called upon to perform interpretation or translation duties.
Some college and university departments employ degree-holding native English speakers as instructors either in conversational English or for disciplines that have specialized jargon. These positions are difficult to secure from outside of the country because instructors who vacate positions are usually asked to suggest replacements; however, if you have special knowledge of agriculture and its jargon, for example, it may pay for you to check with the agriculture departments at a few universities.