Teaching German in Japan – The Truth About Job Opportunities

As most of you might know by now I’m a “German Alien in Japan“.
A lot of you might think that I’m working as a German teacher, but I’m actually working as an English teacher here in Japan.

Why, you ask?
Well, that’s because it’s extremely difficult to find a job as a German teacher in Japan.
German isn’t exactly seen as an “important” foreign language, especially not in Japan. Most Japanese people already struggle enough with their English. emoticon
I know that quite a few people take German language courses in university, but even those are RARELY ever taught by a native speaker.

Teaching German in Japan

Photo: Okinawa, Miyako Island – Ueno German Culture Village

Compared to the massive demand of English teachers in Japan, teaching German in Japan isn’t big at all. Even other European languages are more popular (e.g. French).
But, of course there are a few options for teaching German in Japan and I want to introduce them to you today.

Before we start let me tell you that most of these options require you to have a native level of German, a university degree, a DAF (German as a foreign language) qualification or even a teaching qualification (German: “Staatsexamen für Lehramt”).


Teaching German in Japan – JET Programme

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the JET programme. This is pretty much your best option when you want to teach English as an ALT (assistant language teacher) in Japan. But the programme isn’t limited to English-speaking countries. It also exists in Germany.
However, there’s only 0-1 ALT positions per year, so you can imagine how competitive it is.
Your chances probably don’t look too good.


Teaching German in Japan – German / International Schools

Unfortunately there are only two “German Schools” in Japan. One is in Kobe, the other, bigger one is in Yokohama.
You need to have a university degree (just like for teaching English), but it has to be a teaching degree (German: “abgeschlossenes Lehramtstudium”).
The requirements might be less strict for a part-time job, but generally the competition is HUGE as there are only a few positions available every now and then.

You might be lucky and find an international school in Japan that’s looking for a German teacher, but those opportunities are extremely rare. As I don’t have any personal experience with this nor do I know anyone who does, I unfortunately cannot tell you more about it.


Teaching German in Japan – The Big Eikaiwa Schools

Yes, eikaiwa (英会話) stands for “English Conversation Schools”, but some of the big schools (e.g. AEON, Berlitz) sometimes look for teachers of other foreign languages as well.
But be aware that competition is harsh and more often than not it’s only part-time jobs they’re offering. There’s just not enough demand for foreign languages other than English.


Teaching German in Japan – The Goethe Institut

I’m sure you’ve heard about the “Goethe Institut” as they’re a worldwide institution where people can learn German.
Of course, they also exist in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) and thus it’s a great job opportunity if you want to teach German in Japan.

It’s probably also the one that comes closest to an eikaiwa.

Again competition is harsh and you have to carefully check the job requirements.
Usually you’ll need AT LEAST a university degree and a DAF (“Deutsch als Fremdsprache” = German as a foreign language) qualification to have a chance.
This just shows how high the quality of lessons is. It’s surely different from the eikaiwa world where pretty much ANYONE who has a degree and a passport of an English-speaking country “can” teach. emoticon


There are often fun collaborations or competitions!

For example, in 2013 the Goethe Institut in Tokyo hosted an interesting translation competition. German language learners in all over Japan could take part. In order to win they were supposed to translate the refrain of a German song (“Der Anfang ist nah” by “Käptn Peng und die Tentakel von Delphi”) into Japanese. Finally they had to rap their translation and send in a video of it.

The winner was Tomoko Izumi together with her daughter Mana. The German music band even travelled to Tokyo for the award ceremony. The band and Mana as a singer gave three concerts in Tokyo and also performed the song for a music video together:

*sponsored video

Teaching German in Japan – Other Options

Well, never say never, right?
There are various options to teach German part-time, e.g. as a private teacher or in a ‘language café”.
Especially if you’re in Japan on a “working holiday visa” (sorry this is only available for German citizens, not for Austrian or Swiss people …), this might be a great option for you!
In order to find German teaching jobs, I highly recommend to check out GaijinPot!


Teaching German in Japan – Your Experience?

As you know I’ve never taught German in Japan, so I’d love to hear about your experience.
There’s a lack of information about this topic, so please feel free to share away!
Even if it’s not about you, but about someone you know, that’s totally fine.
Although I’ve been in Japan for several years now, I only know one person who’s teaching German full-time in Japan.
It’s rare, period. We probably all should work hard to get Japanese people interested in the German language! *g*

So, to all my Japanese readers:

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