Life in Japan

Want to Teach English in Japan? Choose Wisely: ALT vs Eikaiwa

If you plan to come to Japan and work here, the most common job you’ll end up with is teaching English.

But be careful! There is no such thing as THE teaching English job in Japan. In fact, there’s a huge variety and you might be confused when looking for a teaching position. So, today I want to introduce the two major options you’ll have:
Teaching at an eikaiwa (conversational school) or as an ALT (assistant language teacher).

Although both involve teaching English, there are some substantial differences and you should be well-informed before you make a decision.

 

ALT vs Eikaiwa – The Basics:

Work at an English conversation school (eikaiwa) almost always requires you to work from noon to late evening, simply because students are coming in after school or work. Class sizes are small, students are somewhat motivated as they (or their parents) pay for it. Usually you’ll teach the classes on your own. All (or at least the bigger part of) the responsibility (preparation, material, lesson plans) lies in your hands.

Working as an assistant language teacher (ALT) means that you’ll work in one or several Japanese schools (elementary, jr. high or high schools). Class sizes are huge (35-40 students are quite normal) and a lot of the students don’t care about learning English. Their motivation might be quite low. Usually you work during school hours (morning – afternoon) and a the Japanese English teacher of the class is in the room with you. While it depends on the school, you’ll certainly have less responsibility and less workload than in a regular eikaiwa school.

Here’s an overview infographic I created, for those of you who’re short on time: (*click to enlarge)

Teach English in Japan ALT vs Eikaiwa Infographic

 

This was just a rough summary of the differences. If you’re serious about landing a teaching job in Japan, you should read on:

 

The Salary:

I know that a lot of you are interested in how much you can earn as an English teacher in Japan. The average salary has been about 250,000 yen for many years now. A lot of “dispatch companies” providing ALT positions (e.g. Interac, ALTIA) often offer less than that. Unfortunately it’s common practice not to pay you the full salary in months with long vacations (August, December). Be very careful when choosing a job and read your contract thoroughly before signing it.

Your best option is to go with the JET Programme if you want an ALT position. They usually offer the highest salary of around 300,000 yen and pay the full amount even in months with a lot of holidays.

While the standard salary is 250,000 yen for eikaiwa schools, you’ll find a few that offer more. But be careful, often there’s a reason for the higher amount. It might be a position with a high workload or it might be in the countryside where a lot of foreigners don’t want to live it seems.

I wouldn’t recommend taking a job that offers less than 250,000 yen!

 

The Working Hours:

As an ALT you’re usually bound to the school hours and have the weekends off unless there’s a special event you might have to attend. Normally you’ll also have long vacations, though like mentioned, you might not get fully paid during that time.

I have no personal experience being an ALT and it certainly differs from school to school and city to city, but in most cases, you’ll have a lot of down time in the teachers’ room where you can pretty much do whatever you want. Most people use that time to study Japanese or read books. Others go crazy because they’re bored out of their mind. Some motivated ones try to create material they could use in class or come up with new lesson ideas.

As an eikaiwa teacher you’ll usually work from noon to the late evening (e.g. 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.) and most likely you won’t have the weekends off. Saturday is actually the busiest day for the majority of eikaiwa schools, so you’ll have to work on that day. Some schools are closed on Sun + Mon, so at least you’ll have two consecutive days off, but most of the time you won’t! In my first job I never had two days off in a row. That can be very exhausting.

Generally you’ll have less vacation time than an ALT teacher. You’re not bound to public schools’ vacation time. Depending on the conversation school you’re working for, you might get national holidays off or not. Pretty standard is to get 3-5 weeks off throughout the year, but each and every school is different, so check carefully before signing anything.

Working on Saturdays and until 10 p.m. during the week also means that it’s harder to meet people or catch up with friends. But if you’re a night owl, then the working hours are heaven!

 

Duties and Workload:

Most likely you’re going to be busier as an eikaiwa teacher. You’re teaching several lessons a day with just very short breaks in between – if at all.

Your day is probably going to look like this: You’re coming in the early afternoon, preparing for all of your lessons at once. Then, you’ll teach one lesson after another. Finally, you can go home in the late evening.

It depends on how big the school is and how many teacher there are, but some small, family-run eikaiwas have barely enough staff members, so if you get sick, there might be nobody to take over your classes.

As an ALT, that’s not going to be such a big problem. If you’re sick, you’re sick. It’s not like they cannot do without you. Depending on the school(s) you’re working for, you might spend a lot of your time alone in the teachers’ room, bored. However, you might have to travel to different schools throughout the day.

There are special events you have to attend as an eikaiwa and ALT teacher such as school festivals, speech contests and usually there’s also an observation day where parents come in to see what’s going on.

Depending on the school, you might not only have to teach, but also help keeping the school clean, sorting material, creating new lesson material, selling products to students etc.

Especially when you’re teaching little kids as an eikaiwa teacher, you often have to be more of an entertainer than a teacher – being all happy-go-lucky, dancing and singing with the kids. This might not be for everyone – and that’s also a reason why some schools prefer younger teachers as they are worried older people won’t have the necessary stamina.

And I can see where this is coming from. If you teach little kids for several hours every day, it can be very exhausting. At least, I feel that way sometimes and I’m only in my early 30s. emoticon

 

Dress Code:

Most schools want you to wear proper business attire. As an ALT you might be allowed to come in casual wear. Again, this depends greatly on the school you’re working for. Some companies such as Interac have a rather strict dress code.

Usually business wear includes a suit and tie for men and a blouse and jacket for women, although as a women I’ve stretched the dress code quite a bit (especially in summer) and never got scolded. And just so you know, my Japanese co-workers did the same. emoticon

 

The Students / Customers:

Classroom sizes in public schools are fair big between 25 – 40 students. So, if you’re working as an ALT, it often feels rather impersonal. It might be hard to manage such a huge class even with a Japanese teacher around. Don’t expect all of them to be eager to learn English. Obviously, all the students in the classroom are pretty much the same age. You won’t get much of a variety throughout the day. If you want to learn more about what life is like as an ALT teacher, I highly recommend reading Baye’s book “Loco in Yokohama“.

As an eikaiwa teacher, you’ll have much smaller class sizes (1-9 students per class). Classes are much easier to manage and most(!) students are more or less motivated. You’ll teach the same students at least once a week which means it’s great for bonding with them. If you stick around long enough, you’ll see them grow up and you get to know them really well. You’ll teach a variety of ages throughout the day. Usually you’ll start with the little ones at kindergarten age, then elementary and later that day jr. high and high school students or adult conversation classes. Of course, this means you need to be able to prepare a variety of lesson plans and get along with people of all ages, but it never gets boring.

 

Teaching Method / Material:

As an ALT, the teaching material depends on your particular dispatch company/school/team teacher. So, sometimes you’re allowed to design your entire lesson on your own, sometimes you have to stick to premade lesson plans. Most of the time, you’ll be team-teaching with the JTE (Japanese Teacher of English), so especially for people who have no teaching experience this might be reassuring. Depending on your team-teacher it also can be hell, though. emoticon

As an eikaiwa teacher, you’ll be using the material and teaching method you’re school is using and promoting. There are several popular methods and materials out there and it would go too far to explain all about it. Most eikaiwa schools want their teachers to adapt to their system and then create their lesson plans accordingly. I’ve noticed that thus some schools are looking for young, inexperienced people as they fear that experienced English teachers might be too stubborn to follow the eikaiwa’s teaching method.

As long as it’s a good method, I don’t see any issues. You have a lot of freedom, but an already premade template you can follow. And most schools welcome new suggestions, ideas or material you created on your own as addition to what they’re offering.

The problem with the big chain eikaiwa schools is that you are often not only a teacher, but also a promoter. You’re supposed to sell things (CDs, books etc.) to your students. I’ve heard many people complain about that. As I’ve only worked for small, independent eikaiwa schools, I’ve never had this problem, though.

 

Speaking Japanese:

A lot of people ask me if it’s necessary to be able to speak Japanese if you want to teach English in Japan. The easy and short answer is: no!

BUT of course it will help greatly in your daily life if you speak the language of the country you’re living in! So, study, study, STUDY once you’re in Japan!

I’ll be honest. In my job as an eikaiwa teacher it helps a bunch that I can understand (and communicate) in Japanese. When I’m teaching 3-year-old kids who suddenly start crying and I’m the only adult around, I naturally speak Japanese with them to calm them down. It would be so much harder if they couldn’t understand me.
Junior high school students can be very rebellious and I’ve seen teachers who couldn’t manage a class simply because they didn’t understand enough Japanese to keep them under control.

That being said, a lot of eikaiwa schools actually forbid you (or at least ask you not) to speak Japanese with the students at all. It’s their only time when they’re immersed in English and if they think you cannot understand them, they’re forced to use English to communicate with you. While I understand this approach, it certainly doesn’t always work that way. And I get my students to speak only English with me, although they know I understand Japanese. Also, they know they can always ask me in Japanese if there’s a real problem (e.g. if they suddenly feel sick).

In most eikaiwa schools, the business language among co-workers is English. Usually all staff members can speak English to a certain degree, so you’ll mainly communicate in English (although that differs from school to school, of course). And I only communicate in Japanese with my co-workers these days.

As an ALT teacher, you’re immersed in Japanese. Everyone around you will most likely only speak Japanese. Some of the teachers in the teachers’ room won’t be able to speak English at all. Even the JTE (Japanese English Teacher) won’t be too fluent in English (trust me). It’s a great way to boost your Japanese skills and I can see it might be harder to work as an ALT if you understand close to zero Japanese.

98% of all job positions in the ALT and eikaiwa field won’t require you to speak Japanese, some might prefer Japanese skills, but it’s not a must. So, don’t be afraid of that, but make sure to study once you’re here (at the latest) because, hello, you’re in Japan now!

 

The Work Visa:

Last but not least we also have to talk about the work visa. Unless you’re a Japanese citizen, you’ll need a proper work visa. However, the type of visa you need for an ALT position is not the same as that for an eikaiwa one!

If you’re a native speaker of English, then you don’t have to worry. You can easily obtain either of these work visa types as long as you fulfill the requirements (passport of an English-speaking country, thus having been educated in English for several years, a BA / BS degree in any field). You can find the exact requirements for the “instructor visa” (for ALT) and “specialist in humanities” (for eikaiwa) when you click on the respective links.

It does, however, matter a lot if you are a non-native speaker of English. In my experience it is a little bit easier to obtain the “specialist in humanities” visa, simply because the rules about “being educated in English” are less strict than for the “instructor” visa. That means you’re probably going to have an easier time if you go for an eikaiwa position (and thus humanities visa) as a non-native speaker of English. Don’t take this for granted, though. You need a bit of luck as well and obtaining a visa in Japan is always an adventure anyways.

 

Where To Find Teaching Jobs?

Good question. Here are some great resources if you’re looking for an English teacher position in Japan:

The ones with the asterisk (*) are my personal favorites as I’ve found jobs through them.

 

ALT Teaching Positions:

The following companies offer teaching positions for assistant language teachers:

Eikaiwa Teaching Positions:

The following companies offer teaching positions for eikaiwa teachers:

 

What Should YOU Choose? ALT or Eikaiwa?

First of all, you should try to figure out whether teaching is for you or not. How? Well, just do it!

Before I came to Japan to teach, I thought I would hate teaching little kids. But I wanted to come to Japan so badly, that I just thought I should give it a try. I ended up loving it! You can read all about my “coming to Japan” story here.

This video shows the daily life of eikaiwa teachers. Take it with a grain of salt:

 

Like I said in the beginning of this article, ALT and eikaiwa positions are only the two major English teaching job opportunities. There are a lot more like working at international kindergartens or schools, working for companies to teach business English or even teaching at universities. The requirements for these kinds of jobs are usually higher and it’s harder to get in, so for “newbies” the two job types I introduced today are promising a smoother start into working life in Japan.

Which one is for you? I think one main factor to focus on is the working hours. Would you prefer “normal working hours” or are you a night owl like me? Then, working at an eikaiwa school might be the better option for you.

Another point you should consider is class size. As an ALT you’ll have huge class sizes versus smaller ones in most eikaiwa schools. Which would you prefer?

As an assistant language teacher you’ll be immersed into Japanese school life and it will also boost your Japanese skills (if you’re willing to study at the same time, of course). As an eikaiwa teacher you won’t see much of the typical school life, but you usually get to know your students really well and see them grow (up).

Only YOU can decide which is the better option. Sometimes it’s just best to try both. Maybe none of these two options is for you, but you won’t know until you try.

 

What’s Your Experience?

I know you might have a lot of questions even after reading this article. Feel free to ask me anything in the comments below and I’ll do my best to reply or write another article to help solve your fears, worries and any issues you might have.

However, I also think it would be very interesting to read about other people’s experience with teaching English in Japan. I’m quite sure that not everyone would agree to what I’ve written in today’s blog post and certainly everyone has rather different experiences, so please share them with all of us!

171 Comments

  • Alright so I do not know if this post is active anymore but I would like to thank ZJ for this post and everyone who commented. Through all of this knowledge I have grasped a better understanding of some of the things I wanted to know. To summarize, like most people here, I’ve been interacting with Japanese and the culture since I was a child. However, I am no where near confident in my ability to speak Japanese yet. No matter the self-teaching and training I have done, I always feel like I need that one final push to fully get to the next level. Someone stated that I should at least pass the JLPT N3 before I consider it, which may give me that boost in confidence. Before I ramble on even more, I’m the type to rather know about the possible downsides of things that sound too good to be true. I mean I WOULD LOVE to interact with students and teachers, help out with school activities, and even clean!! That my sound weird but I enjoy that stuff now so learning more about a culture I grew up loving sounds amazing!

    Well I’ve been doing a lot of research on this today so my brain is tired. (Which is why I could not put what I wanted to say in words) but if anyone has any free time to reply or chat with me about somethings; that would be greatly appreciated! :)

    • Hey there, squarephoenix! :)

      I’m glad my post could be of some help to you.
      I know how you feel because I’ve been there, trust me. I used to worry about so many things. I found so much contradicting information online. I was going crazy!
      But in the end, the only thing you can do is just GO AND DO IT!
      I mean, what is the worst thing that could happen to you?
      If you really don’t like it (even after the adjusting stage), then just leave. ;)

      • Hey thanks for the reply and the words of encouragement!! At the time I was doing the research, I was really feeling frustrated and depressed about my current job and was realizing that it was just not for me. The reason I was so paranoid was because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just trying to escape. After some time, I realized that I REALLY do want to experience this opportunity to do something I love in a country I’ve always wanted to go to! Ironically both of my managers told me that they have big plans for me and considering I’m like their own son, they want me to go to Japan because of how much I talk about it haha. Now I’m trying to figure out a plan so that it works out for everything! I just have to be patient, but I think I’ve figured out what will happen :)

        Well the JET application deadline passed weeks ago so that’s one down xD

          • Yes I am and thanks! It’s because I’ve managed to speak with someone who actually is familiar with the system :) There’s so much I wish to ask but I’m not the type who would like to burden someone with one thousand questions haha

  • Awesome!!!

    Well one thing I’ve been thinking about is the two school types. There is Eikaiwa and ALT. I’m a morning person so naturally I would prefer the ALT job; plus the free time will help with studying Japanese as well: but, I rarely hear as many bad things about the Eikaiwa agencies as I do the public school positions. Also I’m not too confident in teaching my own students (Eikaiwa) without prior experience because I never want to let anyone down. Like my current job, I surpass expectations when I have people who support me a little but I’ve also read that ALTs have a horrible time getting teamwork out of the board members. (These run-on sentences haha) My question would be, from anyone’s experience, which position has the better support?

    I hope that makes sense :)

    • It REALLY depends. Eikaiwa schools can have great support, ALT dispatch companies can have poor support.
      Anyway, to me it sounds like you’re more up to an ALT position, so just go with that for now. You can still change jobs after a while and try eikaiwa instead. :)

  • Thanks for the quick response as usual!! :) ;P

    I always wanted to see how Japanese schools compared to American schools since I was a child and you may be right haha. If what everyone says is true however, then I can see myself leaning towards eikaiwa later on if the teamwork or support is better. Any idea how living arrangements compare?

    • They should be quite the same in most cases. Most of the time the company will arrange an apartment for you. Often it’s already furnitured, but not always.
      That has nothing to do with ALT vs. Eikaiwa, but more with the individual company. But more often than not, you’ll find something about living arrangements on the job ad already. :)

  • I see! These companies scare me because I know they’re true agenda haha. I spoke with my manager today and she’s all for me doing what I love rather than a job I’m not passionate about now. I’m going to miss having a great team but I’ll have hope that I get lucky and have a good team in Japan as well! That is, if I get it xD

    Rather than waste more of your time with more redundant questions, I’ll browse the site some more first haha. :) Thanks! you deserve cookies!!! :D I’ll be back!

  • Huh, nice design. I like the colors and and the infographic. It’s kind of a similar deal in Korea as well. Well some stuff is similar.

    I’d say that what works for who comes down to that person and the particular school. It’s not so black and white. Just my two cents.

  • Hello there. I am finishing my fourth year as a direct hire ALT with my local BOE. I came to Japan and taught Eikaiwa for two years prior to that. I really enjoyed teaching adults, but I didn’t like the hours and teaching five to six classes a day. I did have the weekends off so that was nice. However, preparation time was very limited.

    As an ALT with my local BOE, I quite like this job. My salary is higher, benefits are better. Vacation time is longer, and I just enjoy my life in general more. I enjoy being a part of the school. I speak Japanese fluently, so that is probably why I feel this way. I have three, maybe four classes a day. When I am not in class, I am usually preparing lesson plans for my classes which always include a warm up, target grammar practice, reading, listening and writing in each class. I have taught classes alone when teachers have been sick or had an emergency, but it is rare, and if I didn’t speak Japanese as well as I do, I could see that being a challenge for some. Overall, I really enjoy my life as a direct hire ALT.

    • Thanks for sharing, Keiko.
      Being a direct hire ALT is probably one of the best options, but not everybody can get a job like that, especially not those who are new to Japan. :)
      And it really depends on your preferences, too. Personally I love the eikaiwa working hours because they fit me better.

      • Direct hire jobs can be difficult to come by. I got this job, because a friend of mine who worked for Interact at the time could not apply for the direct position (Interact forbids it, for obvious reasons) and my friend told me about it. The BOEs often advertise in Japanese, and my friend only knew because her Japanese friend told her about it.

        I couldn’t say that I didn’t like teaching Eikaiwa, but if I was going to work THAT hard again, for less money, I would just start my own Eikaiwa school and work for myself. Although I realize that is easier for me to say since my husband is Japanese and a business owner. Although, I have two friends, like yourself who like the hours of Eikaiwa and have worked for AEON for almost 7 years!

  • Hey :)

    I grew up in Germany as well but learned English in a “native speaker way” from the age of 7 on and have dual citizenship (USA and Germany). I’m finishing my MA in Specialized Translation and Multilingual Communication this October (and also had some Basic Japanese classes and a class on the theory of teaching). I was wondering what you did your MA in? How did the whole application process go down (Skype interviews?) I really want to land a Job and come to Japan >.<! Where you in Japan before you applied for a job? Are there any tipps you could give me? :) Thank you!

    • Hi Eve! :)

      My MA was related to education / teaching, so that definitely helped me initially in terms of finding a job and getting a work visa.
      Skype interviews are very common, especially when you’re still outside of Japan. However, in my case there wasn’t a single Skype interview.
      I got a few e-mails and the schools interested in me actually called me (normal phone, not Skype).

      No, I was not in Japan yet when I applied for my first job. I already lived in Japan when I applied for my second job.
      It’s usually easier for schools to hire a teacher who is already in Japan, simply because that person could start earlier and they also don’t have to worry about visa application issues.
      Things have changed and become easier in the past few years, but it still takes about 2 months for your work visa to be issued. Some schools can’t wait that long.

      So, being in Japan already (or even better having your own work visa e.g. working holiday visa) helps greatly.
      But there are plenty of chances to find a job while outside of Japan, so don’t worry.

      I have nothing in particular I could tell you.
      Just write a good job application, make sure you don’t have any mistakes in it, look professional on the photo you send and anything that has to do with English or teaching English should be emphasized, of course.

      Good luck to you! :)

      • Thank you for your answer :) I was afraid that since I grew up in Germany and studied only here (even if I have a MA) I would have a hard time getting a job since every site said you should have studied at an english speaking University… But your post gave me hope that I have a real chance :)! The part about the Skype interviews is very interessting I thought that you would have to go to like a recruitment center in London/NYC and have a personal interview… I guess I’ll get a working Holiday visa and then try applying and then hope I get a work visa once the year is over ;) Thank you again :)!

        • You’re very welcome. I’m glad when I can help. :)
          You said you have a dual citizenship. If you have a passport from an English speaking country it’s ALWAYS easier to get a job AND a work visa.

          Hm. Those recruitment centers are most likely for the BIG schools out there and the JET ALTs and stuff.
          But there are so many smaller schools out there as well where you might have better chances to land a job. :)

  • Hi :)

    I saw your blog. It’s extremely informative and helpful. Though I have a little question I’m hoping you could help me out. Well, basically I’m a Malaysian Chinese (Malaysian by nationality, Chinese by ethnicity) and grew up speaking English my entire life (My family speaks English) and accent-wise, I do not have a problem. I’m also a Psychology major (I also speak Japanese btw)

    My concern is, I have been searching for months for a way for a Malaysian to work in Japan as an English teacher but it seems Malaysia isn’t exactly part of the JET programme and I’ve read several accounts of Malaysians being turned down by interviewers upon revealing their nationality.

    I’m wondering if you happen to know any Malaysians who worked in Japan as English teachers (Eikaiwas [since there’s only 1 JET from Malaysia]) and if you knew of any possible way for me to be able to get in somehow? Also do you know of English teachers in Japan from, say, Singapore?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jason! :)

      I don’t know any Malaysian who’s teaching English, but I’ve met a lot of Filipons.
      If English is an official language in your home country, there won’t be a problem.
      For Germany there also was only one ALT (JET) position and in some years there’s none. So, I understand how you feel. ^^

      If you speak Japanese, then maybe it might be easier to get a job other than teaching? :)

      If you want to teach English then I’m sure you can find a job, but I’m not sure if you can obtain a work visa. I’m not familiar with Malaysia.
      You should check what options there are for your country. If you can get the working holiday visa, that’s a great option.
      If English is an official language in your country, that will help a lot, too.

      Good luck to you! ^__^

  • Hi! :)

    wow, thanks for the quick reply. Maths and Sciences were taught in English in Malaysia so I’m not sure if it really counts as English education. Though, if I recall correctly, the Visa for ALTs and Eikaiwas are different, right? Does the visa for Specialist in Humanities require English education as well?

    Regards,
    Jason

    • I’m not an immigration officer and it’s really up to the person in charge of your application, trust me.
      At least for me the reason why they first wouldn’t give me the “specialist in humanities” visa was that I’m not from an English-speaking country.
      They told me I could get the visa if I wanted to teach German (despite not having any qualifications in that field) – just because I had a German passport.

      Generally speaking the specialist in humanities visa requires “connectedness” between your future job and your major in college – or at least 10 years of experience in the field you want to work in Japan.

      In the end, you won’t know until you try.
      People also told me it’s impossible and my first visa application was rejected.
      So, just give it a try because nobody will be able to tell you what might happen in your case. ;)
      Though, schools might worry that they cannot get the visa application through for you and thus not hire you.

  • I see, thank you so much for replying. I guess my case is kinda unfortunate but you helped me understand the situation better. :D

  • Hey:)

    I saw your post today and it was really great to read and pretty interesting since i want to teach english in japan also.
    My question now is, when im going with a working holiday visa and a BA degree in engineering to japan do i have a chance of gettin a job as Teacher and if there is a higher chance for me with doing something extra to my degree to get a job, could you give me a tipp or something ?:/

    Btw your post is awsome and so informative really appreciated it. :)

    • If you bring your own work visa (e.g. working holiday visa) you already have good chances, BUT your English needs to be pretty good, especially your pronunciation.
      If you have a lot of mistakes in your job application already, nobody is going to hire you.

      If you’re really serious about teaching English in Japan you can look into certain certifications and get them (e.g. TOEFL certificaiton).

      • Wow, thanks for the fast reply. :)
        To hear that makes me kinda happy. :D
        Ye im visiting a language class already, to get better and better.

        Ah ok have you any idea of an certificaition that i could get in germany which helps me to get into the stuff ? :)
        As i saw above you are from germany, so i thought you have something for me maybe. :D

        Thanks already you are great. :)

        • I’m not too familiar with what you can get while in Germany. I never obtained any specific qualification for teaching English in Germany. (^___^”)
          What I would do is browse through job ads (e.g. on GaijinPot) and have a look at what kind of qualifications are often requested by schools.
          Then, I would check how you can obtain them. If it is something that doesn’t require too much of your time and money, then get it.

          If I were you, I wouldn’t stress out too much, though.
          With the working holiday visa you can do a lot of different jobs. Maybe you notice after some time that teaching English isn’t for you.
          The working holiday visa gives you a great chance to test this out (and possible other jobs as well).

          Good luck! :)

          • Well that’s what i gonna try i guess. :)
            Ye one year of searching shoulda give me a good overview. :D
            My final question would be, if i find a job, how can i obtain a visa that lets me stay in japan for a longer period of time ?

            And again thanks, I appreciate your help very much. :)

          • That will be very difficult.
            In order to get a work visa for teaching English you need a passport of an English-speaking country AND a BA degree or you must have been educated in English for several years (sorry, forgot how many, I think it was 12?). OR you need at least 10 years of work experience in the field you want to work in.

            The only other option would be a spouse visa (= you have to marry a Japanese citizen).

  • Okay…so I do have a question. In order to teach English you need a BA Degree. Now my biggest questions is; What is the best BA Degree?
    Is it something that HAS to be active in Japan? Or should I look into plain Education Degrees? OR can it be something as random and non-related to education?
    I finally understand the steps I need to take in order to teach in Japan, but taking the first step is still very confusing. Any guidance would really help!! Thank you!

    • I would recommend studying something you’re really interested in.
      What if you go to Japan and realize it’s just not for you. Then you wasted your effort and time on something you only did because you thought it would bring you to Japan.

      If you are a native speaker of English (= have a passport of a country where English is an official language), then your BA can be in ANY field. It doesn’t have to be related to English or to education / teaching. Your job chances might be slightly better, but I’ve been hiring for schools and trust me, it doesn’t really matter!
      It’s sad, though, as I’ve seen so many “teachers” come and go who just weren’t cut out to be a teacher and weren’t really interested in doing it in the first place.

      Good luck to you! :)

  • Hi Jasmine, just want to say a big thank you for the helpful blog, it has really helped me decide between Eikaiwas and ALTs :)

    Andy

      • I’ve decided on eikaiwa, I think I’d prefer smaller classes and more teaching responsibility, I thought it might mean I have more options after year 1 compared to an ALT. Plus I’m a night owl too, I like the prospect of a (little) lie in :)

        I’ve put in applications for Aeon and ECC. Can I ask if you’ve come across any other eikaiwa, big or small, who you hear good (or at least not horrid) things about? Nova and Berlitz sound grim.

        • Good choice then! ;)

          Personally I prefer the small, family-run schools, but that’s not for everyone. I’ve just heard as many bad things about them. I just always liked them and was lucky to get along with the owners of the school, but it could also totally backfire. *shrugs*

  • I have always loved Japan culture and I want to be able to travel. I do have a little girl though and thought that it would be impossible.
    What are the program stipulations on bringing your children along the ride. And by the time I finish schooling she will be in school so can I put her in a school, what about daycare on the days school is out or I have to do some after schooling office work. Are there family programs out there?

    • Hello Brittany,
      I’m very sorry but I don’t know much about that. I suppose you can bring a child along and it can get a “dependant visa” or something like that.
      I know that some daycare places need reservations years in advance and I don’t know about foreign children.
      I hope someone else can answer that question, but I fear that the majority of people coming to Japan don’t have children of their own yet when they come over. :(

  • Hi, thanks so much for the wonderfully informative post-it really answered a lot of questions I have had about all this! I haven’t looked too hard into this yet, but I was wondering if you knew if a BFA degree in art history meets any qualifications?

    • Hi Molly,
      I’m afraid I don’t know much about foreign degrees. All I can tell you is that you’ll need at least a “BA / BS degree” in any major / subject. Not sure if a BFA degree falls into that category?