Good recruiters and programs for teaching English in Japan?
April 29, 2010 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend recruiters or specific programs for someone who would like to teach English in Japan, starting this fall?

This question falls along the lines of this recent question about teaching English in South Korea. (There are several other AskMe questions about the experience of teaching English in Japan, whether JET is legit, and teaching in Japan vs. teaching in Korea, but none of them quite fit what I'm looking for.)

I know about the JET program, but the application process is long—I am specifically interested in hearing about good programs or schools that would allow an American in his mid-twenties, with a B.A. and excellent (American) references, to start teaching English in Japan this coming fall. Because there are so many opportunities and resources for this kind of thing out there, I'd appreciate some help figuring out some of the very best options. Your own stories, as well as anything you've heard from others, are very much welcome.

Feel free to Memail me privately if you'd rather. Thanks for the help!
posted by cirripede to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
given that geos and nova have recently collapsed it's not a very good time for teaching english in japan if you aren't going on a well established program like JET. i did JET and like many people in the post you linked, can vouch that it was excellent. a lot of the other programs (interac, etc) are kind of looked down on because apparently they're super lax in hiring. i met a lot of creepsters who were in japan on those programs. one got fired AND DEPORTED for sexual harassment. also those programs get paid beans compared to the JET salary. but i've been out of japan for years, and i believe the popularity of online webcamming 'schools' with english speakers in the phillipines is trumping expensive english language schools in japan these days.
posted by raw sugar at 11:54 AM on April 29, 2010

Not to burst your bubble, but I've gotta agree with raw sugar. There are a few options, but the market in Japan has been flooded for the last year or two, and the current economic crisis is only making it worse. JET is a great option if you don't mind the long application process, but be warned that it's VERY competitive; I applied last year and didn't even make it to the interview phase. I also went to an info session for AEON around the same time, last I heard they're the only large eikaiwa chain still hiring. The pay isn't that great compared to JET - from what I've heard, you'll be lucky to break even over the course of a contract.

That being said, I have met a few people who have taught in Japan through JET, and they all had very positive experiences.

Go for JET if you can, but unless you have a particular reason for wanting to head to Japan, I would expand your options a bit. As you mentioned, South Korea continues to have a lot of opportunities for EFL teachers (although I'm looking for a job there right now and am not having the best of luck), as does China, Taiwan, and some parts of SE Asia.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions.
posted by photo guy at 2:11 PM on April 29, 2010

I would say that if you are determined to go to Japan, you should wait for the JET program. I sort of drifted into it, and it was amazing. Also, since I had the same name tag as the city hall workers, I was treated much better than the eikaiwa teachers. It's a good country for government employees.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:28 PM on April 29, 2010

In addition to AEON, Gaba and Berlitz are the other major retail-oriented English language school chains. I don't know much about their working conditions, however.
posted by armage at 5:55 PM on April 29, 2010

Do the JET Programme. They pay for your airfare, make sure you get set up, pay higher monthly salaries, often provide rental subsidies, give you a chance to actually experience Japanese culture as being part of a school and interacting with students, trained/professional teachers, and members of the community, better holidays, a better support network of other JETS, paid holidays, weekends off, evenings off, the ability to moonlight and make extra money, plenty of free time to study Japanese...

If you are from Canada, Aus or NZ you may qualify for a working holiday visa, which means you can just go over to Japan and find a job. Since NOVA and Geos have collapsed, the market is flooded with teachers
posted by KokuRyu at 9:44 PM on April 30, 2010

The situation with recruiters in Japan is not parallel to that in South Korea. Of the people I know teaching in Japan (professional teachers with qualifications, people with generic bachelor's degrees doing "English conversation" work or assistant language teacher work, and people who transitioned from the latter into the former), I don't think any of them got to Japan via a recruiter. One got there via NOVA, but that ship has sailed. There are dispatch companies that send teachers to work in public schools, but as I recall, those jobs are technically illegal according to Japan's own laws, which just aren't enforced. Or something. I don't really understand it--you'll get an earful if you ask about it in certain forums.

You can try asking for help in the forum here, which is less busy but also less censored by the owner (and contentious) compared to the other (in)famous forum. It has good FAQs. (Do read the FAQs first, or expect some scolding.)

You can look for jobs at Ohayo Sensei. Of course, the school year just started in April, so sometimes May is a bit quiet, IIRC.

Let's Japan is a jaded look at the eikaiwa and dispatch industry. It may err on the side of negativity, but as the companies' own sites and ads err on the other side, it's probably just as well.

Expect slim pickings and lots of competition from people who are in the country already and are easier to interview, as well as people who have TESOL certificates and master's degrees in TESOL. I really encourage you to consider getting a reputable certificate, at a minimum. Being a native speaker does not qualify anyone to teach a language; knowing how to help people learn a language is a totally different skill from knowing how to speak it. In most jobs, you may not be able to use most of the skills and knowledge you pick up, but you may be able to improve the situation a little bit. (Sorry, I have to try...the dilution of the concept that this is a genuine profession by these kinds of positions is slightly irksome.)

Good luck!
posted by wintersweet at 12:51 PM on May 21, 2010

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