Teaching English
April 4, 2008 7:33 AM   Subscribe

My 18 yr old daughter wants to spend 2 months this summer working in Japan as an English instructor. She has a working knowledge of Japanese and will have a TESL certificate. What is the best and safest way to go about trying to help her find a job and what issues do we need to be aware of?
posted by frizelli to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As far as I know, I thought a bachelor's degree was required for a Japanese work visa.
posted by santojulieta at 7:48 AM on April 4, 2008

The bachelor's degree requirement is only if you are coming from a country that does not have a working holiday visa arrangement with Japan. U.S. residents with a high school diploma can also qualify under the same kind of thing but I don't know the details.

The business of English conversation schools in Japan is pretty much streamlined into a handful of competing schools. IMO, you would want your daughter going to Japan under the auspices of one of them. They take care of visas, housing, transportation, etc. The one I know the most about is GEOS, because I have friends/acquaintances who have worked for them. It might be worth starting your research with them, so you can find out if she even qualifies, and from there you can likely find out information about the other companies.
posted by micawber at 7:58 AM on April 4, 2008

2 months is tough. All the schools (AFAIK) have systems and 2 months is the basic time required to just get acclimated to the curriculum.

Bachelor's requirement is necessary to get a proper visa, but 2 months falls under the 3 month tourist limit and the government is pretty lax (at least it was in the 90s) about schools hiring people on tourist visas.

She has her age going for her, since young students prefer young teachers -- their peers -- over old. Same thing with being a young woman.

I would contact private & exclusive elementary schools, her age is really good for teaching school children and the private elementary schools have more flexibility in their hiring.

But just for two months is kinda tough, given the hassles involved.

If she is interested in teaching in Japan over the longer term she could sell this as a "working interview" and that she'd like to do this annually until she finishes college, then come over fulltime.

Another option is to get the Monday Japan Times and call/e-mail the employment ads in there. There are plenty of agencies that send out instructors to businesses and they would be more flexible about the 2-month term. Her age, sex, Japanese skills, and cert are an excellent selling point provided she can project a professional teaching presence in class.
posted by tachikaze at 8:38 AM on April 4, 2008

Something very specific: Make sure she never, ever, ever gives up her passport. Make copies, and if someone not a government official wants it, refuse. Have the copies handy to give away instead, and in case she misplaces it.

/me wonders if JP uses US-Letter or ISO-A4 paper sizes.
posted by cmiller at 8:48 AM on April 4, 2008

Something to be aware of: NOVA, the largest English-instruction school in the country, recently went spectacularly bankrupt, dumping around four thousand instructors on the street.

Anecdotally and perhaps relatedly, there's a bit of a squeeze on visas right now. My 23-year-old sister who had been doing a few part time jobs while a new school was under construction, had her visa renewal turned down and was unceremoniously booted. It's not the best time ever.
posted by ormondsacker at 9:09 AM on April 4, 2008

Yes, NOVA went bankrupt while two of my friends were there under them, but they found other jobs really quickly. There are a lot of temporary language places, but I (unfortunately) can't remember the name of them. You can contact the Japanese Consul in the United States, they usually have some idea of how to go about teaching ESL in Japan.
posted by nikksioux at 9:27 AM on April 4, 2008

A4 sizes, cmiller. B6 is a very popular notebook size there.

I don't think that teaching for two months for an 18-year-old is going to be particularly possible. If she wants to go to Japan, I would get her involved in an exchange program. I went to Japan for a homestay program through AFS for a summer and was very happy with it.
posted by that girl at 9:59 AM on April 4, 2008

I have spent several months in Japan since the early 90's. I do not think it is possible to do what your daughter is hoping to do under the timeframe she is hoping to do it, unless you are willing to have her work for a shady organization that I personally as a 30-something man, wouldn't even want to get myself involved in. She's young, she doesn't have a BA, she only wants a job for 2 months, she's a woman. All of these facts will be held against her by a sexist society, and preyed upon by fly-by-night businesses that would hire someone without credentials for only two months. The only safe job in my opinion she could get would be a personal tutor for a family with some high-school aged kids or as a personal tutor for several high-school aged kids. The problem with that is that it takes two months to set up those relationships. I'd suggest a trip to Japan or a home-stay. Good luck.

Maybe you should have her talk to whomever taught her Japanese to see what they would suggest. I imagine my high school Japanese teacher would have told me not to go, to go visit some people he knew, or to sign up for a home-stay.
posted by pwb503 at 10:43 AM on April 4, 2008

Thanks for all the useful information and informed advice.
posted by frizelli at 7:53 PM on April 4, 2008

I actually live in Tokyo and work for a company that runs a job site with plenty of teaching jobs, unfortunately most are looking for people in Japan and the ones that aren't are usually looking for a one year commitment, since they expend a lot of resources recruiting people overseas. Many prefer a university degree as well.

Personally, I think 2 months is not enough time to get a job, a short term apartment, and everything else you need to live. Whatever job she gets will likely pay 250,000 yen a month for full-time work and pay will likely be one month behind.

I'd recommend her to travel and explore around on the cheap for as long as she or you can afford.
The JR Rail Pass is an excellent deal, there are plenty of decent hostels around, and Japan is as safe a country as you can find.
posted by ejoey at 11:09 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, if she wants to stay longer, I've found that women are given preference over men for many English teaching positions. I don't think finding a job will be very hard for her.
posted by ejoey at 11:11 PM on April 6, 2008

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