There are three main types of English teaching jobs in Japan and these jobs come with their own working conditions and pay scale. Let’s list the three types.
1. ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in elementary, junior high and senior high schools throughout Japan.
This job involves team teaching with a Japanese English teacher. The lessons are usually decided by the Japanese teacher and the foreigner is often used as a human tape recorder. That is to say he or she reads a script and the students listen to the pronunciation and repeat. The teaching of grammar is done by the Japanese staff member. ALT jobs do not require the foreigner to spend hours preparing for a lesson; nine times out of ten, the Japanese teacher has prepared everything. There are some schools that allow the foreigner teacher free rein of the lesson and its planning.
2. Company lessons:
This job involves traveling to various Japanese companies and teaching English company classes to groups or individuals. Classes, for the most part, are in the evening between the hours of 5:30pm and 8:00pm. The system works in the following way: Japanese companies make an English lesson contract with a temp company. The temp company then finds the foreign teacher to send to the contracted company. Payment for these jobs differs between temp companies but generally teachers can earn around 3,000 yen per hour.
3. Conversation Schools:
During Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980’s English conversation schools were ubiquitous and jobs were plentiful. Nowadays, however, many schools have disappeared or have been swallowed up by the bigger schools. Most conversation schools now only offer part-time work to foreigner teachers. Remuneration depends on the amount of lessons you teach in a day or night.
After working in Japan for a number of months or years, it is possible to live off the money received from private lessons. These lessons are set-up by yourself and can be taught in coffee shops or in your own apartment. The best way to get private students is through word of mouth. Make it known that you’re available to teach privately at a reasonable rate. You can even “steal” students from the conversation schools. Make sure no one in the school knows your are offering their students cheaper lessons – you’ll be fired. Discretion is the name of the game.
In my next blog entry I explain the payment system and the tricks to watch out for.