There are many different types of teaching English positions available in Japan and the main options open to you are teaching at an eikaiwa, kindergarten, international school, language school, public school, university or teaching English privately.
‘Eikaiwa’ are conversation schools, teaching either children or adults, which have sprung up all over Japan due to the general inability of the old-fashioned, Japanese education system being able to get students to effectively use the English language. At these schools it is common to be teaching students anywhere from the ages of 3-70+ years old and although schools do obviously separate children from adults, you may find that the ages of your adult groups vary considerably and this can present significant classroom challenges. Teaching hours at these schools typically run between 1 pm and 9 pm, with kindergarten and elementary students making up the first few hours of your teaching day and adults coming in later as the day progresses. The average salary when working at an eikaiwa is typically around ¥250,000 per month and it is also important to note here that you will enjoy less holiday time off than if you were working as an assistant language teacher at a public school.
Teaching at a kindergarten means teaching English to children between the ages of 2-6 and this type of teaching is frankly extremely demanding and not everyone’s cup of tea. On the other hand though, it can also be the most rewarding type of teaching position and one additional benefit of teaching at a kindergarten is the long holiday time which you can enjoy when school breaks. Kindergarten salaries are similar to those that an assistant language teacher at a public school earns with a starting salary of around ¥280,000 per month, which will increase the longer you decide to stay at the school.
International schools are a sought-after teaching English position due to the standard holidays and the higher wages. You can find international schools throughout Japan, but most of them are located in Tokyo. At these schools you will either follow an American or British school system curriculum and most international schools require a minimum two years of teaching experience. Salaries typically come in at around 6 million yen per year and most international schools also assist with flights, insurance and relocation costs.
There are many language schools located across Japan. These are privately-run schools which will send you out to other schools and businesses to teach English and pretty much act as the middleman between yourself and their client. Salaries tend to remain firm at around the ¥250,000 per month mark and we recommend never accepting a teaching position for lower than this figure.
Teaching at a public school in Japan means teaching as an assistant language teacher, alongside the Japanese class teacher. Assistant language teacher jobs are available throughout Japan and can be found in public elementary and junior high schools. Teaching assistants at public schools typically make around ¥280,000 per month, with 60% of their school holidays paid too.
Teaching at a university is considered the ultimate teaching English position for teachers in Japan and as we have already noted, you can expect to be earning up to US$5,000 per month teaching in this type of position. Universities tend to hire in April or September and contracts are arranged on an annual basis. The only real drawback we can see with a teaching position at a university is that your class sizes might easily run to 40 students and this can present obvious classroom management issues. Still, teaching at a university is seen as a prestigious position and seems to be the dream ticket for most English teachers in Japan.
Teaching English privately is a good way to earn some extra money and get to know new Japanese people, and by teaching privately you won’t have to wear your work clothes to your classes. Perhaps the main advantage of teaching private students though is that you can charge as much as the student is willing to pay and this type of teaching can be extremely lucrative. The negative of teaching private students is that they can cancel at any time, meaning you won’t get paid for that class. We suggest taking on a few private students to add to your school schedule and then if a private student does cancel it won’t affect you so much financially.