After the decision was made to move to Japan, I started my research. If you’ve considered moving to Japan to teach English, you’ve probably heard of schemes and companies that mistreat teachers. Because of this, I tried to be thorough, but I guess I’ll only really know the truth once I get there.
I’m not going to mention names in these posts for obvious reasons, and I’m not here to point any fingers. To be honest, even the worst of companies will still give you a VISA, which you can always use to get a different job once you’re in Japan. I would just like to discuss what I did when I applied for jobs. And you have to keep in mind this is the experience of a non native speaker.
I started by asking my co-workers if they had had any experiences in Japan or with any of the main recruiters. One of them had just recently spent a year there and he was invaluable for my research. So, if you have any teacher friends that’s the first place you should look for genuine information.
Another great source of information is the Jvlogger community on Youtube! If you’re like me, you probably follow quite a few. A lot of them have been through this experience, and most of them are willing to answer your questions. Of course, some of them might not have the time to answer your emails, but some of them will, and I was lucky enough of having an email answered by Kyde and Eric. They were nice enough to recommend a great website: gaijinpot.
Whilst searching for jobs, gaijinpot was one of the best websites for me. Most job postings are for people who already reside in Japan, but there are others, and I applied for most of them. Before applying though, I always researched what the general opinion about each and every company was, and to do this I used another great website: glassdoor.
It’s a great place to find out what former employees thought of the company. However, don’t get discouraged if all you see are negative reviews. I’d recommend actually reading a few reviews. For me, if the company does everything they claim they’ll do, i.e. get you an apartment, pay you on time and give you all your time off, then that’s fine by me. So, when the negative aspects were all about classroom conditions, I applied for those companies.
Now, another thing I had to consider were the requirements. Most companies will only require a degree, sometimes a CELTA degree, but not much else. What I had to look out for was the “Only Native Speakers” requirement. I still applied to those, but I’m sure I didn’t even pass their first screenings. It doesn’t matter how much experience I’ve got in the classroom, no matter how long I’ve been fluent, I’ll still come after native speakers with no teaching qualifications.
It’s frustrating, I’m not going to lie, but it’s how it works and you just need to accept it and move on. I mostly looked for positions where what they required was “Native-level speakers”, but even then my chances are fewer just because of my nationality. If you’ve got an accent, your chances will be extremely thin and you should know that when applying. It might be worth considering getting a working holiday visa and trying to get a job teaching your native language in Japan. Which was my plan B.
After applying all I had to do was wait for an answer. But that’s something for another post. I hope this has been useful and if you’d like me to discuss anything in particular about my application, please do so in the comments.
Until next time,