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All about: Teaching in Japan

Opportunities are available for qualified individuals from foreign countries to teach English in Japan. There are different types of vacancies including teaching English conversation and as assistant language teachers in elementary and high schools. This article describes three programmes for teaching English in Japan.

Teaching English conversation

This programme is focused on teaching English conversation and is usually run by large chain schools that employ thousands of teachers in all areas of Japan. Their overriding goal is to teach English to the Japanese. In this programme, the conditions of work might vary, but some general guidelines are outlined here. Teachers in the programme are expected to work on five days a week including some weekends. Teachers get two weeks paid vacation and national holidays off. Also, most schools either provide health insurance or subsidises it. Of the usual forty hour work-week, teachers spend between twenty to twenty-five hours teaching. The rest of the work time is usually spent by grading students’ work, preparing lessons, and interacting with students.

Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs)

ALTs are foreign teachers of English who assist Japanese teachers to teach English to elementary and junior high school students in Japan. Teachers are usually rotated in two or three schools. Like teaching in the English conversation programme, conditions vary from school to school.

Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JETS) programme

The JETS programme promotes international exchange between Japan and other nations, with participants from over thirty countries. The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) administers the programme in co-operation with other government organisations. The JETS programme is more than teaching English as a second language. Participants work as ALTs to provide language instructions in elementary, junior, and senior high schools. However, these teachers live in and interact with communities. Other participants in the JETS programme work in community exchange activities, while still others are involved in sports.


To be eligible to teach in Japan, applicants must be college graduates in any field. They must also be native English speakers. These requirements are necessary for all three programmes. The JETS programme could be the best way into ALTs programme, because of its higher levels of pay and better conditions of work. However, recruitment procedures are more stringent.
Also, in the JETS programme, forty years is the age limit. Final note
There are great opportunities for foreign nationals who are interested in teaching English in Japan. However, individuals will need to prepare themselves which involve examining their expectations, the levels of pay, and the cultural differences and other areas. Sources -Sheldon, J. (n.d). “Getting Stated in Japan: What to Expect.” (downloaded from and accessed on August 2011). -JETS Programme (2011). “Welcome to the JETS Programme.” (downloaded from and accessed on August 2011).

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