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Are TEFL certificates valuable on the Japanese job market?

Vincent3

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I'm considering a quality TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certificate like the CELTA, Trinity, or similar. By similar, I mean a 120-hour program that includes a practicum and is run by a reputable organization. Are these kinds of certificates of much value on the Japanese job market these days? When I taught in Japan many years ago, it seemed to be all about college degrees and experience. Below the strata of TEFL jobs that required an MA TESOL, it was pretty much about whether you had a BA/BS and the TEFL experience you've had. Certificates didn't seem to open doors in Japan like they do in other regions. I'm wondering if that has changed at all.

Thanks!
 

Majestic

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The right kind of certificates certainly do open up doors in Japan, but English teaching (well, eikaiwa specifically) is a market where there is a never-ending supply of candidates willing to work for minimum wage (or less), so for eikaiwa I think the value of a TEFL certificate is negligible. If you are a professional teacher, and hope to do this as a lifetime vocation, perhaps eventually teaching English at the University level, the certificate will certainly be a bonus.
 

Glenski

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I agree with Majestic. Moreover, what else can you tell us about your background, and what sort of teaching job are you pursuing here? Will it be only for a short term?
 

Vincent3

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Thanks for your replies. I found some job ads that ask for a TESOL cert, so apparently they do have some recognition on the Japanese market. If they had the same recognition when I was teaching in the early 2000's, I was probably in the wrong place, as Majestic points out, to have seen it. I remember several dedicated EFL teachers around me going straight for a relevant MA, so I wasn't the only person with that perception.

I taught at eikaiwa, short on-site business courses, and a vocational college. My qualifications were my BA, some on-the-job training, and my progressively upward experience. When I return to TEFL, I plan to focus on business English and online teaching. I'll of course watch the market for any other appealing opportunities.

I used to want an MA nearly to the point of obsession, but taking on that debt now would be a terrible financial move for me. I realize that some EFL teachers do well with just a BA and experience, but I want a more solid foundation. I've been researching certificates recently and hope to enroll in a program this year.
 

Glenski

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I'm not up on business English places. This one (OTC) doesn't seem to require any certs.
Berlitz (not a business English company) does not seem to need any certification either, if that sort of teaching appeals to you.
You might also look into whether a particular company (like Toyota) has its own internal English teaching program and what their qualifications are.
 

Vincent3

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Glenski, thanks for the links and ideas. OTC would be a good fit for my TEFL and business experience. I'll call them. Berlitz is always a solid option.

Although these particular companies require only a BA and provide their own training, I still want a reputable TEFL certificate. I guess it's possible that some employers would worry about the certificate training conflicting with their in-house methods. I'd think that's a small minority of employers, and I'm not sure I'd want the job if they're that insular.
 

Glenski

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I have taught in Japan for 20 years and met only one person that was employed at a company that taught business English. I can't say I didn't meet more that I simply didn't know where they worked, but I don't think many attend the JALT or JACET conferences. To teach business English, you can go one of 3 routes:

1. teach it yourself as you collect clients from whatever contacts you can make
2. get hired by a biz English dispatch company, where their clients come to them or you get farmed out
3. work directly for a company that wants its employees to learn English (whether they have their own internal program for it or not)

Option 2 seems to be as insular as you stated. In a way, it's like the eikaiwa biz, teaching the way they want to the clients they can get. Their methods may not transfer to the next place where you'd work, or they may. There isn't a lot of information out there in published research about how such places operate or what sort of methods they use, or what their clients actually feel they have learned. The one guy I have met no longer works at the place, but he described his experience as follows.
Companies decided to tell certain managers that they were going overseas 1-3 months in advance. (Yes, that short a time.)
They might have paid his company or not to take a 2-week crash course (!!) in English.
He was going to do a follow up on how well those biz students felt they were prepared, but I have not seen anything in the past 5 years on this.

The online TOEIC Newsletters have individual case reports of how companies have developed their internal programs or policies about people earning a TOEIC score, and what is needed to be chosen to go overseas. It's pretty puny, about 610. If a company is huge, it might have its own internal English program, but even that is not the norm, I think. People are trying to save money, and they view a lack of an internal English program as one way to do that. Some will pay employees to study, some pay part of the cost, some pay nothing. Most, it seems, just expect people to prepare on their own and at the last minute, or even after they arrive in their new country. Small and medium sized companies have it worst, because they don't have the deep pockets to help their employees learn English, yet these are the companies in greatest number. Japan itself is still insular in this regard, and it's hurting the economy.
 

nahadef

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I’d say something like Celta is very useful if you want to work somewhere reputable, which in my opinion is more stable and satisfying. As mentioned, the national eikaiwa don’t care, and I think it might even be a hindrance; if you’ve studied teaching, you might have some ideas on how to teach, and be opposed to their burger flipping methods.
But a place like an international school or private kindergarten would likely put your resume on the top of the pile.
If you’ve been in Japan, you probably know the wide variety quality in terms of the English teaching market.
 

Buntaro

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Vincent,

Other posters have touched on this idea, but I want to state it clearly: What are your long-term career goals? Where do you want to be and what career do you want to be in when you retire (at 65)?
 
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Deibiddo

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They can be valuable but it depends on how clued up the employers are. If they don't know they probably aren't too hot on education
 

tomoni

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Business Teachers in Japan

I worked in/was in charge of an in-house business program at a "large" Japanese international Company. International Business Communicators (IBC). At that time every "big business group" had their own programs, (sometimes cooperatiing within their "group" to hold large seminars etc).

Situations varied, but in general there were tow models that I came across:
1) working directly for the company, as either a permeant employee or a contract worker
2) working for a service company of the group, as either a permeant employee or a contract worker

For smaller companies or more remote locations, often PT workers were hired (nowadays, the "go to" company for this situation seems to be interact).

Also some companies will hire an individual PT teacher directly.

In my experience, companies are more interested in WHAT you degree is in rather than teaching credentials. So people with technical degrees (engineering/computer etc, business degrees, and legal degrees were favored because when you are in a big company, your role often is more than teaching. These degrees PLUS teaching experience in Japan were the magic combination.

These positions, however tended to be few and far between, and at the time I was involved in that area, JALT and other teaching asscioatuions were not of much interest to business teacher. In fact there was a very active association: International Business Communicators (IBC). They were quite active in Tokyo and Osaka holding annual conferences which focussed most on Big company teaching issues/programs. I don not know if they are still around, but it was a great group at the time (IMO).


So in short, degree and experience, not a TESL cert. to "up your market value, advanced degree.

hope that helps.

 
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