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Teaching in Japan


15 Mar 2002
Hello Everybody

I desperately want to teach English in Japan. I recently had an interview with Nova, which I thought went well but I was rejected! I heard they were easy to get into and was gutted when I was rejected. I think i know why they turned me down - I questioned their policy which prevents staff socializing with clients - but was still surprised as I answered all questions at the interview honestly and succinctly.

Can anyone suggest anything to help me? I dont have TEFL qualifications at the moment. Do i need them? I am even prepared to travel to Japan and look for work once I am there but need to know if I would be wasting my time without a TEFL. I have a good degree in law and am about to get an excellent masters in law (I want to teach law) and was wondering whether that would be enough to attract employers. I am very articulate and am fascinated by Japanese culture.

Can anyone advise me? Reply directly to my email at [email protected]. I will be extremely grateful for any advice as to whether I should apply before i travel, or after.


I've been teaching English here for a few years. Don't worry that NOVA turned you down, in fact you should take it as a compliment. The reason NOVA has a reputation for taking anybody is because they are by far the worst school to work for among the big ones in Japan. They hire mostly young, inexperienced people who they know they can bully around. Anyone who shows any signs of intelligence or independence is probably not going to get hired because they know those people will quit to get better jobs as soon as they get to Japan. With a master's degree in law you would probably fall into this category, so don't feel bad about it.

You don't need any TEFL qualifications to work as a teacher here, though some teaching experience helps. There are a lot of jobs that don't even require that though, so I don't think you would have much trouble arranging work in one of the bigger cities like Tokyo or Osaka. Good luck.
Can you give me any advice as to which schools I should seek out once I get to Japan? Also how much startup money do you think I should take with me? My bank has allowed me about ツ」1300 and my parents will cover my travel costs. What advice can you give me?
Greetings and welcome. i've taken the liberty of moving your thread to this forum as I think it may be more pertinent here. Also, check out the following older threads as they may also provide you with some good foundations to start planning for (teaching certs., visa questions, living arrangements, etc.). if you have any fruther questions, myself or someone else will do our best to answer them.



If by 1300 you mean pounds and not yen, then that is probably enough to get you started. If you come to a big city there are some foreigner guest houses that charge about 40,000 yen per month and you don't have to pay a deposit so that can take care of your accomodation. There are a lot of schools here, its hard to say which one you should go for. It depends on where you want to go, how long you want to stay, how much free time you want, etc. I recommend visiting this site:


It has loads of jobs listed for English teachers, many of which don't require teaching experience. Peruse that to give yourself a good idea of what is out there. When I first came here I had a job with one of the big schools (GEOS)lined up, so I don't know how long it will take you to find a job once you get here from personal experience. But from talking to teacher's who have, they all say they had no trouble finding work quickly. Remember that when looking for work you can't judge a school by its size. A lot of the smaller schools offer better working conditions than the big ones, but the employment isn't always so secure. With big schools (especially NOVA) you'll find your job and income are secure but you'll be working long hours in an atmosphere that is somewhat less cheery than their promotional literature would have you believe. If you have any other questions, I'll try to help.
Thanks for that. Just out of curiosity, if I find a job whilst on a visitors visa, I have heard that you must leave the country to apply for your working visa. Can I do this without coming back to England, in Korea for instance? Also I hear there is a lot of money to be spent in setting up accomodation, such as deposits, advance rent and non-refundable cash gifts to landlords. What advice can you give me?
Yup, Seoul (or any other nearby port of entry) will work just as well. No need to travel all the way back home for a simple visa procedure.
If I may, another great resource for aspiring English instructors in Japan is Ohayo Sensei at

O-Hayo Sensei: The Newsletter of (Teaching) Jobs in Japan

As for the amount of money necessary in setting up, it really depends on the school you sign up with. Some insist that you must cover a certain amont of expenses necessary in renting a place in Japan (key money, etc.), which can amount up to several's months rent, while others will cover the recurring expenses (such as key money because they have an understanding with the landlord or some such thing), but will require a months rent as a deposit against damage. It's up to you to ask your potential employer what its policies are in the matter. On top of which, you have absolutely no way to know just exactly what your predecessor will leave behind, thus you're bound to want to buy things, even at the 100 yen shop.

So, one thing's for certain, you need extra cash to set up shop in Japan--just how much is variable. To be on the safe side, I'd plan in the order of 1.5 month's rent, but you have to clarify that with your employer.
I desperately want to teach English in Japan.

_) I will retire in 7-10 years

_) I used to teach, and enjoy it (I taught High-School Math)

_) I would like to teach in Japan

-> I have two college degrees in science
-> My english is very "slangish", Southern
-> My english is very American-Southern
-> I do not speak any Japanese

-> I like to teach
-> I want really see Japan (and Korea)
-> Who wants to play shuffle-board when you retire

To arnadstephen,
I think the biggest challenge you have to face is not any of those listed in your BUT's but age discrimination which is very real in Japan.
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