If you're college-educated and interested in living and working abroad, teaching English as a second language (ESL) in Japan might be a good professional excursion for you. In addition to the professional experience it will provide you, you'll get to engage in valuable cultural exchange with your students and the community around you. Although you may opt to sign six-month to one-year contracts if you wish to stay long-term, you may also apply for short-term, summer teaching jobs in Japan.
Things You'll Need
- TEFL certification
Obtain a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification. Although not all schools require one, having one will increase the field of potential jobs to which you can apply. Additionally, you will learn valuable ESL teaching strategies and terminology that will come especially in handy if you've never taught before.
Apply for summer jobs in Japan, which may be labeled "Summer Camp" in some instances. Send only your resume and cover letter initially, as these are the only documents school officials need to assess your qualification for the job. Make sure to include a notation on your resume about your TEFL certificate, if you have one.
Interview with schools who contact you, providing them documentation as required. Scan your college diploma and, if you don't have it in electronic form already, your TEFL certificate. Don't hesitate to email these files to a school before you get an offer, as some want to see that you have them before they decide. Wait until you've finished interviewing with all schools that interest you before saying yes to any one.
Clear up any questions or uncertainties before you sign your contract. Although the majority of six-month and yearlong ESL jobs in Japan include free round-trip airfare and accommodation, you will not always receive those benefits with a summer camp job. Make sure you and the school have the same understanding in regard to compensation and benefits before you sign your contract.
Purchase your round-trip airfare if your school isn't buying it for you or if it will later reimburse you. Don't allow last-minute "stage fright" to get the best of you --- if you don't arrive in Japan on time for your teaching assignment, you will lose your place and, if it's been promised to you, reimbursement for your ticket.
Tips & Warnings
- Japan issues 90-day visas on arrival to nationals of most Western countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Check with your school to see if you'll need to obtain any additional documentation to work for the summer. Often, you can perform work on a short-term basis with only a tourist visa, but make sure your school has authorized this with the government. If your school requires you to get a supplementary visa, insist they pay the cost and furnish any compulsory paperwork.
- Photo Credit Landeanflug Japan image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com