Many westerners believe that Japan is the most unique country in the world. Its globally renowned respect for others, ancient and fascinating traditions, and trendy pop culture are not the only aspects of this country that make Japan so appealing to visitors.
With breathtaking landscapes, delicious food, and quirky customs, Japan can become the ideal destination for a long-term visit or even a permanent relocation.
Living in Japan
If you stay in Japan for a while, the advantages of living there become obvious.
- Japan is a safe country to visit, even as a solo traveller. However, using your common sense and avoiding dark isolated alleys is always recommended.
- There’s no need to own a car, especially in urban areas. Japan’s public transport system is fast and efficient; its far-reaching network can take you pretty much anywhere in the country.
- The healthcare system in Japan is second to none. This country prides itself with highly skilled medical staff and state-of-the-art hospital equipment.
- Locals are very respectful, polite, and keen to learn about other cultures. They have strong work ethics and are very proud of their country.
- Japan has something for everyone, from majestic mountains to long stretches of sandy beaches. If you enjoy city life, you’ll find Japanese urban life extremely exciting.
WFH in Japan
Even if the public transport is excellent, the idea of a twice-a-day commute might not be your cup of tea. In such a tech-driven country as Japan, there are plenty of opportunities to work from home. Here are some ideas:
- If you’re tech-savvy, freelancing jobs related to video and animation, graphic design, digital marketing, or programming could be the right options for you.
- If you’re a fan of this country’s culture and traditions, you can help tourists experience the best of Japanese life from the comfort of their (and your) own home with online tour services.
- If you have mastered the intricate Japanese language, why not offer your freelance services as a translator? You’ll just need a JLPT N2 proficiency level to start translating professionally.
- If you have a flair for the visual arts – more specifically, the commercial art of photography – you can get paid for doing what you love: taking pictures. Stock photography is a competitive market but, with talent and a bit of luck, it can become a good source of passive income.
- If you are passionate about the English language, you can put this to good use and teach English to adults and/or children. You will find that Japan is a very popular destination among teachers of English as a foreign language (TEFL).
Teaching English in Japan
There are thousands of English language schools, or eikaiwa, dotted across the country, with over 170 in Tokyo alone, indicating the locals’ interest in improving their English language skills. Since the pandemic, these language schools have expanded their options, delivering lessons online in addition to the traditional in-person delivery mode.
In order to secure an online teaching job, you should meet certain requirements in terms of paperwork and qualifications.
There are different types of visas, depending on your situation. If you have already secured a job before arriving in Japan, you can apply for a Working Visa as an ‘instructor’. Remember that you will need a ‘letter of invitation’ from your employer to support your visa application.
If you are already in Japan but haven’t got a job yet, you could apply for a Tourist Visa, which allows you to stay in the country for 90-180 days while job-hunting. Once you secure a post, you should change your visa, as working on a Tourist Visa isn’t allowed. Alternatively, you could apply for a Working Holiday Visa, but check the requirements before you apply as there are some limitations related to age and country of origin.
In order to apply for a Working Visa, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, if you don’t hold a university degree, you might find this guide useful to help you achieve your dream to teach English in Japan.
Degree or not, having a TEFL certificate from an accredited provider would help you stand out during the shortlisting and interviewing process. There are several TEFL courses that you can attend depending on your niche, such as those specific for teaching young learners, business English, exam preparation classes, and online teaching.
These courses are great for professional development, once you decide what path you want your teaching career to take. However, the best place to start is a 120-hour TEFL course, which will give you the necessary foundation to deliver your lessons confidently and professionally right from the start. This is the minimum requirement for most reliable and trustworthy English language schools.
Wherever you are in the world, if your work relies on the use of technology, you need to consider crucial factors to avoid any issues.
Your equipment is vital for the success of your freelance activity. Choose a reliable (but not necessarily expensive) laptop that suits your storage needs; a high-quality headset to reduce external noise and distractions; and a handy pen drive (with emergency teaching materials), should your laptop let you down and you need to use someone else’s device.
Whether you live in a gaijin house (guest house) or a rented accommodation, organise your space so that you can have an area dedicated to your online lessons. Ideally, it should be a quiet area; away from distractions and well-lit. If natural light isn’t available, one or two lamps in a strategic position should work.
An alternative to working for eikaiwas could be to teach Japanese adults and/or children through platforms set up by virtual schools that operate exclusively online. There are plenty to choose from, but each online school asks for different requirements, like qualifications, availability at specific hours, and a minimum of guaranteed teaching hours. In addition, they offer different hourly rates, which varies depending on a number of factors, such as the availability of ready-made lessons, and timetable flexibility, for example. Research the online schools in detail before you invest time and effort in applying.
Living and working abroad means adapting to different cultures and traditions. While this experience is usually fascinating, there might be occasions where you find it hard to understand what’s going on and why. That’s perfectly normal, but remember to keep an open mind at all times. Before you head to Japan, learn about the local customs as much as possible, to decrease the chances or the impact of culture shock.
While in Japan, remember that hand gestures, posture, and general body language can have very different meanings. Good manners and etiquette are serious business in Japan, so keep in mind a few things during your online lessons as well as in your everyday life:
- Don’t make negative comments about someone’s country, government, culture, and historical past;
- Don’t push your learners to give opinions and take stances: it is considered rude to be assertive;
- Expressions like ‘I’ll ask my supervisor’ or ‘I’ll have to check with my boss’ are polite ways to say ‘no’;
- It’s up to you to check your learners’ understanding, as they might not ask for explanations. It would imply that the information given wasn’t clear.
Before stepping into the unknown…
Japan is a truly magical country of mesmerising beauty. Not surprisingly, many visitors choose to make it their home away from home while stepping into an online English teaching career.
From qualifications to equipment, and from cultural differences to a new work environment, there are many aspects of this adventure to consider carefully, but isn’t it true that you can’t get anywhere in life without taking risks?
Quelle / Foto: TEFL, (c) pixabay.com – lukasbieri