Insights on Teaching English in Japan: A Typical Workday

  • I’ve been living and working in Japan as an English instructor for a few years now and I really enjoy it, if you’re thinking of moving to Japan as a teacher with one of the big, private language schools you’re probably wondering, what’s the experience like day to day?

    Typical day

    With most schools, the classes you’ll be teaching will be a mix of adults and kids classes. When you first start, the kids classes can be a little daunting, but you’ll soon get into the swing of it. I know when I first started I was sure I’d enjoy the adult classes more, but now I find the kids are usually the highlights of my day!

    In the private schools, since you’re teaching people around their jobs and schools, your workday starts later than most and depending on the school you work for your shifts will be from 6-8 hours long. A typical start time is around 2-3pm, which not being a morning person is something I really like! It also gives you plenty of time for exploring or shopping in the mornings.

    When you get to work usually you’ll find it’s more kids classes for the first half of your shift as most of the adults book their classes after they finish work. Depending on the school you may need to prepare lessons ahead of time but at some there are plans ready prepared for you. At my school, there are plans prepared, but so long as you cover the material in the lessons you can change things around as much as you like to suit your kids. Some classes are much livelier than others so not all games work with all kids, but you’ll find the ones they like pretty quickly! The kids lessons can be lots of fun though some of the kids will drive you up the wall. You can’t avoid sometimes getting the kid who’s only there because his parents sent him, but most of the kids are great. In some schools, you’ll teach kids as young as 18 months and they are absolutely adorable! (Thankfully though, at that age their parents come in, too.)

    Later on your shift you’ll start teaching the adults. Again these can be a mixed bag, most students are great to work with and really enthusiastic but occasionally you’ll get someone whose company is making them take English lessons, though even the reluctant students can be fun to teach!

    Typically you’ll have 2 or 3 kids classes most days followed by a few adults with around 10-20 minutes in between and most teachers finish sometime between 9-10pm. If you want to save money in Japan, it’s possible, though many of teachers eat out most nights so only save a little if any. The job itself though can be lots of fun and Japan an amazing place to live! Teaching English is a great way to experience Japan and it’s culture.

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