Japan is one of the largest and most established job markets for teaching English in the world. With a large population (127 million+) and an economy based largely on international trade & finance, Japan has been investing in English language education on a massive scale for decades.
Many of those interested in teaching English in Japan are familiar with the famous Jet Program (Japan Exchange & Teaching Program), which places foreign teachers in Japanese public schools as Assistant Language Teachers (known as "ALTs").
But with millions of Japanese of all ages taking English classes each year, the JET Program (which entails a lengthy & competitive application process) is not the only option for teaching English in Japan. Thousands of job opportunities open each year in other public school programs as well as in private schools & language academies, many of which cater to adults, particularly business people and university students.
Let's detail both public schools in Japan and Japanese private schools, learn their main characteristics, and what differentiates them, to help you make the right choice for your teaching career.
Schools in Japan: Public vs Private
While teaching in a Japanese public or private school might not be so different in the grand scheme, you may have preferences based on the advantages that each option can offer.
What to Expect at Public Schools in Japan?
Typically recruited once a year through the JET Program, English teachers in Japanese elementary and high schools work alongside a Japanese teacher and are known as ALTs (assistant language teachers).
Read more: What is the Jet Program?
Japanese Public Schools
At a public school in Japan, you will have the following benefits:
- Opportunity to work as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher)
- Work directly with native Japanese teacher for added cultural immersion
- 8 - 5 weekday-only schedule
- Generous vacation time, all public holidays and weekends off
- Must be flexible with location (teachers are typically assigned to a school)
- Work primarily with Junior and Senior High School students
- There are alternative programs & recruiters to the JET Program, such as Interac
International TEFL Academy Students & Graduates should contact the Student Affairs Department to receive additional information about opportunities to teach English in Japan through ITA's Job Search Guidance.
What to Expect at Private Schools in Japan?
Private school jobs often entail teaching English to adults & positions open throughout the year.
Japanese Private Schools (often known as Eikaiwas)
At a private school in Japan, you will have the following benefits:
- Teach your own solo classes
- Work with students across the entire age spectrum
- Smaller class sizes
- Must be flexible with schedule - some schools require evening hours or even weekend work
- You can choose where you teach & can live directly in Tokyo, Osaka, etc.
- Must be flexible with commuting to different class locales and settings
Demand for English Teachers in Japan Has Been Growing Faster in Recent Years
Now add this to the mix. The TEFL marketplace in Japan has surged in recent years. The CEO of Interac America, representing the largest private national provider of public school ALTs in Japan (similar to the public, JET Program) is preparing for the increase in jobs too:
“We are looking for candidates that are culturally adaptable and wish to have a life changing experience while working and living in Japan. The number of ALTs is expected to grow (...). If you are flexible, adaptable, and think you have what it takes to live and work in Japan, we wish to hear from you.”
– Steven, CEO Interac America
Here is also an article from the Japan Times about the ramp-up of English teaching jobs.
Take advantage of this new wave of demand for you – a professionally TEFL-trained, native English language teacher! If you’ve wanted to experience the full spectrum of living in Japan, now is the time.