This post stems from conversations I have had with many people in my company. I work at a company responsible for many English conversation schools throughout Japan. I prefer to leave it at that. The conversation always happened during a teaching staff change. “A lot of people coming into this job have a very negative view of things.” Well this post will get to the bottom of these feelings and hopefully shed some light on how to succeed in a Japanese company. If you plan to apply for a job in Japan teaching English, this post will help you securing a job for the long run.
English conversation companies are everywhere in Japan. The Japanese pay good money to go and try English for a couple of hours per week. If you apply for work with any of these companies, from now refered to as eikaiwa, then you will be a product that the Japanese use. Ok it sounds dehumanizing but think of it this way. Say I’m in America and want to speak Japanese. I would pay to go speak Japanese in a class for a couple of hours a week. Now I’m speaking with a person and I would be highly critical if I didn’t improve my Japanese. Now If the person teaching me Japanese was a passionate teacher with lots of personality, I would naturally continue and most likely improve my Japanese. The take away here is to show your passion, be engaging, and above all else know how to teach the curriculum. That will make sure you are not dehumanized at an eikaiwa. You should keep in mind that you are a product that the eikaiwa is selling- English conversation. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills.
The staff at many of the schools are sometimes perceived as harsh or cruel to the foreign staff (meaning you if you get the job). Well I would take this opportunity to state the obvious; The foreign staff work, live, and play in Japan. With that said just think about what that means. In your home country you would expect the foreign staff to follow the rules at work and behave accordingly. If you continually see the same behavior after many corrections you might be quiet short with this individual. It’s not any different in Japan. The only problem is a Japanese correction is often missed by most of the foreign staff. It could be only body language, a short cough, an abrupt silence. There is no need to say anything. The best thing is to stop whatever is causing the problem and learn from it. Learn to read people is the most important thing for success in Japan.
I think the last thing that needs to be addressed is the negative comments out on the internet. 99.9% of those comments are from people who did something that made the other staff mad and they only continued to escalate it by not listening. Always be open and willing to change how you do things. Japan is built on team work. Don’t throw a monkey wrench in the gears, you only end up bitter and complain on a forum for eikaiwa teachers. There are some positive comments out there but people like to complain so negative comments are always abundant. Everything in this post comes from my experience and real life examples of people who have made it and those who have failed. The ones that failed are the ones who did things I said not to do. My biggest advice is to stay positive and not let anything become a personal attack. Good luck with your application. Japan will be happy to welcome you if you do the same.