There is a constant demand for native English language teachers in Japan, with private conversation schools and the JET Programme as the main sources for teaching positions. There is also a certain demand for teachers of other foreign languages.

Conversation schools

"Eikaiwa" or English conversation schools are a big business in Japan, offering Japanese people of all ages the opportunity to practice their English communication skills with native speakers in small classes or private lessons.

Aeon, Nova, Shane English School and ECC are some of the leading conversation school chains, each operating around 200 schools or more across Japan. In addition, there are many smaller chains and countless independent schools.

The major conversation schools operate recruitment offices overseas, including the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. The requirements to get a job differ from company to company, but many require little more than a university degree in any field.

JET Programme

JET stands for "Japan Exchange and Teaching" and is a government-operated program that recruits non-Japanese people for foreign language teaching and counseling positions at schools and companies in Japan. Most JET participants work as Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) at high schools and junior high schools.

The citizens of over 50 countries are eligible to apply for a position in the JET Programme at the Japanese embassy or consulate of their home country. Requirements are a university degree in any field and a good command of the language they will teach. JET participants are hired on a rolling one year contract basis for typically 3-5 years.

Languages other than English

At conversation schools and in the JET Programme, there is also a certain - though considerably lower - demand for native speakers of foreign languages other than English, especially Korean, Chinese, French, German, Spanish and Italian.