Other jobs for foreigners in Japan (besides teaching)

mars 11th, 2010

As you may have noticed already, finding a teaching position in Japan can be quite a difficult task. Until you find one, you may consider a few other options :

- Translation : Usually language teachers know more than just a single language. This can be useful for other jobs!
Even if you don’t speak a word of Japanese, there are still a lot of translation agencies in Japan who are interested in translators who can use several European languages, for example English and Spanish.
You can try to get lists of agencies in Japan, however, most of these lists are not free.

If you wish to earn a few yens before finding a stable job, you may also try jobs for freelancers. (You can check translation communities such as YakuYaku, for example)

- “Arubaito” (Japanese part time jobs) : The most “popular” part time job for foreigners (besides teaching), is maybe waiter/waitress. Indeed, many French/Italian/Chinese/Indian/etc restaurants are interested in foreign staff in order to “reinforce” their reputation.
Sometimes, a basic understanding of Japanese will be enough to make you a successful applicant. However and as always, you have to keep in mind that a real lot of other foreigners people will apply.

Jobs like distributing flyers outside during hot Japan summer are certainly not what you’re dreaming of, but some companies are looking for foreign staff to do it. It can always be a valuable financial help until you find something better.
In general, you may have a chance for manufacturing jobs (in factory) or other jobs which don’t require an advanced knowledge of the Japanese language.

- “Technical jobs” : If you are the owner of a scientifical diploma (for example in IT), you may also be able to find a job.
Usually, the “languages” used for such jobs are “universal” and employers will look for technical skills in priority.
Obviously, it is always a huge advantage to speak Japanese fluently, but even if you don’t, your experience and specific knowledge could help you greatly.

Almost any English native speaker could teach English, but do you know so many people who can code in a very specific programming language? Surely not, and that may be your chance : the number of applicants for scientifical is not as high as for teaching jobs.

- Make friends! Go out and try to meet new people. Not only you will get to know some people to enjoy time with, but it will also give you more opportunities to get in touch with some companies.
Meeting other foreigners can also help you a lot if they know some companies recruiting non-japanese people.

If you have any other ideas or questions, please let us know! Finding a job is never something easy, so you should never overlook options as may show up.

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Why is it so difficult to find a teaching job?

août 29th, 2009

That’s probably what a lot of you have in mind while looking for a job.

Of course, finding or even just retaining a job these days, no matter where you are on Earth, is a difficult task.

But it is particularly hard for new Japan entrants who, besides their diplomas and actual skills, have no more than a tourist visa, or a Working Holiday Visa (for lucky ones).

It is definitely frustrating to see that after years of studies (if not professional experience), nobody really wants to hand you a job you would absolutely deserve.
You might even get mad when you find out that the ones who get hired instead of you seem to be miles away from your capabilities.

The fact is that, in some cases, a visa can weight a lot more than the best diplomas from the best universities.
It is not true for all fields : if you work in some scientifical area, then surely diplomas and experience will have priority.

Unfortunately, this is not the way things work for language teaching. Why?

A lot of Japanese people are curious and interested in other countries. They like travelling and many of them have one or several “dream countries”. It is one -among others- of the reasons why the “language market” in Japan is so big : by learning a bit of a language, you can become “closer” to the countries who speak it.
Most of students really just want to learn “A BIT of a language”, and it is the point : usually teachers are asked to teach their respective languages at a fairly low level, without too many grammar explanations and all these things.
Mainly words and expressions.
And this is something an “average” native speaker can do without years of studies.

Now, let’s imagine we are a new language school, looking for teachers to give lessons to some beginners.

The first application we receive is from a freshly graduated university student, owner of a Degree in language teaching. Perfect!
Almost : this person came here thanks to a Working Holiday visa which will expire in a couple of months. But you need a teacher who will stay for a whole year!
Alright, then let’s give this person a visa.

And this is just where problems start : if you want to give someone a visa, you will need to get through a long and complex process.
In the best case, it will take between 1 and 2 months (after application submission) to obtain a visa for our teacher. Application for a Working Visa requires quite a few documents, sometimes confidential and/or difficult to gather : a firm promise to hire the teacher, a first version of his/her future contract, a translated (into Japanese) copy of diplomas and a lot of information about the company, including financial statements.

Now let’s go back to our new language school. We receive a second application. This time, the applicant has no diploma, no experience in teaching, but is freshly married to a Japanese, owns a Spouse Visa, and wrote a nice cover letter in a very fine English. The interview also goes very well : this person has perfect oral skills and will definitely be a fine teacher for some beginners.
And this time the process is quite different if you are to hire that person : all we need to do is to print and sign the contract. And that’s really it.

As a young company, you will always try to look at the simpliest options, and this is why we will not hire the first applicant. We would love to, but we can’t afford the luxury of getting through complex processes such as obtaining a Working Visa for our teacher. This is just how cruel things can be.

To conclude on a more positive note, please keep in mind that some employers will still give priority to skills and experience : it is true for universities, or schools teaching business English(or any other language).

Good luck!

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Dictionary update: 21 more languages!!

mai 25th, 2009

Hi everybody,

We’ve been working pretty hard lately and finally gave a massive update to our online dictionary!

It is now able to translate from/to no less than 24 languages in a very intuitive, visual and user friendly style.
All you have to do is entering your text, click on the source language and the destination language! No need to search in long and complex lists your language combination.

You can find the dictionary here as usual. Feel free to use it anytime and as much as you need.

It is a big and important addition for us, so we hope you will enjoy using it :)

We will soon be back with new tools and resources for teachers so check us out for updates.

Keep up the good work everybody!

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French and Italian dictionaries are here!

avril 22nd, 2009

Hello everybody!

Short news for today. As promised, we added languages (namely French and Italian) to our online dictionary!
Spanish and German should be available within a couple of weeks.

More updates will appear on the website during the next weeks. We’ll try to give our teachers more tools but also new ways to show their skills to potential students.

As usual, all sugestions and comments are wamly welcomed :)

Ja ne!

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Dictionary for our language teachers!

avril 14th, 2009

Our main website has just got its first update since January, and it is a significant one!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been developing a brand new English <-> Japanese dictionary which is now fully functional!
It can translate words and sentences. For common words, this tool will also display a list of definitions, explanations and examples.

Feel free to use it as you prepare your lessons, or try to understand what your students are telling you about!

This dictionary is still under active development and will welcome new languages shortly. Italian and French should arrive very soon (a matter of days), Spanish and German will appear just a little later.
Our goal is to be able to support 20 different languages as soon as possible!

This dictionary will be the first of a series of tools we’ll be developing during this year.
We will keep you informed about our achievements as soon as they make it to the website.

Lately, we also brought some improvements to our students’ site, which should help the website growing even more -we have more and more students browsing YOUR pages!-.

Thank you again for making our website and this blog live!

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10 good tips for language teachers

janvier 7th, 2009

You’re in Japan and found some students. Cool! But are you really ready to teach?
Here is a list of 10 simple tips you should keep in mind. Some of them are obvious but it’s always easy to forget one or two of them, isn’t it?

1. Be prepared. There’s no better tip we could give a teacher. Have some “introduction” lessons ready for different levels (beginner, advanced …).
Prepare these lessons with the greatest care : when you meet someone, first impression does have a huge importance, doesn’t it? About teaching, it’s the pretty same : if your first lesson is well prepared, motivating, your students will definitely be eager to have some more with you. If you’re not ready and prepared, your students will feel it and start running away.

2. Give your students the greatest attention : never forget there’s a human being behind every student. Encourage them, cheer them, make them feel it’s worth attending your lessons, and keep contact with them regularly. They’ll feel cared and keep a better image of you and your lessons.

3. Get to know your students. No matter how much you prepare and care about your students, if they’re not interested in your lessons’ topics, you’ll hardly keep them.
Ask them to tell you their hobbies and interests, and adapt some of your lessons to their tastes. Any topic is good to teach new vocabulary and grammar rules. Your students will be more interested in the lessons and feel you prepare for them : once again it can only be good.

4. It’s good to cheer your students’ progress, even better to show them how and where they improved. For each new lesson, review quickly the progress made last time, and at the end of lessons, do a quick sum up. Your students should clearly see where they improved after each lesson.

5. Be organized! Hold a notebook and take notes regularly about each student : some information about them, their hobbies, their tastes, their learning problems, the number of lessons you had yet, the topics you introduced … (almost) any kind of data can help you preparing better lessons and show your students you’re serious about teaching.

6. Share your culture. Many students learn a given language because it is spoken in a country they are interested in. And it may well be your country of birth! Letting students know about your country’s culture and good places to see can give them extra motivation.

7. Use medias. Don’t forget to give your students a copy of your texts, vocabulary lists … it is very important to them to keep something concrete from lessons, something they can work on until the next lesson, not to forget everything!
If your students are still working on pronounciation, you can send them sound files by mail : words or texts read with a perfect pronounciation. It will help them a lot.
You can also send them interesting videos about a topic you taught, so that they can improve their oral understanding, vocabulary …

8. Be serious. Seriously.
Well, this tip is important for first lessons mainly. Once your students attend your lessons regularly, you can be more friendly, less formal.
However, for first lessons, it is important to look serious : do you easily imagine a good teacher going to a first lesson wearing shorts and cap? We do not. Neither do students.

9. Always give your students a teaching plan for the next 3-4-5 lessons. People rarely enjoy unfinished business, so they will come back if you show it’s worth coming to the next lessons. Short term goals can be motivating, but you should always mention there’s something “after”.

10. Entertain your students. Not by making a fool of yourself! Interactivity, language games (crosswords …), oral expression are always welcome and funnier than formal (who said boring?) text reading and “fill the gap” exercises. Well, the latter are still necessary at some point, so you should find a good balance between all these things.

If you have any more ideas, freely share them with us, we’re only aiming to improve our listing!

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Cheap trains / quick routes in Japan

décembre 14th, 2008

If you need to travel regularly between different cities by train (let’s say, for example, to meet your private students!), you will surely need to find the best prices and routes to reach your destination.

Although japanese speakers shouldn’t struggle too much, the others will certainly need a hand.

Fortunately, it is possible, even for a non-japanese speaker, to check timetables and prices from various companies, even for complex trips (in case you need to take trains from different companies during the trip, typically).

Let us introduce you two pages : Hyperdia and TrainRouteFinder by Jorudan. They gather (official and fresh) information from train companies.
Both work the same way basically : choose departure point, destination point, departure hour, a few options and they’ll tell you trains around this time with their prices, mentionning stations where you need to change train if necessary.

In 95% of cases, the results are strictly the same for the two websites. However, for complex trips, implying taking trains from different companies, one of the two may perform a little better. Concretely, one of these two “train route engines” may find a cheaper and quicker route. Accordingly, it can prove useful (and save you a few yens) to have a look at results from both websites.

If you need to travel regularly to different places in Japan, we warmly recommend you to use these two very good pages. They will definitely help you!

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Find a room in Japan

décembre 9th, 2008

You’ve got your visa and maybe found a job already. Congratulations!
Now you should look for a place to stay.

If you don’t speak japanese well (or not at all), or if you don’t want to spend too much money for accomodation, you have mainly two solutions.

GUEST (or GAIJIN) HOUSES

Guest houses are pretty useful for those who want to find a room quickly and at a reasonable place. Many of them don’t ask for a deposit or guarantor, and they’re usually furnished and offering free internet access. The minimal stay length is about just a month, so it’s pretty flexible.

Monthly fees (all charges included) mostly stand in the 60-80.000 yen range. It may be a little less or a little more at times. Such prices remain very reasonable compared to the price of appartments (especially in Tokyo).

Where can you find guest houses? We recommend you to have a look at serious websites like Oakhouse or Sakura House , offering a great variety of guest houses. You should be able to find all kinds of house styles and prices!

ROOM SHARING

An even simplier solution is to find someone you can share a room with. It may be a good solution to save money and meet new people!

Once again, we’ll recommend you to use your personal network wisely. Try to get to know gaijins like you, and you may find one who would be happy to share accomodation costs with you! Attending parties and getting in touch with the friends of your friends should prove to be efficient.

If it doesn’t work (or if you’re associal?), you can try to find a roommate through the internet. Jobs in Japan displays some offers at times, as well as the online edition of the Tokyo Notice Board. If you’re looking for someone who shares rooms, you can post an ad for free on these two websites. (in TNB case, your ad will even be printed!)

These two solutions are, in our opinion, the easiest (and cheapest?) ways to get a home in Japan.
If you have any other ideas, or if you’re sharing a room/looking for someone to share a room, feel free to use our comments!

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Teaching jobs in Japan

décembre 7th, 2008

Through this post, we’ll review the most common methods to become a teacher in Japan, with their pros and cons.

The first thing you must have in mind is japanese school system. Their 1st semester begins in april, and the 2nd in september.
Accordingly, 80% of opportunities appear around march-april, and much of the 20% left are around september. These are the best periods to find a teaching job in Japan.

There are basically two ways of teaching in Japan

TEACHER IN A LANGUAGE SCHOOL/UNIVERSITY

Japanese universities sometimes offer teaching jobs. They (almost) always expect their teachers to hold a degree in language teaching.
You can also try to contact them directly even if they don’t seem to offer any job at the moment. Who knows! If you do so, february-march is the best period.

Big languages schools are regularly looking for new teachers. Among the most famous, we’ll name Geos, Aeon, Gaba and Berlitz. You can consult their offers on their respective websites, and why not try to offer your services directly.

Besides them, there are A LOT (really a lot!) of languages schools in Japan. The best way to find them (and their job ads) is to consult job ads listing.
We recommend you to have a look at these websites : Jobs in Japan and Gaijinpot . They gather most of teaching job offers. It’s also a good way to know about new language schools, which you can try to contact later if their current positions don’t suit you.
Patience is the key!

Pros and cons :
+ A real contract
+ Possibilty of visa sponsorship (full time contracts)
+ Some schools help you to find an apartment
- A sometimes low hourly fee (Usually in the 1200-2500 yen/hour fee)
- Working hours may be unconvenient
- Usually requires a degree

Our advice : The best solution to get in Japan and live “reasonably” there if you’re not eligible for a Working Holiday visa.

PRIVATE TEACHER

In case you don’t want to/can’t find a teaching job, or if you’re already a teacher but want to make extra money, you should consider private teaching.

The big advantage is that you’re absolutely free, you can set your fees, choose the most convenient times for you … moreover, you’ll usually do 1 to 1 teaching, and won’t have to hold a whole classroom. Certainly easier and funnier for you.

However, you will have to find your own students. There are two solutions, which can be used together :

- The most natural one : teach people you already know! Try to get to know many people in Japan and you’ll surely find a few people learning/interested in your native language, and who would like private lessons. There are many parties held in Japan in which gaijins are more than welcome. Have a look there! And try to get to know the friends of your friends.

- Use a student/teacher matching system : a lot of students look for teachers directly through the internet to save time and find the best teacher for them. Using a matching system will help you getting in touch with them. This way you can be directly contacted by students who find (and like!) your profile, and it leaves you spare time for other activities.
We do offer such a service through our regular website : Teach languages in Japan (english, french, italian, spanish, german …) and introduce new students to our teachers everyday.

With a balanced mix of the two solutions mentionned above, you may have a fairly good income by a few months.

Pros and cons :
+ Your hourly fees
+ A certain freedom
+ No degree required
- No visa sponsorship
- Usually takes a bit of time to get enough students

Our advice : Perfect for Working Holiday visa holders and those who want to increase their income. Keep in mind that it won’t provide you any kind of visa.

We hope you will find a good solution and enjoy teaching in Japan! Depending of your diplomas and visa opportunities, you should find something in these lines!

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Working visa for teachers

décembre 7th, 2008

People who can’t apply (or not anymore) for a Working Holiday visa will certainly be looking for a Working visa.
There are lots of kinds of Working visas, so we’re going to focus on Working visa for teachers.

A Working visa allows you stay in Japan 1 or 3 years and is renewable.

Here is a very interesting page about japanese visas in general : Types and categories of visas

“Professors” may obtain this visa, with these conditions : “Activities for research, research guidance, or education as professor, assistant professor, or assistant, etc. at universities, equivalent educational institutions, or technical colleges (koto senmon gakko).” (MOFA)

Unlike most of the other jobs giving the possibility of getting a Working visa, professors do not necessarily hold a Bachelor degree (or equivalent).

However, the reality is a little more complex. In order to get such a visa, you should get “sponsorship” from your future employer, and in most of cases, a valid contract.

There are, then, 3 possibilities :
- Your future employer is a university : priority will be given to teachers who hold a Bachelor degree
- Languages schools : many will require a Bachelor degree to make visa procedure faster and easier.
- A few may give a chance to anybody.

As you can see, Bachelor degree holders stand more chances, which is quite understandable.

Usually, when a degree is required, it will be written explicitely in jobs ads.
It is also very important to check if “visa sponsorship” is mentionned. If not, employer is ceraintly looking for a “permanent resident”. It costs you nothing to ask if sponsorship is available, though.

If a school accepted to sponsor you, then you don’t have much more to do. Your employer will request a “Certificate of Eligibility” (CoE) to their regional immigration authority.
Once they hand it to you, you should be able to get your Working visa within a few days. Go to japanese embassy, apply for Working visa with your CoE and that’s it.
However, under particular circumstances, your embassy may still reject your demand. It is a very rare case, though.

As you can see, getting a Working visa is not the easiest thing on world! When you get a job interview, make sure everything is clear and ok with your future employer.
Feel free to share your experiences and advices with us!

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