Why is it so difficult to find a teaching job?

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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