A universal language is spoken and understood by the majority of the people around the world. While more people speak Chinese than English, most Chinese speakers are Chinese. Only a handful of people from other nationalities use Chinese as their main language of communication. That’s where teaching English in Japan, specifically, an Eikaiwa can come in.
On the other hand, English knows no boundaries since the language is spoken by nearly all nationalities around the world. In fact, English classes are mandatory in many countries and one of these countries is Japan.
But some people may ask, if English classes are mandatory in Japan, how come a lot of Japanese still struggle to speak the language?
Well, let’s take a look at English teaching in Japan in an Eikaiwa so we’ll know the answer.
English Teaching in Japan in an Eikaiwa
English classes are mandatory for Japanese students in primary school. To be specific, English classes are compulsory for students in the 5th grade and above since April 2011. Since tests are conducted to check the level of understanding, the students tend to focus more on passing the test rather than really understanding the language.
In this situation, fluency is not the priority among the students. Despite this, there are still some students who are quite interested in improving their English skills. These students see the importance of being able to carry a conversation in English.
Since they aren’t able to get what they need from the traditional educational system, they turn to English conversation schools known as the Eikaiwa.
What is an Eikaiwa?
If translated directly from Japanese, the word Eikaiwa means English language conversation. With this in mind, Eikaiwas are schools where Japanese students learn to have an English conversation. The students who attend these schools along with their parents recognize the importance of learning how to speak English properly and hold a conversation in the language.
Even as students enroll in an Eikaiwa to improve their conversational English skills, they also get to improve their grammar skills since the schools also include it in their curriculum.
These schools are privately-owned and act as a supplement to the public education system. There are bigger schools with branches located in different towns and cities in Japan. There are also smaller schools offering the same services in one specific location in Japan.
Eikaiwa teachers are typically native English speakers. They come from English-speaking countries, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.
Class sizes can range from just one single student to a class of a dozen or so students. The ages of the students also vary. They range from young children up to elderly individuals.
Now that you know what an Eikaiwa is, let’s talk about working in one.
What are the Most Popular Companies?
This list can certainly change from year to year as companies expand and others go out of business. However, in 2020, the biggest private language institutes in Japan include the following options:
- Coco Juku
They are known as the “Big 5.”
Working as an Eikaiwa Teacher
If you’re interested in working in an Eikaiwa, here are some things to think about before you you’re your final decision in joining these English conversation schools in Japan:
- Working in an Eikaiwa is unlike working in a regular school since the students themselves are interested in learning. This makes your job to motivate your students easier.
- Eikaiwas can either be a small one where the teacher works in one location or a big one that sends the teachers to different locations in Japan. One of the most coveted positions for teachers is in Okinawa.
- If you’re working for an Eikaiwa that sends teachers to different locations, you’ll likely stay in these locations for nine weeks or more. You should also make sure to bring all your tools and materials in case they aren’t available at your assigned location.
- Since these companies aim to improve the English skills of the students, the students are asked to make a simple speech to showcase what they learned in their Eikaiwa classes.
- As an Eikaiwa teacher, you’ll teach around six hours each day for five days each week. Sometimes it may be a block whereas some companies may require a split shift.
While these things may be appealing to anyone looking to teach in Japan, it’s best for us to look at the advantages and disadvantages of working as an Eikaiwa teacher.
Advantages and Disadvantages of working in an Eikaiwa
The following are the advantages and disadvantages of working as an Eikaiwa teacher:
The following are some advantages of working in an Eikaiwa:
- As indicated above, one advantage of teaching at an Eikaiwa is the students are eager to learn English. This makes it easier for you as a teacher to motivate your students once the class starts.
- The working hours are more flexible compared to a regular corporate job or even a regular teacher’s job. This gives you time to pursue your passions outside your classes.
- Eikaiwas normally start classes in the afternoon, which is ideal for people who aren’t early risers.
- Class sizes are small, which makes it easy for the teacher to manage the class.
- If you love travelling, working for a chain of Eikaiwas will be to your advantage. These companies normally expect teachers to work in different locations depending on the need for each location.
- You’ll also have the chance to be creative in teaching English conversation and grammar skills to your students in an Eikaiwa since the state does not dictate how the course is taught.
The following are some disadvantages of working in an Eikaiwa:
- Even if most of the students are eager to learn English, some young students may be nervous and may require some prodding to practice speaking.
- While a flexible schedule is ideal for Eikaiwa teachers living in the city, the same cannot be said for Eikaiwa teachers in rural areas. They normally have limited options when it comes to activities outside of work.
- Eikaiwas normally have classes on Saturdays, which means the weekends of Eikaiwa teachers will not be regular. They may end up resting on Sunday and Monday and will have to forego any Friday night activities.
- Even as Eikaiwa teachers are paid better, some companies only pay the teachers for class time and don’t include the time they take to write reports.
- If your class is made up of small children, your class management skills will be put to a test, especially if you have a class of 12 children. But consider yourself lucky if your Eikaiwa doesn’t offer classes to children.
Working as an Eikaiwa Teacher
Even as the advantages and disadvantages of working as an Eikaiwa teacher balance each other out, some people may find it fulfilling to work as one. The intimate setting of an Eikaiwa gives teachers the chance to motivate their students to learn and encourage them to participate.
Sure, you may encounter challenges when teaching young children or you may have some objections to your workload, but in the end, seeing your students learn something from you is quite gratifying as a teacher.
With this in mind, if you are a teacher by heart, you’ll likely find working in an Eikaiwa a dream come true. Aside from getting paid well and getting the chance to go around Japan, you’ll also have a feeling of fulfillment once your students demonstrate what they learned from you.
Teaching in an Eikaiwa FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching in an Eikaiwa. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
Is Aeon a good company to work for?
In terms of private language institutes in Japan, AEON is considered to be one of the best. They have a good reputation for treating their teachers well and offer quite fair compensation packages.
How much does an ALT make in Japan?
An ALT in Japan makes between 200,000 and 250,000 yen per month when starting out. Once you get some experience and make some connections, you can find better jobs that pay upwards of 500,000 yen.
What does Eikaiwa mean?
Eikaiwa is roughly translated into English conversation school and could be considered equivalent to the word, “hagwon” in Korea. It’s a combination of the Kanji for English and conversation.
Is Nova Japan a good company?
If you’re only planning to teach in Japan for a year or two, Nova makes a decent choice. However, if you plan to stay for longer, use Nova as a stepping stone onto jobs that pay more or offer fewer teaching hours.
Can I teach English in Japan without a degree?
To get a full-time job teaching English in Japan, you will need a degree. However, it’s also possible to get a working holiday visa without a degree and then do some English teaching on the side.
Have your Say about Teaching in an Eikaiwa
What are your thoughts about teaching in a language school in Japan? Is it right for you, or do you have another country like Russia, Hong Kong or Finland that you’re considering? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
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