Choosing an Eikaiwa That’s Right for You

Choosing an Eikaiwa That's Right for You
When it comes to teaching English in Japan, there are so many options out there. Size, lesson
type, duties, customers… how to find what’s right for you? Let’s take a look at some of the
options. Many schools will fall into a mixture of types, so hopefully you’ll be able to pinpoint a
workplace that’ll suit you perfectly.

(1) The Big Chain

The old school industry heavyweights, like the well-known Aeon and Nova, are a very common
foot-in-the-door for first time eikaiwa teachers. Large companies are able to sustain overseas
hiring operations and as a result, a lot of your colleagues in Japan will be veterans of the big
chain schools.
An advantage of these larger schools is the ease of “settling in”. They usually provide
subsidized housing and assist with various arrangements like setting up a bank account. The
work is formulaic and often leans into the sales role, but it’s steady. However, the job, lesson
plans, and schedule tend to be very inflexible. Teachers will mostly likely be instruction a wide
mixture of adults and children, the elderly, housewives and working suits.

(2) The Business School

There are a number of business-language oriented schools in Japan, logically concentrated in
the larger cities. At a business school your students are going to much more heavily male – a
consideration for female teachers – and the dress code is usually fairly strict. Business schools
and on-site corporate lesson operations tend to lucrative gigs. On the other hand, many
teachers complain of the somewhat dry subject matter or manners of their students.

(3) One-on-One School

A somewhat more recent trend is school modeled around one-on-one lessons, generally with
independent teachers who have some leeway with setting their availability. Some notable
schools like this in Tokyo include GABA and bWatashino Eikaiwa. Many teachers enjoy the
single-student atmosphere and easy of teaching, along with the relaxed scheduling . However,
due to the nature of the business model it has elements of ‘sink or swim’, so the pressure is on
for a teacher to gather regular students based on their own appeal.
Thanks to the private feel of the lessons these schools tend to have a higher proportion of
female students. The other side of this double-edged sword is that teachers may feel cornered
in uncomfortable lessons if the school is not strict about student conduct.

(4) The Freelancer

It’s not rare at all that a veteran English teacher will come across the opportunity to start
teaching private lessons, independently. With a full share of the money these can be rewarding
arrangements and the complete flexibility in time and lesson plan allow people who genuinely
enjoy teaching to really shine.
The drawback to private lessons is the complete lack of any support or ‘backup’. A freelance
teacher must arrange their own teaching locations, handle the money and payments, deal with
problems and correspondence, all singlehandedly.

(5) Kids’ School

The children’s eikaiwa is a common sight in almost every town and city. Under strong pressure
from the school system and parents, students are often pushed into supplemental English
classes to help them pass their tests. You may find yourself teaching anywhere from preschool
children up to highschoolers on the verge of graduation.
Kids are cute and entertaining, but the reality of teaching them – especially groups of them – is
not for everyone. Teachers need to consider students’ ages, upcoming tests, exhaustion and
social anxiety (especially in mixed-gender classes). As a result, these kinds of jobs are often a
love-it-or-hate-it thing, but those who can do it well are prized by schools and parents alike.
Female teachers are sometimes preferentially sought out, but there are plenty of male teachers
Consider yourself as an individual and what kind of lessons you see yourself being able to bring
lots of energy into. But, keep your options open as you search for the school that’s right for you –
you may find yourself really enjoying a line of work you never expected to like!