5 Things to Consider Before Starting an Online English Teaching in Japan

With much of today’s world being online, it makes total sense that being able to work and study through digital means should be easier than ever too. Thankfully, this brings about benefits galore for both educators and learners, as the Internet can bring together more and more learners than at any other point in history.

One such great location to do this is Japan, which is a hive of activity in many areas of life. Below are 5 pieces of advice that any TEFL tutor ought to consider before taking the plunge and teaching TEFL online in Japan.

Teach TEFL online

One such group of teachers are TEFL (or Teach English as a Foreign Language) teachers. Teaching TEFL online in Japan is a fantastic way to get a career moving, combining an eager to learn student population with all the opportunities to live and breathe Japanese culture too.

While pupils will be delighted to take advantage of the features of many online learning platforms, it may be sometimes challenging to take the necessary time to weed through all of them and make exactly the right choice. For teachers, then, this presents a chance to add value to their own career by teaching quality content that makes a real difference to the lives of their students.

Get qualified

Although this may appear perfectly obvious to most prospective teachers, getting qualified is not something that some future educators think about. However, it really must be at the top of the to-do list, especially concerning the chance to live and work in Japan. The Japanese visa system requires a formal qualification of this type from foreign educators to even work in the country, so that makes it even more essential too.

There are many requirements teaching English in Japan has, not least the first one is to get qualified with a certified and reliable TEFL qualification. As a method of relearning the fundamental tools of the language, it is well worth the time and effort to get reacquainted with some of the rules of grammar and syntax as students are bound to ask about almost anything.

Additionally, the course leaders commonly have first hand experience of teaching TEFL, either in person or online, and so have been there and done that. This expertise also arms them with answers to questions that future TEFL instructors might have, from classroom management to organising a great lesson plan.

Learn the Japanese way of life

Whether it be picking up some basics of the Japanese language, or finding out more about ikigai, anybody who wishes to live and work in Japan probably would benefit from studying some of these basic principles of Japanese life. The best and easiest way to describe ikigai would be to say that it is an attitude towards life, and deeds contained within it, that when all put together combine to create a sense of purpose or reason for living.

Although working online can often mean having a remote position, there is the wider implication of living in a country, such as traveling around the country itself, to navigating simple transactions in the supermarket. 

Anyone who lives in a country should take some time to research the way in which locals do things, to save any confusion down the line.

Find a strength

Even though many TEFL teachers have to be all-rounders, covering each essential part of the curriculum as part of a scheduled program, there may be moments where a TEFL instructor is required to go freestyle. This can happen when covering a class for a fellow online TEFL teacher, and that tutor accidentally forgot to leave a lesson plan or even any notes.

Alternatively, just being aware of one’s strengths will make a teacher stronger, even if their strong suit lies in teaching reading or writing, or even listening or speaking skills. By doing this, the TEFL tutor can grow more easily into their natural style, as well as identify areas for future growth.

Do research

There are plenty of potential pitfalls for an online TEFL teacher, which may be made harder in a technologically advanced country like Japan. One of these is to find out whether something is really free or not, by reading the fine print in a trial contract or ensuring that the terms and conditions are accurate.

This can go for something as simple as a gym membership in Japan, where there might be hidden costs, or even a free trial of a technology program which doesn’t last quite as long as the customer expects. Either way, reading the fine print is a good place to start. 

Not to mention, researching Japan as a country and its people before even getting on the plane is a wonderful idea. Reading books, newspaper articles or blogs from people who reside in Japan, or watching TV shows or films made in the Japanese style ought to shine a light on the kinds of things to expect once the TEFL teacher lands on Japanese soil.


Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.