The Japanese forum is one which seems to get a lot less attention than areas such as Dubai and Spain for example but there are some very interesting posts in the expat forum. This particular post covers an Australian university student who is looking to take some time out before finishing his degree and looking at the possibility of moving to Japan for a short time.
The initial query relates to Japanese visas and whether the working holiday youth visa or a work visa are the best options and what exactly they have to offer. As the thread progresses the situation becomes much clearer with regards to visas and the opportunities available in Japan for those looking to teach English.
Working holiday youth visa
While initially there is some debate as to what you can and cannot do on a working holiday visa, the situation becomes a little clearer and it turns out that aside from club work and pub work there are numerous opportunities for short-term employment in Japan. While there is no mention of the pay available to these particular types of job they would appear to vary widely from relatively unskilled employment positions to those such as teaching English, assuming the relevant qualifications are in place.
For those looking to move to Japan to sample life and work in the country, the working holiday youth visa looks like being the most probable way into the market.
This is by far and away the best opportunity of finding full-time and lucrative work in Japan though there is a requirement for sponsorship by an employer. Unless you are able to arrange work prior to visiting Japan this type of visa may be out of reach initially as it is very popular with overseas companies looking to bringing employees from their other operations. In many ways this is the higher quality end of the visas available and would appear to offer a shortcut to the employment market.
Teaching English in Japan
As the number of expats around the world continues to grow there is increasing demand for English teachers in countries such as Japan. It is not common knowledge around the world but most of the Japanese population are obliged to take six years English in school although the quality of English teaching would appear to be mixed.
One problem which English speaking visitors to Japan may have, in pursuit of an English teaching career, is the fact that Japanese is banned from English classes as there is a feeling that students need to think and talk in English to give themselves the best opportunity for the future. Historically students tend to have concentrated on what was required for university entrance exams and not necessarily taken in the whole structure and grammar of the English language.
There is even a suggestion that some Japanese schools, where English classes are taught, will take severe action against English teachers who use any form of the Japanese language in their classes. This perfectly illustrates the power of the English language in many areas of the world and the ongoing requirement for quality English teachers.
While there is an indication that some English teachers have found employment in low paid teaching positions in some areas of Japan without formal degree level qualifications, generally there is a need for a degree level qualification before any of the major schools will take on an English teacher. Those without such a degree, such as the person who started this particular thread, may well be lucky and find employment in one of the lower-level schools but whether the level of pay will be sufficient to support a suitable lifestyle in Japan remains to be seen.
However, the onset of the worldwide recession has led to a glut of English teachers in Japan and even those with degree level qualifications may still find it difficult to find suitable employment.
Life in Japan
It becomes very clear in the thread at an early stage that the cost of living in Japan would seem to be substantially higher than that in many other areas of the world. A suggestion that those without employment prospects prior to leaving for Japan will need a “fair chunk of money” to support themselves should act as a warning sign for many.
However, there are some very interesting suggestions regarding how to mix with both the expat community and the Japanese community in the search for employment. It would appear the Japan is still very much a “contacts” led country with the emphasis on who you know and often not what you know. For those who are sociable and able to harvest contacts in a foreign land the potential to affectively shortcut the many stages to employment appears to be there.
While much of the post concentrates on English-speaking teachers looking to teach English in Japan there is also a requirement for those in question to learn Japanese as quickly as possible. While in many cases Japanese is banned in English classes, there is a definite requirement to grasp the local language to make communication much easier and make life in Japan that much more enjoyable.
There are many ways to learn the Japanese language such as Japanese schools in the country, language courses and various language tapes, but this is most definitely something which any visitors to the region should look at before embarking on their new adventure. The need to understand and appreciate a new language as soon as possible cannot be underestimated as there will already be enough pressure moving to a foreign land.
In many ways the market for English teachers in Japan has grown substantially over the years but of late with the economic downturn hitting all areas of society and all countries around the world, there appears to be a deluge of teachers available. This has allowed many of the better Japanese schools to handpick the best teachers available leaving many to fight it out for positions at some of the lower paid schools.
The need for a degree level education appears to be something which many schools take for granted and in the example of the person who posted in this thread, who is looking to take a year out from their degree education, the situation could be difficult. Japan is very much a country which offers mystery and intrigue in equal measures to those from overseas and there is much to learn about this ancient and beautiful civilisation.