Teach in Japan – Gaijinhan

Teach in Japan

I thought that since this information would be more important than my random ramblings on experiences travelling around the cities, it would be useful to place it on a page by itself so that it can easily be accessed.

Where to look
The 4 major ALT dispatch companies in Aichi Prefecture are (in no particular order):
1) Interac
2) Cosmo
3) ALTIA
4) W5

Two other big players covering most of Japan are (again, in no particular order):
1) Borderlink
2) RCS

I doubt this list is comprehensive but it might be enough to get you places. You can try applying direct to these companies.

VISA
I noticed that people came to my site with queries on whether getting a VISA for Singaporeans is difficult. Though I am not sure what kind of VISA is being searched on, I shall offer what I have to the best of my knowledge.

Tourist VISA
You probably don’t need this information but I’m going to write it anyway. Having a Singapore passport gets you almost anywhere without having to apply for tourist VISA. Singaporeans get a 90-day tourist VISA on arrival in Japan.

Student VISA
As long as you’re accepted into an academic institute and do not have criminal records that make Jack the Ripper blush, you’ll probably get the VISA pretty easily. Different schools may work differently but the school I went to in Okazaki, called The Yamasa Institute, offered me a 15-month student VISA although I only applied for a 6-month course. It’s good because if you decide to continue your studies after 6 months, you do not have to worry about your VISA at all.

Work VISA
No matter what your nationality is, getting a work VISA from a student VISA is definitely easier than from a tourist VISA because you have already been screened from the application to get the student VISA, so conversion takes less time, yet it still requires one month for it to be processed.

The more important question, is probably what the criteria is to get a work VISA. Honestly, even the immigration authority does not reveal the criteria so you will never know why you were rejected if you were. The reason is clear, if the immigration tells people why their application is rejected, they will work around the system and find a loophole to get the VISA. But one thing for sure is that, in order to get a work VISA, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree and have a skill that regular Japanese cannot offer. Because if what you can do is what any other Japanese can, there’s no reason to let you in to occupy space and compete with their own people. I know a Spaniard who actually got a job offer, but as he does not have a Bachelor’s degree, he couldn’t get his work VISA. Finally, applying for a work VISA from a tourist VISA might actually take 2-3 months. So, VISA-wise, I think it’s probably less about being a Singaporean but more about your background.

UPDATE (13/02/2011): I’ve recently learnt that even without a BA you can still get a work VISA provided you fulfill one of the 2 following conditions: –

1) You’ve got at least 10 years work experience.
2) You’ve got at least 5 years work experience in a specialised field.

Do note that both of the above must be related to the work you are applying for.

Interview
It’s not so much an insider information but I did have the privilege to talk to people who have connections to some of the ALT dispatch companies and learnt a little about the ALT system in general.

The reason why ALT dispatch companies exist is because most schools do not want to risk hiring a foreigner directly. The reason being that they probably had bad experiences in the past when these foreigners do not fit in well with the Japanese work environment and colleagues. If the schools hire via the dispatch companies, they do not have to deal with any of these problems. So,

Tip 1
Display your ability to fit into the Japanese environment and show your interest in working with them and in learning about their culture. Being a team player is important in the Japanese culture and they have a saying 出る杭は打たれる (loosely translated: the one that stands out will be beaten) but of course if you are able to play the role of the leader as well as the follower as and when the need arises, then you probably have a better chance of getting hired.

Tip 2
Do not say anything like you want to try and change the Japanese education system or the way English is being taught. No revolutionary is welcomed. The ALT dispatch companies do not want any trouble with the school as much as the school doesn’t want any trouble with you. So, any attempts at “changing the world” is frowned upon and will not get you anywhere near working here.

Tip 3
Seriously, if you want to get along with your colleagues, some knowledge of the Japanese language will definitely help. And if you bother to spend time learning the language, it is evidence of your interest and earnesty in working and living here and ALT dispatch companies would be more willing to hire you.

Tip 4
And especially for Singaporeans who, for some reason, are not the native speakers of English that most English language schools are looking for, it will definitely help if you get a teaching certification. It can be the PGDE from the MOE, which would mean you’d have at least 4 years of teaching experience, the CELTA from the University of Cambridge, or TESOL from Trinity College London. I personally hold the CELTA and a BA in English Language from NUS so I think that helped me quite a bit in spite of my lack of experience in teaching.

IMPORTANT: The above information is to let you know what to show your employer and not a guide to lying your way in. So, if you’ve got absolutely no interest in the Japanese culture, please do not lie through your teeth.

I’ll update this page again if something else comes up.

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