This is my 17 month working at an Eikaiwa full-time. It is also my last month. I’m going to make a series of posts starting with this one, landing a job.
Starting out at an Eikaiwa is a good way to set your foot in Japan by getting that working visa. Qualifications needed to teach English in Japan at an Eikaiwa are not that important. Some employers will prefer someone with a little prior experience but it is often not necessary. In my case they favored someone with no experience, preferring someone fresh and not set in their own teaching methods, someone who they thought they could shape and mold how they wanted. So regardless of English aptitude, if you have a pulse, 4 year degree, a personality, don’t smell, and your a native English speaker, you can get a job. Personality goes a long way, but even that is probably not necessary.
The English credentials I have is being a native American speaker, and not even a good one, and a bachelor’s degree which I never set foot in a class to get or wrote more than 2 essays.
First, I have no prior background experience in teaching English. I’m sure many of my friends back home laughed when they heard I was teaching English. I talk fast and I mumble a lot. Several people have told me to open my mouth more when I speak and I’m pretty sure I was told twice that I should see a speech therapist, once during elementary school and again after graduating and moving on to drinking every day which really seemed to have a positive effect on my enunciation. All my Japanese friends in California told me I was the hardest to understand and coworkers would stuff their mouths full of food and mock me.
As for my knowledge of the inner workings of my own language, if you can’t already tell by this post, it’s shit. I do hope to improve. In high school I did the bare minimum to scrape by. Often skipped classes the maximum amount of times allowed per semester (15) to avoid drop failing the class and allowing me time to work on my Counter Strike skills at a PC cafe. The AK-47 and the Desert Eagle were my weapons of choice. In exchange for poor grades at school, I developed a pretty good kill to death ratio.
As for my 4 year college degree, I completely tested out of it. I never sat in a class once to obtain credits. I’ll make a post on how to do this later. I only had to take one English test and that consisted of answering some multiple choice questions and typing 2 timed essays.
So that is the extent of my English knowledge. I have always liked to read books, debatable if it has had an effect on my command of the language. Thank god for spellcheck as well, to bad I have no way of using it during lessons.
It’s rare, but sometimes I have been asked grammar jargon related questions by students like, “is this the future perfect continuous tense?” or, “what is an infinitive?” At first I just told them, “ya that’s it”, and carried on. Now I’m upfront with them and say, “perhaps”, and move on through the lesson. I bought a nice 50$ dollar Oxford grammar book in hope that I could study it when I had an empty lesson or a no show student, but my school would prefer I hand out tissues or fans instead of advancing my knowledge of what I’m suppose to be teaching.
In short, being a native speaker is enough. My boss told me out of the hundreds that applied for the same job as me, the majority either didn’t have a bachelor’s degree allowing them to work in Japan or they weren’t native speakers.