ESL Jobs in Japan

Shawn in Japan

Teaching ESL in Japan: Shawn

Hi there! I’m Shawn Weldon and I’ve been teaching ESL/EFL since early 2000. Most of my experience is in Nagoya, Japan teaching at a two year college and corporate work. My most recent job was with Nippon Steel, where I worked as a corporate trainer.

I’m originally from Charleston, South Carolina in the USA. But I’ve lived primarily in Asia ever since I graduated from University.

I have a TESOL Certification from Trinity College and a Master’s Degree from Concordia University, Irvine.

Living in Japan

Living in Japan is absolutely great. At first it can be quite overwhelming, but once you get used to the differences it’s a lot of fun. I love going to Karaoke with a group of close friends and singing all my stresses away!

Japan is one of the easiest countries to move around. Transportation is reliable and always on time. Japan is also SUPER safe. One of the few places I’ve ever been that I don’t feel scared late at night.

One of the things I hear from people when I tell them I live and work in Japan is how expensive it is there. Well, this is a partial truth. It is somewhat expensive, but your take home from your salary is pretty high.

As a teacher in Japan, you should never make less than 250,000 yen per month. From that you’ll lose about 10%(plus or minus) to taxes and insurance. If you live outside of Tokyo you can rent a pretty decently sized apartment for about 60,000 yen. That leaves more than 150,000 yen to pay bills and have fun.

Vacation time can vary depending on where you work, but most places give about 4 weeks of vacation. University/college jobs give the most, somewhere between 2 to 3 months paid.

Teaching in Japan

Teaching in Japan is very challenging. Students, especially at the college age, are very shy. It’s very difficult to get them to participate in activities that my make them feel embarrassed.

My favorited is corporate work. Employees have a direct need for the language and see how they can use it in a real world context.

Getting a job from outside of Japan can be a little difficult, but it’s not impossible! Many jobs tend to required applicants to currently live in Japan. The main reason for this is because Japan has a very large pool of qualified teachers living here permanently. The other reason is the stark difference in cultures often leads to shock and the employee retreating back to his or her respective home country.

If you are really interested in living and working in Japan and you don’t live here, I would recommend taking just about any job you can get. This will get you here and then you can go to some face-to-face interviews. However, don’t accept a job that pays less than 250,000 yen per month. If you do, you’ll have a hard time financially.

Recommendations & Concerns

My recommendation is to not take a job that pays too little. A weekend in Japan will easily run you 10,000 yen ($100 USD). Traveling within Japan for a weekend will easily be between 50,000 to 100,000 yen between trains, hotels and dining out. Don’t let that discourage you though, if you make 250,000 yen or more you can easily save that same amount each month.

Japan is a great place with a long history of traditions. Don’t expect to come here and change the way Japanese people think, behave or educate. Change happens slow here, so it’s a practice of patients and acceptance. If you make a good salary and accept the Japanese life style, you’ll love it here!



Shawn Weldon is one of the co-founders of He has spent more than 10 years teaching in Japan and taught at many different types of schools.

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