5 tips for teaching English at Japanese public schools – Salary & Living expenses

Many native English speakers want to go to Japan and spend there a few years. As a way to earn a living they often decide to teach English in schools, as it is one of the most required jobs for foreigners. But what do you need to know before doing the same?

According to the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the most popular purpose for visiting Japan is tourism, business trip being the second popular. However, if you want to learn more about the country and its culture and get a piece of real experience, the best solution is to live there for some time.

Becoming an English teacher in Japan is actually a pretty good idea – because not only will you earn a living, you will also be able to communicate with Japanese people of different ages and interests. But before starting your career as an English teacher in Japanese middle or high school, you need to know these 5 things that we will gladly share with you today. So, let’s start.

5 tips for teaching English at Japanese public schools – Salary & Living expenses

How much can you earn monthly?

Of course, it depends on where you work and how did you find this job. For example, one of the most well-known English teaching programs is JET, which offers the salary of 280,000 JPY per month, which is something about 2,500 USD. It is a sufficient amount, especially if compared to the average monthly salary in Japan, which starts at around 200,000 – 250,000 JPY. Below you can find an example of how Japanese salary is calculated:


Of course, this table is just a rough example – but it is always a good thing to have at least a general idea of your possible income.

Living expenses to live in Japan

Living expenses always depend on the kind of lifestyle you have and what you spend money on, but here is an exemplary list of approximate common costs that must be covered monthly:

Get used to Japanese accent!

If you want to teach English in any type of Japanese school – middle, high or even in the university – please notice that most of your students will always have a strong Japanese accent. What you should be aware of in the first place is that they speak with such accent intentionally – just because they are too shy to even try to pronounce the native accent in front of everyone in the classroom. Another reason is that English pronunciation is not taught in schools, and even teachers in Japan don’t know how to speak properly.

Consequently, you might have difficulties understanding what your students are trying to say, and asking them to read an English text out loud can become an issue. It can be very helpful to prepare yourself for difficulties and think of some countermeasures before you start teaching.

Students are shy

Japanese people are generally shy, and this applies to Japanese students as well. Of course, English students at any primary school are shy at first, but after a few lessons they get used to the teacher and other students, and start actively participating in class. However, Japanese students are shyer and usually this won’t change until the end of the first school season. Therefore, don’t wait for them to raise their hands and try to think of some student-activating methods.

Good reading skills, bad talking skills

From the points listed above it is easy to conclude that Japanese students are not used to talk in English, which results from their shyness and studying experience with Japanese teachers. This means that it would be rather difficult to use communicative methods, such as discussion, at the lesson. On the other hand, you should know that reading is their strong point – and this is what you should put accent on.

Either way, some general knowledge of what you should expect can be very helpful for a good start of your English teaching career in Japan.

Yuki Nagahori
BA in German / Japan Country Manager at editorial company → Sales → currently sales planner based in Hamburg, Germany