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Corporate English Teaching – The Nomad life

The way of the feline

There is more than one way to skin a cat, or if you’re in Japan, more than one way to teach English. These include Corporate English teaching, Communication Skills classes, industry specific English classes, English group conversation classes, private conversation classes, English speaking cafes and much, much more. While this isn’t the only job available for foreigners, it is maybe one of the easiest ways into the work force as a full-time employee, especially for an English speaker with next to no Japanese speaking skills. Of course, many go via the Eikaiwa (English speaking school) route, and this serves as a sufficient time for several years until many finally decide to return home. However, there is also a number of English Teaching alternatives, available for those looking to advance or progress their teaching career, or who may be more inclined to follow the nomad or freelance kind of lifestyle. If you’re looking for an English teaching job, you may also be interested in my article in acquiring a work visa here.

I have been teaching for a few different schools for a couple of years now, and the beauty of this lifestyle is I can set my own schedule, basically be my own boss, and still have time to work on my other passions including this site, FAQ Japan. The majority of my time I work teaching Business English lessons to mainly professionals in their company, via Skype or in a local school nearby. In between that, I use my spare time for everything else including life, which is definitely a lot more freedom than I ever had working at an office full-time in Sydney.

This comes with some precautions though, as no doubt there are some benefits to this work style, in terms of independence, setting your own schedule and not being stuck in the same office. You must make sure to stay on top of your schedule (at all times), obviously some lesson planning may be required and for some of this job, you may be constantly traveling to different locations, which can also eat into your time. In saying that, of course you will also have the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting and friendly people on the journey. In addition, most of these types of students are highly motivated and in my experience it is rare to come across a student that was particularly challenging or had a bad attitude.

The job

The role of teaching Business English teaching or running corporate style classes is pretty wide and varied, and it pays to have an open mind and a somewhat custom approach. For some low-level students, you may be just conducting basic conversation and role-play training. For the intermediate base, things will tend to be less grammar and conversation and more communication skill focused, touching on presentation, meeting and negotiation competencies. Once you start reaching the upper echelons of Japanese speakers, they may bring their own materials or have specific weaknesses they want to work on developing. Working together with the student to identify their goals, you should be able to agree to an approach and course that is both realistic and achievable. Firms that tend to have a focus on Business and Corporate English lessons include Berlitz, ECC, IES, Aeon and Coco.

Typically the firms who concentrate on either corporate classes or more communication skills training will always look for candidates with some amount of business experience as a priority. So make sure you have at least 3 years in a given sector, particularly in finance, engineering, travel, medical, law and the like are considered good foundations. Usually, these types of roles are part-time or contract based and the hourly rate is usually better hourly rate than there English Conversation school counterparts (upwards of 3,000 yen per hour). However, due to the timing and schedule of lessons being generally out of office hours, it is recommended you seek out a few schools or options to fill up any gaps in your day.

For example, my regular schedule in a typical week is something like the following:

  • Monday – I have early morning, lunchtime and evening business classes.
  • Tuesday – I have several classes throughout the day, again starting early in the morning.
  • Wednesday – Begins with an early morning Skype lesson, mid-morning business morning, and then from afternoon to evening I conduct group conversation classes at a small local school.
  • Thursday – I have 2 morning Skype lessons, and a lunchtime and afternoon business class.
  • Friday – I have one business lesson in the early morning only, and the rest of the day off.
  • Saturday and Sunday – I tend to work either in the morning or afternoon, on only one of these two days each weekend, running group conversation classes at my small local school.

Occasionally, I may get the opportunity to take on extra work and classes, usually because another teacher is on leave, taking holidays or away sick and this also helps to bump up that monthly salary.

You may find that some schools also have a set syllabus or style you will need to learn and adjust to. Comparatively, others will give you complete freedom about how you approach and teach your student. Sitting in between these two extremes are companies that adopt a mixture of the two, so make sure you clarify the kind of materials and resources used by each firm to give you a better idea of their expectations.

Supplemental Income

As mentioned, a lot of corporate or business classes may run outside business hours, and so to supplement your income it is important to diversify across a range of lessons or schools to help boost your salary, or you may wish to try and find different jobs. Here, I give you some other options for teaching English in Japan.

Firstly, there are a number of introduction agencies who will organise and introduce students in accordance with your schedule and location. You simply register with the company, they will conduct a short interview with you to basically verify who you are and you are competent. Once they are satisfied, they will then begin to refer students onto you that match your location, timing and teaching competencies. Lessons will usually be conducted in a cafe or quiet location, and are based on a pay as you go system. The student will pay you at the end of each lesson, usually in cash. Cash is a great way to make money, but you may unfortunately experience some students that cancel multiple times and/or does not show up to lessons, and this can obviously be a hassle even if the company has a cancellation policy. Some examples of English student introduction agencies include Eigopass, ABCkara and Elite Sensei.

Skype lessons are also available and these can come from a range of schools, or even be completed online across the globe. These can be especially good to fill in any gaps in your day as you can obviously conduct these from any location, as long as you have access to a quiet place, Skype and an internet connection. Teaching via Skype does come with its share of drawbacks, as it can be difficult to get your point across, especially to lower level students. In this case, you can definitely use the share feature of your screen, or type any notes in the chat interface for their future reference or to explain something in writing. Yet, the ability to teach face to face is much less restrictive and enables the use of gestures and body language for easier communication. You can find Skype lessons via a range of sources and a simple internet search, from the italki application, to work advertisements on Craigslist and the like to a range of schools operating within Japan.

There are also a number of sites that let you do your own advertising, and allow you to create your own profile and set your own parameters to appeal to the students in your local area. Find students is one such site, and hello sensei is another.

If you’re considering searching for jobs on your own, feel free to check websites similar to Craigslist, Gaijinpot, Daijob, Ohayo sensei and more that you can find through a simple web search. Happy hunting!

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