Teaching English in Japan: Traveling Teacher Series

How do you start teaching English in Japan? I interviewed Robert who teaches in Japan and works as a book translator. He shares tips and thoughts on how he got started, what teaching in Japan is like, and more.

The traveling teachers series is all about people who travel and you guessed it – teach! Each interview features a different teacher, traveling to a different place, and teaching a unique group of students. So often we hear of people teaching abroad, but what is it really like? How do you find opportunities?

There are many questions surrounding traveling and teaching. Through this series, I hope you are inspired by the good work going on around the world, learn, and start to think about ways you can travel and teach abroad yourself. I’m excited to share this story of teaching English in Japan with you!

This week I am excited to bring you a story about a teacher in Japan! This is an interesting interview because Robert has moved to Japan to begin traveling and become a teacher. He not only teaches in schools but also does work translating books and was an architect before moving to Japan! What a unique and interesting story.

With that project finished, he plans to release his first fiction book later this year. He runs a dojo in Tokyo, where he lives with his wife and son. His blog, 2AM Tokyo, shares his travel, dojo, books, and experience teaching in Japan.

What inspired you to start teaching English in Japan?

At first, teaching English was just a way to support myself while I lived overseas. But I ended up really enjoying it and stuck with it.

How long have you taught and where?

I’ve been living in Tokyo since 2006. I’ve taught English at pre-school, elementary school, junior high, and at various universities. Pretty much everything except high school. Nothing against high school, it just never happened. Everything else just sort of fell into place.

How did you find your teaching position?

While I was still living in Atlanta, I started taking Japanese lessons. It was my Japanese teacher who told me about an opportunity to work in Japan. She gave me the information and I applied.

Are any of your expenses covered with the teaching experience?

Not now, but the first job I had helped out with my apartment. They set everything up and gave me a great deal. It was one of the perks of that job.

Are you able to spend time traveling and exploring the country while teaching?

Yes, I get six weeks off in the summer, plus all national holidays, weekends, and paid vacation days. That gives me plenty of opportunities to travel. Most recently, I took a trip to Fukushima.

What were interactions with students like?

I mainly work with elementary and junior high students. They’re great! They’re curious, fun; we have a blast together.

What is your favorite part of teaching abroad?

When you live overseas, it feels like a permanent vacation.

What is one piece of advice you have for someone who wants to teach abroad?

Apply from your home country and secure a job first. Make sure you have your working visa before arriving. That will simplify things hugely. Also spend a little time learning the language and customs. You don’t have to be an expert speaker, but being able to say a few basic greetings goes a long way when connecting with new people.

Discover the ins and outs of teaching English in Japan. Get tips and insights from a real teacher who shares their experience and advice.
Discover the ins and outs of teaching English in Japan. Get tips and insights from a real teacher who shares their experience and advice.

You can find more specific advice at 2AM Tokyo and find Robert on Facebook at @Robert Gray if you have more questions. Find more about other traveling teachers on my resource page.

Want more stories of Teaching in Asia? Here are some stories that might interest you:

    1. Teaching English in Shanghai
    2. Teaching English in Beijing
    3. Teaching English in South Korea
    4. Teaching English in Thailand
    5. Teaching English in Cambodia
    6. Teaching English in Indonesia
    7. Teaching English in Vietnam

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.