Japan has long been a popular destination for English teachers. With programs like The Jet Program, Interac, and NOVA Japan, thousands of teachers from English-speaking countries, such as the United States and Australia, flock to Japan each year to teach people ranging from elementary school students to professional adults.
However, due to the pandemic, it’s becoming much more popular to teach English online to Japanese students rather than head there in person. Companies in this field have experienced an uptick in applicants hoping to teach through their platforms, as well as students signing up for their online English courses.
So perhaps you’re completely new to the field and you’re interested in pursuing a career as an online English teacher (which you can definitely do even with no degree and no experience!) or you’re a seasoned English teacher hoping to transition to the world of online teaching. Whatever your path, we’ve provided a list of the companies you can apply for to get the best online English teaching jobs, as well as my top tips for how to teach English to Japanese students in particular.
Sites to teach English online to Japanese students
As one of the most popular platforms, EnglishEverywhere is a great place to teach English online to Japanese students with no degree needed. Plus, teachers have a great deal of autonomy; they can plan their own lessons and create their own materials.
Although a degree isn’t required, teachers are expected to have a minimum of TEFL or TOEFL certification and at least some teaching experience. They must also be competent at using Skype and be able to pass the company’s interview stage.
EnglishEverywhere has a three-step application process. The first step involves filling out and passing the online application, and the second step involves meeting the company’s internet connection requirements. Afterwards, you move on to the interview process, which includes a 30-minute teaching demo with a real student. If you pass every step, you’ll be offered an official position with EnglishEverywhere.
FYI: Getting your TEFL certification is much easier than you probably think and can really help to maximize your earnings here.
Check out Premier TEFL for this – it’s fully government accredited, is recognized worldwide and you can even be certified within four weeks!
2. Cena English
Because Cena English is a platform for working professionals in Japan, the requirements are a bit more stringent than EnglishEverywhere. Before applying to work with this company, you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, as well as TEFL certification or a teaching license. In addition, you need to have a minimum internet speed of 1.5 Mbps.
Applying for a teaching position at Cena English involves sending an email to [email protected]. Besides providing your date and place of birth, time zone, home address, education information, teaching qualifications, and other information, you’ll have to send them a clear photo of yourself.
For more detailed instructions about the application process, visit their website.
Unlike Cena English, S-Lessons is a platform for Japanese children. There are two different avenues through which you can teach English online to Japanese students here. The first is their “Regular Course,” which provides the teacher with ready-made lesson materials. The second is “Leave it to the Teacher,” which gives the teacher the freedom to create their own materials.
Each lesson lasts 25 minutes, after which the teacher is required to complete a short student evaluation.
In order to apply for a position, an applicant must have at least one year of teaching experience. Due to the popularity of S-Lessons among those looking for the best online English teaching jobs out there, the company isn’t always accepting applications. When they are open, applicants must fill out an online application and submit a resume.
Those who pass this stage of the process will be invited for an interview, which will be followed by a teaching demo lesson.
Working with CafeTalk comes with a great deal of freedom. Teachers can establish their own rates, plan their own lessons, and create their own materials. Plus, CafeTalk isn’t only for teaching English; teachers can also teach subjects ranging from arts and crafts and design to engineering and information technology.
Once you’ve booked your classes through the platform’s messaging system, you’ll meet with your students via Skype. Teachers are allowed to meet with their students outside of class hours, so it’s easy to connect with students on a deeper level and learn more about their goals and interests. After each lesson, teachers are required to write a report about their student’s progress and areas that need improvement.
Although preference is given to applicants who speak Japanese, Korean, or Chinese fluently, the application process itself is relatively easy. You simply have to register on their website, complete your profile, and pass their interview. As soon as you’ve passed the interview stage, you can start getting in touch with students and conducting lessons.
For those who’d like to teach English online with no experience, you can’t go wrong with Lyngo. TEFL certification also isn’t required. That’s because Lyngo ensures its teachers receive comprehensive training once they’ve passed the interview and gives them all the materials they need, setting them up for teaching success from the start.
Students at Lyngo range from 5 to 15 years of age, and classes are conducted in one-on-one settings. Basic requirements include a stable internet connection, a headset with microphone, a webcam, and a computer or laptop with Skype.
The application process is quite simple. All you have to do is fill out the application form and send in a resume through their website. If you pass this stage, they’ll invite you for an interview.
6. Best Teacher
Best Teacher is an attractive option for teachers from all over the world to teach English online to Japanese students, since the company doesn’t require them to come from English-speaking countries like the United States, Australia, or the United Kingdom. Instead, in order to apply, applicants must take English proficiency tests to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the language.
After all, Best Teacher’s students are primarily Japanese university students and special attention must be paid to each of the four basic language skills when conducting classes: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Classes are held through Skype, and teachers can also get paid for replying to conversations.
Applying for a position at Best Teacher requires registering and signing up on their website and taking two 45-minute tests: the English grammar test and the written English test. This means that it can be a good option for anyone looking to teach English online with no experience. Once you’ve passed both tests, you’ll be invited for an interview and, afterwards, complete training.
7. Mainichi Eikaiwa
Mainichi Eikaiwa differs from Best Teachers in that it does prefer applicants from English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, and Australia. It also requires that applicants have at least six months of experience in the field of English teaching. College degrees are a must, and although TEFL certification isn’t required, it is highly preferred.
Despite these fairly stringent requirements, teachers enjoy the freedom to plan their own lessons. Unlike other companies, however, Mainichi Eikaiwa does expect teachers to commit to at least 15 hours per week (5 days a week and at least 3 consecutive hours per day). The 50-minute lessons are held in one-on-one settings.
When you apply for a position, you need to provide information such as your gender, nationality, and email address, and you also have to write a message, similar to a cover letter, that demonstrates your skills and interest in the field and in the company. According to their website, applicants can expect to hear back from the company within about a week.
How to teach English to Japanese students
There’s a reason Japan has, for a long time, been a go-to place for English teachers. Besides being rich in history and culture, Japan has also been widely known for its friendly and polite people. At the same time, the country has been found to have a “low” level of English proficiency overall, making it difficult for them to communicate with foreigners and with people abroad.
Due to this long standing issue, English teachers are in high demand for online tutoring jobs. And because of the huge differences between Japanese culture and Western culture, it’s imperative that teachers learn some of the dos and don’ts of teaching Japanese students, many of which I’ve outlined below.
Know how to work with shy students
If you grew up in the West, chances are the educational environment in which you were raised is drastically different from your students’. Instead of actively participating in class, Japanese students are usually encouraged to quietly and attentively listen to their teachers. Thus, many students hesitate to speak and express their ideas in the classroom.
But don’t be discouraged by your students’ shyness. Instead, think of ways to connect with them so that they can achieve their full potential.
One surefire way to connect with your students is to build a rapport with them, and you can start by learning their names. It would also help to familiarize yourself with their culture and learn at least a little bit of their language, both of which are explained in more detail below.
Relate your lessons to Japanese culture
If you want to build a rapport with your students, relating your lessons to Japanese culture—and even sharing about your own culture—should do the trick. After all, the point of an ESL education isn’t only to learn the English language; it’s also meant to forge connections with one another and engage in cultural exchange.
Whether you’re a fan of sushi, J-pop, Studio Ghibli, or popular tourist spots in cities like Okinawa or Kyoto, don’t be afraid to include elements of Japanese culture in your lessons. Not only will it bring smiles to your students’ faces, but it will also show that you’re genuinely interested in their culture and that you’re serious about connecting with your students.
Familiarize yourself with their language
Although you don’t have to be fluent in Japanese in order to teach effectively, knowing some of the language would certainly help. One big reason for this is that you’ll be able to adapt your lessons to address the challenges Japanese students often face when it comes to, for example, grammar and pronunciation.
By being aware of the fact that, for example, the Japanese language doesn’t have the L sound or that the L and R sounds often sound the same to Japanese listeners, you’ll be better equipped to address phonological challenges that Japanese students frequently encounter. Also, knowing the word order of simple sentences in Japanese (subject-object-verb) will serve you well as you teach your students topics like sentence construction.
Another reason to learn some Japanese is that it will become easier for you to handle your students’ concerns and answer their questions. For Japanese students, especially elementary and beginner ones, it would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to speak only English for the entirety of a lesson. So, having knowledge of basic Japanese terms will go a long way.
Give them activities that are interactive and communicative
Besides your students being shy, another reason you might find it challenging to teach Japanese learners is their limited communicative experience in English. Instead of being given ample opportunities to practice the language in conversational situations, Japanese students are simply taught grammar facts and reading and writing basics and rarely, if ever, given the chance to speak or listen within authentic contexts.
Therefore, you should aim to create a classroom environment in which students are actively participating and interacting with each other. When you teach students commonly used expressions or have them role play real-life situations and conversations in the classroom or facilitate games and activities that get them talking and collaborating, you help them improve their communication skills and set them up for better success in the real world.
How much can you get paid for teaching English online?
How much you get paid largely depends on your teaching qualifications, but, in general, English teachers can expect to be paid between $10 and $40 USD per hour. If you’re new to teaching English, it’s likely you’ll make between $10 and $20 per hour.
In particular, if you teach English online to Japanese students via a company rather than work as a full-time freelancer, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their pay ranges and incentives to see what works best for you. In fact, one advantage to working for a company doing this is that you don’t have to work out how much you should charge for tutoring.
A number of companies give you a base pay rate. This pay rate, which is based on factors such as teaching experience and qualifications, is the amount you’ll earn for every hour you teach. As you gain more experience and demonstrate good performance, you should see your pay rate increase and maybe even earn extra bonuses and incentives.
That said, don’t be too hung up on the need for teaching experience. After all, for those who want to teach English online to Japanese students, requirements are typically not as stringent as they are for those who want to teach in a traditional classroom.
In fact, for many online teaching jobs, teaching experience isn’t required, and some companies don’t even require a college degree or TEFL certification. That being said, you’ll benefit from having some experience working in an educational setting, such as through tutoring or mentoring students, and having your TEFL certification can definitely help to boost your base pay rate.
Interested in getting your TEFL certification? Premier TEFL is definitely our top pick for this. They make it very easy to get this certification, no matter where in the world you’re located, and it’s recognized internationally, so you’ll have no trouble using this to secure your next online English teaching job.
How much can you make a month teaching English online?
The amount you can make a month teaching English online is going to depend on your base rate and how often you work. For example, if your base pay rate is $20 per hour and you commit to working 30 hours a week, you’ll earn $600 hours per week or $2,400 per month.
This, in turn, translates to $28,800 in earnings per year before taxes if you work the full year doing this. On the other hand, it could be a great summer job for teachers to just work at this for a few months.
That said, in reality, your actual earnings will come down to factors such as your availability, interview performance, and teaching qualifications. If you’re available for 40 hours a week, have above-average teaching qualifications, and had an exceptional interview performance and teaching demo, you can expect to earn more in the best English online teaching jobs out there than, say, a teacher who’s for 10 hours a week, has below-average qualifications, and had a mediocre performance in the interview.
And how you perform in the interview not only determines whether you get an offer for one of these online English teaching jobs; it also affects your base pay rate. Companies will typically notify you about your pay rate immediately after you’ve completed their interview phase.
In order to perform well, you should prepare and practice your demo lessons as much as possible, since the demo teaching phase is the part that actually showcases your skills as a teacher. For the actual interview, make sure your sound is clear, your lighting is bright enough and steady, and that your background is simple and appropriate. Don’t be afraid to use props, visual aids, and an online whiteboard, even if you are doing this as a stay at home job. The more variety and engagement you have in your lesson, the better it will be. And the better your interview is, the higher your pay rate will be.
As I mentioned before, your teaching qualification plays a big role in establishing your base pay rate. Factors such as your college education, TEFL certification status, teaching experience, and even, in some cases, teaching licensure influence how much you get paid. Simply put, those with more qualifications earn more, so as you gain more experience and qualifications as a teacher, you’ll see your pay rates increase.
Ways to make more money teaching English to Japanese students online
Now that you know a thing or two about earning money as an online English teacher, I’ll go over ways you can maximize your earning potential while teaching English to Japanese students online. Whether you’re treating your job as a serious income opportunity or as a source of supplementary income, the following tips should help you in your quest to take your online teaching earnings to the next level.
- Get the highest possible qualifications – I’ve already gone in depth about getting your TEFL certification and whether you really need a college education or teaching experience, including how important they are for determining your base pay rate. However, if you want to really optimize your earning potential, you might want to consider taking specialized certification courses in teaching English online. There’s a variety of courses you can choose from, but whatever you decide to take, you’ll certainly demonstrate to potential employers your commitment to excellence in the field of online English teaching and, by doing so, increase your earning potential. In addition, you can flaunt your credentials on your resume, on Linkedin, on your website, etc., to ensure that employers see the high-value teacher you are and keep you in consideration for some of the best online English teaching jobs out there.
- Work for higher paying companies – Since some companies pay more than others, it would be wise to compare companies’ pay rates to get the highest possible hourly pay. You should also take into consideration additional bonuses and incentives that companies are offering, which can make a huge difference when it comes to your overall earnings. Another thing to consider is which company can provide you with the most bookings. More bookings mean more hours, which mean more paycheck earnings.
- Work with more than one company – Although some teachers might enjoy the stability and predictability of working with just one company, working with multiple companies has its benefits too, including the ability to arrange your schedule so that you can earn more money. That being said, you must make sure your employer permits this sort of arrangement. If it’s allowed, you can work with companies in different time zones (e.g., one company in Japan and another one in Germany), since learning peak times differ and you can rotate your schedule based on those differences.
- Make yourself a sought-after online English teacher – One other way to get more bookings and improve your earning potential is to obtain positive reviews, written by the students and/or their parents on the company’s website. In their reviews, they can comment on qualities such as your teaching style, the content of your lessons, your personality, and your ability to connect with your students. Therefore, it’s essential that you always stay professional and maintain a good relationship with your students.
- Try freelance teaching – Freelance teaching might require some extra legwork on your end, especially when it comes to finding students to teach, but the additional effort can pay dividends. You don’t have to leave your company; you just need to free up your schedule so that you have enough time to teach as a freelancer. Having more freedom as a freelancer when teaching English online to Japanese students means you can set your own rates and receive every single cent of your students’ payments, not just a percentage.
How much are online English lessons in Japan?
Online English lessons cost an average of ¥3,000 (roughly $27) per hour. This applies to lessons provided by companies as well as freelance online English teachers. Of course, the cost, just like the pay rates, depends on the teacher’s qualifications and experience. Students can expect to pay higher rates for more experienced teachers and lower rates for newer ones.
Payments are made either directly to the teacher (if they’re freelancing) or to the company that employs the teacher (in which case the teacher will receive a percentage of the payment). In either case, the amount the student pays for lessons will depend on the teacher’s qualifications and level of experience.
Final thoughts on teaching English online to Japanese students
While the possibility of a foreigner becoming an English teacher in Japan has become well known over the years, the fact you can do this through online English teaching jobs has only started to really grow in popularity in recent years.
Of course, one thing to be aware of if you do this is that, if your students are based in Japan and you’re in North America, you’ll likely be working early morning or late evening hours. Although this might not be an issue for some, for others, it may greatly limit the number of hours they can teach, especially if they have other commitments throughout the day. On the other hand, it can also mean that teaching English online to Japanese students can be a great side hustle around your main job.
(For example, this could be just what you need if you’re a teacher looking to get paid in the summer!)
It’s also good to bear in mind that you can decide how many hours per week you teach English online. While for some people teaching English online (even with no experience!) may be their main source of income, for others it might just be a means of earning some extra pocket money – again meaning that it can be a great side hustle if you want to earn extra cash throughout the week in your spare time.