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TEFL Japan: A Day in The Life of a Conversational School Teacher

  • 4 min read
  • Japan
TEFL Japan teaching conversational English

English Conversation is a big TEFL market in Japan, so the question that people who want to teach English in Japan ask themselves is what to expect as a conversational teacher.

In this article, I will give you a run-down of a typical day as a conversational teacher.

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School Hours

A typical workday of a conversational English teacher starts off pretty slowly.

Most conversational schools don’t open until noon and you may or may not start work until one in the afternoon.

You will take a subway to work if you are in the city. If you are working in a more rural area, a short walk or bike ride will take you to work.

You will greet your manager and co-workers as you step into the office to double-check your timetable for any last-minute changes.

Read: Teaching in Kobe

Almost all conversational schools open from Monday to Saturday so you will either be working a Monday to Friday schedule or the more likely Tuesday to Saturday schedule.

A typical Monday to Friday work schedule consists of five to perhaps seven classes.

Evenings are usually where the bulk of your classes take place because that’s when the students get off work and/or school.

Usually, Saturdays are busy and jam-packed with classes due for the same reason.

For most schools, there will be a meeting once a week with the teachers and manager of your school to discuss the classes you might be having trouble with as well as any new perspective students that your manager might want you to talk with more.

Read: Teaching in Tokyo

Extra Tasks

One of the things that come as a bit of a shock to most newcomers is the money part of this job. The conversational school business is… well, a business.

That being said, from time to time, there will be the selling of extra material to the students for the teachers to do in order to meet a particular profit goal of the company.

Most of us who come to work in Japan come with the mindset of being a teacher. This is NOT always the case in a conversational school.

The goals are that the teachers teach and motivate our students in order to keep the company afloat.

A bit harsh but don’t expect any life-changing, GTO style (if you are into anime) classes.

Read: Teaching in Yokohama

Get To Know Your Students

There is a bit of time between classes, usually ten minutes.

Since the classes are fairly easy to prepare and would have been prepared the week before, those ten minutes are spent conversing with the students in the lounge or waiting area of your school.

Some light chatting in the hallway are encouraged to get the students talking in English and relax around you before class starts.

This is actually an excellent time to get to know your students because these students usually end up being close friends for their time in Japan.

Just be friendly and ask them about their day or ask them to suggest someplace fun for you to hang out for the weekend.

Read: Teaching in Kyoto

The day generally ends around nine in the evening; a little bit earlier on Saturdays because you start a few hours earlier.

There will just be a bit of cleaning to do around the school and you are usually out of the office in about half an hour or so after you have finished your last class.

A late dinner and you would have finished a day at work in Japan!

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