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Can I teach in Japan as a non-native speaker without a degree or TEFL?

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  • KanpekiHime
    23 October, 2017 at 9:47
    • Total posts: 1

    Hi There,

    I would like to pitch my case / situation before all of the veterans and people who have had similar positions once.

    I’m a 29 year old Belgian woman, I have been speaking English since I was 8 years old. I am currently speaking 5 languages in total, which 3 of them are my native language (German, Dutch and French) as I am supposed to in my bilingual country. On the side, I spoke English even before learning my second language, and I studied up on Japanese too when I was already graduated from high school. I have no bachelor of master, I just graduated high school as my highest degree. I have a dream of going to Japan for a few years (so the working holiday visa is not a visa I would like to have, since I am told you can only apply for this once.) I am currently working at a reception in a hotel.

    I am fairly certain my language skills are beyond capable to survive, my teaching skills are not bad either since I’ve been ‘illegal’ (read: out of charity, not being paid) tutoring my godchildren and children of my friends and even my peers from my Japanese class. I just don’t have a valid certificate to apply to a teaching job. So I’ve been looking into TEFL courses online, but after reading most of the worst reviews I got quite taken aback. Some are just disappointing, others scared me or made me doubt if they would be even useful in the country I would like to teach (Japan). Also the wide variety of TEFL companies made my head spin. I don’t know which ones I could trust for my situation.

    Anyone been in a similar position as me, and if so, which course did you do with what company, and did the certificate actually helped you to get into Japan? So basically: I have the knowledge, the interest and will, no bachelor or master or TEFL certificate (yet). I’m from a non-English as native language country, almost reaching my 30’s, not really wanting to get in with my one shot working holiday visa (but will do if no other options possible). I don’t mind teaching Dutch and French either. I’m highly skilled at vocabulary and conversations, but less strong in grammar (but still okay of course).

    Any thoughts on this? Thank you for your help!

    25 October, 2017 at 20:56
    • Total posts: 52

    Japan requires a degree

    Hi there,

    Welcome to the forum.

    I’m afraid Japan is not an option for you. To qualify for a work visa, you need to have a university degree AND you need to have been educated for a minimum of 12 years in a native English-speaking country.

    Unfortunately, without a degree, there are very few places where you can legally teach. With the exception of Cambodia and Laos (where wages are too low to live on), all of Asia is off the table. Likewise, the Middle East. While a degree is not required to teach in either Latin America or Europe, although many employers will insist on you having one.

    To give yourself the best possible chance of finding work (in the countries where a degree is not required), you will need to invest in a face-to-face intensive TEFL course, such as the Cambridge Celta or the Trinity CertTESOL. At around €1,400, these don’t come cheap, but as a non-native English-speaker with no degree, doing a Celta or CertTESOL is your best chance of finding work.

    Hope that helps, and if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


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