English teaching in Japan typically requires a bachelor’s degree to obtain the proper work visa (excluding other means such as a spouse or student visa). In some cases, a transcript of records showing that you have completed at least 14 years of education using English as your primary language. While there are tons of English teaching jobs spread across Japan, it can be challenging to distinguish yourself from others.
Even if a master’s degree or Ph.D. are often considered the ultimate qualifications, there isn’t always the opportunity for practical experience, not to mention they are a significant financial investment. While it’s completely optional, looking into alternative teaching qualifications can set you apart from the crowd and possibly increase your chances of getting hired.
We’ve summarized some of the best teaching qualifications that don’t take too much time to complete, add value to your resume and aren’t as expensive.
The basics: TEFL/TESOL
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is normally the first qualification that comes to mind and is used to teach English in countries where English isn’t the primary language. A qualification often confused with TEFL is TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). The TESOL qualification differs as it focuses on teaching non-native speakers in the native speaker’s home country. For example, in the UK, many teachers teach English to European immigrants using TESOL.
The problem with TEFL/TESOL is that virtually any educational institution can offer these qualifications. While this gives the learner a wide range of schools to enroll in, quality may be compromised.
To find good institutions, look for length, expense and the awarding institute.
The course should have at least 100 hours. Other things to consider would be: if the course includes classroom experience, targets students of a specific age group, is accredited by a university or an organization like TQUK (Training Qualifications UK), College of Teachers or ACCET (the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training) and is taught by experienced instructors.
TEFL is for teaching English to non-native speakers in their native country.
TESOL is for teaching English in countries where English is the primary language.
When enrolling for any of these certifications focus on the course length, expense and the awarding institute.
Brands under TEFL: CELTA/DELTA
CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) and DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) are brands of TEFL certification by the University of Cambridge in the UK. Most people take it as a 4-week, intensive 120-hour TEFL certification. Previously, it was taught in classrooms as it has a heavy practical component, but recently there are more options to do it online or on weekends only.
CELTA is considered an easier qualification because DELTA requires its teachers to have at least one year of teaching experience before taking it.
The first thing to be aware of for people considering this kind of qualification is that both are focused on teaching adults. As a lot of permanent work is in child education in Japan, there may be better choices if you love teaching kids (TYLEC, CertOT). Another problem is that because they are British qualifications, you will still find some places in Japan that are unfamiliar with them.
- CELTA and DELTA are brands of TEFL under the University of Cambridge in the UK.
- DELTA requires its teachers to have at least one year of teaching experience before they take it.
- CELTA and DELTA focus on teaching English to adults.
Similar to CELTA/DELTA: Trinity
Trinity is a certification often mentioned in conjunction with CELTA and is accredited by Trinity College in the Republic of Ireland. While people often refer to “Trinity” qualifications, it is actually a range of qualifications, including CertTESOL (The Certificate in TESOL) and DipTESOL (The Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), which are Trinity’s equivalents of the CELTA and DELTA.
On top of that, there is also TYLEC (Teaching Young Learners Extension Certificate), which is aimed at teachers of small children, and CertOT (Qualification entry for Certificate in Online Teaching), which is focused on online teaching.
- Trinity is a certification similar to CELTA/DELTA and a series of qualifications under the Trinity College in the Republic of Ireland.
- The TYLEC qualification is for teachers of small children.
- CertOT is for online English teaching.
Go at your own pace: TKT
TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test) is accredited by Cambridge University and is considered the first step toward CELTA and DELTA. However, it is virtually unheard of outside the most dedicated language-learning communities.
A big advantage of the TKT is that with the internet and the right books, it is entirely possible to study it and pass without taking a single class. Books such as The TKT Test: Modules 1, 2 and 3 and The TKT Test: CLIL module is recommended. With a bit of reading, you could effectively have a solid qualification without paying for anything more than the exam.
- TKT is accredited by Cambridge University
- You can pass TKT without taking a single class and using different modules that cover parts of the test.
- TKT isn’t as popular as the other certifications.
When considering which qualification is best for you, it is worthwhile remembering that the best places tend to have the highest standards. Our advice: subscribe to our mailing list and find teaching jobs you want to do, and look for the qualifications they expect.
Did we miss any? For those that have taken these courses, were they worth it? Would you recommend them to a friend? Let us know in the comments.