The Stigma Against Teaching English in Japan
By Grace Buchele Mineta
On February 4, 2015
Most of the time, when you ask the dreaded question “so… what do you do?” to an English teacher in Japan, they will tell you almost anything except for just “I teach English.” I confess, I am not a “real” teacher. I give lessons twice a week in the afternoon at a local eikaiwa because the students are fun and the pay is great.
That being said, I have a friends who are legitimate teachers at public schools in Japan. Teaching is a noble calling. Think about it. As a teacher, you provide guidance and knowledge. You revise lessons to suit different age groups and personality types. And, in a perfect world, the only people who taught would be people who were called to teach. However, we don’t live in a perfect world.
Teaching English is a billion yen industry. In many cases, all you need is a bachelor’s degree from an English-speaking country to get the job. Experience is appreciated but not necessary.
Perhaps that’s where the stigma comes from. Some people legitimately love teaching; they’re proud of their jobs and proud of the work they do. To be honest, though, this breed of teacher is few and far between. Most of the foreign teachers I’ve met in Tokyo seem to use teaching as just a way to pay the bills, while they pursue their “true passion.”
Have you noticed the stigma against teaching English in Japan?