AEON is the sister school of GEOS (GEOS Language Corporation, Ontario; Suite 2424 - P.O. Box 46, 401 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5H 2Y4; Tel: (416) 777-0109 Fax: (416) 777-0110), which also has been known to hire overseas. They have a web site with an application generator, but I have heard complaints that nothing comes of applying that way. AEON remains rather mysterious in how and when it hires overseas.
A few smaller schools will fish around in the overseas market; some will even advertise in major newspapers in the U.S., like a place called "Mike's English School." The Ota English School Says that they hire a few people a year via their web site.
You can also check out job listings in O-Hayo Sensei, a twice-monthly bulletin listing new job openings and taking personal ads from teachers; Safe Jobs in Japan; and the ELT Job Source. Some of the jobs listed in any other the above sources will hire only from within Japan, and not all will say
so in their ads.
Once you get off the plane, in your temporary housing and over jet lag, you should run, not walk, and get the Monday edition of The Japan Times (this hypertext link will not, alas, give you access to the classified ads, though they have long been promising that this feature is coming). The Monday printed edition will always have several full pages of help-wanted ads, including dozens of schools. Buy the paper early Monday morning, then go over the ads carefully. Since you are probably going to be looking for sponsorship for your visa, carefully screen the ads so you don't waste you time with jobs requiring you already have a work visa or other requirements which don't fit your situation. Forget any part-time positions just yet--they rarely, if ever, offer sponsorship. Look at what's left and then prioritize the list depending on what's left. Prepare to load up as many interviews as possible during that first week, to maximize your choices for getting work (but make sure to leave as much time as possible for getting there so you won't be late). For your first day or two, you might want to interview for jobs you're not that interested in, so you can practice your interviewing skills.
ADS FOR JOBS --
You should know some basics about reading ads for jobs. The illustration on the left is a simulation of an ad from the Japan Times. They will often state the need for native North American or British English speakers, but this does not mean that other jobs aren't looking for this. "Enthusiastic" usually means good-natured and energetic, as well as just enthusiastic--about Japan and about teaching. Sometimes "enthusiastic" can be a euphemism for "we don't pay as well" or some other negative, but do not assume this. "Responsible" is a big deal: it mainly means that you will actually show up for work every day, and call the office at the earliest possible time when you are sick. If a teacher is not there to teach a lesson that many students have traveled far and paid well for, the school gets a very big black eye. "Responsible" also means you will be reliable and professional in your demeanor.
"Proper visa" means that they want you to already have a visa which allows you to work; no tourist visas, in other words. They will not sponsor you. "Degree" means that you should have at least a B.A. Some schools have age limits like this, though not too many. "Good remuneration" or "competitive salary" means that they pay at least the minimum required by law, and often more than that--the main point being that they want people more interested in work, who will demonstrate this by waiting until the actual interview to find out how much the job pays. Finally, most Japanese schools require you to supply at least one photo; if you don't have any prepared, you can make them at any photo booth for three or four dollars.
What to Expect in a Job
I know this sounds like a cliche, but money isn't everything. The work environment will be very important to your happiness. Once I took an interview at a place called "Bilingual" (they are now bankrupt); while alone in the lobby reading through their teacher's manual & rule book, a teacher walked through, muttering, "better look real close look at that thing before taking a job here." I am to this day very grateful for that passing advise, as I later learned it was not at all a good school to work for [rest in peace]. Of course, it may not always be possible to find out that important stuff so quickly, but every bit of info helps. If at all possible, see if you can discretely pull aside a teacher at the school (who has worked there for 6 months or more) and ask what it's like. You might want to hang out in front of the building and catch them as they come in or out, rather than waiting in the lobby.
Salary:$1900 (250,000 yen) per month is usually the minimum; the immigration department will not allow less for the working visa. However, some schools that depend on teachers with a working holiday or dependent visa may try to pay less. In any case, don't expect to find better than $2500 a month for private language schools, and that only if you're lucky.
Hours: 25 hours a week at least, up to 40 hours. My last job paid 250,000 yen a month for 25 hours a week, a very fair wage. With overtime work (often available), you can boost your salary quite a bit. Watch out for scheduling!!--some places may ask you to work just 25 hours a week, but they may scatter and spread those hours so that it's like working 40 hours a week or more! Better to work five hours from 4pm to 9pm rather than five hours from 9am to 5pm. The first job I worked at told me I'd only be working 22 hours a week, and they were right. It's just that the 22 hours were spread out over 6 days, an average of 8 hours a day except for Saturdays. The rest of the time I was "free," but with nothing to do except hand around the office. Not good.
Pleasant, relaxed working environment: This is vital, but is also the hardest to tell. Try covertly asking other teachers who work there their opinions, as noted above. Be wary of schools that have unions--not because unions are bad, but rather because the existence of a union indicates that there are serious enough problems and conflicts that the teachers had to form a union in the first place. Unions, however, do provide an interesting (though biased) look at the "darker" side of language schools. For a peek, check out the NOVA Teacher's Union site.
Good curriculum: This may be more important than you think. You might want to avoid schools using texts like "Streamline English" (a very bare-bones simplistic text) as their only text. Schools with their own designed set of texts and/or materials may be all the more serious about teaching. Make sure you find out how much preparation is required for the job, and what you may be called to do. Asking about curriculum during the interview always looks good.
Housing: Do not expect housing to be supplied by the school, or for advances on your salary. They may be available, but they may not. Also ask if your school will sponsor you for an apartment--many landlords demand this.
Interviewing The Interview Call. When you call for the interview, do not forget that this is this first part of the interview process itself. When my own school hired, it was my job to screen the callers; only one out of three would even be let in the door for a face-to-face interview. So mind your manners and let the school ask you their questions first. Never react badly to any info you might think adverse ("What do you mean, you can't tell me the salary over the phone?!?"). Try to sound calm, pleasant and highly enthusiastic (casual is OK, so long as it's 'formally' casual). If the other person is a native Japanese, speak clearly, but not condescendingly so ("I - WANT - A - JOB!" >click< ). Ask about their curriculum and students first, and about money last.
The Interview. When you go to the interview, dress conservatively and arrive at least 15 minutes early. Make sure you are neatly groomed. Men, wear ties and suits, comb that not-too-long hair (to be safe, shave off that beard and mustache) and remove all earrings and other such accessories; ladies have more options than men, but it must be formal, and in Japan you should wear nylons. Be prepared for questions about your future plans, your teaching philosophy and "What's Important To You" in any number of topics. They may ask you questions like, "what would you do if you had to teach a company class with members who are of different English levels?" Don't be surprised if they give you a quiz on your English abilities, or ask you to teach an impromptu class (they will provide materials for the class if they ask you to do so, but a bit
of preparation may be called for).
If any of the above sound insultingly obvious, please do not take offense; you'd be surprised at how many people violated even the most basic of these points. People calling and demanding certain salary levels, people showing up wearing cowboy boots and with a 2-day beard, and so on.
Finally, be prepared to decide on any offer on the spur of the moment. Some will offer a job right off; some will wait a week or two. Keep a constant tally of what offers you have going and what they mean to you, so you can decide on a moment's notice if you want to accept any job on the fly. It can't hurt to ask for time to decide, but don't always expect it.