Category Archives: TEACHING

Breaking the Mold: Teach English in Japan as a Non-Native Speaker

Source: Gaijin Pot
Breaking the Mold: Teach English in Japan as a Non-Native Speaker

One of the best things about writing here on GaijinPot is the huge community we get to interact with via the Facebook group and other social media channels, as well as our own comments section. I’ve previously written about how to find an English teaching job and how to nail that job application here in Japan as well as how to ace an ALT interview.

Today, I’ve decided to tackle an issue that seems to be extremely common among readers. I’m often asked questions like this: “I’m not a native speaker, but can I still teach English in Japan? If so, where can I find a job?”

The answer to the first part of the question is: yes (with a few caveats). As for the second, well, that’s a bit more complicated.

In principle, according to immigration law, all that an overseas applicant needs to teach English in Japan is:

  • a university degree
  • a firm job offer from a company willing to sponsor your working visa

So, contrary to some comments I have read in the past, there is no legal impediment to non-native speakers becoming English teachers.

I’m not a native speaker, but can I still teach English in Japan?

My view is that, in some cases, non-native speakers can actually make more effective teachers than native ones. As a writer and teacher, I’ve immersed myself in the English language from an early age. But the same can’t be said of many native speaking teachers here in Japan. They often have degrees and prior working experience completely unrelated to either the English language or education in general.

Conversely, some of the non-native teachers I have worked alongside, in places like Osaka and Kurashiki City in Okayama Prefecture, have turned out to be some of the best educators I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

I …continue reading


Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you’re single

Source: Gaijin Pot
Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you're single

Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year. As the songs say, it is a time for joy, a time for family, a time for presents and various other forms of merriment.
In Japan however, Christmas is very much about families and in particular couples.

Perhaps even more so than Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the time of year in Japan when couples fully express their love for each other, usually in the form of elaborate, extravagant dinners and over the top gifts.

However, for some, it can be a very depressing time. If you’re single, Christmas can be a pretty depressing time. It can often seem like you are the only man or woman in the entire universe who doesn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

And even for those of us lucky enough to be in a relationship, Christmas can often be a solitary experience in Japan, as our Japanese partner, and sometimes even us too, are forced to work on Christmas Day, since Christmas is not a recognized holiday here.

It would be very easy to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on the whole thing, just say “Bah! Humbug!” and try to forget Christmas even exists. It doesn’t have to …continue reading


It Snowed in Hamamatsu!

prints on snow

*Originally intended for posting on Dec. 18

It snowed in Hamamatsu! Yay!

I’ve lived here for almost 3 years and this is the first time I saw a considerable amount of snow. It snowed enough to cover the grounds in thin white blanket. When I walked to school this morning, the looked winter-picture perfect. Soooo lovely and a little slippery.
Snow Surprise
Hamamatsu is on the coast of the Pacific so it rarely snow like this. It doesn’t snow in Shizuoka prefecture actually. Most cars in Hama are not equipped to deal with slippery roads. The result? Heavier traffic than usual. Even the buses are slower than their usual turtle pace so they are late. Because the bus was late, I was late in going to school too. Just for 5 minutes though so the vice principal didn’t mind it. Other teachers were late too.
This is the snowfall data from Current Results. See, it doesn’t snow in Shizuoka where Hamamatsu is.


Average annual snowfall
Days Place Inches Centimetres
25 Aikawa, Sado Island 46.9 119
13 Gifu 18.5 47
50 Kanazawa 110.6 281
63 Nagano 103.5 263
6 Nagoya 6.3

…continue reading