The Smart Guide to Teaching English Resources Page

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Resources on the Web

A great reddit with a helpful community who discuss working as a teacher in Japan. This isn’t like some other reddit forums where people will shout you down or make you feel stupid for asking good questions – one of our contributors, Diego, is a moderator on the reddit and the admin team have made sure that the community is really great.

Also hosts a great thread here about starting your own school in Japan.


Run by our good friend James, this site is all about making the life of an ALT easier. With a popular and regular podcast (including one with Charlie here), great guides for JETs and ALTs and a whole ton of great resources, this is definitely one to bookmark.

This wiki page for the Teaching in Japan subreddit lists every major and most minor organizations that teachers can join in Japan (as well as several throughout Asia). Find the right organizations for yourself and become a member. Having an institution behind you can help build your credibility and expand your resources.

JALT Job Listings

A service provided by the Japan Association for Language Teaching, the largest foreign teacher organization in Japan (though not exclusively for foreign teachers), this is one of the premier resources for finding university job listings. While not updated frequently, the positions posted are typically high tier.


The Japan Association for Language Teaching is the largest organization of its kind in Japan. Their annual international conference is the largest language teaching conference in Asia. They have chapters across the country, each with their own events, so find your local chapter and begin to attend meetings to make a name for yourself.


The other premier source of university job listings, jREC-IN is updated frequently and is used by all major universities. An indispensable resource when searching for university positions. If you are not fluent in reading and writing kanji, make sure you select the “English” option, or you’ll be shown the Japanese advertisements meant for fluent Japanese speakers.


If This Then That creates simple command chains that will automatically search for conditions. I use the Craigslist applet to receive an email notification whenever a job or volunteer position is posted that meets my personal search criteria. This helps me get through the clutter and spam ads and save me the time of checking every week for new openings.

We wrote a whole article about how to use IFTTT with Craigslist at Live Work Play Japan, so be sure to check that out to automate this part of your job search.

Japanese Language

Our articles on Japanese Language:

Nihongo Shark

Nihongo Shark is run by Niko who taught English in Japan. He self-taught Japanese during his stay, and later partnered with a local Japanese editor and began English writing, editing and translation work for him. As he traveled around Japan and South East Asia, Niko also began blogging about how to learn Japanese. Over time he has compiled several very easy to follow courses aimed at beginners. From how to learn to read kana and kanji to how to get started with Japanese, check out his free course for beginners: How To Learn Japanese In One Year. How to Start. How to Study. How to Ninja.

*Bonus: If you join Nihongo Shark’s course, you can also become a member of a Slack community all working together to master Japanese.

TEFL Courses:

In the book we talked about getting a TEFL course to improve your prospects, and they do. You will need to learn how to leverage this, as simply having the qualification and not using it properly won’t help you nearly as much.

International TEFL and TESOL Training

International TEFL Academy

TEFL Online



by Bridge TEFL

Price for main course 120+


(These change regularly so check our link below)



Job assistance? Yes Yes Yes
Accredited course? Yes (some in-the-know employers might not take this course seriously) Yes Yes
Discount for Live Work Play Japan readers Use this link for a discount Use this link for $50 off Use this link for 10-25% discount

Email Templates

Here are some of the email templates we have used to message academies and schools. These are by no means a guarantee of success but they will raise the chances that you will get a reply, and will help you to show yourself in a good light:

For the attention of [name of hiring manager]

I recently came across

[video, article, information or testimonial about the school and its teaching philosophy]

and I thought that your school looks amazing/interesting/innovative.

I’ve been teaching in Japan [and overseas if applicable] for x years and I’ve rarely seen schools like yours that focus on [example: such well-rounded learning and not just academics/international qualifications and global initiatives/individual students well-being and not just a collective group].

I strongly believe in [your teaching principles that match the school’s ideals here: for example: learning through play, teaching children to be kind and caring, less academic study etc.].

I would love to be a part of your school. Are you hiring English teachers right now? I’d love to apply to work at your school.

I live in [somewhere] now but I would move [closer to your school] if I could work for you. [Add this if at all possible but this definitely made my application shine]

Please find my resume, cover letter and references attached.



For jobs that you have found on a jobs board and want to apply to directly:

Dear [name of hiring manager],

I found your job post on [JobsinJapan/GaijinPot/OhayoSensei] and I’d love to apply for the position at your school. I’ve been teaching in Japan [and overseas if applicable] for x years and have worked very hard to become a confident teacher. I have developed my skills for [list all the points in their job ad that you can do. If they say “must be able to write lesson plans with Objectives and Key Learning Areas” then you say that you can do exactly that].

I would love to be a part of your school and I’d be excited to meet you and see if we would be a good fit (this is a high-performance indicator – you’re not deparate for the job, you want to see if you could work well together).

I live in [somewhere] now but I would move [closer to your school] if I could work for you. [Add this if at all possible but this definitely made my application shine]

Please find my resume, cover letter and references attached.



Resume Template

Here is an example of a way to format your resume that work well for English teaching. Remember to let your narrative shine through as we talked about in the book – who are you and who will you be for the employer.


Contact Phone: Mail: Date of Birth:

Work History

School Name 2015年 4月 – Present: [Junior high school] Instructor

Responsibilities include teaching classes with [size] students who are [level]. Also implemented [interesting thing you did at the school that impacted education].


2003年9月-2010年7月 [High school name]

2010年9月-2013年8月 [University name]. Academic interests include [debate/educational psychology, developmental psychology, literature – anything you want to teach or have experience teaching, or that the school wants you to prove that you can do]

2016 年 12月 [ITA Accredited] 150 Hour Advanced Online Course TEFL Certification. (This makes a difference if you have it)


  • [Two] years experience teaching ESL classes in English in Japan. (if the school asks for a “minimum of two years” and you have three, say that here so they don’t have to look for it.)
  • Responsible, punctual, culturally aware and sensitive to differences.
  • Prioritising skills – planning ahead and using time effectively.
  • Confident background in [technologies you are really familiar with]. (don’t lie here, because they might assign you some work based on this)
  • [Skills that might be useful in the classroom: Play the piano/guitar etc.]
  • Cooperative, easy to work with and willing to learn from others.
  • Daily conversational Japanese communication ability. (if you can speak Japanese, you must mention it on your resume)
  • Work visa for Humanities and Cultural Services in Japan – valid until [2019年7月]

Working Rights in Japan

Super important information about your working rights here. Make sure you know some of this or look it up if you aren’t sure. As always, do your own research and talk to a lawyer if necessary, we aren’t lawyers but have provided links to the original Japanese legal documents with translations for you to make use of.

Your Working Rights in Japan

We are here as well if you have any more questions while getting through the book. Email us at admin@liveworkplayjapan and we would love to hear about your progress.

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