A non-native English teacher in Japan

A non-native English teacher in Japan

Having English as your second language is not necessarily a problem in the TESOL job stakes. Here, German national, Corrina, explains how her love of English and Japan led to her teaching business English 1-1 with the Japanese company Gaba, and a recent promotion.


Hi Corrina, tell us about your background. Why teach English in Japan?

I’m originally from Munich, Germany. I started English at secondary school and quickly learned to love the language. I went on to major, and eventually get a Master’s degree in English literature, and then decided to pursue a career teaching English as a foreign language.

As a non-native English speaker I’m well-aware of the trials and tribulations of learning a foreign language, and I felt like I wanted to share those experiences so others could benefit.

Why Japan? First of all, I spent a year here on study-abroad and fell in love with the country. I’ve made wonderful friends, learned another language, and found a second home here. During my time as an exchange student, I met so many people who were desperate to learn English so Japan just seemed like the perfect fit.


Talk me through a typical working day/week as a Gaba teacher? 

Gaba lessons are 40-minute one-on-one lessons mainly with adults. Depending on the school, you may also be able to teach kids lessons. When you’re teaching, you come in, check your schedule and prepare for your lessons.

Your schedule is extremely flexible and you can teach whenever and however long you want to. You can even open more lessons on very short-notice if you want to teach more on a certain day. You design your own schedule every month – your work hours and days are completely up to you and you can mold it around your own lifestyle.


What kind of support do you get from Gaba? 

When you first come to Japan, Gaba can provide visa sponsorship and help with setting up. You’ll receive support on teaching basics and Gaba will help you get a smooth start.

Once you’re all set up as a Gaba instructor you have various opportunities for development and you can join workshops which are available to all instructors. You’ll also get support and mentorship from the studio staff on a daily basis.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you also have the chance to move into a different role within Gaba. After three years as an instructor, I joined the Academic Development team and I now work on making and improving our learning materials!


What is the earning potential and can you earn enough to support yourself? 

You can definitely earn enough to support yourself. Your income depends on how much you work, so you can shape your schedule according to your income needs. When I first came here, I traveled a lot so I arranged my lessons around my traveling plans and worked more when I needed more money.

Later on, I wanted a more fixed schedule which gave me a steady and reliable income.

There is no minimum or maximum for your income and through-out the year there are various incentives offered for working at certain times. You can also increase your per-lesson rate through work-shops and good performance.


Any advice to offer on living and teaching in Japan?

Before you come here, learn a little bit about the culture and you’ll be able to avoid culture shock. People are very welcome and friendly here; respect the culture and respect the people – you’ll be rewarded tenfold. Most English learners here are very enthusiastic and love learning, so teaching in Japan can be an extremely rewarding experience.

As for living in Japan, learning a few Japanese phrases here and there goes a long way and will make your life here a lot easier. Other than that, just enjoy discovering something new every day.

Thank you for sharing your story, Corrina, and we wish you every future success.


You might also like:

Recommended TESOL course for Japan with a business specialism for Japan
Global English TESOL graduates - apply for a job with Gaba
Advice, comments and more on teaching English in Japan  

  • Author: Louisa Walsh
  • Date: 17/10/2014

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A non-native English teacher in Japan