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Teach English in Japan
Getting paid to live in Japan and teach English is a “bucket list” dream for many new grads. In many ways, there was no global ESL industry before Japan’s organized effort to bring in foreign teachers on a linguistic and cultural exchange. Many Westerners have fond memories of teaching with the government JET program in its heyday from the 1980s through the early 1990s, when the economy was vibrant, demand for foreign teachers was strong, and salaries very generous. This has provided a strong model to emulate for other countries in Asia and around the world. While there are definitely good teaching jobs still available in Japan, its once red-hot industry is much more tempered, highlighted by the collapse of two major private school chains last decade. Nova famously suffered a sudden bankruptcy in 2007 (leaving nearly 5,000 foreigners stranded in Japan) and was followed by the competing Geos chain exiting several years later. The slowdown in demand for foreign teachers continues: the intake of the government JET program is less than half of what it was a decade ago. The teaching landscape is much more competitive and less lucrative. Japan is a fascinating island nation that’s at the top of many travel wish-lists, but if you’re determined to teach here you will have to make some financial sacrifices for your dream. An attractive alternative is working in China or Korea instead and visiting Japan for several weeks during your holidays - or between contracts.