Can I teach history AND English in Japan?

Question:I have both a passionate interest in history and Japanese, in particular teaching history (in the U.S.?) and teaching ESL in Japan. I have talked with my friends about doing this, and as of yet (though they support me) they've been unable to help me.

Even my A.P. history teacher hasn't been able to give me much help, besides what she majored in (which was in the 70s). So, here's my question:

Would it be possible for me to be both a history teacher and an ESL teacher? I was under the impression I'd have to major in three things: Education, history, and Japanese. Then I was told I might have to major in English, too!

Can someone help me? I *know* no college offers three, or even four majors. It really hurts to be torn between these two things, and I want to know if I have any chance at teaching both of them.

Answers:
Who do you plan on teaching? If you want to teach history to Japanese students, you will need to be fluent in Japanese--but even then, you will not be hired to teach history by a Japanese public school because every country has their own bias on history [and yours will not agree with theirs].

It is very easy to get a job in Japan teaching ESL, on the other hand. You don't need a degree or experience. There are many language schools, located mostly in large cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka [many other large cities too]. You can also join the JET Program [like I did]. They recruit business students and people who have recently graduated from college with a 4 year degree. The Japanese government pays you a solid salary to teach English communication classes. See the web page at the bottom.

If you want to teach western students in private schools in Japan, you will need to see the requirements for each school. The Department of Defense still has some schools over there, you can also review their requirements.

Finally, if you are looking for some advice from a teacher who has been there and done that...I have a social studies teaching degree and no one is hiring. Social studies teachers never retire, and sadly, there is that common belief that anyone can teach history [it is true, but can they do it well?]. This is why all of my history teachers are also called coach.

If I had to do it all over again, I would get a degree in English--with a focus in language acquisition [ESL or TEFL]. The reason for that is because an English degree is in demand and HIGHLY transferable. With a degree in English, you will have an edge over most job candidates [regular non teaching jobs] because the company will know that you can read and write. You can travel the world teaching in different countries… let’s just say… focus on the English degree. It will make you the most marketable. Good Luck =)
You can switch between years, but it will take a long time. Here's a tip: why not teach in a school (I mean not college). There are some really good ones in Japan, but you have to have a good teaching history in order to get into some of them :)
Any native speaker with a university or college degree can teach ESL in Japan. The question is only at what level. History is probably a more interesting subject matter anyway, so my advice is specialize in History and get your ESL teaching credentials through an additional diploma (it is even offered on-line.) On the other hand if your ambition is to teach at college / university level, then you may need English linguistics. There are ,any different schools and universities in Japan, it might be hard to get a teaching position at a top school, such as Waseda or Tokyo university, but if you don't aim for the top, there is plenty of other schools that offer positions.
If you decide to teach history, maybe you can try specializing in a topic that ties in with the relations between both cultures such as the Meiji reformation, Pacific war, or the history of Japan-American relations in the early twentieth century.
**Specialization is at masters or PHD level of course, if you are aiming for an academic career.
I would suggest -
As an undergraduate, major in Japanese and history, and get your certification to teach in your state. Spend at least a year in Japan (your junior year of college?). This will give you lots of opportunities.

Then apply for a Fulbright teaching assistantship - this will get you to Japan, and teaching/assisting in a classroom for a year. In this time, you'll make lots of contacts and possible job opportunities there.

If you want to teach higher ed in Japan, you could always work on your MA in TESOL (teaching ESL). Short of getting your PhD, it's a great degree to have.

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