The Complete Guide to Teaching with ECC in Japan
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About Teaching with ECC in Japan
Founded in 1962 as a small English conversation club in Osaka, the ECC Foreign Language Institute has grown into one of Japan’s largest, oldest and most trusted Eikaiwa (English conversation school). Rather than a teaching program like JET, ECC Japan is a chain of foreign language schools that provides educational services to students of all ages, from children to adults.
ECC employs overseas native speakers to teach at one of their 188 schools throughout many of Japan’s urban centers. ECC teaches by full immersion method, meaning the classes are all completely in English. The students tend to study after school or work, as well as in their free time, so classes are usually taught during afternoons, evenings and weekends. ECC teachers still work a 5 day week, but it isn’t your typical Monday to Friday schedule.
Requirements for teaching with ECC include having a bachelor’s degree and holding a valid passport from an English speaking country. With a competitive salary and benefits like a travel stipend, generous holiday package, and comprehensive training and support, it’s another popular choice for those wanting to teach English in Japan.
In order to be considered an ECC teacher, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Bachelor’s degree in any subject from a recognized university
- Native speaker of English (grade 1 through completion of high school conducted with English as the main language of instruction)
- Valid passport from an English speaking country or the ability to obtain one
- Able to attend a 1-day recruiting session
- Able to begin work in Japan sometime within the next 3-12 months
- Able to commit to at least one contract year of employment
- Have sufficient funds available for relocating to Japan (ECC recommends having at least 200,000 yen available – approx $1,800 USD)
ECC fully sponsors Japanese work visas for those coming from overseas. More information about this will be provided during your application process.
FAQs About Teaching with ECC
Do you Need a TEFL Certificate or Teaching Experience?
A TEFL certification, or any teaching qualification, isn’t an essential requirement to teach with ECC. The same applies to having previous teaching experience – it’s not part of the eligibility criteria.
Upon arrival in Japan, ECC provides paid core training for all new teachers that lasts about two weeks. This covers all the skills needed to manage both children and adult classes with confidence, including training on methodologies and curriculum.
Do you Need to Speak Japanese?
No. While Japanese ability is certainly encouraged and helpful for life in Japan, it’s not required for working with ECC.
ECC Salary and Benefits
ECC teachers receive a competitive monthly salary of approximately ¥270,000 yen (around $2,400 USD), which is similar to the starting salary for a JET teacher. The ECC salary is sufficient to cover basic living expenses, such as as rent and utility bills, which aren’t included as part of the contract. Some ECC teachers are able to save money and travel within and around Japan during their time off.
Initial Money Requirements
As mentioned in the essential requirements, ECC asks that their teachers have sufficient funds available for relocating to Japan. They recommend having at least 200,000 yen (approx $1,800 USD) and do offer salary advances upon successful completion of their core training to bridge the gap between arrival and your first payday.
While ECC doesn’t subsidize housing, they do arrange accommodation for their teachers in advance of their arrival. This ensures their teachers have a safe, reliable and convenient place to get their life in Japan off the ground. They’re also able to arrange accommodation for those applying as a couple. Some teachers will then find their own accommodation after being in Japan for a few months.
Type and cost of ECC organized accommodation will most likely depend on the area of Japan you’re placed, but the ECC website doesn’t provide further information on this. During the interview process, applicants get a chance to ask questions so this would be a good time to find out more about what to expect from the ECC accommodation process.
New ECC teachers recruited from overseas receive a travel stipend of 70,000 yen (approx $630 USD).
ECC fully reimburses work-related transportation in Japan.
ECC’s website states that their teachers get a ‘generous holiday package.’ They don’t specify the exact details, but after doing some research it seems that they offer up to 7 weeks of vacation.
The vacation weeks are said to be scattered throughout the year, with one week in late April/early May, two weeks in August, two weeks in late December/early January, five flexible holidays and all national holidays. More exact details can be found out at your interview.
Annual stipends, based on performance criteria, of up to 100,000 yen (approx $900 USD), are offered and payable over your first three years of employment.
Social, Health and Pension Benefits
All full-time employees are required to enroll in Japanese health and pension insurance (Shakai Hoken) and monthly premiums total about 35,000 yen (approx $320 USD) for a first-year teacher. ECC handles all the administration and automatically deducts these premiums from your monthly salary.
The health insurance covers 70% of all medical costs, including doctor visits, prescription medications and dental care. A substantial portion of your pension contributions can also come back to you via a refund upon leaving Japan or, if you choose to retire in Japan, you can qualify for a state pension once you reach retirement age. All details are fully covered during your company orientation.
Comprehensive Training and Support
ECC provides paid core training that lasts about two weeks and covers skills, methodologies and curriculum. This core training is in place so that new teachers can manage both children and adult classes with confidence.
Core training is only the beginning of their extensive support system. Trainers are available to help teachers troubleshoot, tweak and improve. Workshops also take place regularly to build new skills in areas like counseling, student behavior and cultural awareness.
ECC Application Process, Timeline & Location
If you’re interested in working for ECC, the first step is checking their upcoming recruitment page. Currently, they’re recruiting in Australia, UK, Canada and the US for a variety of start dates in Japan. They hold specific recruitment days in various cities within these countries, but in Toronto (Canada) there are regular recruitment days.
The next step is to follow ECC’s online application system. You must agree that you meet all the requirements and state your current location, then you’re taken to a job description page. This gives all the relevant details about the teaching position you’re applying for and when the recruitment days are.
After checking the job description, you click ‘apply now’ and this takes you through to the online application form. You set up an account with ECC and fill out all the relevant details. Successfully screened applicants are then invited to attend a one-day recruitment session, which covers complete details regarding working at ECC and living in Japan, along with an interview.
If you’re successful at the recruitment day, you’ll receive an employment offer. This is then followed by a placement offer with a district and start date.
The Recruitment Day
If your online application is successful, ECC will invite you to a recruitment day. It’s a pretty long day, involving a mock lesson, an interview and a fairly notorious written test. ECC can eliminate applicants at any stage of the day if they no longer feel an applicant is suitable for the role.
Q and A Session
The day begins with a Q and A session, where applicants can get answers to questions that can’t be found on the ECC website. ECC informs you what their expectations of you are, as well as giving you a chance to look over the ECC course materials.
The Mock Lesson
This is the chance for ECC applicants to show off their teaching skills. You’re given about 15 to 30 minutes to prepare a lesson based on a theme that you’ll be assigned to teach. Your fellow interviewees will be your students. The theme tends to be pretty basic stuff, things like animals, numbers, colours or actions like standing, sitting etc. The lesson needs to only last 10 minutes and it’s recommended that applicants are creative, enthusiastic and show that they want a position.
The Written Test
“A bit of prep goes a long way towards surviving the test.”
This is the part when a lot of applicants start to get worried, and there are mixed reviews on how lenient ECC are with the pass/fail line. There are some forums out there which discuss the ECC written test, so if you’re concerned, do some research!
ECC’s written test contains 100 questions broken down into parts. These parts may include:
- Identifying the error in a sentence. This could be a verb or a spelling error.
- The spelling of commonly mistaken words and usages.
- Identifying parts of speech
- Fill-in-the-blanks section where you choose from a list of words which best completes the sentence
- Terminology used in teaching (introducing dialogues, role-playing, chain sentence formation etc)
This is supposedly the easiest part of the day! The ECC interview usually lasts less than 10 minutes and is pretty much based on questions about where you’d like to live and teach in Japan. Being upbeat and enthusiastic is recommended!
When to Apply
ECC has a variety of start dates available from September 2019 and onward, but have pretty specific recruitment dates. Checking their upcoming recruitment page is important as this advertises when these recruitment days are and what countries they’re currently hiring from.
It appears as though they hire applicants from Toronto (Canada) all year round, as they have more regular recruitment days there. The other countries have less frequent recruitment days, so keep an eye on the schedule.
It’s also worth remembering that in order to apply, you must be able to begin work in Japan sometime within the next 3-12 months of your application.
ECC is currently recruiting full-time teachers for positions throughout Japan, though mainly centered around the regions of Kanto (Tokyo and Yokohama area), Chubu (Nagoya and Shizuoka area) and Kinki (Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto area). You have the option to discuss where you’d like to be placed during your ECC interview.
Unlike some teaching programs, ECC actually seem pretty good at placing couples in the same location and same apartment. So if you’re looking for a teaching position as a couple, ECC could be a pretty good choice.
What’s it like teaching for ECC?
ECC contracts are aligned to finish with their academic year at the end of March, but they have potential start dates year round. ECC ask for a commitment of at least 12 months in Japan and those who complete the contract year are eligible for renewal.
As an ECC teacher, your role is to contribute to the development of students’ English, providing programs focused on speaking, listening, reading and grammar. ECC provides courses to suit all ages and levels, so you could find yourself teaching adults or children, or both!
Kids’ English World
This is ECC’s custom program for children aged 18 months to 12 years of age, focused on foundational and practical communication skills. Class sizes are small with up to ten students and are 30 to 60 minutes in length.
These lessons are communicative and allow students to improve their abilities in a fun and friendly learning atmosphere. Adult classes typically range from 40 to 80 minutes in length and may have as many as twelve students.
An ECC Work Day
ECC students tend to study after their regular school or work days, as well as in their free time. This means that most classes are taught afternoons, evenings and weekends. As an ECC teacher, you’ll work a 35 hour week over 5 days. Working at ECC isn’t your typical Monday to Friday gig so your 2 days off won’t necessarily be at the weekend. You may end up having mornings off, but could work up until 9:30 pm at night.
ECC teachers work a 7 hour day, which tends to consist of a mixture of both adult and children classes. There are typically 5 – 6 hours of class time. Outside the classroom, ECC teachers are expected to help create a welcoming atmosphere for students, provide additional student care and offer feedback and study advice.
When researching ECC, we came across a range of reviews. The positives seemed to be the amount of vacation time and the fact that many of the placements are relatively urban. The working week seemed to get mixed reviews, with some teachers enjoying the different hours, whereas some stating they would have preferred a 9-5 Monday to Friday working week. However, this comes down to personal preference.
How to Teach English in Japan
“We worked strange hours. Our normal schedule was 3-9:30 pm Tue-Fri and 10am-4pm Sat.”
Suitcase Stories gives a pretty detailed write up about teaching with ECC in Japan, including the ECC application process, pros and cons to teaching with ECC as well as answering some useful FAQs. They were employed back in 2012, so certain aspects of the job may have changed since then. But many of the elements remain the same.
Keeps couples together, City living and SO much Free Time
“Compared to the job I had before and after Japan, I have never had so much holiday.”
A former employee has written a comprehensive review on Glassdoor about her experiences teaching with ECC, highlighting both the pros and cons. It’s pretty insightful and well worth a read.