Teaching in Japan

Teaching at an international school in Germany was such a success for British teacher, Clare Lauritzen that she chose to continue teaching internationally and moved on to a job in Japan.

Clare is now teaching Year 3 children at St. Michael’s International School in Kobe, Japan and life hasn’t stopped since she arrived there last summer. “Year 3 does the nativity show plus there were load of events; sports day, arts festival, charity event and more, as well as lessons every day,” says Clare. Lessons follow the English National Curriculum although, says Clare, “geography and history topics are different so I have to do lots of research to prepare myself. I know a lot about Samurai warriors and Japanese castles now!” she says.

All lessons taught in English

St Michael’s International School has been providing primary education for British, Japanese and international primary children in Kobe for over 60 years which makes it one of the more established international schools in the world. The school is accredited by the Council of International Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is an affiliate member of the Council of British International Schools. In Clare’s class, the children are mostly Indian and Japanese and there are no native English speakers. “Just a couple of children with one native English-speaking parent,” says Clare. “Having said that,” she adds, “the standard of English isn’t bad and English is spoken most of the time, even in the playground.” All lessons are taught in English, as they are in all international schools around the world.

Comprehensive induction programme

As for her colleagues, Clare was surprised that the school wasn’t full of British teachers. “There are US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Irish, Indian and Japanese teachers, as well as Brits. Everyone’s nice,” she says and adds that one of the best things in her first few weeks in Japan was the fact that her colleagues were really helpful when they could see she needed support. Clare also appreciated the comprehensive induction programme from the school upon her arrival, “including how to find my way around the Coop as everything is in Japanese!” she adds.

Getting to know the local Japanese people has not been easy for Clare who, so far, cannot speak the native language as, she says, the Japanese are self-conscious about speaking English. “But I’m sure, if I went more often to bars and liked drinking and football, that I’d have lots of friends!” So far, she’s socialised mostly with her work colleagues and is getting to know people in the local church.

Enjoy a challenge

Nevertheless, Clare is having fun exploring her new home. “Japan is very individual and the Japanese do everything differently. Even international restaurants do international food Japanese style! And three alphabets makes language learning a challenge,” says Clare. However, she’s revelling in the challenge and says this is one thing that all teachers considering the possibility of teaching internationally should do: “Enjoy a challenge, be fairly confident and resourceful, and be able to laugh,” she sums up.


Clare found her job in Japan through Teachers International Consultancy, a specialist recruitment organisation which helps English-speaking teachers find teaching jobs in international schools. For more information, visit: www.findteachingjobsoverseas.co.uk.

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