Company Spotlight

Make City Money in Japan Working in the Countryside

>Most countryside schools pay very little, but MY English School has put a lot of focus into their language program and wants to keep good teachers for as long as they can. They are paying

>Most countryside schools pay very little, but MY English School has put a lot of focus into their language program and wants to keep good teachers for as long as they can. They are paying city money for countryside jobs in Japan!

MY English School is a medium-size regional school in Yamagata prefecture. Established in 2001, the school was acquired by a professional educator, Ryan Hagglund, and his wife Maki in 2008. Since then it has grown to six schools in Yamagata and one in Hyogo prefecture with about 30 employees and close to 1,000 students in-house and about 2,500 students when outside contracts are included.


Classes are generally conducted at these language schools, but there are also some off-site corporate, kindergarten and BOE classes. A typical teacher schedule would be working five days a week (Tuesday through Saturday) from afternoon to evening and with five to six classes per day, consisting of students from kindergarten to adults.

Melissa Ng, who is head of the Professional Development Team, was asked what features of MY are unique or different from other schools, and she responded, “We pride ourselves in teacher training. Our first priority is on education and not business. We believe that by first getting the education part right, good business results will follow.”

As such, there is a strong emphasis on professional development at MY. This starts with an initial training period of one month as well as one-day training sessions taking place continuously at intervals of about once a month. Teachers are also encouraged to participate in local JALT chapters with fees paid by the school as well as other conferences and career development activities. Then there are various teams that provide teachers with opportunities for growth and responsibility. These include a Leadership Team, Professional Development Team and Curriculum team.

Ideal job candidates for MY are people who are serious about teaching and want to pursue a career in this field. They should also be active, energetic and like working with kids. Native level proficiency and four-year college degree are generally required, but candidates with suitable teaching certifications will also be given consideration.

Given its rural setting, the school feels that it is important for teachers to have some experience and affinity for Japan and its culture, so there is a preference for teachers who have been living in Japan for about two years. There is no specific age range desired, but teachers must be open-minded and have the ability to adapt to the school culture, which is centered on consistent and continuous improvement. Applications from overseas are possible, but an on-site demo lesson is a requirement. So, travel to Japan must be in any the plans of any applicant from overseas.

Starting salary is a very respectable Y260,000 per month, particularly given lower prices outside the big cities, and some teaching certifications can qualify a person for a Y270,000 per month start. Then, there are 15 flexible personal paid holidays per year. Visa sponsorship is also available.

When asked about her own path to living in Japan, Melissa explained that she first came to Japan from Hawaii as an exchange student for one year. She loved the experience so much that she wanted to come back, which she did in 2010 with AEON. She joined MY in 2012 as a language teacher, and currently teaches off-site corporate lessons, is a member of the Leadership Team, and leads the Professional Development Team, which is responsible for teacher hiring and training.

Life in Yamagata, according to Melissa, is much more to her liking than in the big city. “There is a tight-knit local community where you are able to get to know your students on a personal level and experience real Japanese culture. Exploring the countryside has so much to offer such as many delicious foods, abundant nature, winter sports, and hundreds of inexpensive onsen.”

As for advice for people just coming to Japan, Melissa, said, “Any opportunity is as good as you make it; your goals will materialize through the efforts you put into it.”

See current openings at MY English School here:

Peter Lackner is the Managing Partner at and has had management-level positions at major job boards in Japan including:, GaijinPot, CareerEngine and currently the managing partner at

Running a job board gives Peter the opportunity to speak with employers and job seekers every day and find out why some are successful and others are not. Speaking to both employers and job seekers has given Peter the ability to be able to see both sides of the hiring process. This is why exists - to help job seekers find the jobs they want and employers to find the candidates they need.

Peter is active in the ETJ (English Teachers in Japan organization), a member of JALT’s School Owners SIG and currently on the Executive Board of the Tokyo Association of International Preschools.

You can often find Peter speaking to groups on how to get a new or better job, and to employers on how to avoid making a bad hire.

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