Volunteer Experience | Teaching

Japan: English Exchange

Nagano, Japan


Location: Nagano, Japan

Duration: Minimum 2 weeks, maximum 6 months commitment

Start Dates: Project is on-going, and you can join at any time, depending upon availability. Placements start each Monday

Cost: €800 Euros per week – see Costs tab for further details

Includes: all food, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation and all project related activities

Does not Include: flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations

Costs Explained


Our mission is to empower local residents in gaining confidence and honing their English speaking skills when communicating with foreigners. Although Japanese students study English in high school and excel in reading and writing, conversational fluency and pronunciation receive less emphasis. The key lies in providing ample opportunities for practice rather than acquiring new knowledge.

To facilitate this growth, we organize conversation afternoons where locals can join at their own convenience. These sessions go beyond mere language usage; they serve as a platform for individuals to become more comfortable interacting with foreigners. Moreover, it presents a remarkable opportunity for you to delve into their unique life experiences and rich cultural heritage.

By fostering an environment of mutual learning and understanding, we bridge the gap between language barriers and cultivate meaningful connections. As locals gain more exposure to conversing in English, their confidence blossoms, enabling them to engage more effectively with international visitors. Simultaneously, you have the privilege of immersing yourself in their captivating stories, traditions, and way of life.

Join us in this enriching experience where language becomes a catalyst for cultural exchange. Together, we can inspire locals to embrace English conversation while nurturing a deeper appreciation and understanding of their remarkable heritage.

Daily Life

The Otaki tourist map, now available in English, designates certain shops and hotels with a star symbol to indicate that the owners have some proficiency in English. However, navigating the village without Japanese language skills can still be challenging.

Pride also plays a role in this dynamic. Some hotels, rather than risk not providing perfect service due to the language barrier, may prefer to decline bookings from foreigners. Unfortunately, this hinders the village’s efforts to attract more international travelers to its picturesque surroundings.

To facilitate the village’s development, two simultaneous measures need to be taken:

1. Villagers and local business owners must become more accustomed to interacting with foreigners.
2. Locals need to gain confidence and practice in speaking English.

Japanese students study English in high school, but the current education system places greater emphasis on reading and writing rather than conversation. Thus, their lack of spoken English proficiency is not indicative of their overall knowledge or educational level. The crucial element missing is regular practice in speaking the language, which affects their comfort level in engaging in conversations.

This program aims to provide a platform for locals to practice English on their own terms. Participants gather at the community house during afternoons and early evenings, where local students often visit to study, work, or simply socialize. It’s an opportunity for you to inquire about life in Japan and answer their questions about your home country. Please be patient and understanding, allowing them time to construct complete sentences. As the conversation progresses, their comprehension will improve, and more locals will be inspired to join in.

Remember, for individuals who rarely encounter foreigners, you represent more than just an opportunity to practice English. You serve as an ambassador of your home country and culture, shaping their perceptions of people from your nation or foreigners in general.

Depending on the season and weather, anticipate spending approximately 1-4 hours per day engaging in conversations. These interactions may take place at the community house or other locations in and around Otaki. Occasionally, the local kindergarten may invite you to participate in activities such as singing songs together to practice English pronunciation. In addition to honing your language skills, you will have the chance to explore the local culture and immerse yourself in the captivating surroundings of Otaki alongside other participants.

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Travel & Accommodation

Upon your arrival, a friendly project representative will warmly welcome you at the airport and accompany you to the project headquarters.

During your stay, you will have the option to experience authentic local hospitality by staying in a cozy Homestay or at our designated participant accommodation. For those seeking an adventurous twist, there may be opportunities to enjoy the incredible experience of camping in a tent during the warmer months. The accommodation is conveniently located just 10-25 minutes outside of the village, accessible by car.

Please note that at the Green House location near the restaurant and campsite, the toilet and shower facilities are separate from the sleeping accommodation. However, if you opt for the homestay at the house, you will have the convenience of an indoor toilet and shower. Additionally, you may encounter a friendly pet dog during your time at the Green House location, adding an extra touch of warmth and companionship to your stay.

Fundraising Help


  • Minimum age 18.
  • Passion and enthusiasm for working with people, lots of energy and creativity – and not scared to get involved!
  • No previous skills are necessary, however you will need to speak English at a native or near-native level.
  • CRB Police check (or equivalent) showing that you have no previous criminal convictions
  • Minimum 2 weeks commitment – 30+ hours a week
  • Necessary vaccinations, flight & visas.
  • Full travel & medical insurance. Please see our info pages for more information and to get a quote.
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€800 Euros per week

* Check the latest currency conversions with xe.com
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Placements are confirmed with a 1 week deposit

What’s Included:

Project Fee includes food, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation, in-country support and project activities.

Private rooms are available for an additional €100 per week.

What’s not included:

Flights, insurance, visas (if applicable) and vaccinations. Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.

Premium Support Upgrade

We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

Note: Map coordinates are approximate