Teaching in Japan

Discuss anything and everything relating to that fascinating island empire of the east
User avatar
yusaku
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:37 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1988
Location: Kansas City
Contact:

Teaching in Japan

Post by yusaku »

Hello! I would love to be posting from Japan one day. It is a wonderful thing to be working in Japan. I was thinking about becoming a JET, Japanese English Tutor, but I am about to cross that 40 year mark so I am going to have to think of another plan. Maybe I will see you there one day and some of the other people on the board that live in Japan.
***^__^***

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: Robodaz, still standing tall.

Post by greg »

yusaku wrote:Hello! I would love to be posting from Japan one day. It is a wonderful thing to be working in Japan. I was thinking about becoming a JET, Japanese English Tutor, but I am about to cross that 40 year mark so I am going to have to think of another plan. Maybe I will see you there one day and some of the other people on the board that live in Japan.
JET is crap, and yes, they do age discriminate. Their priorities are all over the place, so they end up hiring dickheads more often than serious people. More and more cities are dumping the likes of JET and hiring their teachers directly so that they can choose employees for themselves. They only let you work a few years, and on top of that, having JET on your resume isn't very good if you plan to live in Japan long-term.

I'll leave it at that for now, since this isn't my introduction thread. Chat me up later if you'd like.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

User avatar
robodaz
Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:07 am
Anime Fan Since: 1989
Location: Akita, Japan

Re: Robodaz, still standing tall.

Post by robodaz »

AnimeSennin wrote:JET is crap, and yes, they do age discriminate. Their priorities are all over the place, so they end up hiring dickheads more often than serious people. More and more cities are dumping the likes of JET and hiring their teachers directly so that they can choose employees for themselves. They only let you work a few years, and on top of that, having JET on your resume isn't very good if you plan to live in Japan long-term.

I'll leave it at that for now, since this isn't my introduction thread. Chat me up later if you'd like.

I currently sit on CLAIR in one of my official capacities, and I do feel that things are not as bad as they once were. When I was CIRing, selection was indeed central, but these days the kencho's have the final say on their ALTs, at the very least and it seems to work out well enough for most of the peeps involved. However, from the very beginning JET has been seen more as a cultural exchange and not a serious teaching program.

Many areas do take it very seriously and these areas, as Greg suggests have often taken to hiring their own people - so that they can more easily keep the good ones and more easily boot the duffers.

Sadly, unless you get some notable experience in translation/interpretation, or a good write-up as a CIR rather than as an ALT, you'll be on par with ex NOVA and AEON workers when it comes to picking over the increasingly few TESOL/Kaiwa jobs here.

Still, I still recommend it for my undergrads who have definite plans for PG work, as JET still stands proud with most Universities with Area Studies departments.

tl;dr: Don't abandon the idea, but be aware that it is not the gravy train people assume it is. If you do apply, tip me the wink and I'll give you the inside gen.
"I like this wolf. He's not freezing his ass of in Alaska chasing snow bunnies. He just goes to pig's houses and blows on them" - Christopher Walken.

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: Robodaz, still standing tall.

Post by greg »

robodaz wrote:However, from the very beginning JET has been seen more as a cultural exchange and not a serious teaching program.
Right. Maybe it's changed in the 10 years I was away, but during my first stint in Japan I was surrounded by JETs. Their priorities were mostly partying and such. This time, I am working directly for my city's BOE, and the majority of us are the responsible married type. (Although one guy was arrested for shoplifting last year and was immediately fired. It made the newspapers and was an embarrassment. He was an asshole, anyway.) The negative side though is that some of these are rather negative about learning the Japanese language, which I really cannot respect. At least the JETs I knew back 10 years ago were serious about studying the language.

Perhaps it's changed, but the JET would often hire people who had no real prior knowledge of Japan, thinking that it would be some great intercultural experience for them. Many of them were recent college grads who had yet to develop a serious work ethic in their home countries.
robodaz wrote:Many areas do take it very seriously and these areas, as Greg suggests have often taken to hiring their own people - so that they can more easily keep the good ones and more easily boot the duffers.
That is the main advantage (not to mention higher wages than Interac), however the disadvantage is that it makes recruitment difficult. They could just rely on programs like JET or Interac to supply them with ALTs, but now they have to get the word out about their city's teaching program. They also will need to hire people in-person, so it's either the person has to already be in Japan or is able to fly to Japan for the interview. The result is that they may have to just settle for what limited options are available. I'd like to help my city's BOE in this regard somehow, but I'm not sure what I can do.

So Yusaku, the eikaiwa industry is shrinking in Japan (eikaiwa=adult language classes, usually in the evening), but the demand for ALTs (which is JET-type work) is increasing. Within recent years, English teaching has expanded to elementary 5th and 6th grades, and the good side to this is that you work with incredibly cute and lively kids who have a positive attitude towards learning English, plus you usually get to be the main teacher for those classes.

We are now seeing the generation who grew up with Pokemon and the late '90s anime boom graduating college, and combining that with the shrinking eikaiwa market, competition can get fierce. Gone are the days where someone with zero teaching experience can easily land a teaching job in Japan. I've known guys who taught in Korea for a year or two before being able to come here. I'm not too worried about job prospects, because not only does my current position seem stable, I tend to be rather well-liked wherever I go because a. I am fairly proficient in Japanese and continually improving, b. I'm serious about teaching, and c. I'm not a twerp who doesn't respect the culture. While many people come to teach English as just a way to live in Japan, I'm actually serious about education and teaching and I love working with kids of all ages, so I find both the job and my life in Japan to be very rewarding.

One last thing: aside from the JET, places don't age discriminate. I know a guy who is in his 50s and he works as an ALT. He also teaches evening classes for Toyota or some other big auto company and rakes in big bucks each class. He says he probably makes more money from those classes than he does from his monthly ALT paycheck.

Anyhow, sorry for going on like this. If people want to continue the discussion, since I'm a mod I can split this conversation and make it its own conversation in the Japan subforum.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

User avatar
robodaz
Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:07 am
Anime Fan Since: 1989
Location: Akita, Japan

Re: Robodaz, still standing tall.

Post by robodaz »

Indeed. Probably a good idea to break this out into its own area, as this is an interesting discussion for those looking at work prospects.

At a recent MEXT meeting, I listened to the Minister of Education expound on how the "Thirty Initiative" (one of several programs to bring foreign langauge - but primarily English - classes to Japanese universities) also required much greater seriousness in language acquisition at schools, from elementary onwards.

Our own University was the first in Japan to teach exclusively in English, and - before his death - Mineo Nakajima was one of the leading lights in attempting to pull down the negative 'jobbing kaiwa' attitude which Nova had made their own before their spectacular, and near-fatal embezzlement implosion in 2008.

Anything which brings greater seriousness to the classroom is a grand thing - indeed, if you are not serious about teaching you have no place in a classroom (in the main). Things are changing for the better, but the legacy of the past is going to be hard to overcome thanks to the way in which local authorities still view ALTs as dog-and-pony shows and many overseas Universities just look at it as prep for Grad school (not fair, but there we are).

Thankfully, the cracks are widening, and in some very interesting ways. Greg commented on the difficulty of recruitment for quality teachers - and this is true enough.

However, some Kencho's have found some interesting ways round the matter. Even in 1998, my old JET base of Omihachiman recruited both ALTs and their own teachers, usually recruiting their own from the incoming JET teachers, who were 'vetted' as it were, and offered contracts beyind their 12 month on JET with the local teams.

And in Akita, the Prefecture has begun working with an overseas recruitment agency which supplies QT awarded staff (at all ages) to needy schools.
"I like this wolf. He's not freezing his ass of in Alaska chasing snow bunnies. He just goes to pig's houses and blows on them" - Christopher Walken.

User avatar
PinkAppleJam
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:23 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1992
Location: Cambridge, UK
Contact:

Re: Teaching in Japan

Post by PinkAppleJam »

I did a stint in Japan in 2004 :) It's probably changed a lot. The school I was with was below JET and Nova (who had the most ugly, uncute mascot ever). I taught kids aged 2 and 3/4s (I'm not kidding) to retirement classes, evening adult classes, anxious teens/kids who didn't speak for the entire hour, etc.

It is true if you have no seriousness about teaching you have no place, I certainly did not feel in any sort of place though. Teaching was something I didn't know much about and wanted to give it a shot, to see if it was my path. I decided it was a good experience (and has really helped me with my art workshops), and though I can I didn't find it enjoyable enough to throw myself into, largely due to depression, homesickness, lack of resources, illness etc. Kudos to all who go full-on to teach!!

It is now probably a cool way to spend 12 months if you decide to go, and you can choose whether or not to hang around with partygoers or not. With the net we are all better connected to be able to find people we are more likely to get on with, with similar interests of course (look at these boards!). ^_^

All you needed as a degree to go over to teach. Angry with the job market (and non-existent art postgrad "job market" [pffrt]), in '04 I was accepted with haste and flew over. We had little resources available to teach and it was before broadband was accessible in apartments for us, so all my time was spent feeling homesick in manga cafés instead of researching and printing helpful materials for the students. I was able to draw cute pics for the kids as encouragement at least. And I did remember wondering why SO many of the ELTs did not know anything of anime or manga. One or two of them had heard if it at least! But it was very naiive way of me thinking - though I knew it wouldn't be everybody, I did expect a little more than a minority - it was a bit Peepo Choo (read below, R to L).

A small percentage of me knew this was going to happen, but I did not want to acknowledge it; my parents especially knew but you can't tell somebody that, they have to "get it" for themselves, right? I also broke up from a longterm relationship, far away from family and friends. Dating went dreadfully. Lonely times.

In the end I got incredibly ill and had to break my contract and come home, when I basically contracted walking pneumonia from a viral infection. It pretty much screwed up my immune system from there and I live with that consequence every day now, it will never go away. Nobody ever tells you how ill you will get as a Westerner living in Japan, there are now a few YouTube videos of ELTs suffering illnesses a lot too. Of course it is all random, but even if you are subjected to it all, there is no way of preventing it! The medicines are rubbish!

After feeling insanely embittered about the whole experience for ages I figured out what I learnt from the experience;

(1) It was my "levelling up" from early 20yo graduate otaku into someone who felt again a bit outcast about being otaku. Now I realise it was because the moé boom had started and anime/manga was being made differently to our 70s-80s-90s favourites, not that I was a failure at being a fan for not liking too much current anime! I felt despondent for ages, but just threw myself into drawing my own thing. After a small time of doubt regards art style, it's sort of "come back" again, the style I grew up with, so feel more content. It took a long time though :/

(2) On a slight tangent, but also kinda related, I could see the horrible "crying girls who look about 10yo, dressed up in maid outfits hovering over Akihabara" as exactly that; the whole "no no stop it" negative sexualisation of females in hentai was feeling creepier and creepier (there is great hentai out there, Slut Girl by Itsutoshi via Eros Comics is a super example of hilarious, adult fun sexytimes!). It has affected my opinion of moé for a very long time. There is a place in Akihabara where people sell pics of kids (identities hidden by a black bar over their eyes) in vests and pants running around. Why hasn't this been closed down yet? It was in a building that sells lots of cool old CDs. I went to the wrong floor by accident and was hastily shoo'ed away. :/ So that was major yuck, and I just felt like a third class citizen as an ELT. Second class as a woman. My personal experience - I didn't have great experiences as a then-blonde, blue-eyed western female. I was mistaken for a prostitute on more than one occasion walking the short distance home from Karaoke. I was dressed super-plainly.

(3) Even though I felt I was a rubbish teacher, a few of my young students found me on Facebook. They had been living abroad in the US and studied English. I'd like to think I had a tiny part in that encouragement. It was fun connecting with a few of the good kids who wanted to learn as well as have fun.

I still miss the food. The delicious, delicious food. And combinis.

I have visited three times overall; two holidays and once to live. Would always go back again for a holiday; would never go there to live again, though.
Attachments
Expectations, oh how they crashed and burned
Expectations, oh how they crashed and burned
peepochoo.jpg (315.98 KiB) Viewed 2266 times

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: Teaching in Japan

Post by greg »

Yes, it can be rough for a foreign girl in Japan. Being a foreigner in any country requires a thick skin, and it seems that in Japan, a thicker skin is required for women rather than men. In my experience, women don't have the same positive experience as English teachers in Japan. For one thing, the prospect of having a Japanese boyfriend is rather slim. Guys like us married to J-girls are a dime a dozen here, but it is rare to see a foreign woman married to a Japanese guy. Even girls who are very willing and actively seeking a Japanese boyfriend are disappointed. Heck, Japanese women have a difficult time finding a Japanese man. I've met and have worked with many Japanese women who are single and will likely be single for life, and it's a total shame becaues I know that back in America they'd get married for sure. From lolicon to mazacon to soushoku danshi, Japanese men are a peculiar specimen. Let's not forget the disproportionate number of stalkers and molesters! And that's on top of the flat-out perverts and jerks that every society has to deal with. The plus side is that I don't think there is the amount of rape as in the USA, mostly because Japanese guys are relatively spineless. They'll cop a feel on the train or wherever, but that's mostly it. It's more of an issue of them being overgrown babies than sexual predators.

I think it's possible that employers may be a bit wary of hiring single foreign women because they do not have quite a stable foundation as a man who's married to a Japanese wife. Unfortunately, men come to Japan and have way too much fun. They give us all a bad reputation.

So you were in Japan for only a year and were homesick? I didn't start getting homesick until after the first year. For me, moving back to the States was an incredibly painful experience, as if I'd left a large chunk of myself behind. Every time I visited Japan after then, I was reunited with that part of myself that never left. After ten years, I'm very happy to be here and I am not looking back at all.

It really helps to have training in intercultural communication, too. I'd taken classes on this and had studied about living as an expat while going to school for my global business degree. It also helps to have some TEFL training before coming too, because it gives you an idea of how to make lesson plans and such.

It's unfortunate not being able to make any decent friends. I know what that is like. I don't have a lot in common with other ALTs in my town. I'm the token nerd. I can bring out their inner nerds to an extent, but some of the guys just talk about normal stuff like running marathons, cars, getting drunk, tattoos, and other stuff I cannot relate to. The one guy I get along with most here is not someone I have a ton in common with, but the reason I like him so much is that he is positive about living in Japan while other guys tend to gripe about the country.

It doesn't seem that many otaku come over here to live, it seems. Either that, or they keep it to themselves. Maybe Robodaz has a different opinion. For me, it is a bonus to be a bit of an otaku. Although I don't care much for Hatsune Miku, I can show the kids my Hatsune Miku Family Mart T-Card and they get excited. Otaku-types can relate to the kids more than stuffy people who delude themselves into thinking that maturity entails scorning such obsessions.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

User avatar
robodaz
Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:07 am
Anime Fan Since: 1989
Location: Akita, Japan

Re: Teaching in Japan

Post by robodaz »

I think Greg has it right in the main.

I'm an unusual case, in that my career has been built around Anime, film and theatre - so my more openly 'otaku' existence is moderated by an awareness of me as an unusual, but safe curiosity. Add that to the fact that the higher echelons of the education environment here are much more insulated from the run-of-the-mill problems which beset many foreigners making their way here. I have had secretaries, assistants and protective staff around me so long that I barely register the buffer they provide any more, but I do not deny its importance.

I think that puts me at a bit of a disadvantage though. Despite having indefinite leave to remain - and soon enough citizenship - there are times I still feel that my foreign staff (my own ESL teachers, my other faculty and my staff) have a much better grasp of their lives.

I don't mind being the Dog-and-Pony Show, but I do feel that I have spent decades missing out on 'something'. No-one seems to be able to tell me what that is mind. Not the missus, not my friends, not my colleagues.

Perhaps it is because I came to Japan riding a wave of pop culture, and that wave has yet to fade out for me.
"I like this wolf. He's not freezing his ass of in Alaska chasing snow bunnies. He just goes to pig's houses and blows on them" - Christopher Walken.

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: Teaching in Japan

Post by greg »

There's something else PAJ mentioned that I didn't comment on, regarding Westerners becoming ill in Japan. I've never heard of this before. Actually, my health has improved since moving back from the USA. There's so much crap in the USA you must be conscious of, most of which Monsanto is responsible for. I know most people who visit India get very sick, since it really is a filthy and disgusting country. I'm not saying that to be mean; it's just a fact. Japan may be worse for allergies, but for overall health and quallity of food, I'd say that by far, Japan beats the USA at least.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

User avatar
PinkAppleJam
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:23 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1992
Location: Cambridge, UK
Contact:

Re: Teaching in Japan

Post by PinkAppleJam »

greg wrote:So you were in Japan for only a year and were homesick? I didn't start getting homesick until after the first year.
No broadband/home internet, closeknit immediate family ties, and broke up with my then-partner of longest relationship-ness at that point in my life, ironically whom I had helped get over there in the first place... who is still there and I speculate being a stereotypical gaijin playboy-wannabe as you've described :roll: It would make a good josei tale! But yeah that timing, it hurt. I was 24-25 but felt 17 all over again, completely sucked for the most part.
It really helps to have training in intercultural communication, too. I'd taken classes on this and had studied about living as an expat while going to school for my global business degree. It also helps to have some TEFL training before coming too, because it gives you an idea of how to make lesson plans and such.
Yep. We were discouraged in our school to talk in Japanese because it was supposed to help "force" better English communication! I regret not doing Celta or PGCE (our postgrad teaching qualifications), but Uni was also a dire experience so I wanted to get out of education for a long time and just start earning. My language skills were not great but they would have helped a few things along if I had been able to study at a younger age.

As you say Greg, I felt I connected with the kids in most classes somewhat at least, even if I felt like a third rate human adult.

Post Reply