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Teacher in CA looking to teach in Japan(make the big move)

Discussion in 'Working in Japan' started by MrBurger, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    I’m 32 and currently a 4th grade teacher. I’ve been teaching for about 2 years and subbing for 5+. I have a childhood friend who teaches in Tokyo and has gotten me excited about the possibility of teaching in Japan. I have nothing tying my down here in US. No kids, Mortgage, car payments, debt gf etc etc. I would simply like to know as much helpful info that I can use for hopefully teaching after I finish my school year here (June).

    Short resume: I have a B.A. in liberal arts as well as a teaching credential from CA (which is apparently the most difficult state to get one from). I am also in the process of adding a single subject teaching credential. I speak Fluent Spanish as well. I have been studying Japanese for about a year and can have basic conversations however I plan to plunge deeper into my studies in these next 5 months or so. I have a specialty with working with EL’s about half my students are EL’s presently (English learners) and have been A.V.I.D and G.L.A.D. trained (these are skills that train teachers to better work with EL’s)

    I want to prepare myself for the possibility of teaching there and want to know what companies are best for my particular background, when is the best time to apply and how one can get specific placements in big cities, I’d love to teach with my friend in Toyko but that might be asking too much. I basically want to be pointed at the right direction. Thank you.
     
  2. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    With your qualifications, try to get a real job at a real school where you do real teaching. I don't think you would enjoy the dancing bear / human tape recorder world of pretending to teach English to people who are pretending to learn it.

    There are many international schools in the Tokyo/Yokohama area.
     
  3. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    If you want to stay with the same general age group, you're qualified for ALT/AET work and eikaiwa. Nothing much else. Some places will call themselves "international schools", but they aren't, so that's one more option, I guess. Real international schools probably wouldn't take you, but who knows?

    I suggest getting the lowdown from teachers and wannabe teachers at the ESL Cafe discussion forum. I could give you lots of info, but it might be dated. What generally isn't dated is that the school year begins here in April. So, you're already facing a problem with timing.

    You wrote: "want to know what companies are best for my particular background". Companies do 1 of 2 things here:
    * teach eikaiwa (English conversation)
    * farm out teachers to be ALTs for English teaching in public schools
    Eikaiwa for kids is growing, but you may not have much say in who you get as students, from preschool age to late retirees. Being farmed out (dispatched) is not something I would recommend. Ask the ESL Cafe people why.

    Big question:
    When you say "the possibility of teaching in Japan", what subject are you thinking of? You're probably only going to be considered for English or Spanish.
     
  4. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

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    Tho you might have a look, IMO Dave's is one of the worst places to look--few people post in the Japan section there, and the ones that do (infrequently at that) are tired and cynical, and the negativity is thick.

    Try reddit, either the TEFL sub, or another called teachinginjapan. Also, while there are a couple others, perhaps the best international school here is Work - Work at ASIJ - The American School in Japan Not sure if your subbing would count, but maybe. My info is very dated but they also prefer a degree in education. I'm also not sure of how your CA-based certifications would be evaluated--could be a big positive, or not really so much. You may be able to guess that better than I can. Another place (high school) that caters to 'returnees' (Japanese who've grown up abroad while their parents were working there): ICUHS | 国際基督教大学高等学校

    If you want to widen your focus, there are somewhat similar schools in other parts of asia, and tho they are completely separate businesses, with some networking, moving from one to another should be easier than entering as a newcomer.

    China has a lot of K-12 schools now with "international" in their names, but there is wide variation in just what that means, so buyer beware.
     
  5. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    In case you're finding it hard to locate that teachinginjapan site which johnnyG suggested, here it is. I've only just seen it now for the first time. Seems it is updated recently, and a glance at some posts show people are offering advice on a plethora of topics. I have not been in the ESL Cafe in several years, but at the time, it was about the only major site to address questions from teacher wannabes. The moderators were overly strict, I felt.
     
  6. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

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    #7 johnnyG, Jan 4, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
    Googling around, I came across this list--longer than I would have guessed: List of international schools in Japan - Wikipedia From that list St. Mary's and Sacred Heart are other prominent ones.

    Tho you don't have a master's (what many schools would like to see), I think your background would be wasted in the world of JET/ALT/eikaiwa (likely a step backward, as noted by @Mike Cash ).

    Again, if you care to broaden your search, Taiwan is also a nice place to live: List of international schools in Taiwan - Wikipedia (note at the bottom, Taoyuan, teaches to CA standards, possibly a good fit? With some research, you may be able to find other places like that here in Japan.)
     
  7. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    It would be nice if the OP would actively participate in the thread instead of lurking.
     
  8. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    I will investage the "international" schools. Although im not sure what differentiates them much besides the pay.
     
  9. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    Interesting, I feel like Ill check out that forum, that is an issue ive come to understand, defunct schools and outdated info. Im not too picky on age but from my subbing experience the only issue I ever really had was little ones (kinder) required a lot of energy and you had to hold their hand for every little thing,
     
  10. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    Thanks for the info/Links. I'm fairly set on Japan, I considered Thailand for a while and China, but i actually know people in Japan so thats were i feel most comfortable. Im still wondering when the best time to apply is, can one apply 6 months in advance ? I dont want to leave my job midway through the year, i have some commitments and things that I need to tie up i nthe coming 5 months.
     
  11. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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  12. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    Yes mods, told me its only for individuals already in japan *shrugs*
     
  13. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    its seems like common sense but yeh, i should have googled something like this, very helpful, thanks!
     
  14. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    For ALT/AET work, which begins in April, go back to December at the earliest, but don't be surprised if there are ads in Feb or even March.

    Eikaiwas will hire any time of year, but they have surges in Feb/March (for April start dates) and Sept (for Oct start dates after the April 6-mo contracts are over). International schools may not be on this schedule; they may be more like your own. Check to confirm.
     
  15. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

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    • Thank you Thank you x 1
  16. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

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    Not the most important question, but what kind of device are you using that lets that stuff slide by?
     
  17. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    That's the absolute number one damned thing that you had better have a firm grip on before you make a decision.

    International schools are real schools where you are expected to really teach things to people who are similarly expected to learn what you are teaching. They are schools in the sense that you are used to thinking of schools and it is teaching in the sense that you are used to thinking of teaching.

    Eikaiwa ("English conversation") schools are make-believe schools where you pretend to teach English to people who by-and-large are pretending to learn English. It doesn't matter a hill of beans if you actually teach anything, so long as you facilitate the selling of more lessons. It doesn't matter a hill of beans if nobody actually learns anything because the Japanese are all too willing to blame themselves if language learning goes poorly, so neither you nor the fake-assed "school" will be held accountable regardless. This is the environment of the "dancing bear" I alluded to earlier.

    ALT is a middle-ground blend of the two. You're sent to real schools but you are NOT a teacher and nobody will notice or care whether you make the slightest bit of impact on English teaching (you won't). Your main purpose is to give students some close-up exposure to a foreigner so they won't effing wig out when they see one on the street as used to be the case back in the days before the JET/ALT program existed. This is the environment of the "human tape recorder" I alluded to earlier.
     
  18. nahadef

    nahadef No time for people who can’t meet you halfway

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    I wanted to step in and give correct information about ALT work, since Mike is not a teacher, he is very bitter about it on the whole, and I would hate anyone reading to think he knows what he’s writing about here.

    I work as an ALT. There are three main teaching situations for the position. The easiest one to get, and the worst, in my opinion, is through the JET program. This is the human tape recorder, more or less. You are assisting the teacher, but not teaching. There is very little prep for this work, and people I know who did it (not 23 year olds on a one year vacation, but grown ups) did not find it satisfying. The second (my situation) is through dispatch companies. The average contract has you running the classroom for either full or half classes. Legally, under the contract, that’s your teaching time, the Japanese teacher should not step in, though older teachers sometimes don’t like this style. Also, legally, you can’t teach the class without a Japanese teacher in the room, unless you have been certified as a teacher under Japan’s education system. Still, there is a lot of flexibility to teach your own style, though you are doing a baton pass of sorts with the curriculum. I’m teaching 12-16 classroom hours a week right now. The main problem with the job are job security issues, as you’ll almost never get a raise. The third system is direct hire through the schools board. This is most unusual, but some school boards like Osaka and Saitama do it. In this case, your work style would depend on the main teacher, but that would also depend on you. There is a big turnover in the ALT system, which means there are always novice teachers, which is a burden for the main teacher. Those ALTs tend to get the most direction. If you are experienced and know how to teach, the Japanese teacher will be confident to let you do lots in the classroom. It’s really ideal, but the hours are much more, you need to be at school nine hours a day or so. With option two, you are there about six hours a day.

    Some people have this attitude that teaching English isn’t teaching, and it’s best to ignore them. My daughter takes piano lessons, and ballet. I took calligraphy and karate courses. I don’t think either of us will make careers out of them. Likewise, most Japanese studying English don’t become fluent. But most kids taking history or math don’t remember it a decade later. Your job as a teacher is to give all kids the same opportunities and make learning interesting. Learning new things is good, even if you’re just dipping your foot in the pool. If you think you’re a real teacher, you are. It’s pretty ignorant of some people to judge a profession by the lowest people practicing it. I could write a lot about a lot of other jobs I don’t do, but why would I want to make ignorant generalizations?
     
  19. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Virtually all JET program ALTs know the mantra for JET is, "every situation is different". Some do lots of prep, some do none. Some are actually put in charge of a lesson, some are human tape recorders.

    Again, case by case.

    That's not job security. Job security is knowing you have a job for a certain length of time. In my opinion, one big problem is that you are not in charge of the students no matter if you lead the class or not. You can make your own lessons, but that's it. Many JTEs don't feel comfortable with any foreign ALT in the room sharing the floor. What I would consider a major problem is that during school breaks, many (most?) ALTs get a reduction in pay.

    If you mean most students in JHS, senior HS, or college, yes, I agree. If you mean any Japanese, I'd have to say it depends on the level of fluency that is required. Most corporate situations require reading and writing of business emails as the primary function of using English. Next is phone or direct conversations with clients or sales people, and those conversations don't have to be 100% perfect. Native English speakers are outnumbered 4 to 1 nowadays, and nonnative speakers learn to use whatever English they can muster on the job. Some do better than others. In my experience (HS, univ, business English, housewives, retirees), most people don't know how to study or set goals for themselves, and that causes obvious problems with learning anything.

    I'd add to one of your last comments that your job is to "give all kids the same opportunities and make learning interesting", and fun and to make them aware of how relevant the language is for their needs. Pretty much most average Japanese want it just to make foreign friends, even if they are in careers where they will need it for work.
     
  20. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    That's a lot of words to essentially contradict nothing I said....

    ALTs aren't teachers.

    It doesn't matter whether anybody learns anything from one or not. It has no effect on anything.
     
  21. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    To be honest the Jet program sounds interesting , I wouldn't mind taking a back seat and doing minimal work at least for a while, Im already burnt out on creating lessons, grading, meetings and overall running the entire show alone, and im not really looking for a job that gives me 9 hr work days. Worst case scenario I could find another gig. Im also interested in a postion that would give me afternoon hours (just personal preference) I've also done research on DOD schools but those are quite odd, seeing as they seem like an American school transplanted in Japan. Almost no actual English teaching.
     
  22. MrBurger

    MrBurger Kouhai

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    I think ive settled on ALT teaching, now its just a matter of sifting through and applying for ones that looks decent. I missed the boat on The JET program (sorta) The school year for these schools also seem wonky so Im not sure how to go about this unless the hire year round. recommendations of ALTs would be appreciated.
     
  23. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    Are the English composition skills you display here just the result of carelessness or do you really have such a piss-poor grasp of English composition? I'm a bit appalled that they let you teach English in the U.S.
     
  24. nahadef

    nahadef No time for people who can’t meet you halfway

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    Send me a PM if you have any questions. I generally log in here every two weeks or so, so I’ll get an e-mail notification sooner that way, and I don’t check every thread here anyway, usually just those relevant to me.
     

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