View Full Version : Where are the teaching positions?
2002-05-29, 05:17 AM
I have been thinking about teaching in Japan for quite some time now. I have spent a lot of time looking at forums and contemplating the best option. It seems as though all of the large companies are crap. Someone has something negative to say on each of them. The problem I have is that I can't trust the small company that is offering a job. How can you tell what their reputation is? What if they don't follow through with what they are saying? Do you have a leg to stand on? What I am trying to ask is if I ignore all of the big companies, what are some well-established good schools to work for in Japan? Please help!
2002-05-29, 06:37 AM
You have to take these forums with a grain of (no, make that a barrelful of) salt.
A lot of the forums on eikaiwa are just a way for people of let off steam, although sometimes you do find that rare piece of information that works.
2002-05-29, 07:11 AM
As Author said above, there will be something bad to say about each and every place on earth. You'll have to sift through them and read between the lines. Sometimes the fault lies in the teacher, his lack of experience, his background, etc., not the school.
Why not post the name of the place you are considering? If someone knows it, he can help you here directly.
2002-05-30, 02:13 AM
check out http://www.phoenixassoc.com
Phoenix Associates is owned and managed by westerners. I haven't come across any legitimate criticism about them yet, so I think they are a safe bet. Of course, you need to get hired by them.
2002-05-30, 03:48 AM
Alongside that barrelfull of salt and sifting out steam from substance, you can always just apply, take the interview but don't give an answer right there, take some time and think about what's been said and your general feelings about it.
You can get a lot out of interviews or e-mailing companies and chatting with the recruiter/HR personel. Ultimately, what pisses off people here might not be the same for you. put your hand in and see how it feels first.
2002-05-30, 07:30 AM
Thanks everyone! It can be very overwhelming listening to all of the information on the "Big 3" I am only trying to get different view points. I am a complete beginner at teaching English. I have had the idea in my head for the last couple of years after graduating university but haven't taken the step yet. I have spent the last two years traveling the world and I would love the opportunity to experience Japanese culture. After coming back from my travels, I decided to try out for the CELTA program. I had an interview with them and totally bombed. It was quite a humbling experience. I was also competing against lawyers and certified teachers to get into the program. Needless to say I didn't have a hope in hell of getting in and I didn't. So since this, I have been a bit disillusioned with the whole teaching thing. I have actually second guessed my teaching capabilities. I understand that it is not easy. Can anyone share any first time experiences in front of the classroom. Any story would be of interest to me. Thanks!
2002-05-30, 03:14 PM
I just wanted to cheer you up and give you some assurance that one interview does not make or break you. Teaching is certainly a part of teaching in Japan, but it also helps to have an open mind and a positive attitude. I've seen some certified teachers get burned out in Japan because they couldn't handle the cultural differences. Admittedly, I don't know you from the next person and I don't know your teaching capabilities, but I will tell you that I've seen all kinds of people working as ESL teachers in Japan.
Like most jobs, the first time is never easy. But like most jobs again, the more you do it, the easier it gets. I have yet to meet a teacher who was not nervous their first time teaching a class. My first time was a basic introduction and question and answer period. I was shaking inside the whole time. I look back on it now and just laugh!
One of the key things to remember is this: relax. In all likeliness, the student is just as (if not more) nervous than you are. And although you're providing a valuable service, it's definitely NOT brain surgery. You can make a mistake and it won't kill anyone.
Good luck with everything!
2002-05-31, 02:17 AM
If the company that hires you has a training program, they generally teach you how to handle your "first class". Nevertheless, one former colleague made a mistake when preparing for her first class which she was taking over from a teacher who had quit.. When she got there, she immediately found out that the other teacher had already presented the same material the previous class session two days prior. She was suddenly caught off guard. The students were expecting a new lesson, but she had nothing to teach. For the next two hours she bullshitted her way through, although her embarassment was obvious to the students. She learned her lesson, though. From then on, she was always prepared with supplementary materials wherever she went. Hasn't it been said, "No Pain, no Gain"?
2002-05-31, 09:52 AM
"English teachers in public schools face retraining"
Japan's 60,000 public junior high and high school English teachers may be retrained in order to boost the English ability of Japanese people, education ministry officials said Wednesday.
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Atsuko Toyama will propose the plan Thursday to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's policymaking board on economic and fiscal policy, the officials said. Under the plan, which would run for five years, the nation's public school teachers would undergo a two-week retraining program, and assistant language teachers would be bestowed teacher's status. Japan consistently ranks among the worst of the 21 Asian nations and regions that take the Test of English as a Foreign Language, a yardstick widely used in entrance exams for foreign students at U.S. and Canadian universities. Toyama believes that by increasing teachers' linguistic capabilities, the average English-language ability in Japan might approach that of other non-English-speaking countries, the officials said. The government currently offers domestic English retraining to 2,000 teachers and overseas retraining to 150 teachers annually.
2002-05-31, 10:01 AM
FYI (The Japan Times: May 30, 2002)
Since becoming an assistant language teacher at Nishi High School in the city of Nagano in 1999, David Hathaway, who is blind, has impressed his Japanese colleagues and students with his love of teaching while dispelling some of the ingrained prejudices against disabled people. David Hathaway, a blind English teacher, walks around a classroom with instructional material in braille at Nishi High School in Nagano.
As the 26-year-old from Chesterfield, England, greeted students fresh out of junior high in the new academic year at the prefectural high school with "Good morning, everyone," he received a cheerful "Good morning, Mr. Hathaway" in response. Hathaway is in Nagano on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, which the government initiated in fiscal 1987 to invite young foreigners to help Japan enrich its foreign-language education and also for the purpose of international exchanges.
During the current fiscal year starting in April, 6,324 foreigners are scheduled to take part in the program. As an assistant to the school's Japanese teacher of English, Hathaway teaches pronunciation and conversation. In the classroom, he reads out English words and the students repeat them. He checks each student's pronunciation. He taps one on the shoulder and says, "Bring a hand mirror next time. You can find the difference if you look at my lips."
Hathaway's instructional material is in braille that he prepares himself with a braille printer. He recites as his fingers touch the dots, and he moves around the classroom following the desks. English teacher Kazuo Aoki, 49, said, "David is eager to teach the students, thinking of how can he help them improve their English."
One of the students said, "I got self-confidence after finding out my English was passable." Said another, "He encourages me even if I make a mistake." However, Hathaway is not entirely content. He said there are too many students in the class and he cannot talk to every one of them while giving a lesson. There are also those who do not show any interest in studying English or who do not want to talk to him.
"Some students are not doing well.... maybe because they are bashful to speak in front of other students, or they have no motivation to study English," he said.
Hathaway had a similar experience. He had to take French for two years in junior high school because it was a required subject. He was not interested in it and stopped studying it after two years. He said he does not remember a single word of French.
On the other hand, he was enthusiastic about studying the Celtic language of people on the Isle of Man. His grandfather hailed from the Irish Sea island. "There are not many people who speak the island's language," he said. "Language is not for practical use alone. I was fascinated by the echoes of words my grandfather spoke." In fact, as a blind person, he has enjoyed the sound of words and studying language. Whenever he has time, he listens to tapes of foreign languages, of which he speaks eight, including Japanese. Currently he is studying Korean. Lee Byoung Ju, a 26-year-old Korean student in Japan who is teaching him the language, said, "He is quick on the uptake."
Hathaway wants to pass on to his students his fascination with echoes found in words and the pleasure of having conversations with people, but he realizes his wishes are a hard sell for those who study English in preparation for university entrance exams, since hearing and conversation are not considered important. He believes the important point for the students is that "they study English on a voluntary basis. Even if they don't like English, there are many languages in the world." Hathaway has a congenital cornea defect. He had cornea transplants but lost his eyesight after a cricket ball struck him in the face at the age of 9. He had another transplant but did not regain his vision. When he was 16, he came to Japan for the first time on a youth exchange program organized by the Japanese and British Red Cross societies. He was surprised to find that visually impaired Japanese did not go to ordinary schools but had to study at separate schools for the blind. "I thought it was natural to go to a normal school," he said. "I am the only visually impaired person at Nishi High School." The school's principal, Haruki Shima, 50, recalled, "All the people in the school, including me, were worried, because he was the first visually impaired person we had come into contact with." They found out their concerns were unwarranted. Hathaway tried to do everything himself and when he needed help, he clearly asked for it.
As they watched him walk dashingly in the school, Asami Wada, a second-year student, said, "He must have remembered the number of steps on the stairs." Her classmate, Kyoko Kirisawa, said, "He doesn't think he is a special person and we keep in touch with him just as we do other teachers."
Hathaway commutes to and from school by himself, by train and bus.
"Japan is a country where it is easy to live for visually impaired people," he said, noting that there are raised protrusions on the pavement from his home to the railway station to mark a safe course, and the train conductors announce the name of each station.
Nevertheless, he said, Japan, in seeking to become barrier-free, should focus not only on the infrastructure but also on attitudes toward disabled people.
He said that when he uses a cane to make his way as he walks outdoors, people come to ask him if he is all right, adding that he has never had such an experience in Britain. Still, he awaits the day when Japan will become a nation that recognizes disabled people as equal members of society.
Hathaway will complete his three-year term in July, after which he plans to do research on medieval Iceland, a subject he is specializing in, at a graduate school in Tokyo.
"It is interesting (to experience) Britain and Japan, because they have different languages and cultures," he said. "There will be something unexpected in them, just like the change in the order of seats in the classroom in the new school year."