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Career Progression from ALT or Eikaiwa

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  • Career Progression from ALT or Eikaiwa

    Hi there,

    I'm looking to take up a position as either an ALT or at an Eikaiwa. I want to know about opportunities for career progression as an English Language teacher. At present I have basic (but quickly improving) Japanese, I am a twenty-three year old native speaker with a BA Hons in English Literature. I don't have any teaching experience. I understand that whatever position I begin in I will have to work the unpredictable shifts with very little holiday, and work weekends and unpaid overtime for not a great deal of money. I am looking at this not as a prospect to have a working holiday and make some money. I am looking to holding long term, sustainable, progressive employment.

    What I would like to know is what opportunities in 2-3 years I will have to progress to better positions. Would doing a CELTA course now be useful in the long run (or even the short term)? Would I be able to complete a DELTA when I am in Japan and would this be beneficial. What does a career path look like to a beginner English language teacher.

    I understand I may sound naive, but that is why I am asking the forum and all the collective experience it has for constructive information.


    I thank all the contributors to this forum for the existing posts, and thank any respondents to my personal inquiry in advance.

  • #2
    Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
    Hi there,

    I'm looking to take up a position as either an ALT or at an Eikaiwa. I want to know about opportunities for career progression as an English Language teacher. At present I have basic (but quickly improving) Japanese, I am a twenty-three year old native speaker with a BA Hons in English Literature. I don't have any teaching experience. I understand that whatever position I begin in I will have to work the unpredictable shifts with very little holiday, and work weekends and unpaid overtime for not a great deal of money. I am looking at this not as a prospect to have a working holiday and make some money. I am looking to holding long term, sustainable, progressive employment.

    What I would like to know is what opportunities in 2-3 years I will have to progress to better positions. Would doing a CELTA course now be useful in the long run (or even the short term)? Would I be able to complete a DELTA when I am in Japan and would this be beneficial. What does a career path look like to a beginner English language teacher.

    I understand I may sound naive, but that is why I am asking the forum and all the collective experience it has for constructive information.


    I thank all the contributors to this forum for the existing posts, and thank any respondents to my personal inquiry in advance.
    I suggest you visit a bookstore or a library and read up on the topic. THEN, if you have any specific questions, kindly direct them here.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
      I'm looking to take up a position as either an ALT or at an Eikaiwa. I understand that whatever position I begin in I will have to work the unpredictable shifts with very little holiday, and work weekends and unpaid overtime for not a great deal of money.
      Welcome to the foum. It's good to see someone who has realistic expectations.

      Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
      I want to know about opportunities for career progression as an English Language teacher. I am looking to holding long term, sustainable, progressive employment.
      In 'normal' companies, you have a hierarchy where you can expect to get promoted to more senior positions over time as a supervisor or specialist. However there is no such progression in language teaching. You will not be promoted to 'school owner' unless you set up your own school (or buy somebody out) nor will you be able to do 'highly paid' administrative work - these jobs are usually done by local Japanese who are paid even less.
      There is a chance that you might get some 'juicier' jobs such as private lessons or company classes over time, but this would also depend on your actual skills, not necessary seniority. Recent law changes will probably mean that three-year terms at a given schools is the maximum.
      For a 'long-term, sustainable progression', you should indeally have a teacher's license to teach at one of the international schools in Japan (American School, British School,...) or get into Univeristy teaching, i.e. a Ph.D, publications, conferences, etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        ttokyo - Thank you very much for a very informative and swift response. It's very much appreciated.

        well_bicyclically - Again thank you for your swift response. You're absolutely right, I cannot have too much information. I have read two books on the subject and thumbed through several others, my main hindrance is that the books seemed to focus on either the practical aspects of securing employment such as writing a curriculum vitae, preparing for interviews and the like, or they are what I would consider out-dated, especially considering the way the english teaching industry appears (to an outsider) to have been changing. If you know of any good books that focus more on becoming an English teacher as a career path I would be very much obliged.

        Again, thank you both very much for posting

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
          becoming an English teacher as a career path I would be very much obliged.

          Again, thank you both very much for posting
          ALTing in Japan is a great job, but a lousy career. Not really any "progression" to be had. You might get to be an area manager or trainer or something if you are an ALT/Eikaiwa teacher, but that's usually just tons more work for very little more money.
          You can make a living at it, but you are always on the move hustling up work, and every year it's requires a little more hustle to make it. If you are serious about teaching as a career, get a real teacher's licence at home, then have your adventure in Japan.

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          • #6
            If youre serious about a career then get the CELTA. Its good preparation for it. Make sure it is an accredited one and then if you dont like Japan then you are good to go elsewhere. Plus it pays for itself many times over. Id really stress doing this if you are thinking about a career, even here I think it could be getting more important

            In terms of a career then Japanese TEFL doesnt seem to be a great place, but if you keep an open mind then once you get the DELTA there are lots of opportunities.
            Last edited by rm83; 2013-02-22, 02:35 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Marley's Ghost View Post
              ALTing in Japan is a great job, but a lousy career. Not really any "progression" to be had. You might get to be an area manager or trainer or something if you are an ALT/Eikaiwa teacher, but that's usually just tons more work for very little more money.
              You can make a living at it, but you are always on the move hustling up work, and every year it's requires a little more hustle to make it. If you are serious about teaching as a career, get a real teacher's licence at home, then have your adventure in Japan.
              a lousy career? well if you mean continual promotion? yes, by the nature of the job there isn't much room for promotion etc. But if you mean career as in a long term job, then it is average. The pay probably won't go up, you probably won't get promoted but its a great country and if you get married to a J girl its a good life. But again, we all know its not a high paying job but you will get a much better lifestyle than a Japanese teacher. So it boils down to what you value. Is promotion more important than being in Japan? is big money your goal?
              bottom line is, there are a lot worse job with a lot more stress, but there are better jobs too

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jed333 View Post
                So it boils down to what you value. Is promotion more important than being in Japan? is big money your goal?
                Think about it that way. Do you think that receiving little money and in the future is worth putting in a lot of working hours? It might be worth doing it for a year, two tops if experiencing being a foreigner in Japan is what you want, but long term being an ALT doesn't really seem like a good idea for a career.

                Better do like the other posters said. Get solid quals and experience in your country, then try to get a good position at an international school. It commands more respect and you actually get to do some work rather than being an assistant teacher.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by yu_ominae View Post
                  Think about it that way. Do you think that receiving little money and in the future is worth putting in a lot of working hours? It might be worth doing it for a year, two tops if experiencing being a foreigner in Japan is what you want, but long term being an ALT doesn't really seem like a good idea for a career.
                  well that is your own point of view, but for someone who likes teaching and doesn't have a problem not earning big money, it is a reasonable job. I seriously question "putting on long hours". Thats a joke, ALTs and even eikaiwa workers for the most part, don't even do a 40 hours week! Sure, like all jobs, some positions will call for over time, but thats hardly the rule.
                  And I question "little money" as well. Agreed its certainly not good money but its a lot more than my friend is earning back home. And I realize many people will earn more than working as a teacher in Japan, and wages have gone down a little but thats pretty much across the board in japan.
                  If I was doing the same job back home I would be earning less
                  Anyway, I have earnt as much as 42man per month as an ALT, .....
                  anyway, this my my 2c worth

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    To advance with just a BA degree will be tough. You are going to have to get another degree if you want uni work. After ALT and eikaiwa, if you don't, there is something like these options:

                    1. a string of work from whoever will take you, from junior college/technical school to private companies
                    2. full-time at a private company, where you would probably be the only foreigner on staff
                    3. business English agency (if they think you have the quals; not likely from what I see in your case, though)
                    4. start your own business
                    5. join a publishing house as salesman
                    6. teacher trainer (but you probably need at least a certification for that (DELTA?)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jed333 View Post
                      And I question "little money" as well.
                      You're right, because as I keep saying it, an ALT makes more than I do working here as an engineer. (Hang on whilst I cry a bit...)
                      What I really meant by this is that with very little room for career progression, your salary is unlikely to go up and when you are in your 40s, have a family and stuff, you make have a very hard time making a living being an ALT. Of course it all depends on where you live, how rich/willing to work your wife is etc.

                      As you say, teacher's wages are very low everywhere. It's shocking considering how important their job is, but that's the way it is and bankers are still kings of the world. The thing is, if you teach at a school where you are not just an assistant your career can progress and you will probably end up earning more. You also have to remember that living costs in Japan are expensive.

                      Regarding working hours, you're right, I am wrong on that one. Note that most what I write here is based on assumptions, so I wouldn't blame you if you tell me to stop spouting BS from both ends.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
                        I want to know about opportunities for career progression as an English Language teacher.
                        I don`t mean to sound like voice of doom, there is not much in the way of "career progression" as an English language teacher. Unfortunately, salaries are decreasing and working conditions are not improving. On top of that, Japan`s population is decreasing. This means people are having less kids forcing language schools and universities to close. This only means less opportunities as time goes on. I wish I had better news for you.


                        Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
                        At present I have basic (but quickly improving) Japanese,
                        While studying Japanese is a good thing, most university Japanese courses are too passe and don`t teach you how to really speak the language. I had to find this out the hard way. I look several semesters at my university. However, when I came to Japan, I could hardly understand anything because how the language is really spoken and textbook Japanese are COMPLETELY different. I reccommend you take private Japanese lessons. That is what works the best. However, it is also the most expensive.

                        Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
                        I am a twenty-three year old native speaker with a BA Hons in English Literature.
                        While a BA will allow you to get a visa,the y are a dime a dozen here in Japan. You and thousands of other Gaijins here have the same degree.

                        Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
                        I don't have any teaching experience. I understand that whatever position I begin in I will have to work the unpredictable shifts with very little holiday, and work weekends and unpaid overtime for not a great deal of money. I am looking at this not as a prospect to have a working holiday and make some money.

                        Again, I don`t like to be negative, but I figure it is better to tell you BEFORE you have to find out the hard way. The salaries have been on the decrease here for years with no sign of that trend changing. I have know couple of people who work for some well known eikaiwas and ALT companies and have to borrow money from home just to pay their bills and make ends meat. Rents in larger cities run very high and it is increasingly becoming harder just to survive. Many people need to work more than one job .

                        Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
                        I am looking to holding long term, sustainable, progressive employment
                        Unfortunately you won`t find that in English teaching, at least not in Japan. Most of the jobs are yearly contracts that are renewable at your employer`s discretion. This is how they keep their English teachers on a tight leash. There is a law here in Japan where they have to hire you on full time after working there for 3 years. Therefore many English schools will let teachers go after 2 or 3 years in order to keep from having to take them on permanantly. I am sorry to have to tell you this, but it is reality. If you have your heart set on English teaching , I would recommend a country that has a lot more opportunities like Korea, Taiwan or China. Do some reaserach on the web and see what other countries are out there. By closing yourself off onlyto Japan, you are limiting your options and your potential.

                        Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
                        What I would like to know is what opportunities in 2-3 years I will have to progress to better positions. Would doing a CELTA course now be useful in the long run (or even the short term)? Would I be able to complete a DELTA when I am in Japan and would this be beneficial. What does a career path look like to a beginner English language teacher
                        At the beginning it is quite fun actually. You are in a new country with many things that you have never seen before and can be very interesting. However, after a few months, reality settles in and you begin to realize how far at the bottom of the social spectrum gaijins are here. Good luck trying to even get a credit card or a loan here. In the long run, job opportunities will become fewer as full time work is drying up and working conditions continue to deteriorate.

                        .
                        Originally posted by alanalanalan View Post
                        I understand I may sound naive, but that is why I am asking the forum and all the collective experience it has for constructive information.
                        Your questions are fairly normal I think, so don`t sweat it. However, I would highly reccommend you do some reaserach on your own before posting any more questions in order to avoid being chastised on here. My blantant adviseis to pick another country to teach English in or get some experience here for a year or two and then move on to some place better.

                        Lot`s of information out there, good luck in your search.
                        Last edited by StarfoxPro; 2013-03-07, 03:27 PM.

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                        • #13
                          There is no real progression, especially for a gaijin.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nogimmickneeded4 View Post
                            There is no real progression, especially for a gaijin.
                            Yes, thats just the very nature of the job! Thats not news. I think most people can see there is not structure to climb up. Its a teaching job (or assisting the REAL teachers?) end of story
                            But compared to other countries, Japanese wages are certainly not the worst

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The OP has stopped responding, so I guess he (or she) could not handle what we had to say. Even with that, it is better to tell people how it is BEFORE they come over here and screw up their lives. It`s for their own good.

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