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Why did you leave Japan (or why will you?)
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baki



Joined: 29 Dec 2010
Posts: 70

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

marley'sghost wrote:
baki wrote:
Thank you for this thread. Many of these experiences reflect my own.

I went from looking forward to making Japan my home and making a difference, to needing to drink everyday to get over it, and I'm not a drinker.

Right now I'm contemplating a job in China because,

- I'm not teaching elementary/secondary school English




Sounds to me like maybe changing jobs might be a less drastic solution than changing countries. If you don't like ES/JHS maybe it's time to get out and get an Eikaiwa gig, or do company classes. There are other types of teaching work.


I've done all that, from pre-school to eikaiwa to TA at a technical college as well as other subjects, so I have extensive experience. I realised that I was not improving as a person and skill wise, in fact I felt that even my own English was deteriorating because I've become less connected with it in daily life.

Quote:

Do you not speak Japanese, or is it that you are opposed to using it in the classroom? Just curious.


I do, but my job here is not learning Japanese. If I'm spending twice as much energy on doing something else (A) just to achieve (B) then the emphasis is no longer on (B) but (A). That's not where I want my career to go if all that extra energy is not going to help me elsewhere. I started out in English only because that is the best way for students to learn, unfortunately they insist on the learning style they are used to (translation). Eventually I had to teach myself Japanese to teach English (basically all the things the JTE does). This differ greatly from my experience in other countries.

Quote:
Quote:
- I don't have to be an assistant to the main teacher with poor communication and class-management skills


Yeah, frustrating that. I'm an ALT myself. I've found over the years once you demonstrate that you can manage the class, (most) main teachers will let you run it as you see fit. I make my own worksheets, organize the activities, and use the JTE as my assistant. It is possible to use your "outsider" status to your advantage. You dispatch or direct-hire?


I was both. I do/did everything even in my very first year as a teacher when I had zero experience, and even back then I was leading classes on my own. I'm just that engaged in everything I do. I even taught myself AJAX just to incorporate IT into the classroom. Maybe I do too much for a job that is just not worth the effort in the end.

Quote:

Quote:
- I don't get paid less than the main teacher for doing all the work plus classroom management while they sit at the back


I imagine you also get to leave at 4:30, don't have to grade tests, talk to parents, coach clubs Saturday and Sunday, I could go on and on. It's a big job. I don't say this to diminish your effort, I'm sure you work hard. Especially if you have a lot of different schools and classes and ages and a full schedule, just the logistics and prep alone can end up being the entire job. But I don't think we can compare that to the responsibilities of a typical homeroom teacher. But yes, the money sucks. If I did not enjoy the job itself so much, I couldn't do it.
[/quote]

You mean 部活? I literally owned it. This was one of the main reason why I chose to work in ES/JHS/HS so that I could engage in the active lifestyle outside of the classroom. I was a full-time assistant to one of the clubs and would regularly join others. I rarely left at 4:30. I even visited club competitions sometimes an hour away even on weekends. I enjoyed doing all that for a while.

I'm well aware that we don't have the responsibilities of a typical homeroom teacher, but who here hasn't marked papers, corrected journals, prepared lesson plans and translations or prepare speech tests and contests? It's just that some of us are faster and more efficient at it than others. If they look like they're overworked, then it's not because they're overwhelmed by a typical workload of a teacher, it's because they chose to work like that.
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 431

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With regards to teaching jobs in Japan, ever consider a private high school job? I'm currently working at one - had done Eikaiwa/ALT before - and while it can be busy, I find the job satisfaction to be significantly higher.
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marley'sghost



Joined: 04 Oct 2010
Posts: 231

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got it, get it, and see where you are coming from. You are a serious teacher. I've made my peace with the system. I know I can't change it, so I pretty much ignore it. I see English like 技術 class. The kids learn about English with their regular teacher. When it's my lesson, it's time to knock together the language equivalent of those crooked bookshelves the 2nd year JHS kids build. I've got my niche, my system, get left alone and use my free time to prep my side work.

You wrote you had a house? Man, I'd seriously look into just finding a better job. Like a private school like Sudz suggested. But they are pretty few and far between. Might have to sell the house anyways.....
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Yanklonigan



Joined: 23 Jan 2017
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greetings from South Carolina, USA, to all of my fellow posters. I have been popping in here at Dave's Cafe off and on for years but I have never posted. I am a big fan of Scot 47's writings. I saw this current thread about reasons about why people left Japan, and I felt compelled to respond.

I had two tours of duties in Japan for a total of five years: 1989 to 1992 (3 years) and 1992 to 1994 (2 years). To be honest about it, the first stint was more enjoyable for me than the second. I was at the Mike Tyson-Buster fight, I saw George Harrison and Eric Clapton, the money seemed to better, I had more friends and I traveled to Singapore and Hong Kong in those earlier years.

I think that by 1992 the novelty of living in Japan and teaching English had died for me. It was always difficult for me to see close friends move away and on to other things; I felt life was passing me by. When I went home for the second time I had to fight off the impulse to try to go back to Japan for a third time because I knew I would be miserable.

My time in Japan has been over for twenty-two years and I still think about it often. What a time it had been for me. In retrospect I don't think I would have gone for a second hitch; for the magic just wasn't there any more.
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Rooster.



Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 244

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yanklonigan wrote:
Greetings from South Carolina, USA, to all of my fellow posters. I have been popping in here at Dave's Cafe off and on for years but I have never posted. I am a big fan of Scot 47's writings. I saw this current thread about reasons about why people left Japan, and I felt compelled to respond.

I had two tours of duties in Japan for a total of five years: 1989 to 1992 (3 years) and 1992 to 1994 (2 years). To be honest about it, the first stint was more enjoyable for me than the second. I was at the Mike Tyson-Buster fight, I saw George Harrison and Eric Clapton, the money seemed to better, I had more friends and I traveled to Singapore and Hong Kong in those earlier years.

I think that by 1992 the novelty of living in Japan and teaching English had died for me. It was always difficult for me to see close friends move away and on to other things; I felt life was passing me by. When I went home for the second time I had to fight off the impulse to try to go back to Japan for a third time because I knew I would be miserable.

My time in Japan has been over for twenty-two years and I still think about it often. What a time it had been for me. In retrospect I don't think I would have gone for a second hitch; for the magic just wasn't there any more.


So you went home for part of a year and went back to Japan?
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Yanklonigan



Joined: 23 Jan 2017
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. that's right. I went back home for about 6 months. I think I suffered from "reversed culture shock." There was also a romantic interest involved. When I was back home I missed all of the positives about Japan, but put the negatives out of my mind. When I stated on my second tour of duty all of the things I had disliked about the place seemingly jumped out at me while the good things began to fade away.

As far as the teaching jobs went, I always did my best professional job regardless of the situation. I taught for four different English schools and as an adjunct at two universities. I also picked up a decent share of privates. I think I sabotaged myself by getting greedy. I think I worked seven days a week for several months. The money was good but my life was Hell!
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 482

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sudz:
Quote:
With regards to teaching jobs in Japan, ever consider a private high school job? I'm currently working at one - had done Eikaiwa/ALT before - and while it can be busy, I find the job satisfaction to be significantly higher.


I second this view. A private high school is much more satisfying.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 482

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to double post here.

Private high school teaching gives you access to a diverse array of students with different interests. At a university, you may teach students who are all in the same program, and therefore have the same hobbies etc. In my brief experience at a university in Japan, I found the students less interesting for this reason.

I should mention that with regards to private high school jobs, I won't say they are easy to come by. But, I did find it advertised on Dave's! So, from time to time these kinds of jobs come up.

Also, you will likely need an MA, experience teaching in Japan, and some kind of edge. That edge could be Japanese language skills and / or previous experience working in a public school in your country with a teaching license.

It is also important to find out if a job offers tenure after an initial 3 years contract, or whether it is a renewable contract and for how long.
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 431

PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding qualifications, the teachers I work with usually have some combination of a teaching degree/related MA, high Japanese ability, or significant teaching experience teaching in Japan (though usually not all 3).

Also, knowing someone presently established at the school will definitely up your chances (as is the norm).
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The Transformer



Joined: 03 Mar 2017
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've done three stints in Japan: two years with Nova about 15 years ago, then a second stint of four years, having done an English teaching certificate, attempting to build up a better teaching career, working a variety of language schools, ALT work, business classes.

I got wiped out by the recession in 2008-09, came home and did a Japanese course, then came back and did a third stint of three years, trying to pick up where I'd left off. The landscape has changed a lot and it's much harder than it used to be, so I finally threw in the towel and I've since been back home building up work in freelance translation instead, which is what I'd always wanted to do.

I doubt as many people come over and stay on in Japan for as long as they used to do pre-Nova crash and the 2008 recession. It's not so worth it any more.
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victory7



Joined: 22 Mar 2016
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely it aint worth it anymore for so many native English teachers.

I have lived in different prefectures, have a family here, have been around for a long time. I do better than most people but my schedule for getting out is now is 2 yrs from now. Why?

To name a few - Japanese war flags flying in your face at events like the Abe visit to the SDF headquarters last year. SMH at a cowardly media refusing to point it out and at Japanese people thinking it aint no big or small deal. As someone who has German roots I have never seen the Nazi and other German war flags being flown by the German govt esp not at military events, and th German people would not accept that anyway.

The closed country mentality that is increasing, not decreasing. Dream on if you like that Japan is changing but it is not. Its rhetoric for public and global consumption changes but the key insularity and subtle hostility to things and people non Japanese remains and does not get better. Yep you CAN judge a country by its capital and what passes for normal there.

Tokyo still has so many people working in customer service, for govt at all level etc and just everyday people whose attitudes towards a different face even when the face is speaking fluent Japanese, is similar to backwaters where people do not see anybody different. I could quote you a long list of horseshizz comments by Jp business people I come into contact with regularly about allergies to Engllish, we Japanese are one people and so cannot be like the rest of the world etc. And these are the educated people.

I do a lot of business-related English work and it worries me how common these kinds of attitudes are including shrugging at everything that is backwards about the capital including cartoons showing a Jp granma surrounded on a subway by non Jp people. Gee, how shocking, non Japanese who live in Japan, make a living and pay taxes to support Granma do not have the right to be paying customers on a subway w/out hysterical cartoonists making it a thing.

Then there is the constant whining about Trump and how bad he is from Japanese but this is from people who live under the authoritarian regime of Jiminto -a collection of textbook revisionists, the grandchildren and great grandchildren of POW slave holders who refuse to admit anything about that history, apologists for fascists on the board of the national broadcasting service that collects a forced tax for its service, and Jp government authorities everywhere who refuse to accept that most non Jp who have lived in Japan for some time should have a genuine pathway to permanent residency and more simply.

The USA and other immigrant countries have their problems but they are not built on all these restrictions and limitations for people who are legally in their countries and contribute. Helll, even if you do not contribute taxes or whatever in those countries you are treated better than us non Japnaese here. Japanese people receive very faovrable treatment in the USA, Canada, Austalia, NZ etc yet there is the dominant thinking that non Japanes do not deserve the same treatment in Japan.

If anybody here wants to keep contributing taxes that yes, are high even tho uninformed people say Jp taxes are cheap, it is just that they come in different forms like coupons to pay the NHI and juminze, while being kept on the lower rung all the time, feel free. But I and my Jp family will not do that.

Japan now has around one third of the country over 60. Things will not get better, we will just get squeezed to pay for people who will keep voting for Jiminto and other politicians that tend towards the Japanese form of apartheid. Even now so many Jp people I know are biching about the Olympics and what a meiwaku it will be dealing with visitors. They cannot even handle the numbers now but they are happy to globetrot around the world on tours and refer to the locals as gaijin.

To make this even more of a bad joke, the Jp govt is going to supposedly revive the dead end northern areas like Tohoku by telling gaijin to go on tour there. I have seen the plans and I thought what a joke. People in the capital generally have backwards attitudes towards tourists and those of us who work here so I honestly cannot imagine what people in the northern regions will do when the gaijn forget some small custom that is so precious to the Japanese but is really not objectively important. Gaijin will supposedly pay their cash to support a declining, ageing, increasingly provincial Japan.

I do not have these delusions.
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Vince



Joined: 05 May 2003
Posts: 532
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Victory7, I empathize with your concerns. I saw some of what you describe. I can't say that Japan is a wasteland of that kind of behavior, but you see it enough that it can weigh on you.

For the last year or two of my six years in Japan, the lack of career prospects started wearing thin. Looking back, I could have monetized other skills. I just didn't have the vision back then.

Regardless of whether I slogged it out in TEFL or went in another direction, the news that my wife was pregnant gave me a different perspective about staying in Japan. The reality was that I held a fair amount of Japanese culture at arms length and operated mostly in the gaijin bubble, so having my child go to Japanese public school and grow up with that mindset wasn't a comfortable prospect for me. Of course, I also wanted to be able to provide a better standard of life than I'd likely realize as an EFL teacher in Japan.
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Cerlin



Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:25 pm    Post subject: Hindsight is Nice. Reply with quote

Wow, there is a wide variety of opinion here with a mostly cynical tint that reminds me when I was in Japan.

I worked in Tokyo-to from 2008-2010, during the worst of the recession. I worked for an Eikaiwa and had a good (but mixed) experience. The students, teaching experience, training, and lifestyle were all great. My management went from great into horrible, which forced me to get really good at Japanese quick (I had a decent ability before coming, however.) In the end I left because I got married, my wife quit her full time job after college and hated it, and I was tired of Japanese living. We moved back to the states.

It has been 7 years. My wife is very successful. We live in Southern California, one of the best places to be Japanese, speak fluent English, have a green card, and a university degree. She works for the big company that she always dreamed about and makes good money. Mission accomplished, right?

For me, I got a masters in the field (Asian History and Culture) and took my Japanese from good but not fluent to research level fluent. I then spent the last 4 years grinding it out teaching English at an international language school. Only this year will I finally start teaching as a lecturer at an American university.

Coming of a recent trip to Japan to see my in-laws (with my parents) showed me that I had gotten over a lot of the bitterness and issues I had with Japan. The things that bothered me, no longer did. I am more mature. I see why I had to leave at the time, and why I could go back now. The future in the US is more stable, and has a better chance for me to be tenured faculty someday. However, I can see benefit living in Japan. I could use 5-10 more years to have even better Japanese and the time would give me credibility to help my research and help me get tenure somewhere.

It also helps that at my last school I taught students from all over the world (including 15-30% Japanese depending on the season.) All I have to say to you all is wow, the grass is greener on the other side. Anything you thing is wrong about Japan and Japanese students, try to teach more around the world. Discipline issues, racism, homophobia, lack of respect, illiteracy (in university grads) all contribute to my much more balanced opinion.

These 4 years gave me the perspective, both showing what I like and dislike about Japanese culture, but what I love about America. Going back to Japan now would be better for me because I have become a patriot for the States.

That is all before considering items such as; spending time with my wife's family, the best place to have kids in their early years, where I want to own property, and other issues.

Overall, I would say having a goal helps the most and I would rate my Japanese experience an A-. I am happy I left when I did, but I would be happy to go back. I have helped friends I know from work and school go to Japan and I have yet to receive angry facebook tsunamis, so there is a 'good' way to go.
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 431

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting posts. With regards to yourself Cerlin, you definitely sound as though you have perspective (both from your knowledge of Japan, and from your experience both in and out of Japan). I think this is necessary to be happy long-term here (this goes for any country).

Personally, I find that leaving Japan for extended periods of time (which is a luxury that not everyone has) is key for me to stay positive about living here for extended periods of time. Before this, I was happily living in Vietnam for several years (well, the majority of the time) despite the negatives, and I think part of the reason I had such a positive experience was that I was able to leave the country 2 or 3 times a year (something I have not been able to do in Japan until recently). I always found that I was happy to leave, but then happy to return. Likewise with Japan, I find the the positives tend to shine again on return, while in contrast they tend to get muted when I'm here for 'too long'.

With regards to teaching English here in general, I would be careful in recommending the place (depending on the person and their motives). Far too many lousy teaching positions, as well as high competition for the better jobs (often which require a previous investment in the country due to the need for experience with Japanese learners).
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moviefan1987



Joined: 23 Nov 2015
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I second the opinion shared here by Sudz. You can appreciate the good aspects of Japan much more if you are able to take vacations abroad every so often. This year, I traveled to China and Laos and while I was able to enjoy myself sightseeing and seeing other parts of Asia, I felt much more appreciative of the good aspects of Japan upon returning. After seeing the lack of cleanliness and public order and stability elsewhere, Japan seems much better in comparison. Among the best places to live in Asia even, with its great public infrastructure, safety, food cleanliness, and beautiful nature and hiking spots to enjoy within easy distance of most major cities.

Japan is a good place to live, but only if you remain balanced and self aware of its good and bad points. It helps to travel abroad and get out of Japan to avoid burnout. This year, I will travel to Guam.

I would hesitate to recommend Japan for new TEFLers, though. I have a decent direct hire BOE job, but I also have a TESOL MA, JLPT level 1, and a Japanese wife. You really need qualifications and a network here to get the better jobs.
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