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Why English teachers in Japan feel like frauds and what to d
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1520
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:11 pm    Post subject: Why English teachers in Japan feel like frauds and what to d Reply with quote

Quote:
An issue that is difficult to pinpoint within the English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching profession are those who have joined the ranks without the proper training, and then continue to work. There are lots of people who find themselves teaching English as a default job, or it was an opportunity that arose, and they took it. After all, as the adage is thought, “if you can do something, you can teach it” and your language seems be an easy path to teach. But, this myth can quickly dissipate as the teacher finds himself or herself bored, and often not knowing what to do, leading to all sorts of problems-from disillusionment to other feelings of dissatisfaction.

Some commercial schools have taken their ‘teacher-training’ and minimalized it to the point where the new hires are given mostly instruction on how to fill out forms such as transportation and taxes in Japanese. For those that have more training, there are cases where the new trainee is to shadow a teacher who has been in the country longer. These trainers are often either new themselves, or just experienced in teaching, but have no idea how to train. This can lead to a situation where sometimes “the blind are leading the blind”. Many of the experienced teachers will think of this new mentoring obligation as a pain and will do the bare minimum to not get in trouble, which is not what a new hire really needs to start their career here.


The whole article https://jobsinjapan.com/blog/news/why-english-teachers-in-japan-feel-like-frauds-and-what-to-do-about-it/
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, that is a pretty poorly-written article, even for an Associate Professor of Business at a Japanese uni. I got as far as the following paragraph before calling it:

Quote:
For teachers who have been mistreated after getting hired, by not getting proper training, what it is important to ensure that they themselves get their required education. While credentials are vital for career advancement and an excellent way to show employers that the holder has taken the time and commitment to complete the requirements – it is the continued and motivated education about teaching that can be a career changer.


Anyhoo, fact is, feelings of inadequacy and fraudulence can occur even with (indeed, may be partly due to) the "proper" training (the author very vaguely alludes to a news report a decade ago in Europe highlighting similar issues, but where standards are supposedly higher), and we seem to have generally reached a now quite counterproductive impasse, where people wherever may actually be trying their best (while being paid ever less) yet still be being admonished about standards, professionalism etc.

I agree though with the idea of necessarily pulling yourself up at least partly by your own bootstraps, just so long as the constant overall aim is made clear(er): I think all we can ultimately do as (communicative) language teachers is establish some truths (facts) about (the) language and try to present them despite what those who claim to know better may insist we do otherwise. And if the naysayers and empty vessels become too numerous or loud or unhelpful or "exploitative" or whatever, y'know what, you may just have to keep changing jobs if not career.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1520
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Had he no editor?!

From the article

Quote:
Decades after working their first English teaching job (even ones that had no training at all), for those who took advantage of their time teaching later found themselves as professors, and other professionals who were better organized, and great communicators.


I posted it to see what others might make of it.

May I share observations I have about professionalism here in Japan? I’ve noticed that the JET participants I have contact with tend to have intermediate to advanced Japanese language skills. The quality of Japanese language instruction has improved, and it appears more schools abroad offer courses. Many of the JETs I meet are getting their feet wet in the classroom, intending to start careers in education. ALT may be an entry level job, but the JETs tend to be committed and forward-looking. Every summer, a group of former JETs teach an immersion program at my school. They’re all now educators in their subjects - English, math, social studies, etc.

I meet many former Eikawa employees and ALTs who pulled themselves up through TESOL training, experience and Japanese language study. Some are university lecturers and international school teachers.

My point is, bootstrapping is absolutely possible.

It’s too bad this writer (for JALT’s Language Teacher publication no less) can’t compose well.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Liz. What about the JTEs, Grammar-Translation etc though? It's a problem even in private high schools sometimes. Or if you work in eikaiwa, the often "undeviating" McMethod robolessons etc. Or if you work in unis, the reportedly low level and/or lack of motivation still of supposed English majors etc.

You can be as fluent as you like in Japanese then, but to some, experience ELTing in Japan counts for nothing, even if standards aren't really that much higher elsewhere, at least at the "entry" level. Or perhaps as you say the key to advancing in Japan is rather and mostly that J language ability. Which is perhaps the way it should be. Either way, I'm hoping Prof Miller's Japanese is better than his English LOL.

Me, I didn't on the surface of things "advance" that much in Japan (in fact, everything after JET was a bit of a "step down", certainly perks-wise), but I kept my mind active thinking about and reading up on grammar, linguistics etc, and picked up at least a basic understanding of and ability in Japanese (knowing written Chinese, my first love, helped somewhat though). I may still do an MA but I have no real desire to work in universities (I'd prefer to complete a few lil projects of my own first).


Last edited by fluffytwo on Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1520
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hi Liz. What about the JTEs, Grammar-Translation etc though? It's a problem even in private high schools sometimes. Or if you work in eikaiwa, the McMethod robolessons etc. Or if you work in unis, the reportedly low level and/or lack of motivation still of supposed English majors etc.


Those are two other huge issues in so-called English education here in Japan, right? JTEs who are “frauds” in the sense that they have very weak understanding of either the language or effective approaches to teaching in general and language in specific.

Eikaiwa is a service job and is all about volume and turnover. Big Eikaiwas need a McFormula, everything from storefront and ad appeal, to who you’re going to “cast” as teachers to how you’re going to sell a sense of accomplishment to the customers.

But the blog post is aimed at non-Japanese teacher self-development and career advancement.

I forgot to add in the above post, JET participants are offered support to do TESOL certification online.

But is this writer out to lunch? I’m wondering about the stats - how many non-Japanese work as dispatch ALTs, Eikawa employees? It’s important to note that not all of them are unqualified or not fluent in Japanese.

Comtrast them with direct hire ALTs (besides JET participants), English subject teachers in high schools, and post secondary instructors.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't be so hard on most JTEs as to call them frauds. The "necessary" changes in public FL education in Japan need to primarily come from "on high".

The main sense of accomplishment I gave my eikaiwa students I mean customers was how many linguistic pushups they (yup, even the grannies) could do while I perfected my Sensei Kreese impersonation. "Is this a pen?", what cutting-edge communicative stuff, thanks CELTA etc. What is the problem Mr Lawrence?!

TBH I don't think ELT or teaching qualifications really earn you that much anywhere, or what you do earn you're having to work harder and harder for and to even keep (self-employed or owner/boss may help though). And the online nature of whatever TEFL certs JET will fund (which have to be ENTIRELY online) will obviously vary and again cut little dice with some, especially outside Japan. (Frankly I'm surprised that JET participants can't afford the costs themselves and are chasing such "grants").

The way to go then seems to be to qualify in other areas (while improving one's Japanese, if one is set on staying in Japan). YMMV.

Main point however is that I think one can only feel a fraud if what one is doing is actually fraudulent e.g. misrepresenting the language out of pedagogical "convenience" (laziness~"inventiveness", wishful thinking, and so on).
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1550
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have grow tired of the Horatio Alger narrative.
Half of jobs are part-time and tenure is elusive.
My transportation has not been paid by one school and another university does not pay for the full fare.
Schools want to save money which means younger teachers have an easier time.


Just working harder is no guarantee as there are too many teachers competing for fewer jobs. There are fewer younger people now.

Schools are looking for more than teachers who can actually teach.
Sometimes 40 is too old.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1520
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was invited to teach at a University last year. The salary and benefits were good, and the department people are upbeat and communicate well. They were willing to hire me, over 40, with a TESOL diploma, and not yet finished TESOL MA, on the merit of my experience. I can’t remember how many coma, but it was a salary comparable to private high school jobs with considerably more down time.

I turned down the University position because the course I would teach and the language level of the students were no different from most of the high schools I have taught in. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Networking is the key. You meet people, they like your attitude, read your published work, see your commitment, and DING! job offer.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 1606

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TokyoLiz wrote:

Those are two other huge issues in so-called English education here in Japan, right? JTEs who are “frauds” in the sense that they have very weak understanding of either the language or effective approaches to teaching in general and language in specific.

Eikaiwa is a service job and is all about volume and turnover. Big Eikaiwas need a McFormula, everything from storefront and ad appeal, to who you’re going to “cast” as teachers to how you’re going to sell a sense of accomplishment to the customers.

But the blog post is aimed at non-Japanese teacher self-development and career advancement.

I forgot to add in the above post, JET participants are offered support to do TESOL certification online.

But is this writer out to lunch? I’m wondering about the stats - how many non-Japanese work as dispatch ALTs, Eikawa employees? It’s important to note that not all of them are unqualified or not fluent in Japanese.

Comtrast them with direct hire ALTs (besides JET participants), English subject teachers in high schools, and post secondary instructors.


I agree with you, Eikaiwas have a massive turnover, both in students as well as teachers. Which really brings in a certain type of person who thrives in such an environment.

I would have to say that the ability to teach actual English here is very low. I went to an eikaiwa Hween party last year, because someone was sick. My family went, and my wife was amazed at how little the kids knew. I mean nothing. They could repeat after the teacher, but that was it. They couldn't respond nor do anything. I have seen his all over. Even kids doing Garpeseed can't produce.
I think it's wither a mix of low standards for the teachers, mixed with low expectations from the customers. Which leads to some serious compromises. Instead of "I like it when it's sunny" "Like SUNNY!". It just feeds into it's self.
I was lucky to meet people who can teach and we learned from each other. Every trainer I have had was basically a charisma man, or a hanger on and sucked their way up. They had absolutely no methods, and everything was basically "do a party game" or just try harder.

I think the writer is onto something, just needs some editing so people don't jump on the grammar parts.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 1606

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:

Schools want to save money which means younger teachers have an easier time.



Schools are looking for more than teachers who can actually teach.
Sometimes 40 is too old.




There is a weird emphasis here on youth over any other qualifications. I guess being a genki teacher beats knowing how to actually teach. Seems many people want and expect some 25 yo, and are upset when the teacher isn't some young guy/girl.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1520
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rx22 wrote

Quote:
There is a weird emphasis here on youth over any other qualifications. I guess being a genki teacher beats knowing how to actually teach.


It’s hardly weird. Young teachers are cheaper.

When I left a high school job, my replacement was younger and paid much less based on age/seniority salary schedules.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rxk22 wrote:
I think the writer is onto something, just needs some editing so people don't jump on the grammar parts.


But he's not onto that much though, is he: 'Negligence is often due to cost savings and lack of resources, but these difficult starts are not only limited to privately run language schools either as it can also occur with government schools, private Jukus and post-secondary institutions.' Well, knock me down with a feather!

And Miller's solution? (Aside from getting the 'proper' training, which as we all know could be a whole new thread in itself, and is I'd argue a large part of whatever methodology-level problems in ELT in general). 'At least read and think about something, anything that is better than this here blogpost' LOL.

Seriously though, personal CPD by no means assures actual career "progression". Miller seems a relic of a bygone era ('Decades after working their first English teaching job [even ones that had no training at all], for those who took advantage of their time teaching later found themselves as professors, and other professionals who were better organized, and great communicators'), and one person's networking or whatever may just have been them snapping up stuff that was more or less sitting right there on their doorstep anyway.

I will however be cracking out stuff like The Luck Factor pronto to help disabuse myself of any completely wishful thinking ROFL.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1550
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I see this. It is why I get disgusted as I am certified in the US, but have to compete with younger people who could be less qualified but are cheaper.
Frankly Japan is not serious about English education. It is a preserve of the elite. Go to Hong Kong and see what they do. The university entrance exam tests the four skills.

Your age or the way you look is more important.

Eikaiwa is not easy as I know, I started doing eikaiwa again after many years. I teach a group of students aged 12-15 and another class has one man who works in business. You need to tailor your classes to them and get them talking. Mildly fun is ok but they should practice using the language.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1550
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More and more, it is the gig economy. Half of teachers work full-time. The other half are working two jobs or more. I have six jobs. Four at universities, one at an eikaiwa and the other at testing.
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Yanklonigan



Joined: 23 Jan 2017
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there's more to this issue of wanting younger teachers than mere cost effectiveness. This was prevalent back when I taught in Japan in from 1989 to 1994.

The Japanese are very brand conscious where the packaging is very important to them. Appearances beats content any day of the week. Bored Japanese want to coo over a pretty boy while Japanese businessmen want to lick their lips over the sight of a delicious young blond from California.

Parents are more comfortable with younger teachers teaching their children...and the children relate more to a bubbly and pretty young woman or a handsome young man.

I was the director of a chain of a half dozen school in Tochigi and I was very mindful what our students wanted. The costumer is always right.
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