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High school teachers: which college major was best for you?
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:06 pm    Post subject: High school teachers: which college major was best for you? Reply with quote

Hi everyone!

I have a young friend in America who wants to wants to go teach English at a high school in Japan. (He has a friend who already teaches high school in Japan.) My friend finished high school a couple of years ago and he is now ready to start college.

My question is this: Since he wants to teach English at a high school in Japan, what would be the best major for him to take in college? English? Japanese? Elementary Education? (Majoring in being a high school language teacher is not option, as he does not speak any foreign language.) For those of you who are already teaching at a high school in Japan, which major would have been most helpful for you to take in college?

I would also like to ask about getting a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate. Is it necessary to get one to teach high school in Japan? Is it helpful, in terms of finding a job? Which is the best for a job in Japan?
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 803
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:08 am    Post subject: Re: High school teachers: which college major was best for y Reply with quote

Cappuccino wrote:
Hi everyone!

I have a young friend in America who wants to wants to go teach English at a high school in Japan. (He has a friend who already teaches high school in Japan.) My friend finished high school a couple of years ago and he is now ready to start college.

My question is this: Since he wants to teach English at a high school in Japan, what would be the best major for him to take in college? English? Japanese? Elementary Education? (Majoring in being a high school language teacher is not option, as he does not speak any foreign language.) For those of you who are already teaching at a high school in Japan, which major would have been most helpful for you to take in college?

I would also like to ask about getting a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate. Is it necessary to get one to teach high school in Japan? Is it helpful, in terms of finding a job? Which is the best for a job in Japan?


While teaching certification might slightly improve your job prospects (as well as hopefully better prepare you for doing the job), I don't think undergraduate major is an important issue for finding most ALT work. I've met ALTs with every degree imaginable...including Bakery Science.

Finally, if you and/or your friend are serious about working in Japan and have the opportunity, I would study Japanese as well. Long term, communicative ability in that language will help you more than just about anything else.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1548
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you or your friend are looking at long term in Japan, and aiming at high school teaching, you'd benefit from a BA or BSc. in any major, JLPT N2 or N1, and CELTA or equivalent.

Some of the most effective non-Japanese teachers of English I have met here were science and philosophy majors with TESOL preparation.
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

taikibansei wrote:
I've met ALTs with every degree imaginable...including Bakery Science.


But he has to major in something. I wonder if I should recommend Japanese Language. Japanese History? Japanese Literature in English?

TokyoLiz wrote:
If you or your friend are looking at long term in Japan, and aiming at high school teaching, you'd benefit from a BA or BSc. in any major, JLPT N2 or N1, and CELTA or equivalent.

Some of the most effective non-Japanese teachers of English I have met here were science and philosophy majors with TESOL preparation.


I hadn't thought about the JLPT test. Thanks for that idea.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1218
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you are going about this backwards. Start with the job not the place. Does he actually want to be a high-school teacher, or is that just a way of getting to spend some time in Japan? If he wants to make a career out of teaching, then he should major in teaching his preferred subject. If it's just a means to an end, then he should major in something he eventually wants to make a career out of and get an English teaching cert to go with it.

Globally, STEM subjects are always in demand. Locally, it's hard to imagine a Japanese high-school wanting to hire a foreigner to teach Japanese history or literature. However, if the plan is to do a couple of years in Japan and then return home, they could be good choices because a stint in Japan would boost his experience later.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 803
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ is asking you (sorry, "your friend") an important question. What do you want to do long-term?

Even with licensing in your home country, you are probably not going to be a high school teacher in Japan ever. You will be an ALT--to become which, one's major in most cases does not matter. (Sometimes, a certain school will prefer a particular emphasis for a specific special program, but that could be in anything really.) Accordingly, getting a particular undergraduate major just to be an ALT in Japan is silly. Get your undergraduate degree in a subject you are interested in, preferably one that aligns with your long-term goals.
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TokyoLiz wrote:
Some of the most effective non-Japanese teachers of English I have met here were science and philosophy majors with TESOL preparation.


I would like to add that this is something that might be worth pointing out to the student.

I am curious: Do you know of any techniques that such teachers are using effectively?
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
I think you are going about this backwards.


Unfortunately, doing career counseling is not always that easy. When a student says they are already thinking of pursuing a particular career in a particular country, I go with that. But you are right, I eventually intend to bring up the idea of having a plan B in case plan A doesn’t work out.

HLJHLJ wrote:
Does he actually want to be a high-school teacher, or is that just a way of getting to spend some time in Japan?


He wants to be a high school teacher in Japan long-term. (He is unaware of differences between an ALT and a ‘tenured’ high school teacher. If I remember correctly, an ALT can only work until age 30. Is that right, or is that just the age limit to apply?)

HLJHLJ wrote:
If he wants to make a career out of teaching, then he should major in teaching his preferred subject.


That’s a good idea. A good major for an English teacher may indeed be English! Perhaps English composition, English short-story writing, English linguistics, a Bachelor’s in ESL/EFL, something like that.

HLJHLJ wrote:
Globally, STEM subjects are always in demand.


Rare is the day when I can just say, “You should be a…” Good career counseling just isn’t done this way. This student has not shown any interest in a STEM career. I wouldn’t bring it up unless something somewhere suggested it (such as the results of a career interest inventory). Such are the limitations a career counselor works under.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1218
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only high-school position he is ever likely to get in Japan is English teaching, so if that's his goal, then an English major of some sort. However, it's also possible to do additional TESOL specializations, so he could major in pretty much any subject with a TESOL specialization and it would make no difference to his employment prospects.
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

taikibansei wrote:
HLJHLJ is asking you (sorry, "your friend") an important question. What do you want to do long-term?


The student has told me he wants to teach English at the high school level in Japan long-term.

taikibansei wrote:
Even with licensing in your home country, you are probably not going to be a high school teacher in Japan ever. You will be an ALT--to become which, one's major in most cases does not matter. (Sometimes, a certain school will prefer a particular emphasis for a specific special program, but that could be in anything really.)


That is good to know. I will point this out to the student. I am curious: Do you know of any examples of schools that have a certain emphasis for a specific special program?

I would also say that I imagine most ALT’s just want to be short-term ALT’s. So, I suppose my student’s situation is different and requires more preparation before he goes to Japan.

taikibansei wrote:
Accordingly, getting a particular undergraduate major just to be an ALT in Japan is silly.


That may be true, but that is exactly what this student is planning to do (sort of). I encourage students to get a college degree. I see value in this student doing just this, even though his reasoning is not the best. However, I think that discouraging him from doing this would be a mistake.

taikibansei wrote:
Get your undergraduate degree in a subject you are interested in, preferably one that aligns with your long-term goals.


The student has said his long-term goal is to teach English in Japan at the high school level long-term. This is why I am asking for ideas on this forum as to what exactly that entails.


Last edited by Cappuccino on Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:48 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
The only high-school position he is ever likely to get in Japan is English teaching, so if that's his goal, then an English major of some sort. However, it's also possible to do additional TESOL specializations, so he could major in pretty much any subject with a TESOL specialization and it would make no difference to his employment prospects.


Thanks for sharing that. These are good ideas that I can pass along to the student.

I must admit I am not familiar with TESOL specializations. What are some of the more popular TESOL specializations out there?
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1218
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cappuccino wrote:


taikibansei wrote:
Accordingly, getting a particular undergraduate major just to be an ALT in Japan is silly.


That may be true, but that is exactly what this student is planning to do. I encourage students to get a college degree. I see value in this student doing just this, even though his reasoning is not the best. However, I think that discouraging him from doing this would be a mistake.


You are missing the point. No-one is saying you should discourage him from going to college, but to encourage him to study something he wants to study because it won't make any difference to his chances of an ALT position.


No-one in Japan will care what TESOL specialization he has. Most won't care if he has one at all. It will just make his life easier in the classroom.
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
…encourage him to study something he wants to study…


I will. Unfortunately, he has no idea what he wants to major in.

HLJHLJ wrote:
It will just make his life easier in the classroom.


That is a good goal for my student to strive for (assuming he wants to spend the time, money, and energy on getting a TESOL specialization). By the way, if he were to go on and get a TESOL specialization, would it be better to get it in Japan or America?
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1218
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the US. TESOL specializations are offered by the university when you study for another major. They can sometimes also be offered as minors or subsids. If he can't tag it on to his studies, he can just do a standalone certificate like the CELTA or something equivalent.
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Cappuccino



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
In the US. TESOL specializations are offered by the university when you study for another major. They can sometimes also be offered as minors or subsids. If he can't tag it on to his studies, he can just do a standalone certificate like the CELTA or something equivalent.


So it sounds like, if he were to do this, it would be better to do this in America, than to go to Japan, wait a couple of years, then get it in Japan.
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