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Please Help

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Joined: 04 Mar 2003
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 1:21 pm    Post subject: Please Help Reply with quote

I am a recent graduate and I am concidering trying to teach ESL in Japan. So my specific questions are,

1. What sorts of things, (for those who have successfully worked in Japan) did you put on your resume to be appealing? What do you think they are looking for in a candidate?

2. Did you find it difficult to live in Japan? How difficult was it to overcome the language barrier? With the 250,000- 270,000 yen that most of these jobs offer; did you find that it was difficult to live on?

3. If I am accepted as a teacher in Japan, what sorts of things can I expect from the students? Will they be difficult, demanding, etc?

4. I have been trying to verse myself on Japanese culture and customs, but are there any little neuances that I should be aware of? I.E. things that would offend students, teachers etc?

I know there are alot of questions here but I would appreaciate any and all advice that any of you have to offer. Also please feel free to add any thoughts that you might have that you think I missed or should know.
Thank you for your time.

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Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aaron, Here are my answers. I'm sure that nobody will have any that are the same. You're going to have a hard time sorting these out to suit your needs.

1. What's on my resume will differ from everyone else's. I put my college degrees and majors (not in the English field), my TESL certificate (relevant), my previous two visits to Japan (one, a 5-month business trip, and the other, a solo vacation from which I published a dozen articles online), and my university classes in Japanese language.

What people are looking for depends on the employer (high school, university, eikaiwa, JET program, etc.). Which are you looking for?

2. No, I found it very easy, but I had lived in Tokyo for 5 months, I had traveled through 20 cities in Japan by myself, and I had prepared myself for the culture.

I have been in Japan over 4 years and I still find it hard to overcome the language barrier in certain instances. Until you are fluent, you will never get over that hump. That said, you can exist in the larger cities without knowing a single word of Japanese. Depends on a lot of situations.

The "minimum wage" was fairly simple for me to live on. I sent home over US$20,000 in the first 18 months. I lived carefully, had fun, didn't work my butt off (just had a regular 25-hour/week job), and a girlfriend. But, that's me. Others have had different experiences.

3. What kind of students are you talking about? High school students differ considerably from eikaiwa students, who differ from kindergarten students, who differ from college students.

One common theme is that they don't volunteer answers or questions, and even if you call on them directly, they are reluctant to speak for fear of making mistakes.

4. You have to be kidding. Any country has nuances that foreigners will spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out. Offend your students and/or co-workers with a loud voice, incomprehensible explanations, large arm movements, tape recordings that are played too much, direct confrontation, social/political discussions about how Japan may be inferior in some way, statements that complain about the Japanese culture (especially if you compare it to your own), coming to work with a hangover or unprepared for a lesson, showing impatience with anything Japanese, refusal to use polite Japanese when needed just because you're a foreigner, wearing the toilet slippers outside the toilet, stabbing rice with chopsticks, passing food from chopsticks to chopsticks, blowing your nose in public, etc.

One final note...I assume when you say you are "a recent graduate", that you mean a university graduate with a bachelor's degree. Please confirm this.
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