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Progressing an EFL Career vs. Other Interests
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nightsintodreams



Joined: 18 May 2010
Posts: 219

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a friend who recently moved back to the UK to get his PGCE. After hearing about his experiences, I wonder if it's worth the effort. The amount of work he has to do before, during and after school is crazy.

Get a direct contract position (or some of the better dispatch jobs for that matter) and you're already making as much as a young teacher in the UK anyway. Add a few private lessons to that and you're on a very comfortable salary with very little stress and a lot of freedom/holidays.


I do believe that it's definitely worth improving one's Japanese though. I've only been in Japan a short time but my Japanese ability has already given me a raise at my previous company and was a requirement for the direct hire position I'm now in. Even if you don’t care about your career, it’s still worth learning just so you can function as an adult member of society rather than a baby who needs looking after all the time.

I think I'll do a masters in the next few years but I often wonder if it’s worth it. Many university teachers I’ve met are basically just doing conversation classes anyway, is a masters really a necessary requirement for that? Even if you do get a uni position, it will probably only be renewable for four or five years. When you're settled with kids do you really want the stress of finding and moving to another job every five years?

To me, it seems the only way to settle down and have a comfortable family life as a gaijin is to get a job at a Japanese company (which I don’t think I’m so keen on), start your own school or business of some sort or have a combination of part time jobs and privates.

Anyway, to get back on topic. I don't think it's such a bad thing to stay at an entry level position for a number of years. But I do think that working at an entry level eikaiwa chain for any length of time is a bad decision.

-You'll be working a lot of evenings and weekends and often your working hours will change weekly or even daily making part time work or privates near impossible on any day other than your day off.

-Your Japanese WILL suffer.

-You'll miss out on learning about a lot of the cultural stuff you'd learn in an all Japanese environment.

-They'll work you much harder and you won't have the free time to study or relax that you may have at an ALT position (especially dispatch).

-The number of holiday days they offer are low and in my experience they're extremely tight when it comes to giving said days.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 889
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to draw this to some kind of conclusion. Do people agree with these statements?

1. There are career opportunities in Japan but, even at the highest level, your chances of getting tenure are slim. So either accept that you'll be a perma-temp, or move on.

2. If you want to stay in Japan and have some stability, you'll need to be a bit more creative. Starting your own school / business is an option.

3. Learning Japanese is very important.

4. If you just need a way to make ends and put away some savings while you pursue other interests (or start a business, or study for qualifications) the lower-end jobs can still make a lot of sense.
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fat_chris



Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 2534
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan, PRC

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
1. There are career opportunities in Japan but, even at the highest level, your chances of getting tenure are slim. So either accept that you'll be a perma-temp, or move on.

2. If you want to stay in Japan and have some stability, you'll need to be a bit more creative. Starting your own school / business is an option.

3. Learning Japanese is very important.

4. If you just need a way to make ends and put away some savings while you pursue other interests (or start a business, or study for qualifications) the lower-end jobs can still make a lot of sense.


I could agree with nos. 1-4 from what little I know/have heard from others.

5. You can make a fair bit of coin piecing together several part-time gigs but it will eat up your schedule.

Is number five (still)(even) true?

Warm regards,
fat_chris
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 889
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fat_chris wrote:
5. You can make a fair bit of coin piecing together several part-time gigs but it will eat up your schedule.

it will eat up your schedule.

Is number five (still)(even) true?

For some value of "fair bit", yes you still can.
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PO1



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 126

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
I'd like to draw this to some kind of conclusion. Do people agree with these statements?

1. There are career opportunities in Japan but, even at the highest level, your chances of getting tenure are slim. So either accept that you'll be a perma-temp, or move on.

2. If you want to stay in Japan and have some stability, you'll need to be a bit more creative. Starting your own school / business is an option.

3. Learning Japanese is very important.

4. If you just need a way to make ends and put away some savings while you pursue other interests (or start a business, or study for qualifications) the lower-end jobs can still make a lot of sense.


1. Yes, but I think the time it takes to get the qualifications to get to that level maybe aren't worth it for some. I think these jobs should go to those who are in it for the long haul. I find that most teachers (I've met anyway) in Japan don't have such ambitions. If they do, they don't put in the work or studies to get to that point. They just kind of want these jobs to fall in their laps.

2. I agree with this, but with a slight caveat. Semi-stability can be achieved through renewable contract part-time work and private lessons. I've heard of people taking adjunct positions at universities and supplementing them with a healthy chunk of private lessons that do better than most full-time teachers. This may be a rarity though. The key is to take some initiative really.

3. I think a lot of people that come to Japan do study Japanese, at least in some capacity. This may not mean fluency, but I think at least a desire to grow and learn is a good quality. I don't see how we as teachers expect students to do well studying English if we can't have the same discipline to learn their language. Just saying.

4. Yes, but I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as lower-end. Do you mean making like 200,000 a month? I don't think that's really sustainable unless you're really thrifty and have no dependents, bills to pay back home, etc. I would say if you're making at least 250,000 a month, that's pretty decent to get by on for a sustained period until you determine what your next move is. Anything in the 300,000 range is on the higher end of work for foreign teachers in Japan as far as I've found (with basic qualifications anyway).

Short version: yes, I agree with these.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 394
Location: US

PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Pitarou summarized the general consensus pretty well.

PO1 wrote:
1. Yes, but I think the time it takes to get the qualifications to get to that level maybe aren't worth it for some. I think these jobs should go to those who are in it for the long haul. I find that most teachers (I've met anyway) in Japan don't have such ambitions. If they do, they don't put in the work or studies to get to that point. They just kind of want these jobs to fall in their laps.
Rather than an investment of time, I think further qualifications are more of a matter of money. If one really does enjoy teaching, then the time spent learning more about exactly that shouldn't be too bad of a way to spend some time. If one doesn't enjoy teaching, then working full-time as a teacher probably is not a great way to spend their life.

But, then again, I guess that was partly the point of this thread. I said before that it's fine if someone wants to work as a teacher in order to pursue other activities in Japan. That said, I do feel sorry for someone who has to spend so many hours of each day of their life doing something that they don't enjoy.

Quote:
2. I agree with this, but with a slight caveat. Semi-stability can be achieved through renewable contract part-time work and private lessons. I've heard of people taking adjunct positions at universities and supplementing them with a healthy chunk of private lessons that do better than most full-time teachers. This may be a rarity though. The key is to take some initiative really.
I realize you called it "semi-stability", but stringing together adjunct positions and private lessons is still a tenuous way to live. You never know if your adjunct contracts will be renewed each semester, and private lesson students will likely quit at some point. It's only 'semi-stable' because it is more diversified.

I definitely agree with you about taking initiative.

Quote:
I think at least a desire to grow and learn is a good quality.
Agreed, and I think this could be said not only about learning Japanese, but also about being a teacher.

Quote:
I would say if you're making at least 250,000 a month, that's pretty decent to get by on for a sustained period until you determine what your next move is.
But... does there always need to be a next move?
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 889
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rtm wrote:
Quote:
I would say if you're making at least 250,000 a month, that's pretty decent to get by on for a sustained period until you determine what your next move is.
But... does there always need to be a next move?
Aye, there's the rub.

My feeling is, "If you're in it for the long term then, yes, you should be looking for ways to get off the bottom rung." Even if your focus is elsewhere, better skills / qualifications will allow you to earn the same income for less effort, and leave you more time and energy to follow your passion.

I might make an exception for people doing something extremely demanding that demands all of their available energy. For instance, raising kids, or training to be a ninja so you can avenge your parents.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 448
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are single or have a spouse who has a good salary, EFL is fine.
EFL can work if you want a flexible schedule.
But if you want decent career prospects, to stay you need to get good at Japanese, and keep making your resume look better.
It just gets more and more competitive.
I have known people who got stuck and now are too old to return.
I kind of wonder at what age is it too old to go back to your own country?
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RM1983



Joined: 03 Jan 2007
Posts: 41

PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:
If you are single or have a spouse who has a good salary, EFL is fine.
EFL can work if you want a flexible schedule.
But if you want decent career prospects, to stay you need to get good at Japanese, and keep making your resume look better.
It just gets more and more competitive.
I have known people who got stuck and now are too old to return.
I kind of wonder at what age is it too old to go back to your own country?


I cant imagine reaching any age that really means youre stuck as such, it's more like you got married and had a family and that spells the end of your plans of making it big back home. Nothing to stop me heading over to Spain or Czech Republic if it goes peaar shaped here

I think that's an element missing from this thread actually. A lot of the lifers here came at a time when English really was booming in Japan and they were getting paid mad amounts for a seemingly never ending supply of work. And Im lead to believe that you could double your wages by doing private classes at one point.

I could easily imagine during the boom times thinking 'yep, this'll do me' and settling down with a wife and a few kids. Really it has been since NOVA collapsed that opportunities for teachers got really squeezed.

I imagine you wont see that many people coming here long term anymore, more just people who particularly love Japan or us poor saps with native partners.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:
If you are single or have a spouse who has a good salary, EFL is fine.
EFL can work if you want a flexible schedule.
But if you want decent career prospects, to stay you need to get good at Japanese, and keep making your resume look better.
It just gets more and more competitive.
I have known people who got stuck and now are too old to return.
I kind of wonder at what age is it too old to go back to your own country?


Good question, as it seems that time in japan is really a curiosity rather than viewed as actually experience.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RM1983 wrote:


I think that's an element missing from this thread actually. A lot of the lifers here came at a time when English really was booming in Japan and they were getting paid mad amounts for a seemingly never ending supply of work. And Im lead to believe that you could double your wages by doing private classes at one point.

I could easily imagine during the boom times thinking 'yep, this'll do me' and settling down with a wife and a few kids. Really it has been since NOVA collapsed that opportunities for teachers got really squeezed.

I imagine you wont see that many people coming here long term anymore, more just people who particularly love Japan or us poor saps with native partners.


Haha indeed. The Japan from 10-15 years ago seems like it was pretty awesome for an EFL teacher. Since the gradual decline of it, plus Nova dying, the EFL industry here is krunk.

I would LOVE to hear stories from old timers. I bet there was som radical differences back then.

And yes, too many weeaboos wanting to come over no matter what. Which really CFs the market up. At least my wife has a good degree, so it isn't all on me Cool
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 448
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in the 80s and 90s it was better.
People could get $100 for an hour lesson.
People could make a lot doing privates, which are tax free.

By 1998 the times had changed. I got here 2 years later.
The yen was at 148 to the dollar and people had to get second jobs, or people just left.

People liked language exchanges better since they did not have to pay.
Usually, private classes for middle aged and retired women are better since they have money and free time. The problem is when they are free, which usually is when you are at work. And when they cancel class you do not get paid, although groups are better.

Money can still be made but you really have to hustle. There are too many teachers. It used to be that there were not many Americans but that has
changed over the last four-five years.
I know an Italian woman who makes a lot on privates, but mostly since she has many students.
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Solar Strength



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 555
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:
Back in the 80s and 90s it was better.
People could get $100 for an hour lesson.
People could make a lot doing privates, which are tax free.

By 1998 the times had changed. I got here 2 years later.
The yen was at 148 to the dollar and people had to get second jobs, or people just left.

People liked language exchanges better since they did not have to pay.
Usually, private classes for middle aged and retired women are better since they have money and free time. The problem is when they are free, which usually is when you are at work. And when they cancel class you do not get paid, although groups are better.

Money can still be made but you really have to hustle. There are too many teachers. It used to be that there were not many Americans but that has
changed over the last four-five years.
I know an Italian woman who makes a lot on privates, but mostly since she has many students.


Mitsui,

I agree, good question. I think if you are mobile, you can go to where the work is. One does not have to be stuck in Japan.

Are you still playing with the same idea of returning to the US to get certified?
Or can you go to another uni when your contract is up - you mentioned that you were working on a contract, if I recall correctly.

What would certification cost?
Which state?

Hey, you can always come back to the American School in Hachioji!
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Solar Strength



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 555
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
Quote:
Spiral,

Are you teaching at a university in Canada or Europe?


Yes. Am I going to post exactly where and which university on a public forum? No.



Spiral,

Asking you if you teach at a university in Canada or Europe does warrant such a biting response, does it?

Your reply is unnecessarily hostile, especially since you were not asked for the name and specific location of your university.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 448
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certification costs vary per state.
Ohio and Tennessee are cheap.

At this point it looks like I will just might work part-time and try to get a full-time job for September.
I could go back to the US, if I could get an adjunct position, then get certified.
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