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Navigating Aeon's Initial Training Week
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:15 pm    Post subject: Navigating Aeon's Initial Training Week Reply with quote

The author of Once a Traveler provided information about AEON and his personal experiences with the company. All of his posts can be found here:

http://www.onceatraveler.com/the-truth-about-aeon-part-i

Some things I disagreed with. (I don’t think anyone should mention the name of the company one works for while blogging.) In other ways, I thought other subject matters deserved more attention. (If any company demands that its employees work more than 40 hours as a matter of course, then they should not be telling anyone that employees works a 40-hour workweek. Period.) But I appreciated the fact that the author was looking to inform other people who may be interested in AEON about the company.

There is plenty of information about doing well on the original interview on the web pages just provided and on Dave’s ESL Cafe. But what about the first few days in Japan?

This post is for the benefit of people who who will start working for AEON, or who want to know more about what the company is all about. As someone who worked for AEON for three days before being dismissed, I can speak to what happens in the first few days. This is a critical period for new hires, and any information provided can be of help.

This post is not meant for the frequent contributors to this site. These people are more than welcome to comment. But nobody owns this forum.

I do not abide by the notions of honne and tatemae here. I believe that being upfront, direct and clear are the best ways to live. My experience in life is that creating a personal facade and veiling one’s real feelings does not lead to anything good long-term. Of course, this runs counter to the most deeply-held values in Japanese culture, and I would argue that if one believes as I believe, then they should not go to Japan.

I do understand the need to avoid anger here. This information is too important to get wrong or to be beset my “distractions”. I take the need to be accurate very seriously. If anyone sees information that is wrong, then please let me know immediately.

New hires are certainly told in many different ways about how they should think. But I am committed to providing the information that new hires need to know.

Let’s begin:
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a copy of the training schedule and the assignments that trainees are responsible for each day:




Sample Initial Training Schedule

Homework assignments needed to be completed before the start of each training day.
Sunday: Please read Pages 1-33 in the Training Manual. Please bring your passport to training on Monday
Monday: Please read pages 34-37, and review pages 11-17 in the Training Manual. Please prepare your lesson plan and practice a full run of the lesson.
Tuesday: Please read pages 38-52 in the Training Manual
Wednesday: Please read pages 53-78 in the Training Manual. Please prepare your lesson plans and materials.
Thursday: Please read pages 79-92. Please prepare your lesson
Friday: Please read pages 93-98. Please prepare your lesson and materials. Please bring your foreign teacher’s policy manual on Saturday.



Day 1: Theme - Introduction to Company and Curriculum, Orientation to Teaching
10:00 - 11:15 Introduction to AEON and Expectations/Standards of Conduct
11:15 - 11:45 Tour of offices
11:45 - 12:15 AEON Philosophy and History
12:15 - 12:30 AEON Curriculum: Overview
12:30 -12:45 AEON Curriculum: Teaching Points: An Introduction
12:45 - 1:00 Group Lessons: Introduction to the ViDEO Series
1:00 - 1:15 Finding the Teaching Point - Group Lessons
1:15 - 3:00 Lesson Preparation - Step by Step Demo + Preparation and Group Practice
3:00 - 4:00 Lunch
4:00 - 7:00 Lesson Preparation - Step by Step Demo and Preparation & Group Practice

Day 2: Theme - Refining Teaching Skills, Interacting with Students, Meeting Students Expectations
11:00 - 11:15 Morning Review
11:15 - 12:45 Group Lessons: Speech Lesson Video and Structure Review - Discovery 1A U11
12:45 -3:15 Group Lesson Practice with Coaching - Part II
3:15 - 4:15 Lunch
4:15 - 4:30 Demonstration Set Up
4:30 - 4:45 Lobby Talk - Real Students
4:45 - 8:00 Live Lessons Demonstrations - Group Lessons

Day 3: Theme - Reviewing Learning and Acquisition Method, Teaching Round Up Lessons
11:00 - 11:15 Morning Review
11:15 - 11:45 Round Up Lessons: Introduction to the RU Series and Review of the Learning and Acquisition Method
11:45 - 12:30 Grammar and the Round Up Textbooks and Finding the Teaching Point
12:30 - 1:45 Round Up Lessons: Pre-Activities
1:45 - 2:15 Pre Activity Preparation
2:15 - 3:30 Pre-Activity Presentation and Group Practice
3:30 - 4:30 Lunch
4:30 - 8:00 Round Up Lessons: Lesson Video and Structure Review - Lesson Preparation

Day 4: Theme - Refining Teaching Skills, Learning About Business Responsibilities
11:00 - 11:15 Morning Review
11:15 - 1:45 Round Up Lesson Practice - Group Practice
1:45 - 2:45 AEON as a Business. Introduction to Student Care and Teacher’s Responsibilities
2:45 - 3:30 Introduction to Interviews and Grammar Progression for Interviews
3:30 - 4:30 Lunch
4:30 - 5:00 Interviews: Structure Review
5:00 - 7:00 Interviews: Practice with Coaching
7:00 - 8:00 Introduction to the AEON Counseling System

Day 5: Theme - Learning About the TV Monitor Round Up Lessons and High Level Lessons
11:00 - 11:15 Morning Review
11:15 - 1:15 TV Monitor Lesson Overview
1:15 - 2:30 Lunch
2:30 - 3:30 TV Monitor Lesson Practice
3:30 - 4:45 Introduction to High Level Lessons (Frontiers: Lesson Video and Characteristics)
4:45 - 5:30 High Level Lesson Overview (High Level RU and Discussion Based Lessons)
5:30 -5:45 Private Lessons
5:45 - 6:15 High Level Lessons: Preparation
6:15 - 8:00 High Level Lessons: Group Practice

Day 6: Theme - Interacting with Students, Meeting Student Expectations, Setting Goals for your 1st Month and Beyond
11:00 - 11:15 Morning Review
11:15 - 11:30 Lobby Talk with Students
11:30 - 2:30 Round Up Lesson Demonstration and Feedback
2:30 - 3:30 Lunch
3:30 - 5:30 Rules and Regulations/Taxes/Insurance
5:30 - 6:45 Paperwork/Attendance/Cultural Differences/Life in Japan
6:45 - 8:00 Personal Interviews (Cultural Discussion)


Please note that all of the “homework” has to be done

Most importantly, once has to present one’s lesson only a day after learning the methodology. This obviously leads to some stress for new hires. Knowing this ahead of time can help one prepare. (More about this later.)
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the beginning of each day during training, one is given questions that review material that was covered in the previous day. Here are those questions: (The only answers that I provide are for the first questions.)

Day 2 - Morning Review

1. What do you say every morning when you arrive to work? What do you say every evening before you leave work?

Morning: Ohayo Gozaimas Finish work: Osakini shitsurei shimasu

(Memorizing these two terms before arriving will make life a little easier.)

2. What is the teaching point of a….

a. Round Up Lesson
b. Group lesson

3. When preparing for a lesson, what is the first thing you should always do?

4. When modeling an activity, which role should the teacher take?

5. When should you put up the pronunciation poster in a group lesson?

6. What is the difference between a “structured activity” and a “freer practice activity”?

Day 3 - Morning Review

1. What did you do well in your group lesson demonstration?

2. What were you asked to improve from your group lesson demonstration?

3. What is the maximum number of students in a group lesson class?

4. In a speech presentation section of a speech lesson, what important considerations should you make related to class size?

5. As a new teacher, what should you do outside of the lessons you teach to build rapport with your students?

Day 4 - Morning Review

1. Name all of the Round Up Textbooks in order from beginner to advanced (abbreviations are OK).

2. What is the purpose of a “Pre-Activity” in a Round Up Lesson and how is it different from a Group Lesson?

3. What are the three steps for all Round-Up Pre-Activities?

4. What is the purpose of the “Pairwork” section of a Round Up textbook unit?

5. What is the purpose of the “Express Yourself” section of a Round Up textbook unit?

6. If a student makes a mistake with the target grammar during the free practice section of a Round Up lesson, what should you do?


Last edited by rslrunner on Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:35 pm; edited 2 times in total
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will not be providing the methodology for both Group Lessons and Round-Up Lessons here.

I am sure my thoughts and feelings about having people learn a methodology in a day are clear by now. Nevertheless, this information is truly intellectual property. (None of the other information provided here would qualify.) So Aeon does have a right to train its new employees as it sees fit, regardless of how I think or feel about it.

The only way I would ever provide the Round-Up and Group methodologies is if Aeon ever sought to deprive me of my right to freedom of speech. It’s important to remember this: if one works for Aeon, your rights are very limited as long as you are under contract in Japan. Once one leaves Japan, their power over you drops to zero. This is a point that both Aeon and all of its employees past, present and future should take to heart.
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some notes that were given and I took during the original training:

Successful Teachers:
Work hard
Understand and adapt to Japanese culture
Follow directions closely
Learn from mistakes
Make solutions, not excuses

Successful teachers also understand the concepts of honne and tatemae.

Honne refers to our private desires and aspirations. Tonne would also lead one to express one’s emotions deliberately. Tatemae refers to the public appearance that one must conform to in order to conform to outside and work expectations.

Maintaining one’s tatemae and repressing one’s honne is critical in terms of navigating the Japanese culture.

Japanese Business Do’s
Looking attentive
Making eye contact
Sit up straight
Taking notes
Apply feedback
Smile
Keep yourself and your surroundings clean and tidy
Be team-oriented

Japanese Business Manners Don’ts
Avoid cultural mannerisms
Avoid distracting habits
Avoid distracting extremes

Punctuality is very important in Japan. Begin all lessons and trainings on time.

The set-up for success:
Make use of your free time
Set personal and professional goals during this year

Founder of Aeon: Kiyoshi Aki
Founded: July 10, 1973
Corporate Headquarters: Okayana
Employees: 3,000
Branch schools: 300 plus
Native teachers: 600
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Much of the training revolves around learning the methodology. Here are a few pieces of advice, borne from a difficult experience:

There is no way that anyone can master all of this information in a day. It’s not possible. It’s not designed to be possible.

Do not try to understand the lessons that one is demonstrating in a conceptual way. In other words, do not ask yourself why the lessons are structured the way they are. Instead, just rely on rote memorization at first. Over time, the lesson patterns will start to make sense, but they won’t at first. (I never got to this point.)

Clear your mind, and view yourself as someone who imitates, as opposed someone who understands. The understanding will come later. Modeling the lesson is the most important priority.

Take everything that one has learned about teaching in general and English teaching in particular, and drop it. In this environment, there is only way true, right way to teach the lesson. Once one internalizes this, it becomes much easier to proceed in terms of learning the lesson structure.

Part of the reason for the extreme amount of information is to see how responds under stress. (There is a two to six month period before employment at AEON starts in which a lot of this information can be provided, but the powers that be prefer to poke new hires with a stick.) The key is to maintain a sense of emotional poise. Keep smiling, keep saying that you are working at it, do not let anyone know that you are bothered by not getting the methodology at first. Fake it until you make it.
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personal observations and opinions-


1. In Japan, being physically sick is frowned upon. So when the New York office called and asked if I was ready for the training during the next week, I said “yes”. Oh God, how I wish I said I was not ready, simply because I was too physically ill to travel. I rationalized not telling the office that I was sick by telling myself that I would recover in a few days’ time. I was also worried that saying that I was sick would look bad. But I was physically sick, in a way one gets very infrequently. There was about a one in 3,000 chance that I was going to be as sick as I was when I arrived. I should have said, “I cannot perform at the level required.”, and let the chips fall where they may. Indeed, trying to work my way through the physical illness could not have led to a worse result than what actually happened.

2. To believe one thing and to say another, as honne and tatemae requires, is a very mixed bag. On the one hand, putting a lid on private thoughts allows society to function. However, the Japanese and Aeon in particular in this case take it to a whole new level.

This topic can get complicated very quickly. When does repressing one’s true self become convulsive and destructive? When does it make one a better person? These are complicated questions that only every individual can answer for one’s self. But my view is that repressing too much of what we think and feel can be psychologically debilitating.

3. The important thing to remember is that once you arrive in Japan, orientation is more than just learning the methodology. In fact, that is far less important than adopting to peculiar behavioral requirements in a very short period of time.

4. What does it mean to “avoid distracting habits and avoid distracting extremes?” The terms are vague precisely because they are all-encompassing: any behavior considered distracting can be deemed worthy of correction.

What are some of those behaviors?

Crossing your legs in Japan is a no-no, as I was told before coming to Japan.

But there are others: putting one’s hands on one’s hips, putting one’s hands on one’s face, putting your hands above one’s head.

If one is sitting down, one cannot put one’s elbows on the table.

Also, I found out that one cannot have a water bottle on the table, but it had to be placed on my side foot.

Also, teachers are not allowed to move around the room, but must stay and stand in one place for the entire lesson, every lesson, every day.

When I first bowed after saying Ohayo Gozaimas, I was told that I had to bow for three seconds instead of two.

Staff members continued to ask questions of trainees in which one was predisposed, indeed required, to answer in a specific way. My thought at the time was, “Why are they asking questions like we still are at the interview? Why not just provide the information ahead of time, with the expectation that we know this information while in Japan?” The short answer is that the company wants to instill behavioral modifications within a certain power dynamic. But don’t ask why when there. Just model what they are doing.

All of these behavioral modifications take a great deal of getting used to. I believe that one should know that this will be expected of them once one arrives in Japan, before they get to Japan.

5. Why does the company dump all of this material in such a short period of time, especially when much of this information is non-proprietary and could have been provided beforehand? For example, why ask what the the abbreviations for all of the Round Up books in sequential order just after being introduced to them, instead of providing that information months in advance, if that’s what they want trainees to know? Again, my answer is that asking people to do difficult tasks is a means to establishing control over a person’s behavior. I can’t think of another reason.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have been a few times when illness (a bad cold, or food poisoning) has affected my performance in job interviews. In one case this resulted in me not getting the job, but it wasn't a good job and the number of interviewees to available posts was at least 5 to 1, so there would be little point in posting much about it (other than a throwaway humorous reference to "scenes reminiscent of the slave auction from Gladiator"). In the other case, I got the job, a job which seemed good on paper, but which turned out to be truly awful. I posted at some length about that one due to the nature of the non-trivial, justifiable grievances, but once I'd had my say, that was that. You don't find me still going on about it now, years later.

I have to ask then quite why you are continuing posting about Aeon, rslrunner. (Do you have any subsequent ELT experience, that perhaps suited your personality better or was a better fit for your presumable skillset? If so, it might be more productive to post about that instead. You got sick, you perhaps overthought things, and they weren't sympathetic. Why beat yourself up over it?). By your every account Aeon isn't a good company to work for, so can we assume that this will be your last thread on the matter, given that you are presumably glad you are no longer working (well, training) there?

As for simply informing applicants about the nature of the job, I think it is well known that especially the larger eikaiwa are language mills, that shackle teachers to potentially stifling methods, pushy marketing, and so on. One either accepts and quickly adapts to those demands in at least the short term, or one looks for work elsewhere in certainly the longer term. I see little point in belabouring such points, especially when there are some who seem to look back with even a soupcon of fondness at their time spent actually working for eikaiwa.

One way to learn acceptable Japanese posture would be to watch the titular scene in Audition. One can be an "ill-mannered" slob or indeed a wire-toting psycho in one's private time, but in Japanese work environments it is best to keep on one's toes somewhat. And a hand ready to block a possible garrotting LOL.

Lastly, frequent contributors may be able to keep or at least put things into better perspective. I'm not sure I quite qualify, but being human we all share more traits than we might like to admit, so I do try to be sympathetic (up to a point).
.
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move



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 5: get fired.

Day 6 to indefinite future: be unable to move on in life.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 1627

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

move wrote:
Day 5: get fired.

Day 6 to indefinite future: be unable to move on in life.


Have this. All day long. Guy got fired, what 18 months ago, if not more, and is still in wahbulance mode. Give me a break
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Shimokitazawa



Joined: 16 Aug 2009
Posts: 458
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rxk22 wrote:
move wrote:
Day 5: get fired.

Day 6 to indefinite future: be unable to move on in life.


Have this. All day long. Guy got fired, what 18 months ago, if not more, and is still in wahbulance mode. Give me a break


I actually laughed out loud when I read this. This is the same guy, right? The same guy that didn't get through the training.

Dude, there are a lot of TEFL jobs in Asia. Don't get so bent out of shape about it. Go where the demand is. How many times do I have to tell people, the demand for EFL lessons is not in Japan.

There are TEFL jobs for everyone, if you're looking in the right country.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11505
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. If the OP flunked out, maybe the detailed instructions aren't the best? Recipe for failure?
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of the content that appears above, just like the vast majority of all my content, was written more than a year ago. I wrote 60 pages in a few weeks’ time. I just posted that last bit of content.

The content provided above about the training is accurate. Of course, my opinions of my own are open to debate and disagreement.
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Lack



Joined: 10 Aug 2011
Posts: 252

PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds typically Asian. Bring in teachers, and then have them "trained" by people that aren't teachers and don't understand what being a teacher is about. This is the sad truth about language centers, from the big guys to the little ones. You can either have a school or a business. The two are mutually opposed. Yes, of course, you have to adapt to the culture, but since these companies want to bring in foreigners and their language, the opposite is also true.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11505
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sounds typically Asian. Bring in teachers, and then have them "trained" by people that aren't teachers and don't understand what being a teacher is about. This is the sad truth about language centers, from the big guys to the little ones. You can either have a school or a business. The two are mutually opposed. Yes, of course, you have to adapt to the culture, but since these companies want to bring in foreigners and their language, the opposite is also true.


This is quite likely the key to the serious differences between Asian language schools and European ones. In Euroland, students actually demand some reasonable support for the advancement of their language skills, and this forms the basis for a business.
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