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Should I stay or should I go (to Tokyo)?
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:00 am    Post subject: Should I stay or should I go (to Tokyo)? Reply with quote

Hey guys. I'm having one of my horribly indecisive moments. I am currently enjoying being an ALT where I am, though don't want to be doing ALT forever - granted I've only been doing it for a year. I quite like it now, though working through a company as an ALT doesn't allow for much in the way of development (this is at least a better company - small - than the large ones I hear about). I've been offered a job at a private high school in Tokyo, which is the direction I want to go in. However, it is just part-time, and I would likely have to rely on other jobs (they haven't confirmed the official salary, though I would likely be making an basic ALT wage for 3.5 days work).

Positives to moving:

* I really enjoy Tokyo, and do want to give it a shot at some point during my time in Japan. I feel a charge when I'm there, which makes me think that I'm still a city person.
* My goal is to work in a private school, or university - at least at some point.
* I would have two free weekdays, which could allow for university work or other private school work.
* While part-time, they pay a constant monthly salary - regardless of holidays/hours worked.
* Side work seems fairly abundant in Tokyo.
* Who knows whether another opportunity would arise in the future - I have taken the train in for 4 different interviews, and only had one bite (one might argue that 4 interviews isn't much, but it's a pain when you're living a ways away).
* Change can be good.

Negatives to moving:

*Change can be stressful
* I will likely be scraping by for a while - not exactly cashed up at the moment.
* Potentially will have to do eikaiwa work - nothing against people who like this working environment, but I've done it, and prefer working in an actual school. Going back to teaching kids in the evenings doesn't do a lot for me - especially now that I've been exposed to how busy they are.
* I'm sure I will miss where I currently live, and I may not have an opportunity to move back (granted, I think this may not be a factor if I move to Tokyo and love it)

I know, it's my call when all is said and done. It's possible that I am romanticizing the Tokyo life - and perhaps even working in a private school. I don't think anyone can deny that it's a kick-ass city (by most people's definition) Suppose I'm ideally seeking advice from those who have lived in Tokyo, as well as elsewhere - or even just one or the other.

I pretty much have to make my decision in the next few days or so (still waiting on contract details). Just trying to look at the situation from all sides as much as possible.

Cheers.
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RM1983



Joined: 03 Jan 2007
Posts: 360

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you really want to stay here then it would seem sensible to move to Tokyo. You obviously need to build it up a bit and how are you going to do that where you are? Do another Master's?
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your opinion RM1983. Another year here would simply be comfortable filler year - which would allow some savings potential with my current part-time gig.

Another factor with ALT is that it doesn't exactly keep my teaching skills sharp. That said, my Japanese could use some (a lot of) work, and being an ALT provides a decent environment for developing that - granted, I would also be working in a largely Japanese environment working at a private high school.
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RM1983



Joined: 03 Jan 2007
Posts: 360

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't factor the Japanese in so much at the moment unless you are getting near to communicative. I was relying on my ALT job for studying Japanese and things got shifted around last year and suddenly it wasn't as viable to sit there studying. Anyway, if you are genuinely getting somewhere now then keep pushing, but if it isn't really going to be a deciding factor for a while then I wouldn't have it as the main reason to not move. Are you having proper conversations and so on at your school?
You're in Japan - if you really wanna learn it you'll put the effort in.

ALT work does turn your teaching to mush. I've not yet worked in a private school either though so I'm not sure what the difference would be in terms of how much you teach. It probably varies. You can find a part-time where it can be kept a little fresh though.

To me the big questions are - how long are you really likely to stay? How long would you stay? How are you coping when the culture shock hits and all that?

For me, I know I'm probably not staying for much more than a few years so I guess I just need to save some money now and make sure I can find a job when I leave.
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah to be honest, my Japanese isn't improving at any dramatic rate while ALTing. I'm kind of an introvert, and don't really enjoy small talk (which unfortunately is all I can really do with my limited Japanese). I pretty much try to say enough to not seem rude. I do keep my ears open though, and have a dictionary near by (I also do study it at work from time-to-time). While I do often have plenty of free time to study, I find studying from grammar books to be incredibly dull, and I really can't focus for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.

I really don't know how long I want to stay. However, if I were to work my way up in Tokyo - to where I'm finally making decent money AND have sufficient time off while doing a job I like - it could potentially be for a while. The culture shock has pretty well gone, though it did return slightly during my initial time working in an actual Japanese school - didn't last all that long though. In general though, it seems as though Tokyo wouldn't lend itself to as much culture shock as living in the countryside (which I experienced myself). I quite like the idea of blending in a little more in a place like Tokyo.
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh and the private school job is solo teaching - no team teaching involved.
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RM1983



Joined: 03 Jan 2007
Posts: 360

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well with the leading the classes you might also have a better chance of doing some action research (?) - remember you might be needing publications to get a uni job
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currentaffairs



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 828

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To get by you would have to work some evenings, I think. The language school work and the business classes are all pretty much in the evening. You might be able to pick up some weekend work but if you are trying to fill out your week you can't be too picky at first. After a year or so you could decide what offers to take up..

I doubt you could neatly just fill in those 1.5 days in the week with additional work without working in the evening/weekend.
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How tough is it to get published btw? I know a lot will depend on the journal - though it seems as though many universities just want whatever you have (I could be completely wrong here)
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currentaffairs



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 828

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out JALT. They have a number of publications that will publish decent articles:

http://jalt.org/main/publications

It might also be useful to join up with a local chapter and network, etc. There are opportunities to do presentations and publish there as well.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 1003
Location: US

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never lived in Tokyo (and, actually, would never want to), but I think it makes the most sense for you to take the PT private HS job. It will help you to develop more as a teacher than ALT work will. Though, of course, it depends on whether the salary is enough to live on. Also, since it is PT, do they pay any of your health insurance? That could be a factor (assuming your current company pays half).
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys,

Despite being PT, it will actually pay a little more than my FT ALT job. Also, my current job doesn't help with health insurance - and I'm not yet sure whether this job does or not.

On an unrelated note: I do owe some health insurance/residence tax - which I can't quite afford to pay off in full at the moment. Might this be a factor when moving to a different prefecture?
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 1003
Location: US

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sudz wrote:
Despite being PT, it will actually pay a little more than my FT ALT job. Also, my current job doesn't help with health insurance - and I'm not yet sure whether this job does or not.


So, you're saying that this new job will pay more with fewer days per week, and allow for more professional development, in a city you want to live in. It doesn't sound like to difficult of a decision.

No idea about the issue of owed payments.
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 2021
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You should take the part-time job in Tokyo. Sometimes they turn into full-time jobs (direct hire) the following year. Sometimes they don't. Many jobs in Tokyo are part-time these days (just look at the uni job ads). Either way, you're making more money and improving your resume.

Part-time direct hire jobs usually don't include health insurance or pension (this includes for Japanese people who are part-time teachers).
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys. It helps to get an outside view of things whenever possible.

I'm certainly leaning towards Tokyo at the moment - somewhat heavily. I should note that the position I've been offered only pays marginally more than my current ALT job. Again though, it's part-time.

I have to say, being an ALT was a good experience. I'm sure it varies depending on the situation - based on some of the initial posts I had read, it sounded pretty awful. It wasn't all perfect, though I would take ALT over eikaiwa any day of the week.
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