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Is ESL Japan really that bad? I hear lots of bad things
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twowheel



Joined: 03 Jul 2015
Posts: 543
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

taikibansei wrote:
Again, a large number of us have good jobs doing the things we love for pretty decent money. Sure, some luck may be involved...as with everything everywhere. A lot of hard work went into getting these positions too. Why can't we post/discuss this?


I would be interested in reading more of such positive posts and following such discussions as well.

Warm regards to all,
twowheel
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"Why do bath tubs not exist here?"


I’ve got two in my flat. I had a nice bath in one of them this morning.
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twowheel



Joined: 03 Jul 2015
Posts: 543
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bograt wrote:
Quote:
"Why do bath tubs not exist here?"


I’ve got two in my flat. I had a nice bath in one of them this morning.


+1

twowheel
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bograt wrote:
Quote:
"Why do bath tubs not exist here?"


I’ve got two in my flat. I had a nice bath in one of them this morning.


Well, sounds to me as if the bathtub hoarding of "some" might be the cause of the apparent lack elsewhere.... Wink
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1471
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever. I have lived here for 16 years and post what I see as I work in Kanto. I talk to many people and some struggle more than I do.
Especially if the spouse has any health problems.
I can understand why they don't go back to the US.
Health care is better in Japan.

Things are worse than they used to be. Most jobs are in Kanto.
I wish that was not the case.
In fact there are students where I teach in Yokohama who are fed up and actually want to leave Japan since they see the writing on the wall.

If I get a good job and make money, I would like that and I could mention it.
I still look for work and will apply for more jobs soon.
If I was single I could move around to where the work is.
Teachers have to be more flexible than they did in the past.

But frankly it seems certain people are living in a bubble. It reminds me of the divide in the US. It is like blind people feeling an elephant.
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victory7



Joined: 22 Mar 2016
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

twowheel wrote:
Wow, why the overly unnecessary vitriol and the chip on the shoulder? I was just being honest and posting my two yen.

Troll? Nope. Check my posting history and you'll see that there's no history of trolling whatsoever.

Douche? Again...nope, just posting some background to my bio to make my situation more transparent as to help make it clearer why I wanted to jump from JET into something more substantial in Japan.

Teaching Oral English in China? I wrote a post on the "why did you leave Japan" thread in tandem with this one which I see you've found but you seemed to have missed the part where I indicated that I came to China on an English Language Fellowship with the U.S. Department of State...definitely a far cry from teaching Oral English for far less money.

Quote:
I do like to try to help people out when they are having labor issues and/or looking for better jobs. As an officer in a national union, I have been volunteering to help people here for about ten years. When I attend the JALT Conference--a rare event--I do the same, usually just sitting down and trying to help people. Do you have a problem with this?


Nope, no problem at all, glad to hear that you are being of service to folks.

Quote:
P.S. I don't teach "Oral English"--never have, never will. Don't work on a contract either. See, shockingly enough, I've a pretty decent gig here, as do a lot of people.


P.S. Great. Good for you.

twowheel


Thanks for your responses. Especially to my true story about the native English speaking staff attempting to block the best native English speaker candidate from teaching a large class English conversation because they didn't have a Phd/MA or publications, nailed it.

Taikiban is usually a good poster but in this thread they just can't get their head around the facts I'm referring to. I've made it clear that I'm an old hand who has been around a long time in Japan and has worked in the big cities in Kansai, Kanto, and in Nagoya too.

For taiki one more time - I WAS in Japan when it was common for universities to hire people with the basic degree in English or Politics or Economics or whatever. This is the point - those people at THAT TIME got their foot in the door thru no more than being around or having a friend who knew a university was looking for a native English speaker.

It went from there. The bar was so low compared to now, and that was about before 2007. I've known more than a few very ordinary English speakers who worked at companies through the 'there's a job going at...............' grapevine and also got their chances at universities and junior colleges the same way.

Sure, some of them used those opportunities to get higher degrees but for a while now they have ignored the fact that some of the guys or ladies they've refused to give interviews or jobs to at universities or junior colleges or whatever, have way more interesting resumes than they did and can actually teach English using different methods that have worked at other jobs.

I happen to have higher qualifications myself. And some publications. But this insistence on those attributes to exclude lateral thinkers and great communicators who clearly want to teach English and are very good at it as shown by their resumes and the individuality they bring to their applications, sucks big-time and is one of the worst aspects of the ESL/EFL industry in Japan. Lack of opportunity, relegating too many applicants to the mediocre eikaiwa gigs.

This and other facts about what a poor environment Japan is for many native English speakers are that - facts.
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scrying



Joined: 14 Nov 2004
Posts: 26
Location: Nagoya Japan

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"For taiki one more time - I WAS in Japan when it was common for universities to hire people with the basic degree in English or Politics or Economics or whatever. This is the point - those people at THAT TIME got their foot in the door thru no more than being around or having a friend who knew a university was looking for a native English speaker.

It went from there. The bar was so low compared to now, and that was about before 2007. I've known more than a few very ordinary English speakers who worked at companies through the 'there's a job going at...............' grapevine and also got their chances at universities and junior colleges the same way. "

I'd second victory7 on this. I've personally watched the OB network in Nagoya do exactly that for years. Several decided to get their additional degrees later (after having secured their jobs, and a degree of financial security to help pay for it, during the gold rush era), but heaven forbid someone approach that tower now, excepting their personal friends, of course.
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kzjohn



Joined: 30 Apr 2014
Posts: 231

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My school has hired three people recently--one started this term (September), and the other two will start in April. The admin stipulated MA in TESOL, and got it. They're on the five year plan, but with the opportunity to become regular.

Since they're going into a brand new department (starting in April) hiring had to be done early, so that 文科省 could approve them. (Their interviews & demo classes were done in Oct 2015.)

~~~~~

As mentioned above, there's a push from on high for uni to cut down on part timers. I've heard that one goal for the new department is to try to have full timers do everything--and the drafts I've seen for next year's 時間割 show exactly that happening. (Whether it can be sustained in future years...?)

~~~~~

Quote:
I've personally watched the OB network in Nagoya do exactly that for years. Several decided to get their additional degrees later (after having secured their jobs, and a degree of financial security to help pay for it, during the gold rush era), but heaven forbid someone approach that tower now, excepting their personal friends, of course.


Tho I think you're seeing it with tinted glasses, the "OB network" works. It yields people who are qualified, experienced, sincerely interested in the job, likely with the same POV on teacher roles & duties, and you then have two people with skin in the game--the 'recommendee' has some loyalty and responsibility to the 'recommender' and his close colleagues, and the 'recommender' also wants to see their reccomendee perform well. Hire someone without that set of relationships, and your chances for success are less.

To the degree that there are jobs offered and found in this way means that Taikibansei's earlier statistics on numbers of jobs could be in error on the low side, since some openings may go unadvertised.

(Oh, and those three new hires at my school? They found us via JREC, but being the OB geezer that I am, I was able to vet those people via my geezer network.)
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, and here I am, without local contacts yet still somehow working full-time with tenure at a Japanese university--my third such hire over my career. (I've moved back to the States twice to take on university gigs there, including a stint as Dept. Head at a state university.) I started my most recent position here just a few years ago.

This means I've been hired from overseas to tenured positions three times...without a single friend on staff. If I'd read and believed just the posts here, I would not even have applied. I mean, why bother, right?

And you know, it isn't just me getting jobs without having friends on staff. Heck, my pm saved box for this site contains a pretty long list of people who have gotten similar positions. Often, people read my posts here and contact me privately, asking for help on applying, about the conditions offered, etc. Too bad they don't post to this forum anymore....

As long as we're reminiscing about the "good ol' days," I want to recommend Ivan Hall's Cartels of the Mind--particularly the "Academic Apartheid" chapter--for actual statistics about hiring practices and conditions in the 1980s and 1990s. It was brutal period, particularly the 外国人教師 mass firings of the 1990s. Never heard of this? This was when MEXT told the universities to fire all foreigners over the age of 50...or else. And so, the universities did. Pretty much all of them. I know people who lost their jobs in this gutting, lots of people.

My point is that there never were good ol' days. The job market here--everywhere--has always been unfair. Have "unqualified" people been hired at universities in the past? Sure. Are unqualified people working somewhere right now? Of course (though I still want that Tokyo university's name). Will unqualified people be hired in the future? Yep. Do people sometimes get university jobs through the influence of friends and/or advisers? Of course.

Still, what country is this not true of? Better not say the US--that Dept. Head position was gotten partly through the influence of my friend. Moreover, it is absolutely brutal finding full-time teaching work in the States now. Over half of PhDs in most fields in the humanities will never find full-time work related to their degrees. Never. (Those with just the MA need not even apply....) And if you do get hired? Salaries in the humanities have been stagnant for years, while the teaching loads (and service requirements) have gone up. Seriously, if you want to read something really depressing, take a look at the Chronicle of Higher Education job discussion forums for current takes on higher education hiring trends in the States: http://www.chronicle.com/forums/

And as for teaching in other venues State-side....I have two cousins teaching high school in NYC--man, the stories they tell about their jobs. (You guys think you have it tough now?!) And with exchange student numbers dropping throughout the country, contract positions at university ESL programs are being cut completely (or turned to part-time). As I've mentioned before, friends of mine have recently lost their ESL jobs, sometimes without warning and after years of service.

For the hundredth time, I don't like the situation anymore than any of you. What bothers me is not just the post after post after post after post after post of doom and gloom, but the attacks on anybody daring to share otherwise--kzjohn and I were called "geezers" from the start of this thread--not to mention the continued disparaging of those who have found good jobs. This is why so many long-termers have stopped posting to this forum. (My thanks to the latter for their continuing pms of support.)

Good luck to you in your various job searches.


Last edited by taikibansei on Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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scrying



Joined: 14 Nov 2004
Posts: 26
Location: Nagoya Japan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be clear, I wasn't referring to the pulling of qualified people via personal networks or vetting, that's a bit different in my opinion, and the result of networking, which is a laudable skill.

I was referring solely to nominally "unqualified" people (no MAs, for example) who have gotten jobs simply because they've had friends in places to pull for them over more "qualified" applicants. It does happen, I've friends who have university teaching experience solely because of it. They're are good educators, and have become credits to the profession, but for some of those same people to turn around and utterly dismiss others applying simply because they weren't able to get in while the getting was good, is what frosts my onions.

Personally, I don't have a dog in the fight, having secured my bones where I am. I just like keeping a finger on the pulse Smile
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kzjohn wrote:

(Oh, and those three new hires at my school? They found us via JREC, but being the OB geezer that I am, I was able to vet those people via my geezer network.)


Oh come on, as we learn here daily, all hiring in Japan is done via that omnipotent network of foreign geezers...right? Wink

(The really funny thing is that until the last ten or so years, foreigners weren't allowed a say in the hiring decisions at most universities...but that didn't stop them from hiring their unqualified friends, apparently!)
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Nagoyaguy



Joined: 15 May 2003
Posts: 425
Location: Aichi, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fellow Nagoya poster here:

I agree that the "who do you know" network is still alive and well, at least as far as part time classes go. I get asked constantly "do you know anyone free on (insert day/time)?" by colleagues. The difference these days is that proper qualifications are expected- M.A. or MEd, some teaching experience in university, and so on. Full time gigs are usually another matter entirely. They are done by the Japanese staff at most universities, with little input from their foreign coworkers.

There ARE a few guys in town I know that don't have Masters' degrees, but are teaching at the university level. They are mostly either old timers who have had the same classes forever, or desperation hires for teachers who quit/get better positions. In most cases they are teaching non-majors classes however, not English majors. They are also basically out of the running for more classes and often supplement their incomes by teaching eikaiwa or business English classes.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nagoyaguy wrote:
Fellow Nagoya poster here:

I agree that the "who do you know" network is still alive and well, at least as far as part time classes go. I get asked constantly "do you know anyone free on (insert day/time)?" by colleagues.


This is for part-time gigs, right? If so, I believe you 100%. Moreover, once you get out of the big cities, it often becomes possible to get lucrative part-time university jobs even without an MA...or teaching experience. Heck, if you lived in/near my town, I could find you part-time university jobs from this April....

Nagoyaguy wrote:

Full time gigs are usually another matter entirely. They are done by the Japanese staff at most universities, with little input from their foreign coworkers.


This has been my experience too. More to the point, when I wrote that "foreigners weren't allowed a say in the hiring decisions at most universities," I am referring to unfortunate fact. At most Japanese universities through the late 1990s, 外国人教師were not allowed into meeting rooms, let alone given opportunities to influence hiring (or curriculum) decisions. (As an aside: my first university job in Japan was as a 外国人教員--at the time a new category of hire that was allowed into meetings--only nobody had informed the dean, who freaked out the first time I showed up for a faculty meeting...and called security to have me physically removed. This was at a national university.)

Note that by writing this, I am neither saying nor implying that victory7, mitsui or scrying are lying. However, it has been my experience that most of the time when foreigners gather around to complain about the old boys' hiring network "back in the day" or about all those BA holders in university positions, they're really referring to part-time hires or to the 客教員 in university language center gigs.

Are there exceptions to this? Certainly, and victory7, mitsui and scrying seem to have known of/witnessed these exceptions. That said...it is very rare. That is why I asked for the university--I wanted to see if this was another misunderstanding...or really was a question of a 専任・常勤 hire with just a BA.

To anybody else reading this thread and interested in university work in Japan, like everywhere else, there is occasional cronyism here. Don't let the possibility of it put you off of applying. Kzjohn has provided links to the two best job sites. I provide them below as well:

http://www.jacet.org/job-openings/

https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekTop

For reasons I've discussed, though, the universities advertising on these two links usually want to hire somebody already in Japan. If you are overseas, note that you can sometimes find Japanese universities advertising positions on the CHE website:

https://chroniclevitae.com/job_search/new

It has been my experience that institutions advertising on this latter venue are more amenable to hiring from overseas...and far less concerned about Japanese ability.

Good luck!
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1471
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not lying.
The system is rigged, at certain places.
Both universities are in Tokyo.

At one the guy got the job back in the 70s back when there was not much competition. He made a ton of money.
He did learn Japanese, better than me, but he has lived in Japan for longer than in the US.
So of course I got rejected for a part-time job at that school. Teachers are held to a higher standard than in the past. People who beat me out had a doctorate, a law degree or more research. You must be a yes man at such an institution. They don't want independent thinkers.


The other one got hired in 2011. Just had a BA in PE for God's sake.
He had blue eyes and blond hair. It is what they want.
I kid you not. I couldn't believe it and so asked a couple teachers and found out that it is true. He worked at a high school but he just went through the motions. It showed me that if you don't ever give your opinion you can go far, and that it matters not whether you can teach or not.
Who you know and butt kissing does help.
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kzjohn



Joined: 30 Apr 2014
Posts: 231

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:
I am not lying.
The system is rigged, at certain places.
Both universities are in Tokyo.

At one the guy got the job back in the 70s back when there was not much competition. He made a ton of money.
He did learn Japanese, better than me, but he has lived in Japan for longer than in the US.
So of course I got rejected for a part-time job at that school. Teachers are held to a higher standard than in the past. People who beat me out had a doctorate, a law degree or more research. You must be a yes man at such an institution. They don't want independent thinkers.


The other one got hired in 2011. Just had a BA in PE for God's sake.
He had blue eyes and blond hair. It is what they want.
I kid you not. I couldn't believe it and so asked a couple teachers and found out that it is true. He worked at a high school but he just went through the motions. It showed me that if you don't ever give your opinion you can go far, and that it matters not whether you can teach or not.
Who you know and butt kissing does help.


As for your first example, yes, the 70s were a different era--and you should know you're comparing apples to oranges when describing that period (yikes, that even pre-dates me!). It's probably not available, but it would be interesting to know his employment conditions over the years--contract or not, 辞令, how he seems to have become permanent, etc. Frankly speaking, for someone to have survived from then to now, it does suggest some agility/smarts beyond what a simple BA would reflect..

Your other comments about this person show simple resentment. He earned a ton of money (and if he was an investor (in either property or the nikkei), he could also have lost a lot), or he may have been converting it all to $, well before the yen went to 78, which, in retrospect, would have been a stupid move. So his shitload of money may have diminished a bit. And he has better Japanese, etc. And how does having lived more of his life in Japan make a difference? All this is noise, irrelevant to the issue at hand.

Your second example is more apt--it is both recent and it fits the stereotypes. But I'd suggest this is an outlier, or that you're cherry-picking. Out of all the schools and the hires in Japan, really, how often does that happen? As I said, my school just hired three people, who got in on credentials and demonstrated ability (I probably over-puffed the vetting I did--I merely communicated that there were no red flags, and that they seemed okay).

And I don't really see the connection of all that with the idea that "if you don't ever give your opinion you can go far,"--can you clarify? (Or, I could just ask, don't you know how the world works?!?!)
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