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Why Is Interac So Keen To Hire New Teachers?
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
rxk22 wrote:
270k? No way Jose! Maybe 10-12 years ago.


Yep. If they give it to me, it will ONLY be because my previous employer had me at that salary and they asked me what it would take to commit. I said 270K or as close to it as they could get.


This is with Interac? I can only assume that they have some contracts that are worth more than the rest, and positions that are entail more responsibility, because that's almost unheard of. I'd be extremely surprised if for that money they want you to fulfill the same duties as other ALTs.

You mentioned that 250,000 a month still looks like the norm on all the job websites, but I found that most places advertise salaries around that but have a little "up to" preceding it in the details, and when you've handed in your CV it tends to drop 20 or 30k.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
I don't know what you mean by "the strangest reasons". In my experience, you never actually know the reason. Besides, as for being "competitive", what job opening isn't? I'm sorry, but these are just not valid excuses.


Too much Japanese, not enough Japanese, too much interest in Japanese culture, too little interest in Japanese culture, previous experience in Japan of any type... I have said that my own reasons for initially wanting to move to Japan (and applying to JET) were typical. Interest in anime, music, etc. My own interview, I felt that as soon as I mentioned those things, the body language of the interviewer changed.

After speaking to many candidates over the years, both successful ones and ones (like me) who were not successful, I believe that it is possible to determine based on interviewer reaction when you "jump the shark." For me, it was too much enthusiasm for Japan based on pop culture. This was also three years before I moved to Japan, which I did so for economic reasons, and not any of the reasons I applied to JET for--but it's not like my interests went away. Quite the opposite, I have now been able to work with anime industry professionals while in the States because of my experiences in Japan... *shrug* Not bent out of shape over it. JET's loss.

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As for JET being a short-term option, sure, I agree, but if you play it right you can stay 5 years, and that is more than enough time (even the 3-year option is) to make contacts and sniff around for places to move on to. Dispatch agencies can't keep you at one school more than 3 years without you becoming FT direct hire there anyway, as far as I know. Yeah, they often try to get around that by saying you were on contract there for 364 days, not a full year, or some other BS.


True, but these positions do not keep you at one school even if they recognise 365 days, and there are all sorts of fun loopholes between haken and inaku. They move you around. Only after considerable pleading by my head teacher was the BoE and my dispatch company moved to keep me at the same school. I did not get a third year at that school, even though I should have.

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Do you really want to be a dispatch ALT all your life?


Given our conversations over the last four years, one would think you would remember, that no, but it isn't because I object to the job itself. I object to dispatch system, but that goes way beyond ALTs. Dispatch in Japan, in multiple industries, is a horribly broken, largely illegal system. I plan to pursue Japanese teaching certification to get out of the system.

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As for no interest in teaching small children, you may not have any say in it when you become an ALT. I am not sure of this, so I say "may". You might actually just get sent to any public school, elementary or junior high or senior high, that the employer has a contract with.


I make it clear in each interview process that employers place me with small children at their own risk. I will do the job, I will do the job to the best of my ability, but I am trained for working with adolescents and it shows. My previous BoE only had me at elementary schools for about a year. The next years I was at JHS only. My evaluations clearly demonstrated that while an excellent secondary education instructor, I lack the ability to communicate with small children effectively--in Japanese OR English. I wouldn't make a very good American ES teacher either. That's why I'm not one.

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If you studied to become a teacher, will you actually be satisfied in an ALT slot? You probably know the horror stories. What will you do if you have a JTE presiding over you and one that doesn't want to communicate with you about lesson planning, or one that tells you to be just a human tape recorder? You're not the boss in an ALT situation, and if you studied to be a teacher (the boss), you might find ALT work to be pretty demeaning and/or frustrating. Depends on the situation, of course.


I always had at least one JTE who was like that. I would usually bring up the lack of utilisation. My track record was about half and half. Many JTEs simply are not educated by the BoE or by the dispatch company if the ALT has abilities. Given the fact that many of my coworkers did NOT have a teaching background, it's not hard to see why JTEs would have the misconception that ALT = trained monkey. In my case, most JTEs immediately recognised my teaching ability, and I had a true co-teaching relationship with my JTEs. In a few cases, I was even allowed to be the "boss." In one case, I had a JTE who actually hated teaching and would sit back in the back of the class and let me teach the entire lesson myself on the days I was working with him. In another case, which I have mentioned on these forums, *I* was assigned a brand new teacher to train. I called the shots. Probably (definitely?) illegal, but it happened.

What these go to show is, honestly, if I could guarantee that my ALT positions would be true co-teaching and collaborative endeavors, and the salary situation was such that I could expect salary increases to keep up with inflation, I would not be opposed to your scenario. This is unlikely, thus the need for a 教員免許.

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As I figured from just being here and sometimes keeping my eyes open. Thanks for the confirmation. So, since you are comparing ALT slots, what information are you looking for, exactly, that will help you to make a decision?


I was just entering the discourse because I am very interested in it and think I can contribute to the conversation. I know exactly what I personally need to make a decision (and values differ from person to person). JohnJR is the one looking for information about the current state of ALT positions (specifically Interac) and I think our current discussion is providing him with a lot of information and differing views which should help him make a decision more effectively.

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As for waltzing into a private HS job, no, I don't have that feeling. I got my private HS job after 3 years of eikaiwa (and not having a degree related to education at all). Does that mean the measly eikaiwa experience was enough for me to get the job? Probably in part, yes. But I have to feel there was more behind it. I don't know how the other people got their PT positions there (that's how I started), but I know the only FT people there were experienced in eikaiwa or JET.


This is kind of depressing. I did six months of conversation instruction and it was hell on earth for me. It wasn't school. It wasn't my age range. It wasn't effective instruction in grammar and syntax. The materials chosen were terrible and often flat out wrong... Talk about frustrating and demeaning. I wanted to scream. Sometimes in the privacy of my apartment, I actually did. In comparison, ALT work was at least the right age, the right atmosphere, and the right content. To think that I could have gone from conversation school into teaching JHS students about 動名詞 or 接続詞 without formal training in teaching grammar and syntax seems unlikely.

Based on our previous conversations, I am going to say that you probably have natural teaching ability, and if so, that is awesome. Plenty of people who get teaching degrees or degrees in English/communication/writing can not teach themselves out of a paper bag. How often did you diagram sentences and the like with your students?

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As for waltzing into a direct hire, nope. Very unlikely for a newbie, as I think I indicated above. If I didn't, you know now how I feel.


Wasn't clear to me before, but it is now. We're on the same page here.

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Tongue in cheek here -- the way some people write on forums and in their cover letters, I often wonder that even with such education what sort of command of the language they have. (ok, tongue back in place now.)


Truth. I've seen you go after people for it, and they respond with a, "well, this is the internet, I don't have to!" As you can no doubt tell, I do not subscribe to that attitude. I wonder some times how people who have brick and mortar degrees (especially multiple degrees) do not automatically write on the internet how they write elsewhere...

For my MA we were required to access a private forum for discourse. You were docked points if you used "internet speak." I was appalled by the number of people who were docked.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneJoelFifty wrote:
This is with Interac? I can only assume that they have some contracts that are worth more than the rest, and positions that are entail more responsibility, because that's almost unheard of. I'd be extremely surprised if for that money they want you to fulfill the same duties as other ALTs.


One of them. In an unpopular location. I was pretty involved in my schools with my previous employer, so all we talked about was responsibilities or duties I already had--supervising clubs, attending school festivals, sports days, making materials, some lesson planning, etc... Given how many ALTs run at the first sign of out-of-classroom work perhaps this is considered extra? I just consider it part of being a teacher.

Quote:
You mentioned that 250,000 a month still looks like the norm on all the job websites, but I found that most places advertise salaries around that but have a little "up to" preceding it in the details, and when you've handed in your CV it tends to drop 20 or 30k.


This is fair, and usually true. A newbie doesn't have much bargaining power. I have experience, visa, recommendations, and now an MA. If the ad says "range based on experience" and I ask for more and they say no... theirs better be a good reason, or I will end the interview. I have already ended two interviews during my current process because I didn't like what I was told. I feel like I have an excellent negotiating position given what I value. I do not know about OP.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Quote:
As for waltzing into a private HS job, no, I don't have that feeling. I got my private HS job after 3 years of eikaiwa (and not having a degree related to education at all). Does that mean the measly eikaiwa experience was enough for me to get the job? Probably in part, yes. But I have to feel there was more behind it. I don't know how the other people got their PT positions there (that's how I started), but I know the only FT people there were experienced in eikaiwa or JET.


This is kind of depressing. I did six months of conversation instruction and it was hell on earth for me.
Trust me, coming from a biotech research industrial background, teaching eikaiwa was an incredible change!


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Based on our previous conversations, I am going to say that you probably have natural teaching ability, and if so, that is awesome.
Many have said so, whether I teach English in Japan or simply train people in lab procedures back in the U.S.

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Plenty of people who get teaching degrees or degrees in English/communication/writing can not teach themselves out of a paper bag. How often did you diagram sentences and the like with your students?
Uh, you're joking, right? Nobody in Japan diagrams sentences. I learned it in HS decades ago and have yet to find anyone else who even knows what I'm talking about. I showed the process to a JTE, and she was ecstatic about how useful and logical it appeared to her, to the point that she actually bought a book on the subject. I doubt she has applied it, but she saw the merits.

Remember, too, that in eikaiwa you teach conversation, not grammar. And, in HS the JTEs are the ones who teach the grammar, while the foreign teachers do conversation work (mostly, even with a JTE). I taught solo most of the time, and had to coordinate my conversation lessons with the grammar lessons the JTEs taught. None of that applied, of course, when I taught reading courses or TOEIC prep, or when my coworkers taught writing courses.

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Tongue in cheek here -- the way some people write on forums and in their cover letters, I often wonder that even with such education what sort of command of the language they have. (ok, tongue back in place now.)


Truth. I've seen you go after people for it, and they respond with a, "well, this is the internet, I don't have to!"
I don't do it often, only when I feel it is truly needed and will have an effect. I don't have too much of a problem with "forum English", and I strain whenever I see too much Internet-ese, but I generally keep mum.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Uh, you're joking, right? Nobody in Japan diagrams sentences. I learned it in HS decades ago and have yet to find anyone else who even knows what I'm talking about. I showed the process to a JTE, and she was ecstatic about how useful and logical it appeared to her, to the point that she actually bought a book on the subject. I doubt she has applied it, but she saw the merits.


...Absolutely not joking. Every single JTE I have worked with has done some sort of proto-diagramming, with plenty of circling, underlining. Never to the level you'd see in an American school, but a fairly decent amount of emphasis on syntax... and frankly, I love to do anything close to that. Any time I start dealing with parts of speech, I really enjoy myself... which is why I became an English teacher in the first place. Most people don't.

Quote:
And, in HS the JTEs are the ones who teach the grammar, while the foreign teachers do conversation work (mostly, even with a JTE). I taught solo most of the time, and had to coordinate my conversation lessons with the grammar lessons the JTEs taught. None of that applied, of course, when I taught reading courses or TOEIC prep, or when my coworkers taught writing courses.


I didn't have a single ALT coworker who was capable of teaching grammar. Again, depressing. When I started rattling off Japanese explanations of English grammar to my JTEs most were shocked... and few declined to allow me to actually be involved in the teaching of grammar. And as I said, there were plenty of lessons where I did every single aspect of the lesson, and I had to write myself notes and practice before class so my Japanese would be right. But, yes, I have plenty of experience getting up and actually giving grammar explanations in Japanese. Why shouldn't I be able to? I have a degree in English and I intended to be an English teacher! It's just a simple matter of writing the lesson plan in English and then working on translating it into Japanese and making sure you don't sound like a complete moron when giving the lecture.

Many ALTs complain about being a human tape recorder, or a conversationalist. I always believed when it came down to it, that was because they lacked the background to actually collaborate on lesson planning or lacked the desire to try to pick up the skills they needed on the job. You can't very well learn Japanese vocabulary for English concepts if you don't have a firm grasp (or any grasp!) of what those concepts are called in English...

If I had your job, Glenski, I would probably go insane. Heck, if my ALT experience had been like most of my coworkers, I would have gone insane. I'm an English teacher. English teachers teach mechanics, that is to say grammar and syntax, and style. If possible they teach literature, though that isn't often possible given the low levels of language acquisition in Japanese public schools.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Every single JTE I have worked with has done some sort of proto-diagramming, with plenty of circling, underlining. Never to the level you'd see in an American school, but a fairly decent amount of emphasis on syntax...
I'd have to say that real diagramming of sentences is virtually unknown in Japan. Just my guess. Circling and underlining...I'm going to guess that they underlined various parts of speech on demand? Not too surprising, but I'm sure you realize that there is not always a direct equality of parts of speech between the 2 languages, so it can be very confusing.

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I didn't have a single ALT coworker who was capable of teaching grammar.
Is that surprising, considering the fact that most are not English majors? I've even heard/read (on this forum?) that nowadays in certain countries (UK?) they aren't even teaching the parts of speech to native speakers.

Besides, when the students have a very low level of the language anyway, it's usually better to have the JTEs teach it in L1.

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Again, depressing. When I started rattling off Japanese explanations of English grammar to my JTEs most were shocked... and few declined to allow me to actually be involved in the teaching of grammar.
Perhaps for the reason I stated above. I take it they were shocked because you knew what you were talking about, right?

I'm pretty good with grammar, and I ended up being the "go to" person for native English teachers and JTEs alike. Felt nice at first to be a resource person, but it got old quickly, and when the questions became the type where answers were "that is just not natural sounding" or "it's that way because it's that way" or "the difference is just a nuance in usage", it was pretty frustrating for both sides. At least my constant reference to Swan got 2 JETs (one about 45 years old, another fresh into teaching) to buy the book.

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But, yes, I have plenty of experience getting up and actually giving grammar explanations in Japanese.
I've forgotten your level of Japanese. It's pretty high, right?

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Why shouldn't I be able to? I have a degree in English and I intended to be an English teacher! It's just a simple matter of writing the lesson plan in English and then working on translating it into Japanese and making sure you don't sound like a complete moron when giving the lecture.
I just thought of an additional reason you may not have been allowed to teach the grammar. Despite good Japanese skills, the school may have just decided that you should never use Japanese in the classroom. Fairly common viewpoint. They want us foreigners to use as much English as possible. Kids don't have/make much opportunity to hear natural-sounding English all that much, so we are there mainly for their ears. It's not immersion, but it's a step in that direction with the limited curriculum we face.

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Many ALTs complain about being a human tape recorder, or a conversationalist. I always believed when it came down to it, that was because they lacked the background to actually collaborate on lesson planning or lacked the desire to try to pick up the skills they needed on the job.
I think it was also the school policy and/or the experience and feelings of the JTEs, who may not have that good English speaking ability themselves, or who may not agree with the ALT concept and team teaching (and certainly are not trained for it). Nowadays, I think the school itself can't even dictate what the ALT does if they are from a dispatch agency!

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You can't very well learn Japanese vocabulary for English concepts if you don't have a firm grasp (or any grasp!) of what those concepts are called in English...
Agreed.

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If I had your job, Glenski, I would probably go insane.
I'm in uni now, remember? I worked in a private HS for 4 years. Grueling and very tiring, but also very educational. I assume that's the job you are referring to, because we haven't discussed what I do now (not publicly, anyway).

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I'm an English teacher. English teachers teach mechanics, that is to say grammar and syntax, and style. If possible they teach literature, though that isn't often possible given the low levels of language acquisition in Japanese public schools.
You also must realize by now why there is such a low level of that acquisition. And, it's not just public schools.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Is that surprising, considering the fact that most are not English majors?


It isn't surprising now. It certainly was surprising when I first came to Japan. Now, it's just depressing.

Quote:
Besides, when the students have a very low level of the language anyway, it's usually better to have the JTEs teach it in L1.


Sometimes. Sometimes their explanations are so rigidly from a specific textbook or how they were taught, the JTEs end up confusing their students. The problem is for a good period of time English has been taught the way Western students learn Latin, and English is NOT a dead language, and style is just as important as mechanics... Sometimes being able to make creative analogies in Japanese is the best way to teach English rules.

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I take it they were shocked because you knew what you were talking about, right?


Yes. Of course these days, I'm somewhat shocked when I meet a JTE that truly knows what he or she is talking about. It isn't the JTE's fault, but again, it's like they have a degree in a dead language, and English isn't dead.

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Felt nice at first to be a resource person, but it got old quickly, and when the questions became the type where answers were "that is just not natural sounding" or "it's that way because it's that way" or "the difference is just a nuance in usage", it was pretty frustrating for both sides.


This is when I break out the "style" lecture. There are mechanics, and there is style. You are technically allowed to do X and Y, but no one ever actually does Y. So while Y isn't "wrong," using Y will hamper communication and is thus not something which should be taught. Japanese, teachers and students alike, do not like shades of gray. The answer is often either, as you say, "it just is" or "because people just don't do it." There are many answers which are not wrong, they're just not good answers. English is full of shades of gray. Get used to it.

I usually answer why with an explanation of how English is part Germanic Anglo-Saxon, part Norman French, part Greek, part Latin, and a whole lot of loan words, and we often bring in the grammatical rules of the words we use regardless of origin. If you expect that kind of hodgepodge to be rational and reasonable, you probably shouldn't be teaching English.

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I've forgotten your level of Japanese. It's pretty high, right?


It's all relative. I would say it isn't high, no higher certainly than JLPT3. That said, I can do most daily activities and deal with most bureaucracy without English. When I started in Japan, I specifically set out to learn the vocabulary necessary to teach English in Japanese. From the get go I did not want to be a teaching assistant, and I certainly did not want to be a human tape recorder. I figured actually being able teach out of the textbook and do the grammar explanations in Japanese would be a way to prevent this from happening. In the vast majority of cases, it did.

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I just thought of an additional reason you may not have been allowed to teach the grammar. Despite good Japanese skills, the school may have just decided that you should never use Japanese in the classroom. Fairly common viewpoint. They want us foreigners to use as much English as possible. Kids don't have/make much opportunity to hear natural-sounding English all that much, so we are there mainly for their ears. It's not immersion, but it's a step in that direction with the limited curriculum we face.


I said "few declined to allow me to teach grammar." That is to say, most did allow me to teach grammar. Once the shock wore off that I was capable of it. Just because I spent part of the lesson teaching in Japanese certainly did not mean I spent no time working on vocabulary and reading. Not to mention roleplaying. Plenty of opportunity for my students to hear natural sounding English. And of course, I would see them between classes, during clubs, many times on the way home, at the department store...

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I think it was also the school policy and/or the experience and feelings of the JTEs, who may not have that good English speaking ability themselves, or who may not agree with the ALT concept and team teaching (and certainly are not trained for it). Nowadays, I think the school itself can't even dictate what the ALT does if they are from a dispatch agency!


Having worked at all but two of the JHSs in my city, I can assure you that this might be the case elsewhere, but it was not the case in my city. I had one JTE that really hated to use me at all, but then I had one who didn't even want to teach at all while I was there and I was responsible for everything, grammar included. Typically, my JTE experience was such that everything was a team effort including grammar instruction. I think most of my JTEs were relieved to have someone else in the classroom who knew what they were doing.

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You also must realize by now why there is such a low level of that acquisition. And, it's not just public schools.


I do, sadly. And I know, also sadly. My only experience has been in public schools, but I sat in on some lessons at a private school we also had a contract with. The results were... not encouraging.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Quote:
Besides, when the students have a very low level of the language anyway, it's usually better to have the JTEs teach it in L1.


Sometimes. Sometimes their explanations are so rigidly from a specific textbook or how they were taught, the JTEs end up confusing their students.
The point I was driving at was not who taught the grammar but in what language it was taught. Rigid or otherwise, at least the JTE's words are all in a language they know.

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The problem is for a good period of time English has been taught the way Western students learn Latin, and English is NOT a dead language, and style is just as important as mechanics.
IMO, the Japanese are not into learning language by any sort of style technique. As you know, most still teach with the grammar-translation way, especially after the kids received a foundation in junior high and are facing graduation from HS, and face those horrid entrance exams.

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I take it they were shocked because you knew what you were talking about, right?


Yes. Of course these days, I'm somewhat shocked when I meet a JTE that truly knows what he or she is talking about. It isn't the JTE's fault, but again, it's like they have a degree in a dead language, and English isn't dead.
Most have a degree in literature, not in teaching a language. Their internships are pretty poor, too. Two weeks of following another teacher around, maybe making a lecture or 2, and then telling the staff of that school how it went.

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Japanese, teachers and students alike, do not like shades of gray. The answer is often either, as you say, "it just is" or "because people just don't do it." There are many answers which are not wrong, they're just not good answers. English is full of shades of gray. Get used to it.
Ask them why so and so is the case for their own language, and you will get the same answer: it's just the way it's just the way it is. Sometimes deeper explanations get in the way of learning anyway.


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I think it was also the school policy and/or the experience and feelings of the JTEs, who may not have that good English speaking ability themselves, or who may not agree with the ALT concept and team teaching (and certainly are not trained for it). Nowadays, I think the school itself can't even dictate what the ALT does if they are from a dispatch agency!


Having worked at all but two of the JHSs in my city, I can assure you that this might be the case elsewhere, but it was not the case in my city.
The land of case by case.
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nightsintodreams



Joined: 18 May 2010
Posts: 435

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading through your discussion was very interesting and you certainly both know more about the English language and teaching than I do. However, I disagree with your view on using mechanics and diagramming to teach JHS/HS grammar.

We all managed to learn English fluently without the use of proto- diagramming or mechanics and I've managed to go from 0 Japanese to JLPT3 within two years, without using such methods. Perhaps you have a visual/ mathematical way of thinking and that works for you, but just because it works for you that doesn't mean it's the be all and end all of teaching methods. Personally I can't think of anything worse than trying to learn Japanese through diagrams and equations.

Also, remember why you're here. Japan doesn't need teachers to explain grammar. All the Japanese teachers and many Japanese people I've met have a fine grasp of English grammar. What they lack is the ability to use it in conversation. You're job as an ALT or Eikaiwa teacher is to give them a motivation and opportunity to speak English and listen to the way a real native speaker converses.

How do you plan on becoming a qualified Japanese teacher? Is it even possible for a foreigner? I'm guessing that if it is possible then you will have to far exceed JLPT 1 level before you ever have a chance. Remember you'll need to write all of the jouyou kanji fluently, as well as read them. I have no idea how long it took you to get to JLPT3 level, but it took me two years of hard study and I imagine it will take another three or four years before I'll even have a chance at passing N1. Even after passing N1 you'll need to brush up your kanji and then go back to university for at least a year or two. By the time you have a Japanese teaching license how old do you expect to be? If you do manage to achieve all of that wont you then have to start on the starting salary for a Japanese teacher? From what I've heard that can be as low as 200,000 yen.

Sorry if I come of as a bit cynical. If the truth be known, I've considered this career path for myself, but the amount of time it would take and the lousy pay at the end of the long road put me off the idea.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nightsintodreams wrote:
Reading through your discussion was very interesting and you certainly both know more about the English language and teaching than I do. However, I disagree with your view on using mechanics and diagramming to teach JHS/HS grammar.

We all managed to learn English fluently without the use of proto- diagramming or mechanics
"Fluently" is the keyword here. Native speakers pick up a lot of their fluency indirectly by immersion from birth. Learning grammar starts before one gets into a classroom, whether one realizes it or not. However, learning to understand the grammar usually takes place in a classroom. As for me, I had 2 years of JHS/HS teaching that used diagramming sentences (among other strategies), and that worked well for me. As you said, it may not be suitable for others. Yup.

I can't speak for Kionon, but it is intuitively obvious that just one method of teaching is not a suitable one, and I would hope that people use more than that. Unfortunately, in Japanese classes with a JTE presiding, I fear that may not be the case. Not in HS anyway.

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and I've managed to go from 0 Japanese to JLPT3 within two years, without using such methods.
Different kettle of fish. L2 vs. L1.

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Also, remember why you're here. Japan doesn't need teachers to explain grammar. All the Japanese teachers and many Japanese people I've met have a fine grasp of English grammar. What they lack is the ability to use it in conversation.
That's largely why foreigners are here, but I wouldn't assume that all JTEs know how to teach grammar. If they did, how do you explain the ones that came to me all the time with their questions?

As for us teaching how to use it in a conversation, this is one rub for us in a public/private school. Students don't see enough of the value of it because their HS years are dedicated to passing entrance exams, which have a totally different perspective than conversational usage.

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You're job as an ALT or Eikaiwa teacher is to give them a motivation and opportunity to speak English and listen to the way a real native speaker converses.
In eikaiwa, reviewing the grammar is also sometimes very necessary. Also, ALT and eikaiwa are not the only types of teachers. Others need to teach more than just conversation.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nightsintodreams wrote:
Reading through your discussion was very interesting and you certainly both know more about the English language and teaching than I do. However, I disagree with your view on using mechanics and diagramming to teach JHS/HS grammar.


You are absolutely allowed to.

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We all managed to learn English fluently without the use of proto- diagramming or mechanics


Fluent is such a terribly relative word. I don't use it at all, myself. I talk about functionality, not fluency. In truth, I know not one English, but several Englishes. I have varying degrees of functionality in all of them. Contextualisation is really important when considering communication ability. As someone with an English degree and who had original intent to become a junior high school or high school English teacher in Texas, I am a product of my own education. This education has molded my views.

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Perhaps you have a visual/ mathematical way of thinking and that works for you, but just because it works for you that doesn't mean it's the be all and end all of teaching methods. Personally I can't think of anything worse than trying to learn Japanese through diagrams and equations.


Actually, I'm an aural learner. And I can barely add, math is my weakest subject. I am certainly no engineer or architect. I actively enjoy constructing visualisations as a teacher, but they don't work for me personally as a student. I have to have conversations in order to retain knowledge. However, I am a minority. My own pedagogical training emphasised the use of visual explanations and visually-based activities for knowledge retention. I am, of course, ultimately biased into believing that my own education holds truth about the learning process. This is true of most people.

Japanese is irrelevant here. We're not discussing Japanese. We're discussing English. I don't diagram Japanese sentences (although now that you mention it... I am curious to try it out...) all of my Japanese learned has been pure immersion. Even if we were diagramming sentences has NOTHING to do with mathematical equations. It's simply a way to visualise how the parts of speech work together.

Quote:
Also, remember why you're here. Japan doesn't need teachers to explain grammar. All the Japanese teachers and many Japanese people I've met have a fine grasp of English grammar. What they lack is the ability to use it in conversation. You're job as an ALT or Eikaiwa teacher is to give them a motivation and opportunity to speak English and listen to the way a real native speaker converses.


Eikaiwa yes, which I why I won't do it. ALT? This is an idea that drives me up the wall. Regardless of what other people think, whether it is you, or the JTEs, or the students, or the parents, if I ever believed my sole purpose in the classroom was to use my voice and nothing else, I would have to stop teaching in Japan. Period. Perhaps I might stay in Japan in some other capacity, or perhaps I would seek a teaching position in the United States, but I would not be able to continue to be an ALT with that kind of perception.

Being able to rattle off grammar rules without understanding how they are living, breathing concepts really isn't a grasp of anything. Japan certainly DOES need native teachers to explain grammar because the JTEs do a shitty job of teaching it so that it becomes APPLICABLE. I could memorise a book about the rules of baseball, but if I never stepped out onto the field could you really say I had a good "grasp" of baseball? Pishposh! The role of the native teacher should be taking grammar and syntax and combining it with style to make it a LIVING language.

The perception you offer is one of the major issues with the way native speakers are utilised in classrooms today. If the native speakers themselves buy into this drivel about how worthless they are as purveyors of the structure of English, no wonder we have trouble convincing elements of Japanese society to stop thinking the same!

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How do you plan on becoming a qualified Japanese teacher? Is it even possible for a foreigner? I'm guessing that if it is possible then you will have to far exceed JLPT 1 level before you ever have a chance.


Google is your friend.

There are some very informative threads around the internet on various forums. You can take lecture courses or correspondence courses at a few different universities. If you have education courses from your home country, if you have them translated, they will count. You usually have to translate the entire catalog, which can be expensive, or time consuming, or both. Alternately, if you have no education courses, you can still use the first two years of your undergraduate degree and do your last sixty hours or so in education courses all in your program in Japan. Some universities require JLPT2. Others simply don't care. It's your money, if you fail because you can't keep up well... None of their never mind. If you want to work for a specific BoE, you can get a 臨時免許 good for three years while you do your coursework. My previous BoE said they would sponsor me once I was admitted to a program, but not before. I ended up going back to Texas to get an MA, but I still have support in that BoE (I visited in October). Once your coursework is done, you get some documents and your transcripts and you pay about 1万 and you get your 教員免許. Now, admittedly there is a lot more to these steps than outlined here, I just went very, very, very general.

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By the time you have a Japanese teaching license how old do you expect to be?


32, probably. Unless I decide to go for the PhD instead. Then that's a whole different thing...

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If you do manage to achieve all of that wont you then have to start on the starting salary for a Japanese teacher? From what I've heard that can be as low as 200,000 yen.


If actually hired by a public school, that might be the case. Not likely, however. Those who I have communicated with who have either the 臨時免許 or 教員免許 have had private school positions, with one exception. I know an Australian in Wakayama who started as an ALT and is now a homeroom teacher, and this is a public school. Ultimately, the rarity of the positions are really I think a symptom of the rarity of non-Japanese having Japanese teaching licenses. It's something like one or two per prefecture, I think...

Quote:
Sorry if I come of as a bit cynical. If the truth be known, I've considered this career path for myself, but the amount of time it would take and the lousy pay at the end of the long road put me off the idea.


You did, but I'm used to cynical. I've been at this too long to not know how widely your views are held, even if I disagree with them. I will say, if you're teaching for the pay, you need a new career. If you're not doing it because you love what you are doing, stop. Teaching is not for you.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
I will say, if you're teaching for the pay, you need a new career. If you're not doing it because you love what you are doing, stop. Teaching is not for you.


I've found this discussion very interesting, and as someone that isn't schooled enough on grammar to explain the rules of most of it properly, it has me wanting to sharpen my skills. But that last paragraph is rubbish, for the simple fact that teaching in Japan is the only way for the vast majority of the English-speaking population to live here and experience the country. Not everyone has a teaching career in mind.

Also, while I respect your knowledge and experience, I do feel that you're slightly belittling the good work that someone can do teaching simple conversation classes.
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SeasonedVet



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 236
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite interesting conversation.
I think I'd have to say I agree with a lot of what nightsintodreams wrote.
Didn't sound cynical to me, sounded like a good opinions.
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SeasonedVet



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 236
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Quote:
I will say, if you're teaching for the pay, you need a new career. If you're not doing it because you love what you are doing, stop. Teaching is not for you.


That may be true in one's country of permanent residence but would you say the same for those who are tteaching abroad doing eikaiwa and ALT jobs?
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SeasonedVet



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 236
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Quote:
Many ALTs complain about being a human tape recorder, or a conversationalist. I always believed when it came down to it, that was because they lacked the background to actually collaborate on lesson planning or lacked the desire to try to pick up the skills they needed on the job.


Even though there may be some cases of this I wouldn't make a blanket statement. You can't paint everyone with the same brush.
There are ssituations where ALTs have no other assignment other than to be a taperecorder. Some JTEs strictly control their classes and what they allow ALTs to do. Can't fault the ALT there. They likely want more to do than that.
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