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Why Is Interac So Keen To Hire New Teachers?
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SeasonedVet



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 234
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Quote:
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.


I have found the opposite. I have found that JTEs have a better grasp of English grammar than most ALTs.
What they do not have is a facility for the language. They can out teach any of us on our own English grammar.
If you are talking about new teachers fresh out of Uni...well maybe...but the seasoned JTEs know what they are doing when it comes to teaching grammar.
You also have to remember that they are teaching with a specific goal in mind. Their goal (although we may hear talk of communication) the bigger goal is to write exams. That's it. You can't really fault them. They are doing what is expected of them by the Parents and the BOE.
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Kionon



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

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneJoelFifty wrote:
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.


Right, and so after a year or two, they stop teaching. How is that a contradiction?

Quote:
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.


Not at all. I just don't believe it to be the job of secondary education English as a foreign language instructors. There is a difference between conversation classes and secondary education foreign language instruction. Both have their uses, but they are not the same thing.

SeasonedVet wrote:
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?


I think you mean "citizenship" or "nationality." I plan to apply for permanent residency in Japan as soon as I qualify, which shouldn't be too long now, especially with the work I did for my MA. My thesis makes a significant contribution to an understanding of prewar Japanese political theory...

And as I said above, most people who come to Japan only do one or two years. So, they do get out of teaching.

Quote:
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.


Yes, there are. But is that every situation, every day, with every JTE? If so, there is something fundamentally wrong with the system in that area, and they should complain. First to the JTE, then to head teacher, then to the vice principal/principal, then to the BoE or company, if it comes to that. The BoE is spending a lot of money to have a native speaker in the classroom, and my previous BoE was not pleased if they heard reports that the ALT was not more involved in the class than a human tape recorder. If other ALTs want to do more, there are avenues to make that desire felt and to affect change. I've often not seen that desire, let alone any attempts to affect the change.

Quote:
I have found the opposite. I have found that JTEs have a better grasp of English grammar than most ALTs.


Glenski and I both established that at previous points in the conversation. Most ALTs, given that their degree may be in everything from biophysics to underwater basket weaving, do not have the training. This doesn't mean that JTEs are highly capable at teaching students to apply grammar--it just means they're better at it than someone who did not study to be an English teacher. This is, as Glenski said, hardly surprising. Compared to an ALT with a degree in English, Journalism, Creative Writing, or in many cases, Communications, the JTE will not be better.

Quote:
What they do not have is a facility for the language. They can out teach any of us on our own English grammar.


Ha. No. Again, Glenski and I have both established we have been in situations where our knowledge of grammar was far superior to both JTEs and other native teachers. There may be JTEs who could out teach me on grammar, but I haven't met one. This should not be surprising, given my educational background.

Quote:
If you are talking about new teachers fresh out of Uni...well maybe...but the seasoned JTEs know what they are doing when it comes to teaching grammar.


I'm talking about the gamut. As is not surprising, the longer someone has been doing what they are doing, the harder it is to admit when they make a mistake. The JTEs I have had the most trouble with (including the one who would not budge on utilisation, even after being nudged by the BoE) had been teaching for twenty years. He wasn't about to listen to me, whether I was right or wrong. Doesn't make him right. Just makes him stubborn.

Quote:
You also have to remember that they are teaching with a specific goal in mind. Their goal (although we may hear talk of communication) the bigger goal is to write exams. That's it. You can't really fault them. They are doing what is expected of them by the Parents and the BOE.


If you know the amount of time I spent listening to my friends and colleagues in American schools venting about standardised testing and how it is ruining their ability to actually teach meaningful understanding and application of their subject area, you might not be willing to cut the JTEs as much slack as you do now. They don't have to be silent.
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SeasonedVet



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 234
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Quote:
Glenski and I have both established we have been in situations where our knowledge of grammar was far superior to both JTEs and other native teachers. There may be JTEs who could out teach me on grammar, but I haven't met one.


Well I have.
I currently work with one. And she will point out that her major was grammar at Uni. She is pretty good.
Having said that, her angle (like many others) is different from the angle a western foreigner would approach the teaching of grammar.
Approaching the teaching of grammar from a different angle does not of necessity make the taching thereof any less skillful.
The teaching of grammar/English in public schools tends to be more scientific. It does not prepare the student to communicate. It is more of language analysis and breaking it down into parts. It's not at all functional. But again that doesn't make the teaching of it any less skillful.
Anyway I'm afraid we are straying from the main topic of the thread.
Would be happy to talk more on these and other issues.
Thanks.
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Kionon



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

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SeasonedVet wrote:
Well I have.
I currently work with one. And she will point out that her major was grammar at Uni. She is pretty good.


Clarification. You work with a teacher who can out teach you in grammar. She may indeed be better than me, but that is not a fact in evidence. We don't know that. I said I haven't met one, not that they don't exist. I worked with a Special Ed teacher once who spent several years in Canada and although I never saw her teach grammar, I would believe she could do it better than me if she told me she was capable of doing so.

Quote:
Having said that, her angle (like many others) is different from the angle a western foreigner would approach the teaching of grammar.


I'm not sure placing all Westerners in a big-box of pedagogy is fair or accurate.

Quote:
Approaching the teaching of grammar from a different angle does not of necessity make the taching thereof any less skillful.


Never said otherwise... However...

Quote:
The teaching of grammar/English in public schools tends to be more scientific. It does not prepare the student to communicate. It is more of language analysis and breaking it down into parts. It's not at all functional.


It is the way we teach Latin in the West, as I said. The difference is, Latin is dead. English is living! I can, and do, object to that.

Quote:
But again that doesn't make the teaching of it any less skillful.


Just because something requires skill does not make it useful. In this case, you have said yourself that the "angle" used by JTEs is one which "not at all functional." I find this to be a fundamental problem.

Quote:
Anyway I'm afraid we are straying from the main topic of the thread.
Would be happy to talk more on these and other issues.
Thanks.


We are, but I think this is an excellent overview of issues surrounding ALT work and the different perceptions of its value. I think this thread will go a long way to helping newbies and wannabes decide if this is really something they wish to pursue, and it should help the OP understand how the current situation is in regards to ALT work, and Interac specifically.

BTW, there are some strong opinions here an all sides, and I really appreciate how everyone has been civil and academic in their tone. Good discourse!
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spidr245



Joined: 26 Nov 2008
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Kionon wrote:
Glenski wrote:
For ALT jobs, there is JET and there is the dispatch agency route (like Interac).


JET is highly competitive, and they seem to reject people for the strangest reasons. It's also exactly what it says it is--an exchange program. For someone interested moving to Japan and staying, JET is not only an inappropriate option, if they find out they will never hire you in the first place.
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.



I've had friends rejected from JET before because they were Asian. It's racial discrimination, I know. But without any evidence, you can't do anything about it.

Japanese people don't think Asian-Americans can speak English because according to them Asians don't come from America. I was told this by many students when I worked in Japan and teachers/government employees as well. No matter how many times I told them I am an American, there were always those who still kept thinking I was from Korea, China, etc. (I've been working in the same school for the last 3 years too... Rolling Eyes ) Sometimes they just thought I was Japanese and was lying to get attention.

As for Interac's base pay, it's 220,000/mo with a 30,000/month performance bonus. And the "bonus" is deducted based on any mistakes made by you or complaints filed about you. Basically, it's "3-strikes-and-no-bonus-for-you."
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Kionon



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

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spidr245 wrote:
I've had friends rejected from JET before because they were Asian. It's racial discrimination, I know. But without any evidence, you can't do anything about it.


I'm not sure you could do anything about it even if you did have evidence.

Quote:
Japanese people don't think Asian-Americans can speak English because according to them Asians don't come from America. I was told this by many students when I worked in Japan and teachers/government employees as well. No matter how many times I told them I am an American, there were always those who still kept thinking I was from Korea, China, etc. (I've been working in the same school for the last 3 years too... Rolling Eyes ) Sometimes they just thought I was Japanese and was lying to get attention.


On the flip side, I have a friend named Dan who is Vietnamese but whose features are very much in the "could likely be Japanese" range. He has a southern accent and speaks no Japanese. When he visited me in 2009, going anywhere with him was frustrating for both of us. They always addressed him in Japanese, but addressed me in English (as I am white) and then were shocked when I said 「すみません、でも私の友達はアメリカ人です。日本語が分かりません。」 "Excuse me, but my friend is American. He doesn't understand Japanese." Sometimes the facial expressions were hilarious, but after the second or third time it really got old...

Quote:
As for Interac's base pay, it's 220,000/mo with a 30,000/month performance bonus. And the "bonus" is deducted based on any mistakes made by you or complaints filed about you. Basically, it's "3-strikes-and-no-bonus-for-you."


I have a call today confirming one of the positions and negotiating the salary. We'll see what their final offer is, and I might inquire about this.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
OneJoelFifty wrote:
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.


Right, and so after a year or two, they stop teaching. How is that a contradiction?


Because not everyone does stop. Employment in any country is often a necessity and not a choice. And in Japan, teaching is the only choice for the vast majority of people that want to call the country home. In a situation like that you're bound to have a significant part of the workforce that don't especially like their jobs, let alone love them.

Kionon wrote:
OneJoelFifty wrote:
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.



Not at all. I just don't believe it to be the job of secondary education English as a foreign language instructors. There is a difference between conversation classes and secondary education foreign language instruction. Both have their uses, but they are not the same thing.


You don't believe it to be. But the Japanese schools, dispatch companies, Japanese government and many others at ground level don't share your opinion. I'm not sure I do either. You're making assumptions based on the one city you've taught in that Japanese teachers are incapable of teaching grammar effectively, and suggesting that it's up to the foreign teaching workforce to pick up the slack.

My first grade senior high students have 6 English classes a week. Two of them are "Oral Communication", and one of those is with me. I've taken a look at the text books they use in their grammar classes, and I've taken a look at what they do in their other OC class (actual conversation appears minimal). Now, if (and yes, it's an if, but by no means as unlikely as you say it is) the Japanese teachers are teaching grammar effectively, why should my role not be to facilitate the students putting what they've learned into practice?
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, if I want to get shit-hot at English grammar, what books would you recommend? Glenski, I think you mentioned Swan...?
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SeasonedVet



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 234
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:

Quote:
Clarification. You work with a teacher who can out teach you in grammar. She may indeed be better than me, but that is not a fact in evidence. We don't know that. I said I haven't met one, not that they don't exist


Hmm, I wonder if you have a legal background.
Let's not split hairs here.

All I'm saying is that I know that there are JTEs out there who can teach grammar well. They do what they do well. Whether or not you have actually met one is getting away from the original point.
I am saying I have met a number of them at the schools I have worked at.
You may have a different opinion concerning the "gamut" but you can't measure that because you have not worked with the "gamut".
But again I don't want to be sidetracked by semantics, as it may take us on (a) tangent(s)

As far as I know (and this can be proven and backed up by statistics) Japanese don't have a big problem where grammar is concerned. They do however have more difficulties with communicating in the L2.
As I said before, and I don't think you disagree, the teaching of grammar is scientific and not very functional.

That is where ALTs and eikaiwa instructors come in.
However there are Major problems with both of these programs/jobs.
I could write a lot about them. That would be for another thread.
People often complain about them but we need to hear about solutions as well and what would work better. But that is for another thread
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Kionon



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

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneJoelFifty wrote:
Because not everyone does stop. Employment in any country is often a necessity and not a choice. And in Japan, teaching is the only choice for the vast majority of people that want to call the country home. In a situation like that you're bound to have a significant part of the workforce that don't especially like their jobs, let alone love them.


Then I predict one day, they will have to look themselves in the mirror and ask, "Am I happy?" If the answer is no...

I love Japan, I have no interest in leaving. That said, I'm in Japan because I am a teacher, I am not teaching because I am in Japan. The distinction may seem minor to you, but I assure you it is not minor to me. I've taught elsewhere, and Japan is simply the best value for my service, which is great, because I like living in Japan. Works out perfectly.

Kionon wrote:
You don't believe it to be. But the Japanese schools, dispatch companies, Japanese government and many others at ground level don't share your opinion. I'm not sure I do either. You're making assumptions based on the one city you've taught in that Japanese teachers are incapable of teaching grammar effectively, and suggesting that it's up to the foreign teaching workforce to pick up the slack.


That this is my belief is not in debate. In the section you quoted, I said that exactly. "Effectively" is the key word here. If we have different definitions of "effective" (or as SeasonedVet alluded, different goals), of course we will fundamentally disagree. Now, I'm basing my opinion on more than just the JTEs and student teachers in my city. I'm basing it in part on that, sure, but also in part on my understanding of the curriculum that these JTEs had in their undergraduate studies. These teachers did not all go to the same university, they didn't even all go to universities in the same areas. We had a pretty good mix. Understanding the pedagogical methodology they learned as undergraduate students is, I think, an important factor in my opinions. As Glenski pointed out, many JTEs do not have education degrees in English mechanics; they have English degrees in literature. My own degree was half and half. Many hours of language structure, but plenty of literature as well. Most notably, coursework on how the two interact. I could tell you more than I (or you) ever wanted to know about the grammatical peculiarities of Willa Cather (and why I am on a one man mission to remove her from the canon!).

Quote:
My first grade senior high students have 6 English classes a week. Two of them are "Oral Communication", and one of those is with me. I've taken a look at the text books they use in their grammar classes, and I've taken a look at what they do in their other OC class (actual conversation appears minimal). Now, if (and yes, it's an if, but by no means as unlikely as you say it is) the Japanese teachers are teaching grammar effectively, why should my role not be to facilitate the students putting what they've learned into practice?


Again, what do we mean by "effectively?" If "effectively" is teaching to the test, then yes, the JTEs are "effective." If "effective" means actually applying that grammar... Then why are you needed at all? You just asked "why should my role not be to facilitate the students putting what they've learned into practice" and that is precisely what I think you should be doing! I'm just surprised if you never have to reiterate grammar rules or review what the JTEs have taught in order to do so. Given how the language is taught (SeasonedVet called it "scientific," I call it "dead"), I'm having a hard time seeing how you could never spend any time on grammar and still see its proper application during, say, a roleplaying assignment.

I also feel I need to make it clear, I have tremendous respect for most of the JTEs I worked with. Not all, but most. Most genuinely wanted to help their students. Most genuinely worked hard. Sometimes too hard. My problem is not with JTEs as individuals, but rather that pedagogical methodology I referred to earlier. My own foreign language instructors were required to spend a significant amount of time abroad. One of my high school foreign language instructors actually spent her entire undergraduate degree coursework in the foreign language she wanted to teach. Explanations of grammar were followed by roleplaying situations where there were only general topic ideas--not fill in the blank scripts. This forced the students to attempt grammar usage with the end goal being to communicate effectively. Sometimes we sounded like five year olds applying grammar rules more broadly than was actually correct, but it was a far more useful and natural acquisition of language.

Of course, I never once had an entrance examination which tested my ability to use French. A shame, since now I can only read it, not write it, and not speak it or understand it all...

I blame the system, but the system is never going to change, not even a little bit, if those in the system (the JTEs, the ALTs, the students, the BoEs, the Ministry of Education, the dispatch companies) don't engage in discourse on the topic.

But, you know, maybe I'm just a crazy dreamer who will eventually become bitter.


Last edited by Kionon on Fri May 18, 2012 2:01 am; edited 2 times in total
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Kionon



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

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SeasonedVet wrote:
Hmm, I wonder if you have a legal background.
Let's not split hairs here.


Yes. I have an MA in Government. A good half of my coursework was in law, and many of my peers were using the MA to gain necessary prerequisites and/or meet GPA requirements for a JD program. You'll forgive me if I have a legalistic frame of mind, my coursework only ended last week.

As to the rest, I think my views have been adequately covered elsewhere, but yes, we can agree, that the teaching of grammar in Japan is often "not very functional," which we can also agree is a problem affecting ability to communicate.
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Kionon



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

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneJoelFifty wrote:
Also, if I want to get shit-hot at English grammar, what books would you recommend? Glenski, I think you mentioned Swan...?


Depends on what kind of book you are looking for? Dry reference guide? ESL oriented? Secondary education oriented? Conversational?

I think this might be a good start:

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-It-Right-Approaches-Correctness/dp/0439669332

I enjoyed it.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spidr245 wrote:
I've had friends rejected from JET before because they were Asian. It's racial discrimination, I know. But without any evidence, you can't do anything about it.
Hold it. If you have no evidence, then how can you state conclusively that that was the reason they were not accepted?

Quote:
Japanese people don't think Asian-Americans can speak English because according to them Asians don't come from America. I was told this by many students when I worked in Japan and teachers/government employees as well.
Would someone please correct me if I'm wrong here, but I don't think Japanese people have all the say in who is chosen for JET. When I interviewed, the panel had 3 people on it, and only 1 was Japanese.

Yes, that attitude described above is here. Is it the reason your friends were rejected from JET? Prove it.

OneJoelFifty wrote:
Also, if I want to get shit-hot at English grammar, what books would you recommend? Glenski, I think you mentioned Swan...?
Yes, and that comes in an English or Japanese version, so it can be equally helpful to native speakers and JTEs. Some don't like it and have their own preferences, of course. One could always see what Betty Azar's workbooks are like, or things like the Murphy texts (Cambridge) or Oxford's Natural Grammar, or Linguistics for Non-linguists (Allyn and Bacon).

SeasonedVet wrote:
As far as I know (and this can be proven and backed up by statistics) Japanese don't have a big problem where grammar is concerned.
What exactly did you mean by that? I've taught in HS, eikaiwa, and uni. They all have serious grammar problems, whether in spoken, written, or reading English. Please explain.

Re: JTE training
English teachers are trained in universities of education or in universities with teacher training courses. Teachers in public junior highs and high schools are required to have teaching certificates. National requirements for the teaching certificate include six credits in English linguistics, six in English literature, two in composition and conversation, 16 credits in related subjects such as American literature, and fourteen credits in professional courses, including educational psychology, methods, educational principles, and practice teaching (Torii, 1983). These requirements do not emphasize teaching methods, practice teaching or performance in English. For example, many composition classes only require students to translate unrelated sentences from English into Japanese, not to write compositions. Methods classes are usually too large to give students the opportunity to actually practice using the methods that they learn. Because these classes must cover the history and theory of English teaching, the law as it relates to English education, the Course of Study, and so on, as well as methods, little time can be spent studying or practicing teaching methods.
http://www.cis.doshisha.ac.jp/kkitao/library/article/tejk.htm

Realize that teachers in Japan, especially those in homeroom situations, are not always just content instructors.
Kionon wrote:

As Glenski pointed out, many JTEs do not have education degrees in English mechanics; they have English degrees in literature.
Actually, I believe it's most, not many. I can't seem to find the reference for that right offhand. Here are a couple of related ones, though, showing teacher training descriptions.
http://www.jalt-publications.org/old_tlt/articles/1999/11/yonesaka
http://www.childresearch.net/RESOURCE/RESEARCH/2001/TANAKA.HTM
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
OneJoelFifty wrote:
Because not everyone does stop. Employment in any country is often a necessity and not a choice. And in Japan, teaching is the only choice for the vast majority of people that want to call the country home. In a situation like that you're bound to have a significant part of the workforce that don't especially like their jobs, let alone love them.


Then I predict one day, they will have to look themselves in the mirror and ask, "Am I happy?" If the answer is no...

I love Japan, I have no interest in leaving. That said, I'm in Japan because I am a teacher, I am not teaching because I am in Japan. The distinction may seem minor to you, but I assure you it is not minor to me. I've taught elsewhere, and Japan is simply the best value for my service, which is great, because I like living in Japan. Works out perfectly.


It's definitely not a minor distinction to me, I don't think I said anything that suggested it was. But you've got to remember that not everyone is career-focused, happiness comes in many more forms than in the workplace. For some people a job is a job is a job, a means to an end. And that end might be living in Japan. I'm teaching because I'm in Japan. I almost definitely wouldn't want to teach if I went home to London. I happen to enjoy it, and I want to do it well, but that's beside the point. I really think you are in a minority here.

Kionon wrote:
Again, what do we mean by "effectively?" If "effectively" is teaching to the test, then yes, the JTEs are "effective." If "effective" means actually applying that grammar... Then why are you needed at all? You just asked "why should my role not be to facilitate the students putting what they've learned into practice" and that is precisely what I think you should be doing! I'm just surprised if you never have to reiterate grammar rules or review what the JTEs have taught in order to do so. Given how the language is taught (SeasonedVet called it "scientific," I call it "dead"), I'm having a hard time seeing how you could never spend any time on grammar and still see its proper application during, say, a roleplaying assignment.


Of course I have to highlight certain grammar points. But most of the time I'm not telling the students anything they haven't already 'learned' in their other classes. I don't diagram sentences or whatever else, because it's not my job. I have two textbooks, one that's recommended by the government. They are both conversational English textbooks. Basically "Repeat A and B with your partner. Now look at this example, and have this model conversation substituting X for YYY."

Yes it would be great if Japanese teachers had all studied abroad and were competent enough in their knowledge of grammar, and confident enough in their speaking ability, to apply the grammar. Perhaps I would not be needed. And then maybe foreign teachers would be required to have more qualifications themselves. But it's not like that. And it's not my job to change it. You feel it's yours, and that's good for you. I hope you can change things for the better.

I don't think we're arguing about whether the methods for teaching English in Japan need serious work. The system is flawed and I doubt anyone will disagree with that. We're arguing about what the role of the foreign teacher is within that system. I understand you have strong ideals, but statements like (let me paraphrase) "The JTEs should complain about how they have to teach" and "The foreign teachers should speak to the JTEs, and then the company, and then the BoE" sound as though they're coming from someone that's never been to Japan.

In short, there's nothing wrong with doing the job you've been asked to do, and doing it well. You should accept that it's not everyone's remit to affect change.
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Kionon



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

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneJoelFifty wrote:
For some people a job is a job is a job, a means to an end. And that end might be living in Japan. I'm teaching because I'm in Japan. I almost definitely wouldn't want to teach if I went home to London. I happen to enjoy it, and I want to do it well, but that's beside the point. I really think you are in a minority here.


I agree I am in the minority. I am a minority everywhere. Teaching is a vocation, but even in London or Dallas, there are good numbers of teachers who do it for the paycheck. I disagree that teaching is "just a job." Teaching (or, more importantly, the positive impact it has on certain students) is the end, not the means. All I ask for salary wise is a living wage with some additional cushion for my hobbies. I gave up on ever being wealthy, or even "well paid," years ago. Now if I ever get married... But I'm not there yet, and probably won't be for the foreseeable future.

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Of course I have to highlight certain grammar points. But most of the time I'm not telling the students anything they haven't already 'learned' in their other classes. I don't diagram sentences or whatever else, because it's not my job. I have two textbooks, one that's recommended by the government. They are both conversational English textbooks. Basically "Repeat A and B with your partner. Now look at this example, and have this model conversation substituting X for YYY."


You don't have to diagram sentences to teach or review grammar. That is just one of many possible resources. My point is simply that you do need to teach and/or review grammar, and you just said you do. You are not a human tape recorder, and you are not a "conversationalist" in terms of just "shooting the bull." You and I really are on the same page here.

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Yes it would be great if Japanese teachers had all studied abroad and were competent enough in their knowledge of grammar, and confident enough in their speaking ability, to apply the grammar. Perhaps I would not be needed. And then maybe foreign teachers would be required to have more qualifications themselves. But it's not like that. And it's not my job to change it. You feel it's yours, and that's good for you. I hope you can change things for the better.


Until you can imagine a time when it isn't like this, it won't ever be like that. Clearly, I balance practicality versus ideals. I said I had a fifty/fifty track record with the minority of JTEs who didn't utilise me effectively. Sometimes, I had to cut my losses. It hurt, not because I felt I personally wasn't given my due with that particular JTE, but because the students would have one less bag of tricks to pull from. And as a teacher, I think it should bother you when you know, for whatever reason, you haven't done your best. So, yeah, I think it is your job, but I understand you do not agree with me, and I respect your opinion, even if I disagree with it.

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I understand you have strong ideals, but statements like (let me paraphrase) "The JTEs should complain about how they have to teach" and "The foreign teachers should speak to the JTEs, and then the company, and then the BoE" sound as though they're coming from someone that's never been to Japan.


I think that is because the 仕様がない attitude is so pervasive in Japan that it begins to affect long term expatriates. It hasn't (yet?) affected me. I've never understood this penchant of veterans to try to stamp out idealism, but if I'm a nail to be hammered down, at least I'm a nail that has a surprising ability to constantly stick back up again. Japan is full of hammers. I don't let them faze me, and I've seen nothing but glowing evaluations for the effort.

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In short, there's nothing wrong with doing the job you've been asked to do, and doing it well. You should accept that it's not everyone's remit to affect change.


And this is where we have to agree to disagree. We have a fundamental resolution problem here. I believe you should always attend your efforts well, but to suggest that you haven't any further responsibilities in furthering the educational system as a member of the teaching profession... That is simply antithetical to everything I have been taught about teaching and is opposed to the views of the teachers I had who made me think, "Hey, that's meaningful. That's important. I should do that." This is of particular relevance because I just visited my high school yesterday and spent time talking about teaching methodologies with the people who inspired me to become a teacher. If I didn't look at each student the way my teachers looked at me, I'd be failing them on a level I can't even articulate. I'm not prepared to do that.
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