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Various questions about Japan **Somewhat long**
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ianmc26



Joined: 29 May 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 5:06 pm    Post subject: Various questions about Japan **Somewhat long** Reply with quote

Ok, so here's my situation:

I applied to the JET program (Toronto) and was made an alternate. I still remain hopeful about an upgrade although I have no idea about the likelihood of that happening.
My girlfriend was shortlisted and will be going to Hyogo prefecture in August (that's as specific as they have been, thus far).

I would still very much like to go to Japan.

I am considering a number of options:

1) Applying with other organizations: I've already applied with Interac and ECC although I have no idea how long it will take to process my applications. I am considering other organizations such as AEON. I have heard mixed reports about any non-JET program. Can anyone provide some input on the legitimacy and quality of these or other organizations?

2) Apply for a working holiday visa and join my partner in Hyogo. This is feasible as apparently they asked her if they should prepare accommodations for 1 or 2. However, if I went to where she is, would I stand any chance of finding employment? As an ESL teacher/tutor or anything at all? My Japanese is basic but I am motivated to improve/do language exchange with Japanese students in Toronto. I suppose it would greatly depend on where she is placed within Hyogo?

3) Take a TESL class and then reapply for jobs in Japan. (I have a B.A. with some experience)

4) Canoe to Japan

Thanks for reading. Any input is greatly appreciated.
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Tsian



Joined: 10 Jan 2012
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ian,

1) All the companies you mentioned are fairly large and certainly hire a lot of teachers. In terms of the situation you would find yourself at any of these companies, it would vary by location. You can find lots of stories about all of these companies on the forums -- though be aware that people are always more likely to post negative experiences.

2) Yes, you would. Especially if you came with a visa which allowed you to work immediately.

3) That is an option, but personally I would be inclined to come over on the WH visa -- especially if you have an area that you absolutely want to live in.

4) I recommend Kayaking.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 1038
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 11:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Various questions about Japan **Somewhat long** Reply with quote

You seem to have the right attitude, and you're doing the right things. If you can write a half-decent resume, come across reasonably in an interview and have no visible tattoos, you should get something sooner or later.

Teacher training (by which I mean real training -- not the crappy induction courses and seminars that eikaiwa gakkou lay on as a figleaf to professionalism) is certainly not a requirement, but I would say that it's desirable if you want to teach for more than a year.

I've had training both in the UK and Japan. My UK course was excellent. A lot wasn't relevant to the uniquely screwed up EFL teaching environment here in Japan but, in the long term, the parts that were relevant have proved invaluable.

My Japanese training was a bit ... um ... eccentric, but once the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo ("we have to do it this way to activate the right-side of the brain...") is filtered out, there's a body of practice that directly addresses the problems I face in Japan.

ianmc26 wrote:
4) Canoe to Japan

Not if you want to get a job here. Working without a visa is a huge gamble.
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2) I think your chances of finding work in Japan are good, however the chance you will find work near your girlfriend is much smaller. It's possible that you can do it, but it depends on a number of factors that are mostly outside of your control.

If she is placed in a larger city, say Kobe for instance, you will have a much easier time finding work. But if she is placed in a small, rural town (as MANY JETs are) or even one of the small islands that are part of Hyogo prefecture, then your task may be nearly impossible. I'm an ALT through the JET program in a small town and it has been very difficult for my wife to find work. She did find work teaching English, but she has to drive an hour to get to a larger city, and even then it is only part-time work.

1) It is true that companies like Interact and AEON will offer less pay and support than the JET program, but one of the benifits of working for those companies is that you will usually get some say in where you are placed.

Most compainies will try hard to get you placed near where you want to be and some will even allow you to turn down one or two posts if you don't like it. People who are already in the country or have worked in those companies for several years will have first pick of where they want to go, but I think you stand a decent chance of at least getting placed in or near Hyogo prefecture if you work for a large company. But you might still be several hours from your girlfriend.
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 1338
Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 2:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Various questions about Japan **Somewhat long** Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
ianmc26 wrote:
4) Canoe to Japan

Not if you want to get a job here. Working without a visa is a huge gamble.


hey, it worked for the North Korean Navy for quite some time. Wink Smile
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ianmc26



Joined: 29 May 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Tsian. Yes, you're right, the negative stories about other companies cannot be representative of everyone's experience.
Another question, say I went with a working holiday visa, and then found a full time job, would I then be able to change the nature of my visa?
And yes, kayaking would be more efficient.

@Pitarou
Thanks for your input. I am a fairly clean-cut individual who can indeed put together a decent resumé. So it could work out alright.

@Theory
Yes, you're right, it depends entirely on where she is placed. But I mean, even if she were placed in a very small village in the middle of nowhere, could I find a manual labour job, say chopping wood/farming rice? Or just be a celebrity? Especially if I improve my Japanese significantly? I am somewhat serious....

Thanks everyone for your input!!
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ianmc26 wrote:
Yes, you're right, it depends entirely on where she is placed. But I mean, even if she were placed in a very small village in the middle of nowhere, could I find a manual labour job, say chopping wood/farming rice? Or just be a celebrity? Especially if I improve my Japanese significantly? I am somewhat serious....
Imagine how much English would be needed to do the same job where you live. What do you think are the odds of someone coming to your home country with little to no English skills and wanting such a job. The answer is pretty plain.

Quote:
Another question, say I went with a working holiday visa, and then found a full time job, would I then be able to change the nature of my visa?
Yes. You can change the status easily enough, as long as that job is willing to sponsor the work visa and you qualify for it.

Quote:
Thanks for your input. I am a fairly clean-cut individual who can indeed put together a decent resumé. So it could work out alright.
Constructive criticism here: "alright" is not a real word. Heads up. It's a common mistake.
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Tsian



Joined: 10 Jan 2012
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But I mean, even if she were placed in a very small village in the middle of nowhere, could I find a manual labour job, say chopping wood/farming rice? Or just be a celebrity? Especially if I improve my Japanese significantly?


Well, yes, you probably could find a manual labour job... but once your working holiday visa was up you would not qualify for a work visa for it.

In all seriousness, you won't become a celebrity. There is no shortage of good looking exchange students with mid-level Japanese!
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ianmc26 wrote:
could I find a manual labour job, say chopping wood/farming rice? Or just be a celebrity? Especially if I improve my Japanese significantly?


I think many people underestimate how difficult it is to 'significantly improve' their Japanese. Learning Japanese is a difficult task and will take many years, even if you live in Japan. A missionary couple I know spent 2 years studying full-time at a language institute and were able to move from beginner to near fluent in that time. If you are not studying eight hours a day, it will take significantly longer. You cannot absorb the language just by living here.

So if you want to find a job within six months of arriving, you'll need one that requires very little/no Japanese. That means teaching English.
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ianmc26



Joined: 29 May 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry if I sounded as though I weren't giving Japanese the respect it deserves as an exceedingly difficult language for English speakers to learn. I have no illusions about this.

Also, I wasn't really serious about being a 'celebrity'. But how did you know I'm good looking? Very Happy

Thanks again for the responses!
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 1338
Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ianmc26 wrote:
Sorry if I sounded as though I weren't giving Japanese the respect it deserves as an exceedingly difficult language for English speakers to learn. I have no illusions about this.


Just to wander off topic a bit, I've never understood that sort of comment. Japanese, overall, isn't all that difficult IMO and I don't get it when people say it is. Speaking and listening are dead simple, both in structure and sounds. Kana are easily mastered in a week as far as writing and reading the sounds goes, although use is (like all languages) more complicated. Kanji is the only part that presents a genuine challenge. The whole knowing how to pitch things in terms of politeness adds a lot of complexity, but to be honest I don't see that as anything much more unusual than the same/related things in English. If anything, because Japanese is more functionally "stratified", I suspect it's easier in some ways. Dialect is neither here nor there: dialects are always tricky for some and not others, regardless of language.

Maybe it's just coming from NZ and I'm used to the sounds of Japanese and so never had any trouble with them, but do people actually find and perceive of Japanese as being a difficult language to learn &/or use? How on earth would they react to Thai or Vietnamese or Chinese or any other complex tonal language? *Those* I find a nightmare. Smile
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

G Cthulhu wrote:


Maybe it's just coming from NZ and I'm used to the sounds of Japanese and so never had any trouble with them, but do people actually find and perceive of Japanese as being a difficult language to learn &/or use?


The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the US Department of State (whose job is to teach diplomats and Foreign Service members other languages) has compiled stats on 63 languages, rating them by how long they take to learn. The five most difficult languages for English speakers to learn as a second language are: Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean.

Japanese is difficult for English speakers for several reasons, many of which you mentioned. Learning the 46 characters of Hiragana, 46 characters of Katakana, and several thousand Kanji is substantially more difficult than learning the Spanish, French, or Italian alphabets (which are virtually identical to the English alphabet).

Honorific speech and the distinction between in-group and out-group are difficult as is the reverse sentence structure. The fact that nouns can also function as adjectives and adverbs can also cause some confusion.

There are some easy aspects of learning Japanese as a second language as well. Pronunciation is quite simple (although adjusting from the stressed-timing of English to the Mora-timing of Japanese can present some problems). There are only 3 irregular verbs in Japanese and there is no future tense. But overall, the aspects of Japanese that are more difficult to learn than other languages outweigh the aspects that are less difficult to learn.

So yes, Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers. But anyone can learn it if they try. Some people may even find it easy, as learning languages is easier for some than for others. But COMPARATIVELY, learning Japanese will take longer than learning almost any other language for most native English speakers.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

G Cthulhu wrote:
ianmc26 wrote:
Sorry if I sounded as though I weren't giving Japanese the respect it deserves as an exceedingly difficult language for English speakers to learn. I have no illusions about this.


Just to wander off topic a bit, I've never understood that sort of comment. Japanese, overall, isn't all that difficult IMO and I don't get it when people say it is. Speaking and listening are dead simple, both in structure and sounds. Kana are easily mastered in a week as far as writing and reading the sounds goes, although use is (like all languages) more complicated. Kanji is the only part that presents a genuine challenge. The whole knowing how to pitch things in terms of politeness adds a lot of complexity, but to be honest I don't see that as anything much more unusual than the same/related things in English. If anything, because Japanese is more functionally "stratified", I suspect it's easier in some ways. Dialect is neither here nor there: dialects are always tricky for some and not others, regardless of language.

Maybe it's just coming from NZ and I'm used to the sounds of Japanese and so never had any trouble with them, but do people actually find and perceive of Japanese as being a difficult language to learn &/or use? How on earth would they react to Thai or Vietnamese or Chinese or any other complex tonal language? *Those* I find a nightmare. Smile


Agree. The basics of colloquial spoken Japanese aren't that hard to learn for English speakers. It isn't particularly hard to pronounce and the hardest part are the verbs.

That said, as G stated, using the proper tone, levels of politeness, and phrasing things the way a native speaker would is the hardest part. Simply translating thoughts in a "Western" way can often come across as rude or stilted, but the "right" way to say things will come with knowledge of the culture. And at any rate, most Japanese don't expect foreigners to master those aspects of the language---great if you can, but the ability to communicate on even a basic level will set you way above lots of people in the country.
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ianmc26



Joined: 29 May 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I like this optimistic tone about learning Japanese. I have faith in myself as I'm pretty good with languages/new phonology. Also, I managed to secure the Japanese Rosetta stone levels 1-3 and it seems pretty good.
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Mr_Monkey



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 661
Location: Kyuuuuuushuuuuuuu

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ianmc26 wrote:
But how did you know I'm good looking? Very Happy
You're not Japanese.

Therefore, within 3 months (at the most) of arriving in the country you will be:
  • told you are handsome/beautiful
  • asked if you like Japanese food
  • complimented on your ability to do pretty much anything, as long as it's quite possibly the most trivial thing in the world - like breathe while blinking
  • as amazed as your hosts by your ability to use chopsticks
  • propositioned
  • subject to a situation for which the word "bizarre" was invented


I would aver that these situations will likely happen on the same night.
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