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How to study Japanese and teach part time, on short notice?

 
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paddyflynn



Joined: 13 Dec 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:52 pm    Post subject: How to study Japanese and teach part time, on short notice? Reply with quote

I would like to go to Japan to learn Japanese. I am already an advanced beginner, and I think it would take me about a year of intensive immersion (20 hours of class time per week) to become proficient. However, there are some complications concerning visas, and how I will fund the trip.

Right now I am employed, but they are talking about closing my department, in which case I would get half of my salary for six months as severance. I am thinking that with my severance package, plus what I have saved, I would still need to earn about 80-100k yen a month while I am in Japan. This should be doable if I teach 10 hours a week. If I teach much more than that, I wonít have time to study and exercise. 15 hours a week is the maximum I would be willing to teach.

The problem is I canít plan anything in advance, because if I plan to be in Japan by a certain date, and then I donít get laid off, I wonít get any severance if I quit. Also, once I am laid off, I need to go to japan right away. If I sit around for 6 months waiting for a visa to get processed, I will use up my savings and severance before I even leave home.

I donít think a student visa would work for me because the schools require you to apply like 6 months in advance. A teaching visa might be faster, but would any school be willing to sponsor my visa if I can only work 10-15 hours a week? Another option is to go on a tourist visa, enroll in school, and try to line up some private lessons. Of course this is risky. I am not sure how cool Japanese immigration would be about me leaving the country and coming back 4 times in a year, I could get busted teaching on a tourist visa etc. Iíd rather not do it like that, but if there is no other way, I guess I have to take the risk.

Any suggestions on how I should proceed?
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:14 pm    Post subject: Re: How to study Japanese and teach part time, on short noti Reply with quote

paddyflynn wrote:
I would like to go to Japan to learn Japanese. I am already an advanced beginner, and I think it would take me about a year of intensive immersion (20 hours of class time per week) to become proficient.
What do you mean by "proficient"?

Quote:
I donít think a student visa would work for me because the schools require you to apply like 6 months in advance. A teaching visa might be faster, but would any school be willing to sponsor my visa if I can only work 10-15 hours a week?
No, and immigration wouldn't issue a work visa for such hours, either.

Quote:
Another option is to go on a tourist visa, enroll in school, and try to line up some private lessons. Of course this is risky.
Private lessons are fickle. Your main risk is how long you could keep them and how many you could find for a certain rate of pay. How much did you plan on charging?

Quote:
I am not sure how cool Japanese immigration would be about me leaving the country and coming back 4 times in a year, I could get busted teaching on a tourist visa etc. Iíd rather not do it like that, but if there is no other way, I guess I have to take the risk.
Don't. Just don't. They are very strict about things like that. You might get by the second time, but probably not after that. It would raise suspicions.

Quote:
Any suggestions on how I should proceed?
Start looking for schools that you can attend right now. As you said, it takes time to apply. It takes time for a work visa, too. Find out what they charge for tuition, and which one offers the better overall package for your needs.

Think about whatever business plan you want to put together to earn part-time money, too. Student visa holders can work a certain no. of hours per week...
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/zairyuu/shikakugai.html
...but schools sometimes won't allow you to start for a couple of months. I think that's because they want to see if you are serious about schooling instead of using them to get your foot in the door as a means to find full-time work instead. If you want to go with private lessons, develop whatever payment scheme you want (including monthly or per-class rate, absences allowance, transportation fee, etc. plus how you would actually advertise and set up the lessons).

IMO, you aren't going to be able to have your cake and eat it, too. You may need to find additional work at home before you come here. It sounds like you are in pretty rough straits for money overall, and that in itself is not a good sign, nor is it wise to come to Japan in that situation. You will have to prove to a school that you can pay full tuition, you know. How is it that you calculated you would need an additional 80,000-100,000 yen/week as a student?


Last edited by Glenski on Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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paddyflynn



Joined: 13 Dec 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:48 am    Post subject: Re: How to study Japanese and teach part time, on short noti Reply with quote

Glenski, thanks for your response.

Glenski wrote:
What do you mean by "proficient"?


Good enough to say whatever I want to say, and understand whatever I am told, not so good that I don't have an accent or make grammatical mistakes. I base my estimate from the U.S. Army's training program that requires 1,350 hours of classroom instruction for what they call fluency. I already have about 300 hours of instruction, so I figure I need about 1k more.

Quote:
Private lessons are fickle. Your main risk is how long you could keep them and how many you could find for a certain rate of pay. How much did you plan on charging?


I don't know what the market is. I'm a lawyer, so I am hoping I could get businessmen/attorney students who will pay a premium, or even better, a school that can market me to get themselves some corporate classes, and might be willing to cut me a break on the number of hours I need to teach. I am guessing that there aren't too many lawyers working as English teachers in Japan, so maybe this gives me some leverage?

Quote:
It sounds like you are in pretty rough straits for money overall, and that in itself is not a good sign, nor is it wise to come to Japan in that situation. You will have to prove to a school that you can pay full tuition, you know. How is it that you calculated you would need an additional 80,000-100,000 yen/week as a student?


I said I needed about 80-100k a month more, not a week. Tuition and a dorm will be about $20k. I also need about $1k for airfare, and I guess about $400 a week for food, transportation, cigarettes, laundry, hair cuts, gym membership, entertainment etc. So about $41k for the year. My savings and severance will be a little less than $30k, so I need about $12k more for the year.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you and the military have two very different ideas of fluent. To say and understand "whatever you want" will take far longer.

The only schools that will "market you" to specific private clients are business English agencies, not ones where you attend to learn Japanese. Yes, there aren't too many foreign lawyers here, but that begs the question of why you want to seriously reduce your pay by teaching on the side. What is your overall purpose in learning Japanese, anyway?
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paddyflynn



Joined: 13 Dec 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski,

I understand that the schools that market me to teach are not the same ones I would study at.

I think you overestimate the amount of money I make as a lawyer. The job market isn't really good right now, and I am burnt out from practicing law. I figure going to Japan, teaching part time and studying the language sounds like a good way to spend a year.

There is also a good market in the US for lawyers who know Japanese. Basically, they get paid to review documents written in Japanese.
I don't know how good one's language needs to be to get these jobs. There is a test the employer gives, and employment is based on the test score. So I want to learn it well enough to get a good score.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9133
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Basically, they get paid to review documents written in Japanese.
I don't know how good one's language needs to be to get these jobs. There is a test the employer gives, and employment is based on the test score. So I want to learn it well enough to get a good score.


Ok, I know zero about Japan or Japanese. However, I do know two professional translators/proofreaders/editors in the legal field.

You are speaking of a proficiency level somewhat above what the US army considers 'fluent (level 3). Legal language is complex in any language, and its conventions are subject to cultural and social influences, hence not necessarily transferable from your knowledge of legal language in English.

Studying 1,000 hours of general Japanese starting from a high beginner level isn't likely to get you anywhere near an ability to review legal texts effectively.

I suggest that you might speak to one of the employers you mention and ask what level of Japanese is required, then re-calculate whether a year spent in Japan would be worth your while in terms of setting you up to reach this goal.

Here, by the way, is the link to the proficiency standards applied by the US Army (I expect that the OP already has this info, but it might be useful to others here with more info regarding what it takes to learn Japanese to the US Army level 3 standards):

http://www.govtilr.org/Publications/speakingsa.html
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paddyflynn



Joined: 13 Dec 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for responding, spiral.

The thing it, yopu can't really get a straight answer from the recruiters. They will tell you you need near native like fluency, but then there are people who do this work who aren't that fluent. I know one guy who majored in Japanese, but has never even been to Japan, and he didn't come from a Japanese speaking home either, but he is able to do the work, which involves summarizing and not word-for-word translation.

I am hoping that 1,000 hours, along with totally emersing myself in the culture will be enough. My plan is to only hang out with Japanese people who don't speak English (assuming I can find some who don't mind hanging out with a gai jin), and speak it as much as possible.

I am o.k. even if my Japanese sin't to the level I hope it will be after one year. Of course my savings would be gone, but I could teach full time and study part time until I spoke well enough. Also, I am not doing this just to get a job when I come home. That would be nice, but even if I can't, I figure living in Japan and studying the language would be a good way to spend a year.

Anyway, this thread has gotten derailed a bit. I really don't care if people think I can't get my Japanese to the level it needs to be in one year. I appreciate your concern, but have made my mind up that I am going to give it a try. What I need to know is whether there is a fast way to get a visa that I can use to teach part time with, so that I can take off within a month or two after I get my severance? Can anyone help me with that?
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72308



Joined: 01 Sep 2010
Posts: 23
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, is the simple answer. Both a work visa and a student visa take approx three months to aquire. I don't know how long a working holiday visa takes, but I can't imagine it's any less time. I'm not sure where you're based, but the USA doesn't have a working holiday arrangement with Japan (and if you are in a country that does, you need to be under 30 to qualify). Another point to remember is that you cannot automatically work with a student visa: you need permission from the school to do so. Sorry, I know this isn't what you want to hear, but I wouldn't want you to be fooled by an unscrupulous website claiming that they can get you over there quickly.
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kathrynoh



Joined: 16 Jul 2009
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went to Japan on a student visa. Think it took longer than 3 months to get from memory though. You could apply - if circumstances change then you don't have to use the visa. You would need to have definite savings though, a future redundancy payout won't cut it. They want you have enough savings not to have to work too.

A couple of other things - as noted above, you don't instantly get work permission on a student visa. Most schools won't give you approval straight away because your primary focus should be studying and study + settling in takes a while.

I taught Business English while studying and there is no way I could get 10 hours a week doing that. Classes are usually 2 hours and everybody wants them either 5-7 or 6-8. I had some day time classes for a while but a lot of companies don't like them - interferes with work. So that's 2 hours a day, 4 times a week maximum because no one wants to study on a Friday, and often on a Thursday either.

Depending on your class load, you might get work with a small eikawa but I finished class at 4pm so that ruled out most places because they want someone for the after school classes. They might be okay with nights and weekends but there is a lot of competition for jobs and if they can, they'll get someone who works the hours they want.

Weekends, you might pick up some private students but there is the 4 hours a day limit on working.

Another alternative is somewhere like GABA that lets you work flexible hours but the pay rate is less than half what you'd get doing Business English.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

paddyflynn wrote:
I think you overestimate the amount of money I make as a lawyer.
No matter how bad the job market is in the U.S. for lawyers, it can't possibly be worse than being a part-time English teacher in Japan. No way. How much did you expect to make/save as a PT teacher here?

Quote:
I am burnt out from practicing law.
May I ask how long you've been practicing?

Quote:
I figure going to Japan, teaching part time and studying the language sounds like a good way to spend a year.
It won't make you fluent enough to translate legal documents with decent proficiency.

Quote:
There is also a good market in the US for lawyers who know Japanese.
Basically, they get paid to review documents written in Japanese.
I don't know how good one's language needs to be to get these jobs. There is a test the employer gives, and employment is based on the test score. So I want to learn it well enough to get a good score.
Find out! I think you will be surprised at what it takes vs. what you will attain in a mere year in Japan (unless the school you attend really hits you hard with intensive studies).

Quote:
The thing it, yopu can't really get a straight answer from the recruiters. They will tell you you need near native like fluency, but then there are people who do this work who aren't that fluent. I know one guy who majored in Japanese, but has never even been to Japan, and he didn't come from a Japanese speaking home either, but he is able to do the work, which involves summarizing and not word-for-word translation.
Good for him. Now, explain what he did to get to his level, and what his level actually is, as measured with a JLPT or something? Your story falls short of giving enough information to make any sort of decision, and to do so based on just that "info" is reckless, IMO.

Quote:
I am hoping that 1,000 hours, along with totally emersing myself in the culture will be enough. My plan is to only hang out with Japanese people who don't speak English (assuming I can find some who don't mind hanging out with a gai jin), and speak it as much as possible.
I doubt you will find such people, and even if you do, you are going to be lost, even with "advanced beginner" level. I suspect all you can do right now is utter a few sentences that make grammatical sense, but that your listening ability is extremely weak, your vocabulary is low, and the moment someone says something unlike what you've read in your grammatically correct textbooks, you will be lost. Besides, spoken language is not what you are looking for as a translator.
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

paddyflynn wrote:
Thanks for responding, spiral.

The thing it, yopu can't really get a straight answer from the recruiters. They will tell you you need near native like fluency, but then there are people who do this work who aren't that fluent.

I am hoping that 1,000 hours, along with totally emersing myself in the culture will be enough.



I seriously think this would take years. Native-like fluency cannot be reached in a year in my opinion. I studied Spanish for a long time and I didn't just wake up one day after x hours of lessons and say "Hey, I'm fluent". I'd definitely say I'm fluent now, but even after all my time studying the language, people often asked me "Are you fluent in Spanish yet?" "I don't know" was my reply; although in my case it wasn't "immersion learning". Can I ask, do you have experience learning languages?

The European definition of proficiency:

Quote:
Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.


I think it's unrealistic to say after x hours i'll have reached x level. Everyone is different and some learn quicker than others (this is stating the obvious!) and you don't just one day wake up fluent. It's a gradual process.

Quote:
My plan is to only hang out with Japanese people who don't speak English (assuming I can find some who don't mind hanging out with a gai jin), and speak it as much as possible.


I have never lived in Japan but from what i've heard many Japanese people want to hang out with foreigners for exactly the opposite: to improve their English!! Of course you can hang out with Japanese people who don't speak English, but how would you feel if you knew a Japanese person was only your friend to practise English? Come on now, you'd think this person was using you and wasn't really your friend... so I guess the same would apply if you acted like this around a Japanese native.

I'm not trying to burst your bubble and you may think people here are just negative doubting your ability to reach "proficiency" in a year, but your definition of proficient sounds more like B2 European level (upper intermediate) than C2 (proficiency):

Quote:
Good enough to say whatever I want to say, and understand whatever I am told, not so good that I don't have an accent or make grammatical mistakes.


However, of course I'd love to be proved wrong and would love you to come back here 1 year later telling us how you managed to reach proficiency. Good luck!
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qwertyu2



Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 93

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know the U.S. legal market really sucks. But I agree with the posters above who doubt your chances of quickly jumping into a part-time job on a student visa. You could probably get work, but not on short notice.

In addition, your plans of fluency such that you are able to do Japanese document review within one year are naive. My off the cuff estimate is three years of dedicated study in order to read newspapers without much difficulty. Most TEFL folks in Japan never reach that level.
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