inandofworlds said: Hi there! I'm new to your tumblr and I'm still working my way through all your posts so I just wanted to know things like how long you've been there, did you go via a program like JET, pros/cons of teaching in Hokkaido etc. Sorry if all these questions have been answered before! I've been trying to figure out whether I want to become a teacher or a nurse and would love to get an overview of your experience thus far. Thanks in advance - loving what I've read so far!
Oh man, I think I made a long post about this, but I can’t find it anymore!! Maybe I put it on my other blog? That would be weird. But anyway, it’s a good idea for me to update it now.
I came to Japan through a company called AEON. It is a private English conversation school in Japan. There are hundreds of these English conversation schools all across Japan (they are called eikaiwa in Japanese) Coming to Japan through an eikaiwa used to be a lot easier, but since the big earthquake in 2011, many of those jobs have disappeared. Companies are downsizing and some of them have gone out of business. AEON is the only one, that I’m aware of, that still does face to face interviews outside of Japan. I interviewed in Chicago. You can see on their website the dates and locations here https://www.aeonet.com/ Many other eikawas offer skype interviews and you can find out about them through sites like http://www.gaijinpot.com/ and http://www.ohayosensei.com/ Normally schools are looking for foreign teachers, but don’t be surprised if it takes quite a while to find a job this way. It took me 6 months to land the job I have now.
Working for an eikaiwa is quite a bit different from working for JET. Because it is a private company, you may be asked to sell materials for the school. The main focus of the company is to keep expanding and become a large corporation. You may feel like your school doesn’t care as much about the students as they do about making money, and in some senses that is true. Most things are phrased in a way that focuses on expansion and keeping students happy, but you will find that the teachers (for the most part) really do want to help the students first and foremost. The hours at a private eikaiwa tend to be longer than working for JET or for the school board. I am supposed to work from 12-9 pm with a 1 hour lunch break. This never ends up happening. I have to be at work at least a half and hour early. Leaving on time will make your coworkers think you are lazy or don’t care about your job. I almost always leave at 10 or later. When I first started, I never left before 10:30 an I would often go home and study for the next day. This overtime will be unpaid (unless you work for a really good school, it depends on your branch, not your company). If you ask to be paid for this overtime, your coworkers will look down on you as greedy. The mentality is that the company gave you enough time to finish everything, so it is your fault if you didn’t finish it all. I work from Tuesday through Saturday with Sundays and Mondays off. If a public holiday lands on a Monday, you will not get an extra day off.
The big thing about working for a private company is job potential. Your base pay is pretty good for intro jobs in Japan, and you have the ability to move up in the company. Trainers used to be teachers and people who used to be trainers now work in the head office. The turnover rate is pretty high for English teacher jobs, so not too many people get to that point, but it is something to aspire to if you enjoy working for the company.
Most kids in Japan go to eikaiwas after regular school. (and after juku, or cram school) If you work for an eikaiwa, you can either work for a school that teaches only children, or a mix of children and adults. Hardly any schools teach exclusively adults anymore.
If you work for JET, you are actually working for the Japanese government. You will be sent to a public school where you will work as an ALT. The interview process for JET is more difficult and long. It takes a year to get through the entire process and most people don’t make it through. I’m not 100% sure, but I think JET asks for a 2 year contract upon signing up? Maybe it is just one year. The hours are better because you will work at a public school, and you will get all school holidays. (which is a huge benefit) You will have almost no say in where you are placed though. With an eikaiwa, you have some choice, but with JET, not really. Your base pay will be good for Japan and overall JET is a pretty good deal. I guess with JET though, you will work as mostly an in class helper. The Japanese teacher will do most of the actual teaching, and you will kind of work as an English machine for pronunciation and what not. At least this is what I’ve heard from some of my friends who work for JET. I’m sure it depends on your school.
There are pros and cons to both options. Whether or not you have a good experience depends 100% on your school. I have a good school. My coworkers are good, my students are hardworking, and I have few complaints about the working environment. But I have known people who have quit within a month because their school is not up to par. Quitting is considered a really unprofessional thing to do, but don’t hesitate to do so if your school treats you poorly.
I could go on quite a bit longer, but I’ll cut it off here because I have to head off to work soon! I hope this is helpful!