I am a 20-something English teacher living in Hokkaido. These are my adventures.Anything you are dying to know?
So I’m actually a little annoyed about next week. I have to go on a business trip to Tokyo, which would be okay but it is in the middle of the week. They aren’t sending me from the closest airport either. Instead I have to teach and have counseling sessions until 9:30 pm, take the last train to Sapporo, get there at 11:30 or later, and stay the night in a hotel. Then I have to get up at 6 am so I can make it to the Sapporo airport and fly out at 8 am. Then I have to take a bus to shinjuku, have an 8 hour meeting and finish at 9pm. I spend the night in a hotel, but I have to get up at 6am again and fly out from haneda at 9. When I get back to my city, I have to teach 5 classes.
I completely forgot how fast I am at finishing games when they are in English. It had been so long since I tried to play a text heavy game in English, but recently I finished Professor Layton and the curious Village in under two weeks. I’ve been playing all my games in Japanese because my 3DS is region locked and can’t play English games unless they are from the regular DS. I haven’t finished ゼルだの伝説：神々のトライフォース２ and it has been 3 months because it takes too long for me to read text. BAH. I need to improve my Japanese if I want to play games like I do in English >.>
My contract with AEON will end at the end of November. When I am finished working, my mom and I will travel around Japan on a super expensive trip that will be totally worth it. Japan is awesome and I love a lot of things about living here, but I’m ready to start working towards being an employed artist. I can’t do my best work when my schedule is this tough. Right now I’m working on building a portfolio which I will use to apply to studios. Wish me luck!
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!
It is my dream to do art, and the only way to do that is if I a) learn Japanese fluently enough to be hired by a company here, or b) move back to an English speaking country. It’s so hard. I want to speak Japanese fluently eventually, but I have no time to work on art while working here. Leave and follow my dream, or continue learning Japanese and have no personal life.
I feel so accomplished today. I have almost no trip related stress and that within itself is a huge feat. Normally my shirt would be soaked before even getting to the airport haha.
First of all, I picked up my electronic dictionary for the first time in a long time today. I bought it when I studied abroad and was a bit discouraged when I couldn’t navigate the device. There was no English navigation option, so in order to use it to learn Japanese, my level would already have to be moderately high. (Talk about catch 22) I picked it up with the intention of asking my Japanese friend how to use it correctly without fumbling around like an idiot. But I found that I could navigate it with no problem on my own! Such a great feeling. My level had increased so much without me noticing.
Furthermore, when I was having an issue with figuring out my boarding pass I was able to solve the problem with zero difficulty in Japanese!! I was standing by the electronic ticket counter trying to print my boarding pass to no avail so an ANA employee came up to me slowly, the look on her face showed that she was clearly dreading trying to communicate with me. So I made the first move and explained that because I have a transfer in narita and that is where my flight becomes international, I wasn’t sure how to check in. Furthermore, because I was flying through a third party, I didn’t have the correct receipt to get a boarding pass at the electronic machine. She seemed so relieved that I could speak Japanese haha.
After that, I was able to get my boarding pass and ask about my re entry permit with no issues! The lady at the counter also commented that my Japanese was really good. Yay today is good so far!
新千歳空港 is super nice! The nicest airport that I’ve ever been in probably!
I fly back to America next Sunday for a week long visit! 5 days away!! I’m super excited~