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Teaching English in Japan

tommib

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I'm currently looking into the idea of teaching english in Japan as a way of travelling and working at the same time. There are various language schools to apply to, but I'm thinking of JET in particular as it seems to be one of the oldest and most professional.

Does anybody have any experience or advice that I would find useful? It would be well appreciated.

Thanks, Tom.
 

Hawkeye

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Personaly, I have not, but my roommate and two of his friends did it. It really sounds like a great experience, my roommate thinks that if he ever went back to Japan even for a visit he wouldn't come back to America. I thought about it a few years ago but never really looked into it seriously, too bad.
 

Alter

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Originally Posted by tommib
I'm currently looking into the idea of teaching english in Japan as a way of travelling and working at the same time. There are various language schools to apply to, but I'm thinking of JET in particular as it seems to be one of the oldest and most professional.

Does anybody have any experience or advice that I would find useful? It would be well appreciated.

Thanks, Tom.


I recommend JET over any of the major language schools but it depends on your objectives.
 

tommib

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Originally Posted by Alter
I recommend JET over any of the major language schools but it depends on your objectives.

Well my main objective is to experience a culture I've always been interested in, while making enough money to be able to sustain myself while I'm there. I also really want to meet some new people, I live in Oxford in England, and its starting to feel a bit small these days and I feel like a big change would do me good as a person.
 

Alter

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Originally Posted by tommib
Well my main objective is to experience a culture I've always been interested in, while making enough money to be able to sustain myself while I'm there. I also really want to meet some new people, I live in Oxford in England, and its starting to feel a bit small these days and I feel like a big change would do me good as a person.

Then JET sounds ideal. They are well-organized and supportive. You have the opportunity to experience a new culture but have a good safety net.
 

rdawson808

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I've not done it myself, but I have known perhaps half a dozen people who did the JET program. Everyone of them had a very good experience. I've also known others to go to China, Korea, and Mexico for similar experiences. All had a great time and really experienced a lot.

bob
 

Nantucket Red

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I came to Japan nearly 20 years ago, got an English teaching job and flew by the seat of my pants, as I knew no Japanese. I ended up staying in Kyoto for 5 years and it changed my life. Eventually I went to college and majored in Japanese lit. Now I'm a full-time translator at a major Japanese company.

I've known many JETs, and if you want to experience the culture, this would be the way to go. You will probably have little say in where you end up and you'll be expected to participate in community activities under the pretenses of promoting international exchange and understanding, or some such platitude.

Nova is the classic English-teaching mill that you hear the most complaints about. They'll give you housing but lock you into a contract where you have no life and your pay is a pittance. I've known one guy who worked for Nova and hated it, and have heard of many others. That said, if you can do JET and have an interest in experiencing the culture, it's your best bet. It will also get you experience enough that you won't have slave away on a hamster wheel at some crappy school afterwards.

Be prepared to be baffled a lot of the time and annoyed a fair bit. Japanese culture is an acquired taste for a westerner. The language is complex, but if you work hard at it in a situation where you don't have a choice but to use it, you'll improve steadily. Another plus is that sometimes you end up learning most of your Japanese from someone who looks like this from a certain angle: (I verify that I am 18 or older).
 

Fabienne

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I think she went a size too big on the stockings, for what it's worth.
 

tommib

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Thanks for all the advice. And Nantucket, I look forward to learning Japanese!
 

Brian SD

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I'm going to apply for JET this year. JET is a great program if you need to have things done for you, but I've heard that it's best to go independent if you want to have the most fun.

If I don't get into my city(ies) of choice, I'm going to take a program offered at my school which allows me to choose the city I go to. Costs $1400 to get trained but you work less hours in a week, get paid more and have more fun (you teach your own class instead of just assisting). Of course, the biggest benefit is being able to go where you want to. I really want to live in Osaka, but the chances of getting there with JET are close to nil.
 

rach2jlc

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I did JET for two years and they were the two most wonderful years of my life. If you knew me, you'd know that I'm generally the LAST person who would offer that type of unqualified praise about ANYTHING, but it was really just that great of an experience.

I came back to the States, worked at a University for a while and am now in negotiations with a Japanese company here to some liason/translation work.

But, I finished my tenure only a few years ago, so if you have any questions about the process or the program, please PM me and I'll send you my email address and we can talk about it in more detail.

Good luck!

John

p.s. Brian, as for placement... I was NOT placed in the city of my choice (I also wanted Osaka or Kyoto) and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. Keep that in mind as you apply and try to keep an open mind with as few expectations as possible for a place. I ended up living in the middle of nowhere (I was the only foreigner in a rural town in Niigata Prefecture) and because of this I ended up making lifelong Japanese friends and being forced to learn japanese. My American friends who lived in Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto etc. learned patchy Japanese because their friends were all American. I became fluent in less than two years because EVERY situation I was in required the language.

p.p.s. I agree with Nantucket about NOVA, by the way. I would do this only as a last resort. I've known a few former JETS who then went to NOVA and none of them had nice things to say. JET has a great support network, a good salary (especially if you're just out of college), and is organized by the government which will help with VISA info, housing, etc. NOVA, well, has none of these things (although, I must admit, I'm only passing this information second hand, for what it's worth).
 

Alter

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Originally Posted by Brian SD
I really want to live in Osaka, but the chances of getting there with JET are close to nil.

Brian,

PM me if you want some Osaka info.

Eric
 

Nantucket Red

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Originally Posted by rach2jlc
I ended up living in the middle of nowhere (I was the only foreigner in a rural town in Niigata Prefecture) and because of this I ended up making lifelong Japanese friends and being forced to learn japanese. My American friends who lived in Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto etc. learned patchy Japanese because their friends were all American. I became fluent in less than two years because EVERY situation I was in required the language.

Consider this gospel truth. Two other things to keep in mind are that Japanese people in the countryside are much more friendly and relaxed than city people. You will make friends and have a good time. Starting off in a city could end up putting you off Japan for life, particularly if all your friends are foreigners who endlessly Japan-bash.
The second point is that the better your Japanese, the better the jobs you'll be able to land when you finish the program. Consider language skills your backbone in Japan and develop a strong one with good speaking and reading skills. This will allow you greater options for various kinds of work if you decide teaching English is not your long-term career choice.
 

Bic Pentameter

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Originally Posted by tommib
I'm currently looking into the idea of teaching english in Japan as a way of travelling and working at the same time. There are various language schools to apply to, but I'm thinking of JET in particular as it seems to be one of the oldest and most professional.

Does anybody have any experience or advice that I would find useful? It would be well appreciated.

Thanks, Tom.


I was a JET-ster between 1992-1993. I chose JET because I thought I was not the type of guy to buy an airplane ticket, live in a hostel, and put something together on the ground. I did have back up interviews lined up with GEOS when JET came through.Some of my fellow JETsters suggested that the program looked better on a resume than NOVA or Howdy Howdy English school. Don't really know if potential employers saw it that way or not.

I'd recommend applying for JET, but not putting all of your eggs in that basket. A friend of mine who coordinates the program at one of the consulates notes that competition is pretty fierce.

I had requested Shizuoka or Fukuoka, and was placed in a very very small town in Kyoto Prefecture. Still I wouldn't be too hung up on wanting to be in Osaka or Tokyo. Japan is small enough that you can travel. Even if you are placed in Hokkaido, you can make it to Osaka two or three times during a year here.

I really wouldn't say that JET will always be unqulifiedly better than NOVA or Bi-Lingual, but the chances are good that you will be treated pretty well. Of course you could have an awful boss, but JET provides a built in support network that private English schools usually don't offer. People on JET have quite a bit of fun because they generally work fewer hours than private English school teachers, they often get school holidays off, and they are often feted semi-celebrities in their communities.

Brian SD: Did I understand your post correctly? Your school charges you $1400 to train you in exchange for allowing you to select where you will be placed?

I would tend to second rach2jlc....Osaka and Tokyo have their advantages, but they are not really the be all and end all of Japan. You certainly could have a blast in Toyama, Himeiji, Hakata, Sapporo, or Kumamoto.

Bic
 

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