Working in Japan

No way!

When I was first studying Japanese in college, my professor told us about the JET program. It was a way for people to go to Japan to live and teach English. I thought, “No way!” I’d never live in a foreign country! (I’ve been here for almost 13 years now)

The Jet program is one set up by the national government to bring native English speakers to Japan to teach English to school children. I’m not exactly sure how long it’s been around, but it was pretty big until recent years. At first native speakers could only stay in Japan for a period up to 3 years (because of Japanese labor laws), but it recently changed to 6. JET teachers, as they are known, often visit many schools and take part in many school activities and lessons.

Eikaiwa (ā kye wah)

Learning to speak English has been a national obsession in Japan for quite awhile. Somewhere in the 90’s, I believe, the concept of an English conversation school came up. They were a hit and it was a big money maker for a couple of decades. Students would be able to participate in a small class and be able to chat with a native English speaker.

ALT (assistant language teacher) companies

The JET program is one that has been kind of expensive for the government. Also, because of the limit on years that someone can participate, it has been difficult for the government to find people to teach English in schools.

Currently, ALT’s work primarily in junior high schools. However, there ae ALT’s that work in elementary and high schools. The primary jobs for people who want to be an ALT is with dispatch companies. Basically, you’re a subcontractor, although it’s much more complicated than that. Typically the job is about 30 hours per week.

Wich is best?

Most people I have met don’t plan on staying that long in Japan. They have plans for when they get back home, so they don’t make any roots here. Their friends are primarily other expats but perhaps they date Japanese people.

For those that want to stay longer or have met that special someone, they tend to gravitate toward the ALT jobs. Not all are with the dispatch companies. Some are directly with the schools, but those are temporary too. Basically you get a one year contract and the job is up for grabs each year. None of these positions are meant to be permanent, so it’s difficult to truly make a living doing them.

The good the bad and the ugly

in my next post(s) I will go over the good points and bad points of each. It might take a couple of posts.



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