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My plans for Japan

NickChan

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Hello all. I want to move to Japan when I grow up. I'm currently 19 and never had so much passion for anything else in my life. I'm currently in college taking courses and I was going to major in technology but thought of something better instead to do. I want to become an English teacher in Japan. I would get my Bachelors in English then become a high school/middle school teacher. Whatever I'm more fitted and what they need. English is my native language and I'm currently learning Japanese. I just started learning but I love it. I really feel like this is what I want to do with my life and I feel great everyday knowing that this could happen. The only concerns I have right now are will it be hard to find someone to hire me because I'm a foreigner.

Is this something that you think could really happen? I want to be in Japan more then anything and I feel that this is the best way to do so. I'm also going to try to save enough money to study abroad one semester at Japan. I feel like this would improve my chances of working there because it will show I have been to Japan and even studied there before. I really need help, any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys.
 

Mike Cash

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I don't want to anymore. I'm losing interest in that subject. It's better this way too.
It is interesting that you merely dismiss my advice without asking the reasons behind it.

I'm glad you already know enough to make an informed choice, though. Look forward to seeing you when you get here.
 
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nahadef

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If you are skilled and educated, you can make a life doing all different things. If you want to teach, getting a teaching degree will give you a big advantage, even more so if you get a masters. That would qualify you to teach in universities.

Coming to Japan for a semester will make no real difference in the job market, but it would be a good reality check to help you know if you really want to live here. I came for a few years, and haven't gone back. A friend came for a few years, and didn't last one. Your expectations make a difference.

In my experience, the single biggest trait necessary to live here, more than language skills or qualifications, is adaptability. People make lives here doing all different things, and you can too.
 
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Get a teaching license in Japan if you really want to become a teacher here. It's not that complicated to get one.
 
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Hi, NickChan, Welcome to the forum.
Yours is a very common posting, and many of us veteran posters (teachers or not) often have some difficulties with such a post, so bear with us. We usually ask questions to gather background information as a foundation for understanding where the poster comes from with their ideas.

I want to move to Japan when I grow up.
Simple statement, but could you explain your reasons why, especially since you are fairly young. Thanks in advance.

I'm currently in college taking courses and I was going to major in technology but thought of something better instead to do. I want to become an English teacher in Japan.
Uh, ok. More questions. Why do you think that kind of job is better (and why have you lost interest in IT)?

I really feel like this is what I want to do with my life and I feel great everyday knowing that this could happen.
What do you know about teaching English in Japan that gives you this feeling?

The only concerns I have right now are will it be hard to find someone to hire me because I'm a foreigner.
No, it's not hard because you are a foreigner. Foreigners teach all over here, and in fact, there have been for decades. And, you wrote concerns (plural), but only listed this one. What others do you have?

There are some serious things a person should consider in teaching English here, though. I won't BS you on that, but for the moment I won't go into them because I'd like my questions answered first.

Is this something that you think could really happen?
The short answer is yes. But there are many things that this answer depends on.
I'm also going to try to save enough money to study abroad one semester at Japan. I feel like this would improve my chances of working there because it will show I have been to Japan and even studied there before.
Yes, this will help in many ways. In fact, it may even show you that you don't want to be here after all, if your current perceptions don't match with reality. So it's not just good.

I would get my Bachelors in English then become a high school/middle school teacher.
Foreigners cannot just do that sort of thing straight away in many / most cases. Except for private junior high schools/high schools, you will either work as an ALT instead, or some sort of part-time teacher. Both have very limited term contracts. If you want to become a full-time tenured teacher, you either go through the entire Japanese university system to take classes and training in becoming such a teacher (and get your license that way), or you get very lucky and move up from a PT job to FT with a foreign degree and still have to take regular university classes here (and in Japanese).

ALTs get work either through the JET Programme (Google it, very widely known, been around since the 80s), or through dispatch agencies (most not having good reputations for reliability and supporting their ALTs). Both of those options require a bachelor's degree from an accredited university, and in any subject from anthropology to zoology. That last part alone should suggest just how really, truly "qualified" most ALTs are to teach a foreign language!

Moreover, teaching here is not as much a piece of cake as some have thought, so I would really like to know answers to some of these background questions before advising further. In other words, how much do you know, and how serious are you about teaching?
 
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Could you tell us briefly how to go about it, please?
1°) You apply for a university that provides the teaching license in the subject you want (For me: done)
2°) You take and pass the entrance exams. (FM: done)
3°) You get the credits for your TL (FM: about 80% done, for the basic and specialized TL.)
4°) You do a teaching practicum at a Japanese school (FM: done)
5°) You write your graduation thesis (FM: work in progress)
6°) You get your TL. (FM: not yet. XD)
 

Mike Cash

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1°) You apply for a university that provides the teaching license in the subject you want (For me: done)
2°) You take and pass the entrance exams. (FM: done)
3°) You get the credits for your TL (FM: about 80% done, for the basic and specialized TL.)
4°) You do a teaching practicum at a Japanese school (FM: done)
5°) You write your graduation thesis (FM: work in progress)
6°) You get your TL. (FM: not yet. XD)
Thank you. That's very informative.

How would a young person outside Japan and having zero (or near zero) Japanese ability go about implementing such a course of study?
 
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Thank you. That's very informative.

How would a young person outside Japan and having zero (or near zero) Japanese ability go about implementing such a course of study?
They wouldn't be able to do it. They need at least the 2 kyuu level. And, frankly, it's the bare minimum. A more realistic level would be between 2 kyuu and 1 kyuu, and honestly, more 1 kyuu than 2 kyuu. So, at first, I would recommend a Japanese school in Japan (1 year or 2 years, depending on his current proficiency in Japanese).

Well, they need to be rich too to pay all these studies.:oops:
 

Mike Cash

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They wouldn't be able to do it. They need at least the 2 kyuu level. And, frankly, it's the bare minimum. A more realistic level would be between 2 kyuu and 1 kyuu, and honestly, more 1 kyuu than 2 kyuu. So, at first, I would recommend a Japanese school in Japan (1 year or 2 years, depending on his current proficiency in Japanese).

Well, they need to be rich too to pay all these studies.:oops:
So while not complicated, for most people it is impracticable?

What sort of guidance or advice would you offer the OP which might be of a more immediate or practical nature? I believe he could really use some.
 
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1°) The OP should stop buying all the things he doesn't need to survive (smartphone, trips, things from Japan, music etc) to save money. It's not complicated because it is a matter of choices in our everyday life. Your hobbies or your dreams. Then, take a part-time job. Save money. Work 1 or 2 years full time if needed.

2°) The OP should study Japanese. You don't need to pay private lessons for it. If you're motivated, you will find the time. Your TV, playstation, smartphone, Facebook and others bullshits for your brain are not your friends. There are sites like Lang-8, Live mocha and softwares like anki to help you. There are 24h in a day. Less freetime for your hobbies won't kill you, I swear.

Well, that yould be the first steps. If he can do it, then he might achieve his dream of getting a teaching license in Japan. It's not complicated as I said. But it takes time to save enough money and to achieve a good level of proficiency in Japanese.
 
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Mike Cash

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That is some very sage advice. But I don't think his dream is to come here and get a teaching license. I get the impression he thinks he is going to get that English degree in his hand and then walk straight into a Japanese high school and start work as a regular full-time genuwine honest-to-goodness real teacher.

Like Glenski, I'm curious to hear just exactly what he knows about the field he is planning on entering. He must have researched it quite thoroughly, as he has determined it is the best way.
 
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That is some very sage advice.
Yes it is, and I hope NickChan realizes the actual enormity of it in the sense that it will take 4 years of being in Japanese university classes, plus whatever time he requires to get up to the appropriate language level. I suspect it will be far less than 1-2 years.

But I don't think his dream is to come here and get a teaching license. I get the impression he thinks he is going to get that English degree in his hand and then walk straight into a Japanese high school and start work as a regular full-time genuwine honest-to-goodness real teacher.
Me, too, which is why I laid out my description.

Like Glenski, I'm curious to hear just exactly what he knows about the field he is planning on entering. He must have researched it quite thoroughly, as he has determined it is the best way.
I'm guessing Mike wrote that last sentence sarcastically. I certainly take it that way, or at least tongue in cheek, because I don't think he has researched it much at all.
 

nahadef

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The guy's 19 and came to this board to find out what a realistic path to his goals of working in Japan are. Coming here is part of his research. Give him a break. Jesus.
 
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I am surprised none of you have mentioned the MEXT scholarship to this young man. It would seem he has not heard of it. I am looking into MEXT myself because I have wanted to study in and move to Japan for 10 years now(I'm 18, I saw a very long national geographic documentary on Japan covering the history to modern day Japan at that time) I have always had a deep respect for Japan. But this isn't about me, I feel like MEXT would be his best shot as far as finances plus wanting to teach(if I'm aware correctly, MEXT covers teaching as a major, yes?) he may not be able to teach English but he could teach something, granted he got the scholarship, got a degree there, and still enjoyed Japan and wanted to stay there.
 

Mike Cash

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It still isn't clear, Sarah, whether his choice is due to a desire to teach English or whether he just wants to come live in Japan and has heard that being an English teacher is the quickest/easiest way to go about it. The sort of advice he needs differs tremendously depending on the answer to that question.
 
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Moreover, yes, the scholarship is indeed available, but there is also the matter of a language requirement from the schools. In some cases but not all, MEXT scholarship recipients are required to do 6 months of intensive language training before attending their subject courses, but 6 months barely makes one able to do minimal thing in daily life, not fluent enough to understand lectures in Japanese. The students I have known who have gone through that process are grad students, and their requirements for coursework in Japanese are far less than for undergrads.

Yes, he should look into the scholarship. No, it will not really get his foot in the door, IMO. And, Mike's remarks still hold. I hope NickChan comes back to respond to some of this. I'm guessing he's just busy elsewhere, and I hope he's not just a drive-by poster.
 
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It still isn't clear, Sarah, whether his choice is due to a desire to teach English or whether he just wants to come live in Japan and has heard that being an English teacher is the quickest/easiest way to go about it. The sort of advice he needs differs tremendously depending on the answer to that question.

Mike, you are very correct in that. I wonder if the OP will come back and reply with his intentions. I had originally looked into teaching English in Japan because it seemed like an easy way to get to Japan and work but it did not suit my majors for college(I'm a music and journalism double major. If I get the MEXT scholarship for 2016, I will probably switch to a teaching or humanities major). So being an ALT would not suit me, but again, not about me. I hope that OP does not think that being an ALT or going through JET is some walk in the park, I have read quite a bit of personal testimony from a few websites and many people who are foreigners teaching English in Japan say they either hate their job or do not feel like they are really teaching. So if teaching in general is really this young man's passion, I still stick to my suggestion of getting the MEXT scholarship and studying teaching in Japan. But that is just my suggestion and might be useless.
 

Mike Cash

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...many people who are foreigners teaching English in Japan say they either hate their job or do not feel like they are really teaching
And that is precisely the situation I would like to see him avoid. If he wants to come live in Japan with the best chances for a long and rewarding stay and is just going with the English teaching plan as being "easy", then he needs to prepare himself with marketable job skills in a field which interests him. If that is no longer technology, fine, but he needs to decide what that might be and start working toward it.

If he comes here prepared to do nothing but teach English, finds out it is not what he thought, and/or that he can't stand it...tough s**t, he didn't leave himself an option.

If he comes here prepared and qualified to work in some other field, he can always do English teaching as a means of getting his foot in the door (as far as a visa is concerned), as a means of making a little extra money on the side, or as a full-time job between things.

Japan is wonderful for fresh graduates who want to come here and play around at teaching English for a couple of years before going back home. All you need is that bachelor's degree and a smile. If you want to stay here longer than that, then you'd better come here prepared and informed. The typical "English teaching" job is something that very few people make a long-term career out of...or are able to.

Japan is wonderful if you like what you do, or at least feel you have some options. It is a miserable place if you feel stuck in a job you hate. Foreigners who came here with no special job skills and who never bothered to acquire skills while here or to acquire much in the way of Japanese skills are stuck and often miserable, especially if family circumstances and/or age have placed them is a spot where they feel quitting and going back home is no longer an option.
 
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And that is precisely the situation I would like to see him avoid. If he wants to come live in Japan with the best chances for a long and rewarding stay and is just going with the English teaching plan as being "easy", then he needs to prepare himself with marketable job skills in a field which interests him. If that is no longer technology, fine, but he needs to decide what that might be and start working toward it.

If he comes here prepared to do nothing but teach English, finds out it is not what he thought, and/or that he can't stand it...tough s**t, he didn't leave himself an option.

If he comes here prepared and qualified to work in some other field, he can always do English teaching as a means of getting his foot in the door (as far as a visa is concerned), as a means of making a little extra money on the side, or as a full-time job between things.

Japan is wonderful for fresh graduates who want to come here and play around at teaching English for a couple of years before going back home. All you need is that bachelor's degree and a smile. If you want to stay here longer than that, then you'd better come here prepared and informed. The typical "English teaching" job is something that very few people make a long-term career out of...or are able to.

Japan is wonderful if you like what you do, or at least feel you have some options. It is a miserable place if you feel stuck in a job you hate. Foreigners who came here with no special job skills and who never bothered to acquire skills while here or to acquire much in the way of Japanese skills are stuck and often miserable, especially if family circumstances and/or age have placed them is a spot where they feel quitting and going back home is no longer an option.

Mike, again, all very good and sound points/advice. You have even helped me in my process to living/working in Japan. May I ask a question, and feel free to not answer, but, what would you consider special/useful job skills in Japan and particularly Japanese skills?
 

Mike Cash

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Mike, again, all very good and sound points/advice. You have even helped me in my process to living/working in Japan. May I ask a question, and feel free to not answer, but, what would you consider special/useful job skills in Japan and particularly Japanese skills?
I am not a good source for information about the many fields which are available. Others here can give you better information than I can. The smart thing to do is to get into a field which you find interesting and which has opportunities for you whether you are in Japan or whether you are in some other country.

Japanese skills? Learn as much as you can and don't neglect learning to read. One of the major self-limiting factors on foreigners is that they are either entirely illiterate or functionally illiterate.
 
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many people who are foreigners teaching English in Japan say they either hate their job or do not feel like they are really teaching.
Many foreigners hate their job because of shady employers, and others because the job infringes on their partying time. Be advised that many "teachers" here have come to get in on a long lost gravy train of easy job hiring, and they tended to not be serious in the least about the JOB.

Some who feel they are not really teaching didn't look into what they were getting into. Eikaiwa can largely be babysitting, not teaching. Much of it (and ALT work) can be treated as real teaching if a person applies themselves. Sometimes it's not possible due to the way the courses are designed. Japan's educational system towards English sucks. The problem is, many people don't look into it deep enough before they take the leap. They only go off old information from the 90s and 80s.

To the OP and anyone else, I will give any information I know from my 15 years of teaching here (eikaiwa, private lessons, private HS, university, part-time vs. full-time work), but I strongly suggest going to the ESL Cafe, too. Everyone there is asking these questions and providing answers. Not everyone on JREF is a teacher.
 
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...May I ask a question, and feel free to not answer, but, what would you consider special/useful job skills in Japan and particularly Japanese skills?
Depends on nationality. US citizens would do well to consider options in the private sector supporting the U.S. presence in Japan. The barriers to entry are really no less, but tend to be more navigable by typical U.S. citizens. The options are much wider in some ways due to less language requirements, though narrower due to limited needs.

In general, it will require the same level of commitment regardless of the path. I firmly believe that it's better to find something you love to do rather than try to find something you can do in a particular place. Be great at almost anything and the opportunities will come knocking. Be mediocre at almost anything and it's a hard slog to make it anywhere. Do something you hate in your home country and you'll still hate it in Japan.
 
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