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DO NOT work as an ALT - even JET

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Tsukekomareta

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Hello,
I'm new to the forum, but I worked as a JET and then an HR rep for these so-called, 'ALT companies' totaling 5 years.
I'm here to give you warning about working in Japan as an ALT.
To begin, I came to Japan with high hopes. I felt that I could achieve something in Japan that I couldn't in my home country. Boy, was I wrong.
As a JET, I was largely marginalized. I was placed 'in charge' of the special ed department. You may say, 'that's great! You were placed in charge of something!' The truth is, however, I spent 90% of my time with 4 special ed children. The school had over 500 other students all with mandatory English lessons. I was 'in charge' of the classes no other teachers wanted.
For some reason, the school district, after having paid a lot of money for me, wouldn't have me in their English classrooms. My theory is that I was essentially a PR
stunt to show parents and other districts that they were hiring foreigners and thus 'with it' in terms of English education.

On to the private ALT dispatch companies...

Long story short, they don't care anything about you. JET has created a need for native English speakers to teach in Japanese schools, yet no guidelines are established as to what that means. The private companies come in and bid (far) lower than JET.
They sell you on 'live in a foreign country!' and 'get to know yourself!'
However, to them they're just looking for a body to fill a role.
They don't care about your life. They don't care if you can speak English and they certainly don't care about the law.
At best, you won't be paid any money at all 3 months out of the year. Usually, August, December and April.
At worst, you'll not be paid at all. Ever.
Your paycheck will be the bare minimum necessary to sustain life and even then, you'll be docked with 'deductions' for basic needs such as water and electricity.
In my experience, I've seen ALTs receive a paycheck of ¥2000 (USD $20) for an entire month's work.

To sum it up - DO NOT come to work in Japan as an ALT. You will be abused and neglected; if you're lucky.

Nothing is worth the treatment you'll receive here. You will become a caricature of 'foreigners' and never let out of your cage. Stay home studying something worthwhile. Japan is overrated.

Best,
 

Mike Cash

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Another starry-eyed burnout....


You know, there are things to do here other than the English racket. Free yourself from that crap and it is a totally different country.....not "overrated" at all.

Why did you sit and fester in it for five years? Did you make the common mistake of coming to Japan with no marketable job skills, inadequate Japanese skills, and top it off by failing to develop either while you were here?

I do thank you for providing a post illustrating the very sort of thing I try so very hard to warn people to avoid and how miserable a place this can be if you come here unprepared and find yourself stuck pretending to teach English to people who are pretending to learn it.
 

Tsukekomareta

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Mike,
Thanks for the reply.
Truth is, I came to Japan very prepared. Excellent Japanese skills (that only improved), an intimate knowledge of the culture and history and, believe it or not, a desire to help people.
I was met with derision and lies, however.
The reason I 'festered' was I believed there was something to take away from it all - A reason to push through the pain.
That was not the case when it finally dawned on me.
I understand you've carved out a life for yourself and your alleigence is set. I'd like to know, though, what is it that you do in Japan that is so 'legit?'

Best,
 

tomoni

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Hi Tsukekomareta,

Sorry to hear you did not have a rewarding experience. I think that the JET experience differs depending on where you are placed. However, generally speaking JETS are not considered to be teachers, but "cultural ambassadors" to expose kids to people from different countries. I think that most JETS are in a teaching assistant role, and more typically in a language modelling role. Ultimately, the experience depends on how the school/s try to incorporate the JETS.

cheers
 

Glenski

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At best, you won't be paid any money at all 3 months out of the year. Usually, August, December and April.
At worst, you'll not be paid at all. Ever.
I think these statements deserve quite a bit more detail than you are portraying.

Your paycheck will be the bare minimum necessary to sustain life and even then, you'll be docked with 'deductions' for basic needs such as water and electricity.
In my experience, I've seen ALTs receive a paycheck of ¥2000 (USD $20) for an entire month's work.
Details, details! I'm not saying there are no shyster companies here hiring ALTs, but 2000 yen for a whole month is something that calls for an explanation on your part.

As a JET, I was largely marginalized.
That happens to many JET ALTs, yes. But as the JET motto shows, ESID (every situation is different), and many JETs have a wonderful experience. Bottom line: don't expect the wonderful, keep your eyes open for the bad (meaning, learn before you come), and have an idea of what to do when the bad happens. JET has more support for its ALTs than the dispatch agencies, and even if it's not perfect, it's something to go on, and if you aren't fully aware of what that is, you have no reason to complain unless you are in an exceptional situation.

I was met with derision and lies
By JET or by the school? Huge difference! What were these lies and derision like, anyway?

I came to Japan very prepared. Excellent Japanese skills (that only improved), an intimate knowledge of the culture and history and, believe it or not, a desire to help people.
That's all good and wonderful, but did you know what other JET ALTs have experienced before you signed on the dotted line? Just how much did you prepare along those lines? Remember, ESID!

To begin, I came to Japan with high hopes. I felt that I could achieve something in Japan that I couldn't in my home country. Boy, was I wrong.
Let's not skip over this point. Please explain how you came to have these high hopes in the first place. A lot of teacher wannabes have false or misleading information to base their goals on. Some are just delusional.
 
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nahadef

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I've never seen an ALT end the month with ¥2,000, though I have limited experience.

I know some of the companies are placing new teachers into Leo Palace as apartments, which is not doing them any favors, but it's a way to avoid handling things like 礼金/key money. Still, that wouldn't completely drain a paycheque.

I've always had very low expectations of JET. I've never worked with them, but all I've heard was that they paid better than the average school placement, but there was little expectation of work. For a few guys I know, they got pretty depressed doing it (only one guy loved it, he taught a lot of kids classes every day). I've worked in junior high schools myself though, and had four classes a day. It was thoroughly okay work. The apathy of so many students was the problem, more than the pay or the dispatch company, which I interacted with once a month at most. For that matter, the apathy of the dispatch company is a bonus in my opinion. I want nothing to do with them. Head offices of all these companies seem more like parasites than anything else, since their training is so poor, they offer little more than contract arrangements. But I've worked in a national eikaiwa as well, and their 'hands on' head office was what made the job terrible, harassing branch staff for money and sales relentlessly. In the school, things were fine, the head office was why I will never work for such a company again. I much prefer dispatch company's style.

It's not an amazing job, but it really is what you make of it (compared to truck driver, factory worker, or something, it's decent. Not all of us can become doctors, that's a literal fact). If you want to be a good teacher (inventive techniques; positive, realistic attitude), it can be very fun and fairly satisfying. In most cases, you are free to approach the material as you like. I've only worked with two Japanese teachers who had very strict notions of what I needed to do in the classroom, while the 20 others were happy to give me the trust to design things myself. I love this podcast about learning and how to teach better: People with cynical attitudes to teaching will de facto be lousy teachers, since they are doing the bare minimum. Your attitude to it makes all the difference in the world, for your students and yourself.

You won't become rich off of it though. The bubble era ended decades ago.
 

Mike Cash

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...compared to truck driver, factory worker, or something, it's decent.

You've done those other things here and have some basis for making an informed comparison?
 

Toritoribe

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Truth is, I came to Japan very prepared. Excellent Japanese skills (that only improved)
後々他の方の参考になり得るかもしれないと思われるので因みに伺いますけど、エクセレントな日本語能力というのはどの程度の能力のことを指しておられるんでしょう?
 

nahadef

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I worked in a factory for one day in Canada, and made a decision that I never want to do it again (way too much repetitive action, zero brain activity). I worked in a bank for one day as well, and decided I never want to do that again (too much caring about money). Since childhood, I have long used truck driver as a term for a job I don't want to do, though there are worse jobs, in my opinion. It's essentially a form of driving. That said, one of my high school friends thought it would be a great job, being behind the wheel, seeing the sights, as a long-distance trucker that is. Personally, I want to be on my feet, interacting with people. Not flipping delivery burgers. There's a great value in knowing those things you never want to do.

The thing about work is, everybody has their own personal standards. I know what isn't right for me. I've got a lot of pleasure from teaching, and made a point of constantly improving my abilities. It's the attitude you put in that matters most, and I think anyone reading that first post needs to keep that in mind, more than anything else.

Good job highlighting the only little detail of a long post that may even be tangentially related to you! (though it truly wasn't) You are your own Google self-search!
 

Mike Cash

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Actually, it is a hell of a lot more than just "driving".

If truck drivers were held to the same expectations of competence and performance that 99% of the English "teachers" are, the roads would be impassable and goods would be delivered broken, if delivered at all.

So the answer to the question was really that you have no basis for making an informed comparison of English teaching in Japan and truck driving in Japan.

I've done both and my sentiment regarding the bogus-assed farcical scam world of make-believe "teaching" of English strongly parallels that of your opinion of factory work. I'd rather take a beating than go back to having my ability to make a living and remain in Japan contingent on being even indirectly linked to ripping people off (which is what happens to the bulk of paying students) and living inside that self-imposed gaijin bubble. I'd rather be a regular 正社員, working the same way, for the same pay, and under the same conditions as Japanese people do....as an immigrant to this country rather than as a year-to-year perpetual contract employee only able to live here by selling my gaijinity and fitting somebody's stereotyped preconception that as a foreigner I must be an English teacher.

And don't insult my intelligence and yours as well by pretending you weren't intentionally trying to start some crap by disparaging what I do for a living. You're about as subtle as a circus poster.
 

nahadef

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Actually, it is a hell of a lot more than just "driving".
Oh, so you don't like the work you do reduced to a simple, patronising insult? Hmm.

Let us all know when you have something relevant to teaching to add to the topic.
 

Mike Cash

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Oh, so you don't like the work you do reduced to a simple, patronising insult? Hmm.

Let us all know when you have something relevant to teaching to add to the topic.

Thanks for admitting it was your intent to be patronizing and insulting. Those in a racket one step lower than welfare fraud should be a bit more circumspect about insulting people making an honest living. The mop boy at a porno theater is a more dignified and productive contributor to society than most everybody doing that crap you do.
 
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johnnyG

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porn theaters... I'm trying to think how long it's been since I've seen one of those.

They seem to have disappeared pretty quietly.
 

nahadef

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Said the truck driver...

Honestly, mentioning truck driving was a coincidence and had nothing to do with you. The second post was for your benefit though, I'm not embarrassed to admit. You won't believe that though. Anyway, if you have anything to say that's useful regarding teaching, I heartily encourage you to. If you want to drop yet another pound of your bile onto the forum, I suggest you take a look in the mirror and consider your own life, before insulting thousands of foreigners in one wide swath. If I ever need help shifting into second gear, I'll drop you a PM.
 

Mike Cash

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Eikaiwa takes to the streets

 

Glenski

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Let's just stop the insults (and yes, naha, you admitted it was, so don't try weaseling out of it by later claiming it was a "coincidence") and let Tsukekomareta respond.
 

thomas

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Gentlemen, I have to agree with @Glenski. Let's stay on topic, I wouldn't like to close this thread. Thank you.
 

Mike Cash

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I'm all for that. But I can't see how the original post can be construed as leading is down the path of discussing teaching.
 

nahadef

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Let's just stop the insults (and yes, naha, you admitted it was, so don't try weaseling out of it by later claiming it was a "coincidence") and let Tsukekomareta respond.
Glenski, it was a happy coincidence. I wouldn't shy away from admitting it otherwise, and fully acknowledged it in the second case. For all my life, one of the reasons I went to school was so I wouldn't end up being a truck driver. It's always been a go to 'bad job' for me. I'd be pretty frustrated if that was my lot in life too.

On the topic, I added a fair amount. I take zero credit for derailing it. Nobody seems interested in addressing those points. In fact, Mike addressed the only part of my post remotely off-topic... Oh, and something about eikawa in a thread about JET and ALTs...
 

WonkoTheSane

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Truth is, I came to Japan very prepared. Excellent Japanese skills (that only improved), an intimate knowledge of the culture and history and, believe it or not, a desire to help people.

No offense, but that's not "very prepared." Frankly it's the minimum skill set typical of a Japanese high school dropout with rather poor Japanese (from a native level viewpoint). All that appears to set you apart is native level ability in English.

If you said you had a bachelors in education, along with a teaching certificate from your home country, and a few years of experience I'd say you were adequately prepared as a teacher. Still far from "very prepared." A masters or doctorate in education along with 10 or so years of experience puts one on the cusp of "very prepared."

People should understand that if they're not qualified to do a job in their home country they won't really be qualified here, regardless of whether they can get the job. If one wishes to be treated as a professional one has the obligation to acquire the education and/or skills requisite to that profession.
 

Mike Cash

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Glenski, it was a happy coincidence. I wouldn't shy away from admitting it otherwise, and fully acknowledged it in the second case. For all my life, one of the reasons I went to school was so I wouldn't end up being a truck driver. It's always been a go to 'bad job' for me. I'd be pretty frustrated if that was my lot in life too.

More of your typical projection there. I'm not "frustrated" by my lot in life. Unlike you, I actually had a choice about how to make a living here. And, again as unlike you, I have bothered to learn the language and not be content to be a grown-assed man walking about functionally illiterate, I have other options besides what I'm in. No frustration here, sporty.

Hell, I seem to remember a period on this forum when you wouldn't even admit to being an English teacher. I think you went so far as to DENY it. Can't say I blame you...
On the topic, I added a fair amount. I take zero credit for derailing it. Nobody seems interested in addressing those points. In fact, Mike addressed the only part of my post remotely off-topic... Oh, and something about eikawa in a thread about JET and ALTs...

My remarks apply equally as well to the JET/ALT program. Most especially the part about being one step below welfare fraud.

The only good they have accomplished is to reduce the incidence of kids pointing and shouting "gaijin gaijin!" and gaggles of high school girls shouting "Hello!" across the street and breaking into uncontrollable fits of giggling if replied to. Now at least most people have been near enough a gaijin that the novelty is gone. Other than that, they're a total waste of taxpayer money.
 
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ManWithAPlan

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At best, you won't be paid any money at all 3 months out of the year. Usually, August, December and April.
At worst, you'll not be paid at all. Ever.
Your paycheck will be the bare minimum necessary to sustain life and even then, you'll be docked with 'deductions' for basic needs such as water and electricity.
In my experience, I've seen ALTs receive a paycheck of ¥2000 (USD $20) for an entire month's work.

To sum it up - DO NOT come to work in Japan as an ALT. You will be abused and neglected; if you're lucky.

Nothing is worth the treatment you'll receive here. You will become a caricature of 'foreigners' and never let out of your cage. Stay home studying something worthwhile. Japan is overrated.


As someone who is currently an ALT, I want to just chime in and go over a couple of your points, which you brushed over, with my own experiences. I have no experience of JET, so I can't comment on that company, but I think it's takes a very self-centered person to assume that their experience accurately reflects everyone else's experience who has that same role. I have no problem with people having a bad personal experience, but it should be framed as such.


I am a direct hire ALT. I have never gotten anything less than my full pay each month, and I know you mentioned private ALTs specifically, so I also want to say that I have never met any private ALT teachers who have only received ¥2000 instead of their full paycheck. On top of this, even though I get about 6 weeks off in the summer, I have never had a pay reduction for that time off. This isn't standard though; if you work as an ALT you will most likely take a pay hit in the summer when you are off. If you are lucky you will have a job where you don't take a pay cut, or maybe you will be required to attend another central office.


I can't argue completely with your points about being neglected or ignored a lot, but I think you take that to the extreme. I work in a few different schools, and while there are teachers who do ignore me, or fail to utilize me, there are plenty who ask for my input in the classroom or with planning lessons, preparing activities, checking and marking work etc. I do wish in my case there were more teachers who were open to input or cared enough to review classes for areas of improvement though.


I still don't know if this is a job I think a person could honestly do for a long period of time, especially if they want to raise a family on just this one income, but I think there are far worse jobs out there, especially for people who want to come to Japan and work too.
 

nahadef

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I'm not "frustrated" by my lot in life.
I would be if I was a truck driver. Manual labour is respectable as a career, but nothing worth idealising or something. Much less thinking you're better than others over. I suppose truck drivers are more 'qualified' than the people who change urinals. Did you get your masters in u-turning or in parallel parking? Did you minor in changing flats or checking oil? How many years did you study to learn how to use a parking brake? Six? It's understandable that you, as a manual labourer, get your sense of self-esteem in insulting teachers, but don't take it as an insult if the rest of the planet doesn't give you a cookie for it. Certainly, your tantrums here have established you as someone worth pitying in my opinion.

Your tantrums here have been illuminating about your personal need to put down people doing different kinds of work. Happy people don't usually have the need to throw tantrums. I only hope you can find personal happiness in the future and don't feel required to rage against people who have taken a different path (as you have done in this thread, and all over the forum, both in the past, and, sadly, will likely do into the future.)

Again, does Mike Cash have anything about teaching to say that he knows anything about? He has been driving trucks for decades, and knows nothing about the current state of teaching outside of heresy. Or is he just going to spout off his pre-prepared rants and insults?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

To be fair, I don't think there are bad jobs out there, and if someone in public told me they were a driver, I wouldn't think anything of it. 15 year old me definitely would have, but I've outgrown that. The comments in this thread are basically meant to be a parallel to the inane bulls**** Mike Cash has relentlessly spouted off in this forum, since (and likely before) I joined and will do later. The guy drives trucks. TRUCKS. If anyone has no right to pass judgment, well, him as much as anyone else. But he gets his self esteem out of this, as far as I can tell.

Sadly, he seems to have no personal life, and will outlive me on this forum. Future members of JREF will be dealing with his relentless attitude of: teachers are worse than the people who clean porn theaters; compared to mine: teachers have what they choose to make and are dependent on attitude. What a diplomat.

Glenski, sorry, if you want Mike's respect, get a mop, he's talking about YOU too.
 

johnnyG

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As a long-timer, sort of two years from retirement, I think truck driving might be an okay gig, as opposed to some part-time teaching hours at my school or some other places that I might consider post-retirement. Tho I doubt I am qualified to drive.

The biggest trucks here sometimes have women drivers, and as a cyclist, I find that they (big trucks in general, and not just the women) are often quite polite and considerate, traffic-wise.

.
 
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