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Eigo no sensei?


3 Sep 2002
Hi everyone,

I have a growing interest in going to Japan to teach English for a year (or more) after graduation. I'd love to hear about any experiences, good or bad, about it. Also, any helpful hints about preparing to go to Japan would be great .

If you're still young ... the ELT program through the Monbusho (check your closest Japanese consulate for more info.)

For the run of the mill major schools. Geos hires outside of Japan only and is a pretty decent school. Nova and ECC the major players hire inside of Japan. Nova = NO VAcation and other fun rumors. ECC isn't bad ( I worked for them for 4 years). AEON another major player. Last choice would be Berlitz but difficult to get in.

Everywhere else are variations on sweat shops. Of course, you come across great places and of course, you'll find places that are more than willing to rape you.

If I did this again, I'd go ELT. Just too many benefits and safety hatches that if you can handle being a monkey in a zoo (haha, although, that's what Eikaiwa means anyway in general) for a year or too, you'd be ready to find much better work later compared going with the big Eikaiwa companies.
I just got accepted to NOVA, i hope i didn't make the wrong choice!!!!:eek: Some people have told me about JET??? They said it was much better...I'd be interested in the response on this thread too....
If I had the choice I'd do JET. Sure the pay is a bit less but you'll get way more vacations, you'll have to do boring speeches and presentations but you won't have a business breathing down your throat.

Nova is a good start at least and you might be able to transfer betwen branches and their training should be as good as ECC which is pretty isn't that far from a ESL basic course.

A friend currently works at Nova and at a high school with me and he's now dieing to drop Nova like a hot potato.

But Nova is a job with a visa and a foot in the door so nothing to really look down upon but if you have a choice then I'd really try to find out more about the companies.
If you have more questions fire away. I used to work for ECC for 4 years and was basically in charge of a whole prefecture so at one time I was up on the news. Although, I've been out of the circuit for the past 4 years but I've started to canvas the streets again to supplement my salary.
For what it's worth:

Nova - The worst reputation of all the schools (sorry to the guy who just got accepted). They say you spend more time standing outside on the street handing out flyers than actually teaching - but I think thats probably a bit harsh. They are the biggest though, and they have schools in on every street corner, so transferring to somewhere you really want to live shouldn't be so hard.

Aeon - Supposedly one of the better biggies. I don't know that much about them, but the couple of teachers I met who worked for them seemed reasonably happy.

ECC - Apparently you don't have to do so many kiddie classes - I hear they're more adult focused. Also I believe they offer the highest basic salary and shortest hours. I've taught English in Japan in the past and believe me, its the kiddie classes that all teachers moan about the most. You might think you love kids, but wait until you have a class full of 5 year olds none of whom give a *&^% about learning another language.

GEOS - Never heard a good word about them.

Shane - Worth thinking about if you're from Britain, Canada, Australia or New Zealand (I don't think they recruit many Americans). They're a lot smaller than the big school corporations but they still have something like 180 schools in Tokyo. Most of their teachers seem really happy with their jobs. Dunno what they do thats good, but I've heard they look after you a little better than some other organisations I could mention.

However, from chatting to dozens of teachers in various bars, it seems like a lot depends on what actual school you get assigned to. Some schools are good, and some aren't regardless of which corporation they belong to. If you get a good school manager, and a decent director of studies then you'll have a blast.
Originally posted by moyashi
[For the run of the mill major schools. Geos hires outside of Japan only and is a pretty decent school. Nova and ECC the major players hire inside of Japan. Nova = NO VAcation and other fun rumors. ECC isn't bad ( I worked for them for 4 years). AEON another major player. Last choice would be Berlitz but difficult to get in.

Just to clear up a few things. Both Nova and ECC hire outside of Japan, not just inside.

Also, someone mentioned the JET programme. It's pretty highly respected, and the pay isn't bad, but you have no real choice about where you get sent to (you go to a state school which could be in the middle of the countryside somewhere - so if you really want to see Tokyo, which many people do, then it's probably not an option). Additionally, you only work as a teaching assistant, and you don't get to teach proper lessons, so if you want your own classes then go with one of the corporates.
If you have no teaching experience, I guess Berlitz isn't bad as I heard you get a one-week formation, but you must teach with their books and methods (no experienced teacher would like that). They also have part-time programmes (evenings and Saturdays), which is good if you have another job during the day an are workaholic want to build a house in the Philippines after 1 year of working in Japan.

For the pay, I'd recommend the JET programme if you can bear teaching kids and teenagers who aren't motivated and don't mind living in the remote country.

Otherwise, get your visa by registering with NOVA or another big corporation, leave after a few weeks (or after you get your first pay) then look for company classes, private lessons or juku lessons that all pay much better than the big schools.

Hi there,

I used to work for GEOS for about 9+ years. I was also was a manager there and did hiring of new teachers abroad. I'm very familiar with most of the other language schools in and around Kanagawa. I worked at the Head Office in Oosaki, Tokyo.

Basically my only advice is this. When working for a language school in Japan you have to work for yourself. If you expect too much from your job, school, and Japan you will most likely become disappointed.

The successful teachers I found, were the ones who had good hobbies on the side, great friends ( both Japanese and Foreign ), and understood completely they were living in a country called Japan.

One keyword that always came up in our meetings at Head Office was disillusionment. Many teachers come to Japan expecting things to be the way they "ought" to be instead of looking around and realizing how things really are.

You've heard this before "When in Rome do as the Romans do". This is very important I think. You will no doubt about it be successful at any school you enter as long as you take time out to understand how things are in Japan.

GEOS was an excellent company that even to this day still has a lot of problems. What company doesn't? Still though I have known and worked with many unhappy teachers at GEOS for the very reason above. They forgot they were in Japan and not the U.S., Canada or wherever. They didn't learn Japanese, didn't like the food, couldn't read the language, and complained about the thinking right and left. This isn't a great way to get a good relationship going with a new employer. < Some may disagree >

There are ways to make changes and keep hope alive wherever you are. GEOS is changing and a few I still keep in touch with are excellent at what they do.

Many people ask me why I stayed so long working for GEOS. Well this is my answer and I still live by it today....

"GEOS was a job that I found I could deal with. There was good and there was bad, but I decided that I was going to make it work for me and I enjoyed my stay there immensely." For those that quit or moved on, I simply said "Well, GEOS is not a company they want to deal with right now. They will move on and soon enough they will find that company that they'll work with."

There's no perfect english school out there ( Probably job as well ). So you have to decide what you are willing to work with and then just go for it. If you can make the system work with you or for you instead of against you, then no question. You've hit success!

Good luck to you all future English teachers. It's an experience I will never forget and I encourage you all interested to do it.

BTW: Feel free to email or visit my site anytime if you have questions. I'm still in Japan too...probably will never leave!

Take it easy,

Jim Atwood a.k.a Ricoche!
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