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Getting a job in Japan from abroad with an MA TESOL/Applied Linguistics

lrbrugby

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Hi guys,

I'm just about to finish my MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. I've been working at a private primary school in Thailand for four years and I've just started my fifth year. Prior to coming here I worked in private language academies in Indonesia and Taiwan. In total, I have about 7 years experience but not much of that translates into direct experience teaching adults.

Basically, I'm looking into jobs teaching adults and Japan is always a place that I've been interested in as a place to work. I'm not in an immediate rush to leave the job that I'm in as I really enjoy it here but eventually I want to move away from teaching kids and use my MA to head into research and possibly eventually a PhD.

Unfortunately, I have no experience working in Japan and due to the fact that I've lived in three other countries, there has always been more pressing needs to learn the local language. Alongside the pressure of postgraduate study on top of a full time work schedule. This is probably a major disadvantage when applying for university jobs in Japan. However, I was hoping that some of you may have some advice in regards to the next step to take in order to get from where I am to where I want to be. Do you think that the Japanese language issue is a massive factor? Are there other worthwhile jobs that I can apply for that will give me relevant experience and provide me with enough time to learn enough of the language to get by? My MA will be done by the end of August (hopefully) and therefore I should be free to pursue other interests in my free time again. Also, do you guys know of any relevant publications that might be interested in papers surrounding practical topics like task-based teaching, or a lexically-driven/text based approach to language instruction with young learners that I might be able to target any potential research towards?

Anywho, I know that's a massive brain fart so apologies to any of you that endeavour to read it and a massive thanks to anyone who has any wisdom to share. Also, I'm a native speaker from England if that is of any importance. :)
 

johnnyG

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Hmm, where to start...

For jobs (ads), and to see what schools are asking for in terms of degrees, experience, pubs, etc., keep an eye on these two sites: Job Openings | JACET JREC-IN Portal

For JACET, some are in Japanese, some in English, and sometimes they use both. For JREC, there is a Japanese side and an English side (link at top)--and they are different, i.e., the English side is not a translation of the Japanese (and there are more job listings on the J-side). For some info on teaching in Japan that is not uni-related, try reading some posts here: teachinginjapan: All of your teaching questions answered (also the wiki/FAQ)

JALT and JACET both sponsor conferences and have journals. Some of the JALT SIGs (special interest groups) also have journals. If you're finishing up your MA, then talk to your teachers, too, about where you might get published.

((gotta run right now, might get back to this later))
 

lrbrugby

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That's great, thanks for all the info. If you do get back to me that again with more, that would also be splendid. :)

I'm just thinking that if I struggle to get a position from abroad that it might be easier to get a job somewhere and then apply once I'm in Japan. Cheers for the help again, really useful!
 

Glenski

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Most uni jobs in Japan are part-time, so if you need a work visa, you'll have to look for the few contract jobs that exist. 99.9999999999% of them are not tenure jobs. To get a full-time job you'll need at least three major publications. What have you published so far? In addition to what johnnyG wrote, there are tons of journals where you can publish. I can give you a list offline.

Jobs start here in April, so job ads come out from now to January for 80% of them. Keep that in mind. Scant few are willing to do Skype interviews, too.

Language ability will be a definite asset, but many don't have much. Start learning yesterday.

Plan to attend the annual JALT meeting in November so you can make contacts and get leads. JALT2017 International Conference | JALT

There is also a big ER Congress in August you might want to consider if you are free. 4th World Congress 2017 |
 

lrbrugby

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Okay, that's all worth bearing in mind. I'll definitely look into attending the JALT conference in November. I'm yet to publish anything, currently working on my MA thesis. However, that should be tied up by the end of August. Seeing as JALT and IATEFL both have a number of SIGs it seems that it might just be a matter of building things up slowly over time. I'd be very interested in that list of publications though :)

I'm contracted to work here in Thailand until April 2018 anyway, so I guess biding my time is probably the best option. Do you know of any decent schools in Japan where I can apply for jobs and that do Skype interviews? I might be able to leverage my experience teaching here in a Thai school to get a job teaching in a Japanese school for a year or two before transitioning into the university sector. Would also give me some time to build up my research portfolio and Japanese language skills (to some degree)...

Thanks for the input. Much appreciated.
 

Glenski

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If you're thinking of coming here for the 2018 school year, you can't afford to build things slowly over time.

Do you know of any decent schools in Japan where I can apply for jobs and that do Skype interviews?
No. At the JALT conference you can speak to Richard Miller or Mike Parrish, who will be staffing the job information desk. Their contact information is on the CUE Circular website here (where they contribute a column): The CUE Circular | JALT CUE SIG . You could also look up the old issues of The Language Teacher online to see what else they have written about job information.

I might be able to leverage my experience teaching here in a Thai school to get a job teaching in a Japanese school for a year or two
What kind of "school" are you talking about? Here, the public school system (K-12) takes only ALTs from the JET program or dispatch agencies, or AETs through city hall.
 

lrbrugby

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Hi, I'll look into the CUE link that you've just sent, thanks. Currently, I'm working at a school called Assumption College Thonburi. It's a large and fairly decent private catholic K-12 school on the outskirts of western Bangkok. I have no concrete plans, and if the jobs market for next year is already a non-starter then I'm more than happy to bide my time and wait another year. At the moment, I'm just starting the process of building information about the job picture in Japan. I have a job that I enjoy currently, but I've been here for a while and eventually I want to take my career into teaching adults at the university level. However, if that means that I have to take a non-university based job for a year or two to get a foothold in Japan, that's fine. I'll be happy to work in either the private or the public sector providing there are jobs that provide a respectable salary in relation to the cost of living. Another year or two would also give me plenty of time to look into getting some work published as well. Two of the lecturers on my MA have spent some time teaching at universities in Japan and I think that I'd like to do the same before I eventually return home and try to get on a PhD course int he UK :)
 

johnnyG

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IMO (and this is from 10+ years ago, when I gave up on it), the big JALT conference is worthless--it's too big & impersonal, and there's nothing there in the way of jobs that are not online somewhere already. And it's expensive. The connected book fair is good if you're looking for texts, but you don't have to sign up for the conference to visit that.

The JALT SIGs are better, bringing together people with common interests. I was in the CALL SIG for a while, but then 日本ムードル協会 Moodle Association of Japan opened its doors and I followed most everyone over there.

Two of the lecturers on my MA have spent some time teaching at universities in Japan...
These are the best people to talk to about this.
 

Glenski

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IMO (and this is from 10+ years ago, when I gave up on it), the big JALT conference is worthless--it's too big & impersonal, and there's nothing there in the way of jobs that are not online somewhere already.
Job ads are a dime a dozen, but the advantage of JALT conference is the networking. Plain and simple, you can't do better than to meet people face to face. At PanSIG this year, another guy and I chatted with a guy trying to break into the market. He had some good and bad questions to ask, and I think he learned a lot from us. At most JALT conferences, the SIGs have their own tables with a casual atmosphere to sit and chat. I man one of them and have had dozens of people come by asking about publication and job hunting. Don't say such conferences are worthless.

Yes, talk to those 2 people you already know, but ask them first and foremost why they left. They may have good or bad reasons, and reasons beyond their control or otherwise. But definitely talk to more than just them!

Since you can't start out with a work visa solely on part-time work, you're going to have to land at least one full-time job, and then get the work visa. After a year, you can use a string of PT work to renew the visa. Most uni teachers here are part-timers, and the majority of the remainder are non-tenured on limited term contracts. Many are also here long enough to get permanent residence status, often after spousal visa (married to a Japanese), so PR obviates any need for a work visa.
 
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