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I wanna move to Japan! Advice?

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Hiya. I'm a senior in high school right now, and I plan to attend the standard 4 years of college, get a major in English, and minors in Japanese and writing. I plan to be a high school English teacher and write novels as a hobby/second job. So what's the best way to get over there? I wanna move to Tokyo, or somewhere close by. Anyone know of any good residential areas, or how I can find them and the costs for them? Any advice would be highly appreciated. 🙂
 
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Well...I wasn't exactly planning to go on boat. 😌 I mean should I just go over there, or should I get connections and get an apartment, that kinda stuff.
 

Mike Cash

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Vengeful Ronin said:
Well...I wasn't exactly planning to go on boat. 😌 I mean should I just go over there, or should I get connections and get an apartment, that kinda stuff.

It's way way too early for you to be worried about that aspect of it yet. First things first.

You mentioned wanting to be a high school English teacher. Did you mean you with to do that as a career in the US even if you don't come to Japan or if Japan doesn't work out? Or did you mean you plan to teach English in a Japanese high school? If you plan on getting teaching credentials for the US, shouldn't you be looking at an education major?

If you plan on being a high school English teacher in Japan, and to do it as a long-term career, I would point out that career opportunities along those lines are extremely limited. You definitely need to do more research on this if that is your goal. If you just plan to be a run of the mill English teacher in Japan, then it doesn't matter one little bit what your major is. So if English is your passion, then by all means major in English. But if it isn't, then you might look at something else. There is nothing which says all foreigners in Japan are doomed to career prospects involving nothing but teaching English. You might look into fields that other foreigners are successfully working in and see if any of them appeal to you. You could then get an education in that field, come over here initially teaching English, just to get in the country and get settled, then start looking for other opportunities. Other skills give you other options, obviously. Again, if English is your passion, then major in that.
 

Kuro Matsuri

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I just graduated from High School as well. I also want to live in Japan. Nonetheless, I have to agree with mikecash. It's way too early to be worrying about accomodations and such. I do have a plan for getting myself to Japan, and I will be happy to share it with you. (It is a little far-fetched, but it is possible.)

First off, my career of choice is Video Game Designer. I have thoroughly researched this and found that there are no entry-level positions for that particular job anywhere, let alone in Japan. I have decided to enter the gaming industry through the position of Game Programmer. Still, that is extremely difficult. I did some research on internships in that field to get my foot in the door. I found one: The EA Academy. It is an after-graduate internship that guarantees a job in EA upon completion. I personally do not care to work for EA other than the fact that it is in the gaming industry, so I plan to work there for a few years to build experience and a nice resume. When I am satisfied with my experience/resume I will apply for a job at Konami, Sony or any decent Game Programming / Game Design position at any game company that does business in Japan. I will then look into getting transfered to Japan.

There are holes in this plan that I hope to fill with details as I get closer to them. For example, you have to apply to the EA Academy. I need to build a nice portfolio by the time a graduate so that I can have a good chance of being accepted. In college, I am double majoring in Computer Science and Japanese so that I could possibly be a candidate for transfer to Japan. As I stated earlier, this is somewhat of a far-fetched plan, but I believe it is possible.

All in all, the best advise I could give you is to thoroughly research a job that you like and possibility of getting that job in Japan. Come up with a step-by-step long term plan in as much detail as you can and fill in more details whenever it is possible. It could very easily be ten more years before I live in Japan, but that is not as important as getting a job that you like. If you hate your job, you will most likely be miserable anywhere that you happen to live.

P.S. Thanks for reading my rant. It's nice to be able to thoroughly review my plan every once in a while. I hope it's not too long of a post, and I hope it helps you in some way.
 

PaulTB

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Kuro Matsuri said:
I personally do not care to work for EA other than the fact that it is in the gaming industry, so I plan to work there for a few years to build experience and a nice resume.
You better hope they aren't reading this 😌
 
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*nods*
I read it. The whole thing. If I wanted to work for a game company, I'd probably pick CAPCOM or Square-Enix. But last night I did a search on google for English teachers in Japan, and lookit what I stumbled on:


I read through the whole site, and really liked what they offer, to both teachers and students. I showed it to my mom, and she also liked it. This section really caught my eye, as that's what I want to do, and I really like its teaching methods:


That sounds pretty good to me.
BTW, how much do plane tickets to Japan cost? :p
 

Mike Cash

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Vengeful Ronin said:
*nods*
I read it. The whole thing. If I wanted to work for a game company, I'd probably pick CAPCOM or Square-Enix.

If you want to come to Japan and do that for a year or two, then that might be good for you. If you think you might want to stay longer, then bring other job skills with you. Why? Because "teaching" English in those sorts of places requires no skill other than the ability to tie a necktie. And if you have a clip-on, you don't even need that. Also because the burnout rate is high. It's easy to work, indoors and no heavy lifting....but it gets mighty damned old mighty damned quick.

Also, both students and "schools" want/require their teachers to be F.O.B. (Fresh Off the Boeing). The longer you stay here and the older you get, the more difficult it is to get those gigs, and the less you want them anyway. Those two reasons combine to make the number one advice I could give anyone contemplating a long-term stay/career in Japan is to not count on making a career out of being an Eikaiwa Dancing Bear. Bring other marketable professional skills with you when you come.
 

Kuro Matsuri

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A friend of mine is looking into going to Japan. When he looked (just last week) he found that round trip costs about $1000 if you get the tickets at least a month in advance.

As far as the teaching goes, I just want to know, is that what you want to do with your life? Teach English? If so, then go for it. Sometimes you can defeat the odds, but be prepared. Have a back-up career, something else you can do if teaching English fails. I am assuming that you do want to teach English as a long-term career because you said earlier that you plan to major in English. If that is not the case,(like, your just using the teaching job to get into Japan) then majoring in English might not be the best idea. You can still get to Japan through teaching English without majoring in English. Nonetheless, it's all up to you and what you want to do.
 
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Yeah, I was planning on teaching as my main career. As for other job skills, I'll have writing (very good at writing) and I'll know the Japanese language reasonably well. I suppose knowing their language would be a good skill.
....I can't be a dancing bear? :(
 

Kuro Matsuri

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Gotcha. So, have you been to Japan yet? If not, it's kind of hard to tell if you will actually like it there. You might want to visit Japan first. I, for example, am going to go to Japan as a foreign exchange student through Georgia Tech. That is when I'll find out if I truly want to live in Japan. Unfortunately, it'll be three years before I can go. Oh, the anticipation!!! The agony of waiting!!! Well, at least I'll be able to learn a good deal of Japanese by then.

And, yeah, knowing their language would indeed be a good skill. I don't know how you would teach somebody English without being able to speak to them in their own language...
 
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jovial_jon

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But when you're teaching English don't they ask that you speak only English in the classroom? I might be wrong, but that's what I heard. :?
 

Kuro Matsuri

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I honestly don't know, but how could they ask what a Japanese word means in English? If the teacher is never to speak Japanese to the students, they would have to do a lot of self study. Maybe that's the point. Eh, :sick: I don't know...
 

TwistedMac

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jovial_jon said:
But when you're teaching English don't they ask that you speak only English in the classroom? I might be wrong, but that's what I heard. :?

we were supposed to do that in sweden to (well, some teachers try to make it so).. theoretically..

you're not supposed to answer what exactly a word means by just translating it but rather explain what it means in english, like you would if you were english..

that's just in theory though.. it doesn't work that way in real life.. in real life we just speak swedish and learn english on the side..
 

PaulTB

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TwistedMac said:
that's just in theory though.. it doesn't work that way in real life.. in real life we just speak swedish and learn english on the side..
'smore than a theory in Japan. I presume it depends on where you go, but I always love the tale of the bloke teaching English who was raked over the coals for saying 'sayounara' when leaving the class one day ... 😌
 

Mike Cash

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Vengeful Ronin said:
Yeah, I was planning on teaching as my main career. As for other job skills, I'll have writing (very good at writing) and I'll know the Japanese language reasonably well. I suppose knowing their language would be a good skill.
....I can't be a dancing bear? :(

If you plan on teaching as your main career and have a passion for English, then I wouldn't dream of trying to talk you out of it. But.....

A couple of options:

1. If you want to focus on teaching conversational English (which is what probably 99% of positions are in) and stay here long term, then after you finish college go ahead and get qualified in TESL/TEFL. Any serious school will pretty much require that of you. Any place that doesn't is just a sheep fleecing (wool=$$$$ in this case) conversation mill with which most teachers get thoroughly disgusted in a couple of years. And those places are the chief culprits in wanting/requiring the F.O.B. foreign staff anyway. They like their staff to rotate in and out like through a revolving door. They don't like foreigners who stay long enough to realize how the schools are shafting the teaching staff. And many students tend not to like teachers who have been in Japan long enough to know too much of the country and the language. It severely limits the things they have to talk about with the teacher and makes the teacher a less interesting person. Also, there is an emphasis on youth. You have it now, but you won't always. As Japan(ese) knowledge and experience grows, your youth (and enthusiasm and tolerance for the employers' BS) diminish, making you a less desirable employee.

Some teachers do move on from that to open their own private operations. Some end up doing quite well at it and enjoy long careers at it.

The other option is to set yourself up for a possible move into teaching at the university level. The number of positions are extremely limited compared to the McEnglish conversation joints, but you can pull down a respectable salary, have a bit of prestige, have far better long-term employment prospects, and generally live the life of Reilly. You would most likely need to have a Masters degree in your pocket to even be considered for those. Tenure is possible, but there are still many universities which have a policy of employing the same professor in the position for no more than 3 years. You can find more info on this sort of thing by wading through the mess at www.debito.org

No matter what field of endeavor you decide upon, I can not strongly enough emphasize the importance which Japanese language ability will play in the quality of your stay in Japan and in the paths increased ability will open to you.

For one thing, to a certain degree you are used to being able to function in society as an individual, standing on your own. You're still under your parents' wing to some extent, but you are of an age that you are quite capable of understanding your surroundings, the society, its structure and many of the ins and outs. You're perfectly capable of taking care of normal daily personal affairs such as banking transactions, drivers license renewals, visits to the doctor, etc. You take your ability to handle these things on your own for granted, as well you should.

Shift the scene to Japan and you largely become an infant in an adult's body. If you work at an Eikaiwa school, they will normally send one of the Japanese staff with you to help out with important things. But there's a price you pay....your dignity. The more you are able to function in Japanese the more you can handle your own affairs alone and unaided, the more dignity you can retain, and the more comfortable will be your stay in Japan.

In conjunction with the above, let me add the following in bold-faced caps just to make sure it doesn't get missed. DO NOT NEGLECT LEARNING JAPANESE READING SKILLS.
 
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Japanese reading skills? Heh, lucky for me I'm enrolled in a Japanese class, and will take it in college too. I'm learning to read it, write it, and speak it.

As for a university job, I could try that too. But I would be more comfortable teaching conversational Japanese, since I hate grammar mechanics.

Exactly how long are you considered FOB anyway?
 

Mike Cash

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Vengeful Ronin said:
Japanese reading skills? Heh, lucky for me I'm enrolled in a Japanese class, and will take it in college too. I'm learning to read it, write it, and speak it.

As for a university job, I could try that too. But I would be more comfortable teaching conversational Japanese, since I hate grammar mechanics.

Exactly how long are you considered FOB anyway?

I guess that depends on the person. I would guess that the schools and the teachers sort of start to tire of each other at roughly the same time. Remember, even such serious institutions as universities often have a formal policy of not keeping the same teacher for more than three years. There have been court cases (centering on discrimination) fought over this. As much as I personally dislike the guy who runs it, www.debito.org is the site to start from if you want to look into this.

I don't know any firm numbers on this, but based solely on my personal perception of the matter:

Most foreigners stay 1 year
Some foreigners stay 2 years
A very few stay 3 years
A tiny handful stay longer than that

Lots of people come here after college not planning to stay very long to begin with, a year or maybe two. They want to experience living/working in Japan, but want to get back to their home country to get on with their lives and maintain some sort of viability in the job market. Some plan to stay longer but get burned out or disgusted with Japan within a coupla three years.

Those who stay longer start to get sort of antsy as they approach 30. They start to feel that it is about time to get wherever the hell it is they plan to be until retirement age. For some of us, that means right here in Japan. For others, that means moving on to some other place.

Some come here with just the basic bachelors degree and once they get the lay of the land, so to speak, they start to see how much more opportunity would be open to them in Japan if they had a masters degree or some other such advanced professional qualifications and they leave for what may or may not turn out to be a temporary excursion of a few years to their home country to further their education, planning to come back to Japan.

Some come here, get married, have kids, and perhaps in other ways establish some sort of roots. With this comes all sorts of life-complicating issues which can contribute to a feeling of "I'd better get while the getting is still good". Again, the impending age of 30 seems to play a sort of pressurizing role affecting the decision. Getting into this sort of situation, while it may be the dream of some of the J-Gal obsessed males on jref, means that no matter where you choose to live one or the other of you is always going to be thousands of miles away from their relations and whatever baggage they bring to your relationship. Not all foreign guys adapt well to the idea of living until the age of their decrepitude in Japan. And contrary to what some may think, just because a J-Gal is interested in English and living in foreign countries doesn't mean that they will necessarily do any better job of adapting to life in their foreign husband's home country. Some thrive on it, and others try it for a while and find they just can't hack it. Now enters the spectre of a divorce and the very real possibility that one or the other parent is going to have to deal with their children living not on the next block, in the next town, or in the next state...but on a different damned continent. I'm not saying all this to discourage you or anyone else, or to bum anyone out. I'm just throwing this stuff in to point out situations that can and do arise.

As I've told you in another thread, you're my Tennessee homeboy and I plan to do whatever I can to be of assistance to you with regards to Japan, despite our disagreeing on a few semi-trivial things (such as the undisputable fact that God resides in Tennessee, fer instance).
 
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*bookmarks debito.org*
Wow, sounds like most people don't stay teachers too long. Well, I'm still gonna go for it, and when they have me leave, I'll leave and find another job there.
Tennessee home boy? Woohoo! :D
 

Shu-Shu

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Yay! i wanna move to Japan too .. or no .. I don't wanna, I'm GONNA :D
Although I'm not even gonna try out a career as a teacher .. Idon't really know what I wanna do .. But I guess I have some years to figure that out since I'm only 15 ☝
Right now .. I think I wanna do something with make-up .. I love make-up :D
or .. maybe try out as a hair-dresser or something .. if that doesn't work I can always be a tattooist :)
 
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