- 24 Jun 2003
- Reaction score
Always encouraging to post a lengthy reply only to see it die...
Sorry, been busy over Christmas and all that...
Actually I was amazed at reading your post because our experiences in Japan are almost identical (except that I'm not in Japan anymore). I spent my first year in Japan with GEOS, then went over to AEON for two years. After that I went on my own and started arranging my own work, mostly doing privates out of my home and teaching lessons for other schools/ institutions on the side. I was there for a little over five years total.
I agree with your views on hiring, though I would add that it seems to be luck of the draw. If you get an interview at a time in the year when they happen to really need teachers, they'll probably take just about anybody who qualifies. Other times when they aren't so desperate, I'm sure lots of well-qualified people get turned away and they only take the best. When I interviewed with GEOS in 1999, there were about 30 people for the first interview and only about 7 or 8 wound up getting hired. But when I interviewed with AEON a little over a year later, I was the only applicant being interviewed and they called me back the next day to offer me a job in the exact location I had requested. Luck of the draw.
About the financial rewards, things seem to be gettting worse, at least for Canadians and Brits (not so much for Americans) due to the weak yen. My salary in my first year in Japan worked out to nearly $50,000 Canadian, which was an astronomical sum for a 23 year old fresh out of university. Today that same salary in Yen would only be a little over $30,000 thanks to the change in exchange rate.
When I went into business on my own (which I admit I couldn't have managed without being married to a Japanese woman) things were a lot different. Like you I was totally happy with that new lifestyle and felt it was quite rewarding.
I'd be a bit worried about the long term potential for English teachers though (one of the reasons I'm not in Japan anymore despite being perfectly happy with the lifestyle). The population has peaked and the number of young, student-aged people is in rapid decline. The market is already saturated with schools charging astronomical fees, but they don't have any room to expand and the student base is actually getting smaller. Its not such a bad thing for an independent operator who can undercut the prices of the big schools, but for teachers just starting out it will be a problem because all of the big schools will have to start closing branches and hiring fewer teachers just to avoid going bankrupt. I think NOVA lost something like 3 billion yen last year alone.
Interesting topic for conversation!