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Silver bullets won’t help Japan, and neither will JET

39 Comments
By Sean Montgomery

The announcement of the Liberal Democratic Party’s intention to double the number of JET teachers in Japan in three years should ring alarm bells for anyone familiar with Japan Exchange and Teaching, and set off red alerts for anyone familiar with English education in Japanese public schools. While JET has accomplished much since its inception, its outdated structure remains an example of wasteful government spending. The LDP’s choice to expand a program that is fundamentally inefficient indicates a continuation of the flawed policies that have stalled Japan’s growth.

When the predecessor to the JET program started in 1978, Japan was enjoying fantastically high growth and expanding ever more into foreign markets. The ability of Japanese businessmen to invest and attract customers overseas was deemed dependent on their English language ability. Thus, at first, the program focused on English language teaching, and was open to British university graduates. From 1987, the JET Program united various similar exchange programs into a single organization open to numerous countries, and the program goal became “to increase mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the people of other nations, to promote internationalization in Japan’s local communities by helping to improve foreign language education, and to develop international exchange on the community level.” In these goals, the JET program continues to make a valiant effort. With what results, however, and at what cost?

First-year JETs are compensated at 3.32 million yen per year, or 280,000 yen monthly, and fourth and fifth-year JETs are compensated at 330,000 yen per month. The average 300,000 yen monthly salary paid to JETs must seem extravagant to many native citizens. According to the 2011 Japan Statistical Yearbook, the average Japanese male in his early 20s was making just 225,000 yen per month, and females less. Even workers in their late 20s were making roughly 25,000 yen less per month than their average JET counterparts. Consider also that a majority of JETs are new graduates when you examine the same statistics showing entry-level teachers in Japan making just 203,000 yen per month.

A comparison of JET and non-JET English education salaries in Japan shows similar discrepancies. The average compensation at English conversation schools is a mere 250,000 per month for a teaching job with longer and later hours (typically 12 p.m.-9 p.m.). Assistant Language Teacher jobs (i.e. the same as what 90% of JETs do) with dispatch companies like Interac and Borderlink start at even less: 230,000 and 200,000 respectively. Furthermore, as government employees, JETs are not subject to city tax, are accorded free transportation to and from Japan, and sometimes receive subsidized housing.

What kind of educators and cultural representatives is Japan buying with this money? No. 9 on the list of JET’s eligibility requirements states that the applicant must not have lived in Japan for more than six years. This clause illustrates simultaneously the Japanese government’s embrace of internationalization (the participants should be as foreign as possible) and its contradictory wariness of immigration. The same reasoning is behind the free trip out of Japan that JETs get when their contract is up. The JET program is a one-off deal: participants come, share their culture for a couple years, and go home—and the government likes it that way. Limiting the applicants’ exposure to Japan also ensures they have not become “too Japanese” to serve as cultural ambassadors. By exorcizing JETs in this way, however, the program violates all three of its primary directives. The fact that there is no interview conducted for the program in Japan — effectively discouraging applicants who already live or work here—is simply further evidence that JET is not interested in people who are overly familiar with the challenges of teaching in Japan or with the culture.

What kind of work does the JET Program fund in pursuit of its goals? ALTs, who make up the vast majority of JET participants, typically start work at around 8 a.m. and finish at around 4 p.m., with roughly an hour break for lunch. JTEs, the Japanese English teachers, sometimes work with the JETs to devise lessons and activities to help the kids learn English, but many use the native speakers as “human tape recorders.” With no classes, prep finished, and head teachers and administrators too busy or linguistically incapable of assigning them tasks, it isn’t uncommon for JET ALTs (especially in rural areas) to be left with nothing to do for large parts of their days.

During summer vacation, many ALTs typically attend school and do nothing for a couple hours before going back home — while getting paid at full salary. Not all JETs have these experiences, but they occur often enough that administrators peddle the phrase, “Every situation is different” every chance they get. Does this mean then that JET compensates participants for their ability to adapt to different situations, or their ability to work with an organization that after three decades still has no clear idea of how to use them properly?

Of course, it’s pointless to debate the efficacy of the JET Program and its participants by its contract terms and work environment without considering its results. According to the 2012 EF Global English Proficiency Index, Japan is ranked 22nd out of 54 English-speaking countries. That’s below Korea, whose version of JET (EPIK) was launched as recently as 1995. Average TOEFL score comparisons from 2011 also reveal that Japanese scored below Koreans and indeed test-takers from every other major Asian country in which TOEFL is offered except for Cambodia and Laos. In fact, Korea has consistently ranked above Japan in TOEFL scores, despite similar numbers of test-takers. Whether because of a lack of overall quality in the native teachers being brought in or because of the problematic system into which they’re placed, most observers can agree that Japan’s English education hardly seems to have improved.

Concerning JET’s internationalization directive, increases in the number of Japanese TOEFL test-takers points to an encouraging development, but the decrease in study abroad participation does not. Between 2004 and 2010 the number of Japanese students studying abroad plunged more than 20%, and though it started back up in 2011, the trend raises questions about how effective the JET program’s internationalization campaign has been. It is difficult to justify expanding JET while Japan continues to struggle in areas JET is supposed to be improving.

This piece does not necessarily advocate scrapping the JET program or replacing it with private contracting companies. The JET Program is a good idea. Exposing Japanese kids to foreign culture and instilling curiosity about the world beyond Japan’s shores is important. So is giving them the tools to interact with that world. The JET Program is a tool that can be used to pursue these endeavors — but it is not being used effectively. The Democratic Party of Japan government recognized this initially when they targeted it for wasteful spending and threatened to discontinue the program in 2010. While the program’s pay structure was revised afterward, nothing was done about the problems at its core: 1) Ineffective teaching, 2) Poor management and training of ALTs, 3) A salary system that still fails to reflect the nature or strenuousness of the work involved. Expanding the program will only exacerbate these problems.

There is no reason to bring an extra 4,000 native English speakers to Japan at government expense if they can’t teach or represent their culture effectively. There is no reason to put a native English speaker in every school if the school doesn’t know how to use them. There is no reason to spend billions more yen on expanding the JET Program before addressing the fundamental flaws in the system. For that matter, there’s no reason to set TOEFL scores as graduation requirements without first addressing the effectiveness of Japan’s test-centered English education. If Japan is ready to take the plunge, then they should take it. Pull the plug on the current English teaching system and rebuild it from scratch. It will save time and a whole lot of money. Only then will the JET Program truly prove its worth.

The LDP thinks TOEFL is a silver bullet that can help propel Japan back into global competitiveness, and that the JET Program is the silver inside of it. Japan’s trouble is not only with the ammunition, however, but with the gun as well. The TOEFL is a valid motivational tool for learning English, and the JET Program has the potential to multiply that motivation and learning, but only a properly shaped program and a properly calibrated educational structure can direct it all to where the LDP wants to take Japan.

© Japan Today

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39 Comments
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Too early for this kind of whinge.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Direct employed ALT's by the BOE are paid approx yen 2,300,000 per annum as the school holidays aren't paid. As for the comment, they don't have tp pay city tax as they are govt employees, that left me completely befuddled! First time in 23 years I heard that one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The author claims the JET salary of Y280000 per month is high, but forgets that local Japanese employees receive bonuses, a housing allowance and an allowance for dependents. Once these extras have been added on local salaries are similar to JET salaries.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

The JET Program is a good idea. Exposing Japanese kids to foreign culture and instilling curiosity about the world beyond Japan’s shores is important. So is giving them the tools to interact with that world.

This kind of opinion really shows the worst of those who wish to make claims for the success of the jet programme. It stinks of cultural elitism of the participating countries and the place that Japan sees itself in the world. This is 2013 not 1985 and there is much more cultural diversity in Japan than these people would like to admit, particularly in the rural areas where the ALTs are sent. Oh but those foreigners are mainly from China, South East Asia and South America and therefore do not have the same value in terms of cultural exchange.

Maybe it should read-

The Jet programme is a good idea. Exposing Japanese kids to Americans, Brits and Aussies and therefore further instilling the idea that Japan is a completely unique and the world beyond it's shores is different to them.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Plenty of studies have indicated that if any Japanese ever does speak English, it's going to be with an other Asian, for whom English is also a second, or foreign language.

Importing Native English speakers is a short term fix and a HUGE waste of money. They'd be much better off spending every nickel of government money on getting qualified Japanese teachers fluent in English.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They would get better results if JETs worked in elementary schools rather than starting at the junior high/high school level. Having taught children of all ages during my first years in Japan, it was obvious that younger students absorb language much more easily than older students, and far mote easily than adults.

The pay issue is irrelevant, JETs are well paid by Japanese standards, but not so well as they would as university graduates in their home countries. JETs must forego beginning their professional careers in their home countries, so the pay must be high enough to compensate.

One unfortunate problem with the system is that most JETs have degrees which have no relevance to teaching English. Teaching is not simply standing in front of a class and talking in front of the students. A fair amount of skill is required to teach competently. Unfortunately, most ALTs leave before, or just as they begin acquiring any teaching skill.

During my first year as a teacher, my classes were a joke, a waste of time for my students. My second year was better, I began to develop a system which worked, and the student's progress was visible. At the start of my third year in Japan, I quit teaching and went into business for myself.

JETs teaching in Japan should receive proper training, much more than the 4 or 5 days which are provided. They should be taught how to structure lessons, and how to manage their classrooms. They should know enough so as to make a Japanese English teacher (many of whom couldn't order lunch at McDonald's in competent English) unnecessary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is no reason to spend billions more yen on expanding the JET Program before addressing the fundamental flaws in the system. For that matter, there's no reason to set TOEFL scores as graduation requirements without first addressing the effectiveness of Japan's test-centered English education.

This is the key. The entire English education system is geared toward University entrance exams. Always has been, and unless you can move mountains, always will be. It's goal is not communication, or cultural awareness, or anything else. It's only goal is to prepare students to take and pass entrance examinations. That's what parents, teachers, and most students expect and want.

If Japan is ready to take the plunge, then they should take it. Pull the plug on the current English teaching system and rebuild it from scratch.

Exactly. And with a different, but clearly defined, goal in mind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The author claims the JET salary of Y280000 per month is high, but forgets that local Japanese employees receive bonuses, a housing allowance and an allowance for dependents. Once these extras have been added on local salaries are similar to JET salaries.

Not all do. Many workers are now on contracts/disptach so they get none of the things you mentioned. JETS are VERY overpaid for their value and the job they "do".

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The author claims the JET salary of Y280000 per month is high, but forgets that local Japanese employees receive bonuses, a housing allowance and an allowance for dependents. Once these extras have been added on local salaries are similar to JET salaries.

I see tmarie already beat me to it, but most new graduates have no dependents, so get no allowance for that, have very few holidays, if any at all, many work insanely long hours, including weekends, with no overtime, and are forced to attend "drinking parties" as part of their job - paid for out of their own salary. By comparison, a JET employee earns a lot more - in some cases they earn more than the real, qualified Japanese teachers they are teaching with.

And by the way, isn't JET housing also subsidised? The JETs I know all pay 20-30,000 yen/month rent, the rest is subsidised by the city.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Just checked on the claim that JETs don't have to pay city tax. According to the local City Office , all employed people in Japan must pay city tax. Maybe what the author is claiming is that first year residents don't have to pay tax as their previous years income is zero in Japan, but this applies equally to all first year residents. I suggest that the author sticks to the facts and not twisting them to make an emotional argument. The ALTs that are directly employed are qualified Teachers with experience and do actually make a contribution. Also I have meet JETs that have teaching qualifications , so it isn't appropriate to label everybody under the one label. The Japanese Government hasn't actually stated what the minimum requirements for a JAT will be under the new scheme yet. This is what will make or break the JET scheme.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

English is greatly overrated. Those living in Tokyo already know that the main second language here is not English. I seldom hear English spoken here and when I do it usually is western tourists speaking it. Why invest so much in the JET program with a bias towards English-speaking western countries when the majority of foreigners living/coming to Japan aren't even from English-speaking areas? In Tokyo, walk into a convenience store, you can be served in a foreign language, walk into any Izakaya and usually the staff speaks a foreign language. Walk into most Chuka-ryori they will gladly serve you in a foreign language. Look at the majority of the foreign staff in any Japanese company, they speak a foreign language. Yes, that language is not English, it is Mandarin Chinese. In 10 years the majority of contacts Japanese will have will be with Mandarin speakers. Japan does not even have a Mandarin program similar to JET, as someone mentioned this is 2013 and not 1985.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I have seen many complaints and essays about how ineffective the JET program is, but all authors miss the point that Japan values form over substance. So regardless of whether the program is succeeding, they still put native English speaking foreigners in classrooms, so that's good enough. You all forget that Japanese workers barely get anything done effectively but they stay as late as the boss and so they are rewarded for how that appears. That is the attitude here in many environments, and it has been extended to JET. It will never change.

Many years ago, I did the program for a few months (I covered for a JET that bailed until the city could find a replacement JET), and it' true - I barely did anything and the "work" I did do was certainly not implemented or handled as well as it could have been. But this is in line with almost all office work I have seen in Japan, so the Japanese aren't aware of a problem.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Why invest so much in the JET program with a bias towards English-speaking western countries when the majority of foreigners living/coming to Japan aren't even from English-speaking areas?

Japan is 98.5% Japanese. I don't think the purpose of the JET program is to enable its population to converse with those 1.5% non-Japanese. Most likely it's because there will be more opportunity for you if you speak English, whether in Japan or overseas. English works in lots of countries. Mandarin only works in one. Makes sense to teach English in my opinion.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

First-year JETs are compensated at 3.32 million yen per year, or 280,000 yen monthly, and fourth and fifth-year JETs are compensated at 330,000 yen per month.

and

Furthermore, as government employees, JETs are not subject to city tax, are accorded free transportation to and from Japan, and sometimes receive subsidized housing.

Disgusting.

Just so some wapanese fresh out of college can repeat phrases and sing and dance with a bunch of country bumpkin kids.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Japan is 98.5% Japanese. I don't think the purpose of the JET program is to enable its population to converse with those 1.5% non-Japanese. Most likely it's because there will be more opportunity for you if you speak English, whether in Japan or overseas. English works in lots of countries. Mandarin only works in one. Makes sense to teach English in my opinion.

I partially agree with you. I don't think the JET program should be scrapped but instead of increasing the number of teachers perhaps the J-gov should create a JET-style Mandarin program. I think learning a second language is about increasing opportunities and improving communication. I have worked for a few Japanese companies here in Tokyo and the majority of foreigners spoke Mandarin. Most foreigners visiting and doing business with the company also spoke Mandarin. I think one of the reasons Japanese people's English is so poor is that they don't have any opportunity to speak it. If you have been to Tokyo you know that opportunities to speak Mandarin abound.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I don't think the JET program should be scrapped but instead of increasing the number of teachers perhaps the J-gov should create a JET-style Mandarin program.

So we have an English exchange and teaching programme which has shown no noticeable results in terms of improving language ability since 1985 and you think that a similar programme for Chinese language education would work. Perhaps you could get a job with the Ministry of Education because you would fit right in. Good luck.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It stinks of cultural elitism of the participating countries and the place that Japan sees itself in the world.

Right on PaulJ

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I really should have said where Japan sees itself relative to the rest of Asia

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not all do. Many workers are now on contracts/disptach so they get none of the things you mentioned. JETS are VERY overpaid for their value and the job they "do".

I was wondering, tmarie, if you felt the same way back in the day when you were actually one of these VERY overpaid JETS whom you seem to hold in such disregard now. And let's not forget that that was when the starting wage for a JET was 320,000 yen per month. Were you so appalled by your obscene salary vis a vis your "value" that you forfeited the perks of the job as well as returned the unjustified overpayment in wages? I highly doubt it.

Moreover, a JET is a government employee who is either directly employed by a municipal or prefectural board of education. As so, some of the benefits and perks, such as housing allowances (but never bonuses), are afforded to some JETs just as they are to other government employees.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Woah! Do English teachers really get paid that low?!

That's pretty mind-blowing.

Does anyone know how many English teachers are in Japan?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Nice reporting, but it would be more compelling if you started with spelling the program's name correctly: it's the JET Programme

Also, you're on point about the free trip to and from Japan as being wasteful spending, but your comparison of ALTs' salaries to JTEs' is completely ignoring the fact that JTEs get massive bonuses twice a year, putting them well above the ALT's salary (depending on prefecture, I believe). And for Americans, who historically make up the majority of participants, the JET salary is about the same as an entry level position upon graduating from university. How else could you entice potential candidates to come over if you can't compete with remuneration.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Woah! Do English teachers really get paid that low?!

Yeah, Japan's bubble economy is over... it's low pay, but for the most part, it's also unskilled labour, so you shouldn't really expect more.

People with actual qualifications and can find higher paying positions if they search for them, or with some basic marketing skills can start their own business which can be VERY lucrative.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"with actual qualifications and skills"

Proofreading skills however, are not required. : )

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@papasmurfinjapan: Yeah that's true. The starting the own business could be very lucrative although I don't really see very high margins and scale.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Woah! Do English teachers really get paid that low?!

And not just in Japan

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I do think it is ridiculous that they will hire all these new people from abroad, while neglecting the teachers who are already here, and are often qualified, or at least have experience in teaching.

On a side note, all the JETs I have met, bar none, have been lazy, ugly, boring and wore ugly white bulky trainers. They are hardly good representatives of their own countries people, and hardly inspiring for Japanese kids.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Thanks for trying to think through some of the JET issues and offer some constructive criticism. One of my concerns with nearly all articles critical of JET is they don't factor in some of the real long term benefits, or "Return On JET-vestment." For example, there are now around 60,000 JET alumni throughout the world most of whom feel some sort of lifetime connection to Japan. Post 3/11, this proved to be a huge benefit to Japan as JETs and JET alumni everywhere were able to facilitate a great deal of cross-border activity and help navigate significant challenges. Not that JETs/alums were the only people doing this, but a large number of this population might not have otherwise had any connection with Japan. Also, there are now significant numbers of ex-JETs working in the US State Dept, in academia, teaching Japanese in their home countries, staffing Japan Societies and other Japan-related cultural organizations that provide great economic, cultural and other benefits. These are all of significant value to Japan. The ALTs who teach through contracting agencies are far less likely to feel part of their communities and to feel connected to something bigger that enables them to contribute to Japan the rest of their lives (though I think it would be great to somehow engage them in the same way). I'm just scraping the surface with these examples, but I'll also add one more on the micro level with regard to JET salaries. Right off the bat, just by having friends and family come to visit Japan and spend money on lodging, food and tourist activities (not even counting airfare), the average JET pays back 1/6 to 1/5 of their salary. (http://jetwit.com/wordpress/2011/01/20/update-jet-tourist-tally-project/) Return On JET-vestment is difficult to calculate, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist in a very significant way. Whether that amount is greater than the cost is something I can't answer concretely, but I want to make sure that some of these other benefits are being factored into discussions.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Papasmurf

People with actual qualifications and can find higher paying positions if they search for them, or with some basic marketing skills can start their own business which can be VERY lucrative.

Like what? Assuming you're talking about teaching I agree with you about starting your own business, but aside from that you'd have to very lucky and stay here for a long time to get a gig that pays much more than standard eikaiwa rates, but which you could probably still match with an ALT gig and privates.

And Japanese teachers certainly do not get "massive" bonuses anymore, if they ever did. This isn't the 1980s anymore! as everyone seems to be saying..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ oikawa

I've never been employed by a company as an English teacher so can't give you exact pay details, but a number of my expat friends here in Japan are comfortably supporting their families through their teaching jobs. They have built houses and are putting their kids through private schools - all on a single income I may add, so the pay can't be THAT bad.

Here are some examples.

Find a job with a large Eikaiwa chain that gives long-termers the opportunity for promotion. Back in the heady days of NOVA one of my friends was earning around 5 million yen a year as a teacher-trainer or whatever his job was. Not bad for a 29yr old guy with no formal teaching qualifications.

If you have a MA TESOL or something similar, get a job with a private JHS or university. At first it will probably be a contract position, but if you show aptitude, initiative, and most important, suck up to the boss, they may offer you full-time employment. I think the pay is also around 5-6 million. Not great, but more than the average eikaiwa teacher.

If you want to make a career out of teaching, go to grad school, get a Masters degree, join your local JALT chapter and get involved with other teachers. Once you have made connections in the academic circles, you will find it easier to get work. While you are teaching as a part-time university lecturer, you can easily fill up the rest of your time with private lessons, do some research and work on getting published. Once you are published, and have a few years of teaching experience under your belt, opportunities in public universities may open up, and eventually you may be granted tenure.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thanks for trying to think through some of the JET issues and offer some constructive criticism. One of my concerns with nearly all articles critical of JET is they don't factor in some of the real long term benefits, or "Return On JET-vestment."

They don't factor it in because it has never been measured. Of course former JETs want to think their stint in Japan wasn't a complete waste of time and they are changing the world, but are they really? Although I admire your sincerity, your post is full of assumptions. If you can back it up with hard facts, then please do.

My main gripe with the whole program is really summed up in your post. In all the benefits listed, not once did you actually mention English education anywhere. If the Japanese govt wants to spend money on a feel-good work-experience program for foreigners, then fine, but I object to them doing it at the expense of the proper education of our kids. Why should we sacrifice the proper English education of children for some recent university graduates looking for a good time? Japan has a working holiday visa system, that should suffice for people interested in Japan. We don't have to lure them with tax-payer money and give them cushy jobs in schools.

Also, there are now significant numbers of ex-JETs working in the US State Dept, in academia, teaching Japanese in their home countries, staffing Japan Societies and other Japan-related cultural organizations that provide great economic, cultural and other benefits.

You will probably find just as many employees who have never been JETs but grew up on Monkey Magic and Power Rangers who are now contributing just as much as ex-JETs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They would get better results if JETs worked in elementary schools rather than starting at the junior high/high school level. Having taught children of all ages during my first years in Japan, it was obvious that younger students absorb language much more easily than older students, and far mote easily than adults.

JET does place people at Elementary schools, as they now have mandatory lessons in English for all students, grade 1 up. I believe it is 19 hours a year in Grade 1, and steadily more until grade 5 and 6 where they have a textbook and classes once a week.

The problem with this article, is that it is treating JET like an employer. JET is not the employer. The individual contracting organization - be it the Board of Education, or the school itself, is the real problem here. CLAIR has some great ideas on how to utilize an ALT, but schools ignore them. I teach in 4 schools, not one of my homeroom teachers (I am in Elementary) has ever read the Team Teaching handbook. A memo is issued from my BOE every year telling the ALTs not to use Japanese in class, and that homeroom teachers are the main teacher. The problem with that? The homeroom teachers have not been effectively trained to teach English, and the BOE expects them to suddenly just know what to do. That isn't fair to the HRT, to the ALT or to the kids. This creates confusion and ineffective lessons. Again, not the fault of JET, but the fault of the individual school and BOE.

At my one JHS, yes, it was the same as most. I was a tape recorder. However, it is up to the ALT to be proactive and instead of sitting at their desk doing nothing, find ways to be a part of the classes. This is like any job. And yes, choosing people who are here on their first job and have no work ethic is a serious problem. One that CLAIR and the JET Programme are trying to find ways of dealing with through new hiring practices.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The homeroom teachers have not been effectively trained to teach English, and the BOE expects them to suddenly just know what to do.

Neither have the ALTs and even if they have it is very unlikely that either of them have been trained in team teaching, and even more unlikely that they have attended team teaching training together, you know as a team.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Papasmurf

Thanks for the long reply. I agree it's all possible, the problem is like you described in your last paragraph it's a long road to go down and even then is dependent on making contacts and being lucky in finding somewhere near where you live with openings. You could live your whole life here and never have that luck. And even that is dependant on getting an MA or maybe PhD, but which has little guarantee when you're still dependant on a lot of luck to find a postion and even then liable to have to find another job after the contract is up, which they often are after 2 or 3 years.

Alternatively there's the eikaiwa route but I don't think there are any Eikaiwas around nowadays that offer a realistic chance of much promotion and making 5 million a year, unless you're the one person who becomes an area manager or similar. I thkn the best option is like you described too, finding a job in a private school, which is not too hard to do, but I would say the salary is usually a bit lower than 5/6 million, more like 4million, although you can supplement that easily due to the amount of time off you get.

Anyway good luck with whatever you're doing!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you have a MA TESOL or something similar, get a job with a private JHS or university. At first it will probably be a contract position, but if you show aptitude, initiative, and most important, suck up to the boss, they may offer you full-time employment. I think the pay is also around 5-6 million. Not great, but more than the average eikaiwa teacher.

This is brilliant advice. I'm glad I took it.

If you want to make a career out of teaching, go to grad school, get a Masters degree, join your local JALT chapter and get involved with other teachers. Once you have made connections in the academic circles, you will find it easier to get work. While you are teaching as a part-time university lecturer, you can easily fill up the rest of your time with private lessons, do some research and work on getting published. Once you are published, and have a few years of teaching experience under your belt, opportunities in public universities may open up, and eventually you may be granted tenure.

I know several people who've done this, too. They are easily supporting wives and children on their incomes, and they get to go "home" once or twice a year. Kudos to them, I say!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@ Oikaiwa,

Of course, like in any profession, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Like you say, the problem with university work is it is usually short term unless you get lucky. If you are a person supporting a family, I can understand changing jobs every couple of years not being an option, but if you single, then it the first step to bigger things.

If remuneration is the concern, unless you are a "charisma teacher" flogging your merchandise on TV shopping, you are never going to earn more than an investment banker or lawyer. This applies to teachers in general, the world over. Teaching is not, nor has ever been a very highly paid profession. Even professors don't earn that much.

You are probably right about Eikaiwas. The whole ekimae ryugaku thing is a fad of the past.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here in the land of no portunity schools are still stuck on the ancient ways of 1830, being the fact that french is important (as is flemish). Which both are not from a global point of view, while english does seem to be the most worldwide adapted language (as in it might get you further anywhere because more people understand at least a little more of it than any other language not their own). It would also break the language barrier present in this sad country in less than twenty years if everyone got to speak their native (the country is divided in three language zones) language as a first but was made to communicate in english when talking to each other. Would break the language barrier, help cross country and global communication, give all little students more chances in a global market and let everyone preserve their own cultural identity. A much too simple plan ofcourse since it would just have to be voted and set and be in effect for over ten years to bear results. There's also this thing where old people have been fighting over language rights for too long and they wont let it to. The laws are full of it. The governments waste endless time on it while especially in times like these they got a lot of more important things to do. Nothing gets done and time is wasted on a struggle from the past. Meanwhile it really helps no one. So, maybe that makes you overthere feel a little better about local efficiency. english is very important, to be nationalist about it is a waste of time. It's there, it's used it's widely understood

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was a JET for five years. I volunteered on my days off to work at 3 kindergartens Helped establish an Australian exchange program Offered my free time to coworkers to grade papers: stay after school and tutor: organize events: participate in clubs: etc.

JET is really what you make of it. The Japanese teachers do need help and if you offer sincerely they will take you up on it.

I put in a lot of effort and personal time to make sure that I made a difference. It is a good program with the right participants.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why would anyone want to be a teacher on a short term contract?? As permanent jobs are not allowed for foreigners mostly, who would want the constant anxiety and stress worrying about renewal and the next job. Get a permanent job at home and live your life.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This article is spot on. The Japanese have already waster 25 years on the JET program, and I've yet to meet a single person who could even carry on a simple conversation from what they learn in the basic English programs provided through JET. Expanding this program is throwing good money after bad.

Someone needs to translate this to Japanese, because no one who matters will speak good enough English to be able to comprehend this article.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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