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5 challenges of working for a major English conversation school

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AEON, ECC, Berlitz. . . if you have ever considered working in Japan you’ll know that these eikaiwa companies offer competitive options. Visa processing, subsidized housing and attractive bonuses to name a few. But after the difficulty of securing a position, what are the challenges of working for a major conversation school?

Working nights

You might think that not having to start work until 12 or 1 p.m. is a plus, and it is for all those non-morning people out there. But the flip side to that argument is having to work past the time most people will have finished work for the day. Even then, it is unlikely that you will finish work before 9 p.m. each day (sometimes later, especially considering Japanese workplace etiquette). This is awful for numerous reasons. One, you can never make mid-week dinner plans with any of your friends, nor can you make Friday or Saturday night dinner plans, as everyone will already have eaten and be well on their way to drunkville by the time you’ve even got on the train to join them. Two, your entire body clock will start to get out of whack as you wake up at 10 a.m. after going to bed a 2 a.m. and eat at odd times of the day like having a large meal at around 10 p.m. which can never be called a "healthy eating habit." These hours are not conducive to a healthy work/life balance.

Working Saturdays

So now not only do you have to work until the late hours of the night but you also have to go to bed early on a Friday night knowing that the hardest day of your week will dawn in the morning. Seriously, in no world is it okay for Saturday to be the busiest day of the week. Maybe during your part-time uni job it was okay, especially if you worked in a bar or pub but that’s hardly work, especially if people are buying you drinks. Trust me, no one is going to buy you a drink at 4 p.m. on a Saturday while working as an English conversation teacher. While all your friends are nursing their hangovers from Friday night in preparation for Saturday night's shenanigans, you’ll still be teaching in your small basement classroom, counting the minutes until it is time to leave.

Being cheerful all the time

As a conversation school teacher, the most important part of your job is not actually teaching. It’s making sure students are having fun while you look like you're having the time of your life. This goes for all hours of your 9-hour day. If you are in the public space, you must be a) smiling so hard you look like you’ve overdosed on pseudoephedrine, and b) look so happy to see your students that they feel like you might have a secret crush on them. Of course, this is all good customer service 101 but there is something about the over-the-top expectations of "cheerfulness" that separates this kind of behavior from regular customer service. And it will make you more tired then you’ve ever been before in your life.

Teaching the same material over and over and over

Conversations schools each have their own lesson plans and structures and as an employee, you have to adhere to these plans and lessons, no exceptions. Oh, there might be some schools that appreciate a bit of creative flair but there is still limited room for that. Most have a rotating three-month schedule for lessons; thus, if you work there for longer than that, you’ll have to teach these lessons again and again. While this makes work easy, it also makes work super boring. I dare you to try and not fall asleep during the listening sections.

The strict office environment

Japan’s office environments can differ greatly from those back home. Professional dress takes on a new level as for women, high heels and make-up are a daily staple and for men, don’t even think about not wearing a tie. This is all fairly simple compared with other details such as making sure you arrive 15 minutes before your start time everyday and not leaving before all your students have left the lobby (which can take a long time, especially when the more loquacious students have nothing to do on a Saturday night). Once, I was told off for yawning in a meeting. There are lots of little micro-behaviors that are not acceptable in the Japanese office environment and you have to remember that while working at an eikaiwa, you are working for a Japanese company, no matter how many foreigners you see in head office.

Of course, there are also a lot of positives to working at a conversation school and I know lots of people who have been happy to work at the same school for 3, 4 or 5 years. How much of a challenge you really face can depend entirely on the school, the type of people you work with and the company you choose. My advice? Make sure you choose wisely.

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81 Comments
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I worked at Nova back in the day and I enjoyed my teaching experience. The respect from the students I got was really rewarding and the opportunity to do overtime every working day was a great bonus. During my tenure (1999 -2000) we didn't have to work Saturdays and we were able to meet friends for dinner / drinks on time.

I just got the feeling that working at an Ekaiwa school wasn't a lifer role. You arent there to "teach" but to offer guidance and be there for people to practice speaking English in a comfortable environment (somewhat.) Anyone expecting to get a life career out of this profession without progressing to managment is a very specific person. The rest of us are either passing through as a traveller or a real university trained teacher actually teaching english.

Don't hesitate if you are thinking about teaching English in Japan. There are some tough points but in most part its so much fun. Hanging out with co-workers, having students progress etc.. is great. You can live and work in japan and earn money with nothing more than a college diploma or university degree.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I agree with these points but I found other aspects to be more difficult. I wanted to be enrolled in shakaihoken and I was told no. Also, the contract said 29.5 hours of work but I had to be at work from 12:30-10:30 5 days a week. Also, since I was working for an eikaiwa as it was slowly going under, I got threatening phone calls almost daily. I was told I would lose my job if my school didn't make x amount of yen by the end of that day. Because of this, I found I was stressed to the max. The manager wasn't supportive and I ended up with an ulcer. I think people who want to work as an English teacher in Japan should really research the companies they are interested in and see how much reality contrasts the job postings.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sakurala: sounds a lot like GABA, care to drop a name? I'm curious as we had the same treatment while I was there (2007-2010)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Maybe during your part-time uni job it was okay, especially if you worked in a bar or pub but that’s hardly work, especially if people are buying you drinks.

I'm sorry, but what? In what world is working at a bar or pub during a busy Saturday night considered "hardly work"?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Take a look at the positives:

Working nights No need to pack yourself in the train at 7-9am like sardines.

Two, your entire body clock will start to get out of whack as you wake up at 10 a.m. after going to bed a 2 a.m. Depends on the person. There are folks who work "normal" hours that sleep at 2am too.

Working Saturdays Actually having a days off during the week vs the weekend can be more productive, depending on the type of person you are. You can get a lot of business matters done (bank, immigration, city hall etc ) done if you have a day off during the weekend vs on a Saturday or Sunday when some of those places are normally closed.

The strict office environment Not entirely restrictive to teaching English but many Japanese white collar and even blue collar jobs.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Pozzy: I was at GEOS :S Now I am working at a junior high school and am being treated a bit better. I've heard horrible things about GABA, too though.

I think if someone wants to work as an English teacher in Japan, they should always try to be aware of their rights so they aren't taken advantage of. If people want more information about their rights, I would recommend looking at some union websites because they have good info. And always, be careful of your health...your body is much more important than stressing for a company that doesn't appreciate you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The reality of the business is falling salaries,no career advancement,worsening conditions,etc

For all the good these schools (sic) do with their emphasis on dress code, massive ad campaigns and illusory images of professionalism etc.

It is still a fact that Japan ranks globally right down there with 3rd world countries on standardized tests.

In fact really serious teachers avoid Japan altogether and head elsewhere......

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Don't work at a Japanese English teaching school you are treated like part of the office equipment.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Oh and I forgot to add that the biggest company in the business failed under a mountain of bad debt and false promises. The president was also imprisoned during this turmoil by gangsters.

The truth is that the industry is unregulated and bears more resemblance to the bar industry than education....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I work for an eikaiwa school. I'm not a full time worker and I pay for my own pension and insurance. I work around 35 hours a week and the latest I finish work is 8:30. On a good month I make over 500,000 yen. I support a wife, kid, and own a condo in Tokyo. It really depends on the company and your skill set.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

In fact really serious teachers avoid Japan altogether and head elsewhere......

Japan however is the place you will get paid the most. Few countries get close.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"teaching english" in Japan for 98% involved shud be something that is done for 1yr............2MAX!

Then get the hell out! It is seriously deadend stuff, by all means come to Japan for a bit & "teach" but unless you have the nads to open your own small school & TRULY ENJOY teaching, its best to only do for a short period so it doesnt hurt your career path or do something else in Japan!

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

gogogoOct. 22, 2012 - 09:32AM JST

Don't work at a Japanese English teaching school you are treated like part of the office equipment.

It's not just Japanese English teacging schools. The golden rule is never let the Japanese have hold of you by the cajones because just keep on squeezing. Have an exit option by working at more than one place and improving your skill set.

Respect in Japan revolves around, 'You don't break my rice bowl, I won't break yours'. For you to ensure that your rice bowl isn't broken, you have to convince them that you have the power to break theirs.

The Eikaiwa industry in Japan is pathetic. You have more rights and conditions as a worker in Macy Ds in your own country. At least you get free lunches.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

You have more rights and conditions as a worker in Macy Ds in your own country. At least you get free lunches.

I take it you have never worked at McDonalds? Free lunch? Hahaha

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@mrkobayashi Most salaries are 250k a month gross or less,so the salary you mention is very exceptional. Japan is notoriously expensive so if all social life is curtailed then it is possible to save. However,It it is a boring existence otherwise.....

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Wow! I've spent the last few years getting myself qualified in TESOL so that I and my Japanese partner can live and work there; all this is making me question whether or not that was such a good idea (not that I have much choice - I'm not qualified to do anything else). Aren't there any people who have had positive experiences teaching English in Japan? I can't believe that all the schools are just there to rip the teachers off and treat them like office furniture.

As for the working hours and times; obviously many people posting here think a regular 9-5 job is what everyone does. I have worked much stranger hours and longer shifts - and no, not as a barman. Try working in a major public hospital, especially in ICU or A&E; they make the hours mentioned above seem easy. Plus I don’t imagine that conversation-school students bleed on their teachers very often.

As for wearing a tie, presenting a positive attitude to clients, turning up on time (I am almost always at least half an hour early) - this is called "being professional" where I come from. Anyone who has consistently worked in a customer service environment should have no problem with all that – if you did have a problem, you wouldn’t last very long in that line of work.

I don’t imagine that all English language schools are heaven on earth and I’ve no doubt the work is demanding – most teaching positions are. But the conditions outlined in this article don’t seem all that terrible to me. I think some of the respondents might be being a little precious. I will be careful, of course, and do my research before I get there. But I’m sure that it is quite possible to find a worthwhile and satisfying job teaching English in Japan.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

And want to be a career teacher and get more than a one year contract?

Sorry, you are out of luck there.....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

How about children's Eikaiwa schools? Do any of you have experience in those? They must be a different world with mommies watching your every move!

I experienced teaching in a class for junior high school kids. They expected classes by the book and nothing more because it will "get in the way" of their exam studies. What a bore!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How about children's Eikaiwa schools?

Very few parents hang around for the lessons. Parents are working or racing off to the supermarket, physiotherapist, loan shark, etc. Bosses would discourage parents staying because they are a massive distraction - get them into an adult lesson at the same time if they have nothing better to do.

I love working with kids and would take a group of 5 kids any day over a group of Obachans.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

mrkobayashi, is that 35 hrs spent in the place, or 35 hours actually teaching? When I was a teacher I found that with preparation time etc., included, 20 hours actual teaching was a pretty full schedule. If you're adding prep time for 35 hours of lessons, you're earning every red yen of that 500,000.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Sounds like a bit of whining to me: 1) Late hours - most jobs have those... 2) Saturdays - whilst not every Saturday, many jobs require work on a Saturday or Sunday fairly frequently. 3) Being cheerful - well, yeah, people don`t like to work with grouches. 4) Many jobs are repetitive. 5) This is Japan.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Howaitosan,

The internet has TONS of info, opinions, you shud read a TON about schools, teachers experiences, and living in Japan(if you have never been here reast assured if will be very different)

About english teaching & Japan learn about the GOOD BAD & the UGLY, & DO NOT rely on your J-partner for your only opinions otherwise you will miss out on a lit of info.

And if you come over you will likley NOT enjoy wearing a suit & tie in AUG in 40C 150% humidity.

There is a lot of great stuff about Japan & a lot that can drag you down, learn about both

Come in kinds blind to what your in for & you will be in for a ride!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It's all about what you bring to your job... any job... I've been at this for 16 years... been through it all. Seen many people who can't get their act together and do what's required. Coming here to teach is always a choice. If you don't like it, you can always head somewhere else. While here make a positive contribution to what you are doing and then move on when appropriate.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I do zero hours of prep time, although I wouldn't recommend that to a newbie. I'm familiar with the material I use and doing everything ad lib keeps me on my toes. I didn't add transpo time though.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

So 35 hours of teaching? With no prep, that's till a pretty heavy workload. Either you're incredibly gifted, a born teacher... or you're churning out the same lessons time after time. Even if the materials are the same, the students are different every time. As you say, neither a typical nor ideal situation for a newbie.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I second what cleo says - a well-known eikaiwa I used to work at uses a schedule typically averaging 25 hours teaching per week. If you're doing the preparation properly, then you'll be working full-time despite what the contractual conditions say.

I'd still recommend it to someone who wants to see Japan - but my advice is to take it seriously, get a CELTA or equivalent, treat it as a great work experience in a foreign country, and check that the company pays your insurance / pension contributions. I can't honestly recommend it for more than a year or two, after that maybe getting a job in a high school/university would be better (from what I hear).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Eating late at night leads to diabetes.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

When I look back on my GEOS days, I think of it more as an easy way to get set up in Japan (apartment, bit of money, instant community, etc). I stayed with the firm a bit too long and saw teacher training become 'balance sheet awareness', and also witnessed some pretty immoral business practices directed towards staff and students. The key is not to stay too long. Get the lay of the land, and if you want to stay in Japan, move on.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In reference to some of the comments above:

I don't think an English teacher who can't write a correct English sentence has any right to complain. I think he should just thank his lucky stars that he's got a job. Seriously, make an effort!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Can anyone list the pluses?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I do not know about working for these large schools as I started my own school shortly after arriving in Japan. I was Registered Nurse and most people do not realize that an RN spends many hours of their day teaching people although not teaching the language they must teach about diseases and "what the doctor said'. Having said this, I did not have experience teaching English as a second language but people asked me to start teaching English. I find that teaching is fun but preparing for the lessons is time consuming as I do not like to stick to a text book. If one is going to teach outside of the public schools they must teach at odd hours. The children are in school in the morning and afternoon and adults are working. One should expect to teach odd hours unless they are teaching in the High School as an ALT.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Can anyone list the pluses?

Dating opportunities

Free office supplies

Free grooming/apparel advice
7 ( +7 / -0 )

In response to being cheerful all the time...a few years ago a friend asked me to help her out at a halloween party being held by..???..for kids. Why not thought I. Never again!! I was being constantly glared at by the witch running it and eventually told to go and count the attendance list because I "didnt look happy enough". "Happy" was expressed by literally bouncing off the walls with a wild look in ones eyes just short of frothing at the mouth. If thats what these eikawa schools expect then I have the utmost respect for the people who can do it...but not a great deal of it for the ghouls cracking the whip!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Taught English at Shane for 6 years. Back in the UK did Pgce and now in 2nd year of teaching. Will be back in Japan next summer with spouse to live permanently.

I will be glad to teach in Japan again after the nightmare that is the British school system. Yes, school finishes at 3.30, however most evenings preperation and marking keep me at my desk until 9/10 pm.

Point being that I find the "dullness" of eikaiwa quite relaxing in comparison. I feel the rewards outweigh the negatives. Frienfly keen students, reasonable salary No need to take work home. If you think management at your typical eikaiwa is overbearing and petty, try tge average UK school.

Howaitosan - dont listen to the negative comments, i did before I first came and it made me negative for ages, every situation and person are different. I cant wait to get back there! Will be aiming to work as ALT this time though.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

My biggest challenge is that "no degree no work visa" restriction. I never went to Uni... so I'm deemed too thick to work in Japan.

After I completed my TEFL course I discovered I couldn't get a work visa in Japan... not happy.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think the point I was trying to make in my last post was that many of the things people criticise eikaiwa for are just aspects of teaching in general. Evil management, long, unsociable hours (I have 22 teaching hours but spend a lot more doing prep, never mind the extrs duties, meetings and admin -eikaiwa 25-30teaching hours and a lot less prep), poor return in terms of effort to amount of effort.

I think you do a lot worse than teach English for a living.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Howaitosan, there are positive aspects to be experienced. Teaching (if you can call it that) as an ALT can be lots of fun and by and large the children are very nice and as long as you don't rock any boats, like mention that clowning around playing silly games and singing inane ditties isn't teaching English and the kids aren't learning anything, the teachers will like you too. That you have a TESOL qualification is a bonus to landing a job, but don't be surprised if what you've studied to learn to get your wings, as it were, will be wasted in the classroom. If you have a masters in applied linguistics, you stand a chance of getting a university job, but they are getting really difficult to get these days, and even then, the students don't really want you to give them any real work to do. The level of Engrish in Japan is a joke, and it isn't hard to see why.

The real problems with teaching in Japan now revolve around plummeting salaries and increasing living costs. Add to that the fact that you are being expected to do more and more, while you are paid less and less. That's one of the reasons I packed up and left. It just wasn't worth it after the company I worked for made huge cuts, and imposed various things on us. I don't mind working for my money, but when I'm getting a lot more to do and I'm down 50,000 yen per month, I start to resent it.

I recommend you apply for the JET Programme. The salary is a lot better and you won't have to do as much. It will give you the chance to get your foot in the door without being ripped off, however, do check out Big Daikon for information because every so often a dodgy JET post comes up. For info on eikaiwas and ALT positions, check out the Lets Japan site and join it as a user because you can get to see a lot of otherwise invisible stuff regarding schools. They don't cover up bad companies like some sites do.

Good luck!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think you do a lot worse than teach English for a living.

You can do a lot better too, Duck.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Shiofuki, good advice!

Just hope you dont get all neg'd for keeping it real & useful!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well considering most eikaiwa teachers haven't a clue what they are doing, I'm thinking those complaints are pretty minor. You make a decent living, have a chance to move up the ladder and don't do any overtime. More than what many of the locals can say here with regards to work their situation. If you don't like it, "level up", get a teaching degree, an MA and move up. Many have and the smart ones do if they want to stay.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@shiofuki - yes, like working in the British state school system!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I Agree with tmarie.

I would say that most teachers in Japan really don't have much concept of teaching and learning but then that doesn't necessarily matter as what makes student s happy is not usually what will help them learn.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hahahahaa, yeah, this article is so true. Shikatanai ne!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article is just about the weakest ever.The five whinges are desperate like someone who just got off the boat,but can't go back home. If you want better conditions,go work for yourself.As long as you work for someone,you'll always have a gripe,justified or not.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I was being constantly glared at by the witch running it

Well yeah, it was a Halloween party you know. ;-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Once, I was told off for yawning in a meeting." - > I think that people would frown upon this in most countries in a professional setting...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

gogo: AWESOME new avatar. You really have an eye for these things!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

GW: I will take your comments seriously when you stop writing "should" as "shud".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the difficulty of securing a position"

Heh, back in the good ol' days before the bubble and the consumption tax, the main requirements were possession of a passport from the U.K., the USA, Canada, Australia or NZ, and no criminal record.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shane is one of the better schools (for teachers at least) and tends to hire teachers with British Certificate training.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've been working in an eikaiwa for almost 6 years now and I've never had any trouble. My coworkers are nice and helpful and we have free water/coffee/tea. The best thing about our school is the flexible schedule. You can choose the time or day to work, but you have to remember that most students have regular jobs so they can't take lessons during the daytime. If you wanna earn a lot, teach during peak hours (weeknights, weekends/holidays). I did that before and I was happy with what I earned. Now I only work from 10-14:30 or 16:00 because I have a husband and a child to look after. I still earn decently considering that I don't really work long hours. My job isn't stressful because the work is done when the lesson is finished. Perhaps those who will be in trouble are those who are late in the lessons, or get negative evaluations from students/clients.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Haha...funny Nessie. Thanks for those great pluses.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

these eikaiwa companies offer competitive options

Think again. Visa sponsorship? They say it's a benefit but honestly they have to. Otherwise they wouldn't have any teachers. There aren't really any competitive options. At least not much. Ask them to cover the part of the medical insurance premiums they are supposed to and wait for their response.

As for the rest of the article, seems to me that the author is someone who just got her first job and is whining about what's pretty much common sense. Working nights and Saturdays? Don't want to do it, join the government. Being cheerful all the time? You are a teacher and your students are looking at you. Having to dress professional? Well, again, you are a teacher and yes, you need to be professional. Imagine you being the student and your teacher looking like crap. Having to be there 15 minutes ahead of time? Every single job I had so far required me to do so (waiter, bartender, lifeguard trainer, teacher) .

@Howaitosan, don't pay attention to people saying that teaching in Japan is a bad idea. I've been working as an ALT here for six years and I totally love my job. Like everything else it has its pros and contras but it is not a bad idea. Yes, you gotta be careful with some employers. I've been screwed quite a few times, really bad sometimes. But I'm still here working, making money, making good lessons and having a good time.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you want to come to Japan to teach first graduate from Uni and do the JET Program. Make sure that you write down that you want to work in the countryside of Japan and if you do, you probably will get selected. After that you can figure what you want to do in life and can either stay in Japan and keep teaching or head back home. All I got to say is don't teach too long because when you go back home it won't mean much if you go back in your mid 30's. It is career suicide if you don't have any skills or a decent degree to back you up. If don't mind teaching and want to stay in Japan for along time and not worry about a career, go for it and teach English. I would do it but I plan on heading back to US. I miss the flexibility I had while teaching though. Now I get a steady paycheck, paid vacations, bonuses, career advancement, and when I go back home, a chance to get a better job that isn't Entry Level! (I hope)

Here is from my experience,

Interac (Elementary and Junior High) no problems just got tired of being a human cd player. Loved working with the kids. GABA (no serious problems but that was from 03-07) they don't pay for transportation and you got to "belt- up" to get a pay raise and that can be lost with neg evaluations. I refer to my time at GABA as a GABA slave (cheap labor and no real time to take a break between lessons) AEON- (corporate classes at businesses) were the best and the most professional English school I worked for, if I were to get back into teaching I would teach for them any day. Only problem was you had to rely on getting contracts(classes), so I had another part-time job to fill in the gaps. If you were a good teacher they would try to get you another contract before the one ended.

English schools are hit and miss and a lot of trial an error. It all depends on your attitude and work ethic and also school management. I enjoyed meeting people from various backgrounds and professions and learning about them and can say that it was one of the most rewarding parts.

-

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No job is easy or without any kind of drawbacks, always look at the positives of your job and keep looking for better options(jobs) if u r not satisfied with ur present job. Changing job multiple times also makes you not good looking when u present ur resume. This fact remains same either you work for Eikaiwa or you work anywhere else.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No job is easy or without any kind of drawbacks

Mine was! I got pretty well paid for what I was doing, I enjoyed the 'work', was well respected by the schools and had great reports sent back to my employer.

@GW

Just hope you dont get all neg'd for keeping it real & useful!

Whatever do you mean?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Comes with the territory teaching English in Japan. Your students are most abundant in the evening and Saturdays. I worked for Gaba for a very short time just because of the way they do business, terrible. You pick a schedule and sit their and if no students know pay plus no transportation. I also worked for Nicheibei English Academy, this was a good outfit and treated it's teachers and contractors very good.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

GW: I will take your comments seriously when you stop writing "should" as "shud".

miffy,

For pete's sake we aint writin know danged essay or thesis here ya no, but if I were maybe I wud or perhaps I shud, but while I enjoy posting & like to make sure some rookie aint steered in the wrong direction I also like to minimize typing, so I guess you will loose(haha bet you dont like that either!) out on my clever insite!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think with any job, the best thing to do before starting is to get the most background information as possible. Learn about the actual hours you are expected to be at the office, what jobs you will and will not have to do, how holiday days are dealt with, what plan they have for medical on pensions and what materials and support they will provide. I know it sounds basic, but often what is posted on the job discription is a glossed over version of reality.

Some eikaiwas will rip you off and others won't. It may also differ by the branch or school. Some ALTs will be used like a record player or a wacky waving foreign clown while others will be given free reign once they prove themselves (I organize me own schedule, classes and teaching materials in a junior high school). And that goes for the JET program as well. It is really hard to know you exact work enviroment before hand but it is a good idea to try to find out as much as you can before hand so you can be prepared.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While the article's points may be true, I could find lots of negative points about being, say, a construction worker or a software engineer. No one has a gun to my head to make me do these jobs, so I simply don't do them! So what's the point in complaining about something you're not being forced to do?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No one has a gun to my head to make me do these jobs, so I simply don't do them! So what's the point in complaining about something you're not being forced to do?

There speaks someone with no kids to feed/clothe/house.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ok I will admit I have pointed out parts of the not so nice side of teaching, I did that more for a poster who seemed to thinking of coming to Japan & hey you can always teach english kind of thinking.

Now if your a teacher, want to teach then by all means teach! In Japan or where ever, go for it, live it, love it by all means Do It!

But if someone who isnt a teacher, isnt planning to be one long term, etc etc but is planning to come to Japan & "teach" they imo had better only do for a very short time otherwise you will make a hole in your employment history you MAY not or have serious trouble getting out of.

Read lots of opinions, NOT JUST MINE haha, take something from them, at least think about them & make your decision.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

GW: for some people it may "make a hole" in their employment history, but not for all. If someone wanted to return to their country to do a job that involved children, teaching or Japanese, it may actually make them a stronger candidate. Or for people who plan to stay in Japan for the long term but need time to build up their Japanese, it is a good choice. However, if someone wanted to get into something unrelated once returning to their country, it may not be the best bet to stay too long.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Howaitosan, one thing to remember is that the Internet exaggerates EVERYTHING, both positive and negative. Not every school is the same. And what may be a pleasant experience for one person could be a terrible experience for another.

Plus, if you look at this article, a lot of it seems to revolve around how working at an eikaiwa will impact your social life. I'm thirty, I've got a fiancé, we spend most of our nights off sitting on the couch and watching movies, not bar-hopping.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

//Japan however is the place you will get paid the most

Erm, I did find when I worked in South Korea I got basically the same salary, but the school paid for the (not great) apartment, so I did make more money, and stuff is cheaper over there.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I worked for an English school (Ga) and the manager was evil your performance was graded every lesson by the students and there was pressure to get as many "5"s a month as possible. He would talk to the students who were his friends to give you a low grade as it would pull your overall total down at the end of the month.Then he could move you to another branch or out. It happened to many teachers and the shool is always looking and advertising even around the world for new teachers.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I worked for Nova from 2004-2005 and Interac 2006-2009. Nova was... crap BUT the people I worked with there were awesome, some whom I'm still friends with today. It doesn't really mean much to bad mouth Nova now since they've gone under but I did find that the gaijin management certainly had the medical condition of 'their heads being so far up their asses' Some of these people had the worst social skills I have ever seen and its probably why they weren't sitting in front of students. My fellow teachers.. got along with almost all of them

Interac was a different beast, I was mainly by myself but I worked in a town with another interac teacher, 1 from another dispatch company that escapes my mind and 4 employed by the BOE. It was a pretty good setup and us teachers could meet up every friday afternoon at one of the schools for a "meeting" which usually devolved into general chit chat about nothing. However, that paradise ended when Interac failed to get the contract for that town in 2009, putting me in limbo for a few weeks until they found me another placement, actually closer to my apartment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nah, here are the 5 Challenges

If you are Canadian, explaining to your students how you are not America's Hat.

Hint: Hard to do, since, well, you are America's Hat.

If you are Scottish, Welsh or Irish, explaining to your students the whole "United" part in the UK...that you are not England.

Not Sleeping With Your Students

I'm talking to you, Aussies and Kiwis

Not getting into a fight with an Aussie if you are an American; not getting into a fight with an American if you are an Aussie.

In this case, opposites repel. Or, as I like to say, "Ah, Australia, the little US down under."

and numero uno

Not showing up to work too hungover.
3 ( +3 / -0 )

The comments all are a good resource of information. After 20 years I have seen and done it all. Personally, I took a little away from each company, started to build my private students which morphed into my own school. I love children and 80% of my students were children. They are great(except for the 2-3 who are ADD types)! Starting at 3-4 yrs old, they usually stayed with me until Jr. high. When they did quit, it opened up space for new students who have to pay a joining fee. At 110-120 students I was a little busy with preparations. I could have taken more students, but then I'd have to hire a teacher.(which I tried once) I didn't want to deal with the hassles that go along with a majority of gaijin sensei who don't understand the cultural intricacies of Japan and how that reflects on me and my school. If you are good with kids then I would definitely recommend having a go at it. Very satisfying, great pay (3-4x the average monthly salary of the schools mentioned in the above comments ), make my own schedule, lots of vacations, etc. I stopped doing it because of earthquake fears and the gradual contamination of foods. If you have no worries on these two points, then get in there and start making money. The children's Eikaiwa market is still growing....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Comes with the territory teaching English in Japan. Your students are most abundant in the evening and Saturdays. I worked for Gaba for a very short time just because of the way they do business, terrible. You pick a schedule and sit their and if no students know pay plus no transportation. I also worked for Nicheibei English Academy, this was a good outfit and treated it's teachers and contractors very good.

This could very well just be a troll post similar to GW's post immediately afterwards, but if not, then I think I know why GABA had issues with you:

"You pick a schedule and sit there and if no students show up, no pay plus no transportation. I also worked for Nicheibei English Academy, this was a good outfit and treated its teachers and contractors very well."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

lucabrasi

No one has a gun to my head to make me do these jobs, so I simply don't do them! So what's the point in complaining about something you're not being forced to do?

There speaks someone with no kids to feed/clothe/house.

You are full of assumptions and wrong in every respect.

Now my assumption about you is that you are the kind of person who feels a need to blame the system, the employer, the wretched situation in society or whatever for giving you no choices in life. Sure, I could be wrong but I'll be bold cos I don't know you and this is the Internet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@hatsoff

Now my assumption about you is that you are the kind of person who feels a need to blame the system, the employer, the wretched situation in society or whatever for giving you no choices in life.

You're welcome to make your assumptions (it is the internet, after all), but I wasn't talking about myself. I do teach English, but in a respected university, do a grand total of twelve hours a week for a full-time salary and enjoy every aspect of my job. My colleagues and my students are all wonderful.

However, there are people with desperately miserable working situations, be they toilet cleaners or Tory members of parliament, who work because they have to. Nobody's "blaming the system", just pointing out that some people, usually the less gifted and the more unlucky amongst us, lead pretty sad existences in order to put food on the table. Would you be happy picking rags off garbage dumps in Manila for a few cents a bundle?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have worked for Gaba. Overall a pretty good deal for me, but it's dog eat dog. If you're good, you get lots of work and you make over 300,000 yen a month, easy. If you're not good, you'll sit around doing nothing and make 200,000 yen or less. Being popular means a number of things : good-looking, cheerful, adaptable, knowledgeable, creative, etc. In my case it was just trying to provide students with what they wanted or needed every lesson. A word of advice for current or future teachers : get into the corporate lesson program. It pays better (5000 yen per hour)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you're not good, you'll sit around doing nothing and make 200,000 yen or less

200,000 yen for doing nothing!? Where do I sign? ; )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

lucabrasi - none of what you said has relevance to people choosing to come to Japan to work for an eikaiwa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On a good month I make over 500,000 yen.

If you're good, you get lots of work and you make over 300,000 yen a month, easy.

Man, I couldn't survive on that. I have a wife and kid to support.

I've heard that a university job or at an international school are the way to go. Hopefully they pay better too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Most of the small English schools are treating the teachers are lower than office furniture. They make contract signed that if you are dismissed the job or you resigned then you have to pay the money for a new person`s recruitment which include advertising and other expenses. And all ways make pressure or bully by so called manager.. The reality of the teaching and the advertisement or the welcome at the interview are different.. beware of it before you come to Japan. Need website to share the difficulties of each schools which people want to share...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If someone can't live on 500,000 yen per month,he's clearly living above his means.Kid or no kid. Or the wife ain't good with handling money.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm surprised that in all of the challenges mentioned above, that this one wasn't mentioned: stress at the fact that the vast majority of students make very little progress at all in developing their English, and of those that do, the reasons often have little to do with the content of the classes that you teach.

I'd rather be an encyclopedia salesman than an English conversation teacher. Lousy as the job might be, at least the product itself is not faulty.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whoever wrote this sounds like arrogant kid that was upset at their first job McDonald's actually wanted them to cook food...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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