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|PDixon 169 posts||
So, you want to be a teacher, you've decided on the country but where are you going to teach? What age group? What Level? etc etc.
For most ALTs in Japan will be apart of the school system either employed through a company to work in schools, via the JET program or direct with a school or BoE.
In this case you will probably be teaching at either Elementary, Junior High School (JHS) or High School (HS) - or a combination of all or some (it is rare to teach at just one school unless it a very large school...most schools may have between 200-500 students and have English only on 2 days)
Elementary (Shōgakkō)- age: 6 until 12 (grades 1-6)
JHS (chūgakkō) - age: 12 -15 (grades 1-3)
HS (kōtōgakkō or - kōkō) - age 15 - 18 (grades 1-3)
(Note: the grades restart from 1 for each school level. You can get kindergarten schools which are like preschools before you go to elementary - this is optional and not all children will attend...at Elementary at the moment English is not compulsary but is decided upon by the BoE or school if they will teach it, it is currently in review and soon in may become compulsary and so more jobs will open up)
Level: Generally speaking depending which location you are in and the standard of the school will depend on the level the students will be at. At Elementary its mostly about makng English fun and so its primarily playing games, singing songs, show and tell etc they learn colors numbers etc.
At JHS is more about learning how to write (in some elementary schools they may already have started to learn this). Grammar and sentence structure is also introduced and you spend a lot of time drilling.
At HS they should already know the grammar and its about increasing vocabulary and thinking for themselves by practicing writing and anwering questions without refering to a text book. In most rural locations or small towns the level across the school might be quite low. I teach at 3 HS`s and its all farely mixed. Also which each school they may have mixed level classes or devide them up to higher level and lower level classes. However this is normally to do with there level across all subjects.
In Japan expect to arrive at your school for about 8am. Dont forget to take indoor shoes with you or keep some at the school. When you arrive great everyone with good morning...most people i find will say good morning in English so you should say it in Japanese. Children may use a more general term of "os" which is like saying 'hey'...occassionally teachers use it to each other and students...i use it to the students but not to teacher. There is always a morning meeting which you maybe told not to attend BUT still go to be polite. I dont know any Japanese but it good to show your face.
You might also have your own desk, but again depending on how big the school is and how many time you teach there you might share a desk of find you have books, papers etc on your desk and in your draw that dont belong to you. What you have to remember if other teacher dont just teach, they also have lots of other jobs to do which can mean they dont have enought space.
You find that you may have a lot of free time which is normally when youre suppose to prep for lesson. However, not all schools will have a laptop of computer free, and if they do it may be old slow or you only have a limited time on it...if you plan to take your own laptop in then always ask first because some schools are worried about you connecting to the internet and infecting the network or messing up the power. If you happy to run on battery power then it maybe possible...i now use my ipad cos its useful due to having a dictionary, translater, japanese input, books, lessons etc. It is sometimes possible to join in with the sports etc but again ask first, dont get in the way...this is normally at JHS as the kids are more out going and not as shy to ahve a foreigner in the lesson with them.
Teaching is normally for 50mins and if you have back to back lesson then you get a 10min break inbetween. Sometimes you will team teach or join the lesson half way through. Mostly you will teach for the full 50mins but there should always be a Japanese Language teacher JLT in the room with you. Lessons are normally prepare by you and will either be on a grammar point or from a text book. Sometimes using a text book helps to make a quick lesson plan but sometimes it can restrict you.
Lunch is normally around 1pm but varies from school to school and normally lasts about 45mins. If you are teaching at Elementary or JHS then you will probably be expected to eat witht he children. Unfortunately this may mean eating something that you dont like. My advice is give it a try and if you dont like it then close your eyes and think of something you do like. If you really dont like it at least show that youve tried it and appologise. At HS generally you bring your own food in a packup box called a bento.
Schools normally consist of 6 periods with time at the end of the day to clean. The students clean but if you help you will shine like a star to them. For me i normally leave either 330pm or 4pm depending on whether i have a train to catch. Most students will stay for clubs until 6/7/8 or even 9 oclock. This can also mean that whilst you leave at 4 most teachers will stay later then the students, some teachers go home at 10pm...so be careful about coming in the next day complaining of being tired.
What to Wear:
For men wear business attire. Smart shirt, tie, suit jacket, trousers, short kept hair, plain jumper or cardigan for the cold days
For women wear business attire as well. A blouse, knee length skirt or trousers,
Note: Try and wear a black suit but never wear a black tie with a white shirt because this is what you wear to a funeral. With jumpers etc always keep them plain and neutral. For women you might be able to wear a bit more colour but dont go over board also dont bare sholders and certainly dont show a bra strap. General always look clean and tidy in business attire. in the summer you might be allowed to take your tie off but always keep it at had just incase someone important comes. Also keep a suit jacket just incase for the same reason as the tie.
What not to wear: Men should not go to school with any piercings and women should only have one in the lobe of the ear and no where esle. Tatoos must be covered up. Unfortunately if you have any that are visable you may lose your job or not be employed to start with.
Shoes: I have been asked many times about shoes. Going to work you can wear what you like. I sometimes wear smart black shoes for short communtes but comfy shoes if im walking or biking. At school you do have to change your shoes. Generally its shoes that are comfy and easy to slip on and off. Some school may require you to wear white shoes which are about ￥1300. If you want to play sports in the gym then you might have to have trainers you use just for the gym, if you are just watching then you can just take your shoes off or stay to the edge. The same as if you are using the track or playing on the sports field you maybe requested to have a seperate pair of shows such as for baseball, track, soccer etc.
For the students normally they are to wear shoes dictated or provided for by the school that will have a set color on their shoes depending ont he grade they are in. This is true for HS but im not sure about JHS or Elementary. For 2 of my schools they have trainers but for one its just flipflops. Some schools will have the same white shoes as you but with a coloured toe cap. The colors are green, blue or red (i forget which grades they represent).
Types of school: For most it will be a public school that seeks local or public funding which help to amke education more affordable. Some schools become academies and are usually linked to a College/University (this is most common in the larger cities). You may also find private schools/acadamies for the kids that are high achievers. Furthermore, for HS you are industries schools, such as one i teach at is a fisheries school (Suisan) - they dont learn about fishing but are linked to that industry. You also have technical schools (similar to a tech col in UK) these are normally called Kogyo. There are also schools for special needs as well.
Word of advice for schools:
Try to make English fun. Find the balance of fun and serious learning. If you want to give home work, check first because the other JLTs might have already given home work...also even at HS level they have several other lesson plus activities. For a lot of students, just like in america, they rely on getting schollarships or at least a recommendation into uni. For all schools they have to pass an entry exam, this is even more crucial for unversity and if you can gain a schollarship (where for sports or being a high acheiver) then it will make uni a more enjoyable experience (uni can cost about 15000pounds per year for tuition fees, plus books, plus accomodation and other fees...most students will work part time whilst studying as much as possible) Normally in schools in the last year students are requested to restrict practice time to focus on studying and exams. Finally a student week can be very busy, some of my students only have 2 evenings off a week, the rest is doing studying, clubs, training, school, homework, evening classes etc - so be forgiving if a student is tired in class.
To end...if ever your unsure - follow everyone else
If you have any questions please ask :)
|Anita25 1 post||
Hi I was wondering if you knew anyone who works for the Shane English School - or if you know any information about it?
|PDixon 169 posts||
Unfortunately this is the first ive heard of it. Japan is a very big place, in fact its 3 times larger then England. Most schools only have about 400 students...in the nearby city it has 60,000 people, it also has about 10 HS, 12 JHS and many more elementary schools.
I looked the school up on the web but havent had time to go into more detail...all i know is that its based in Tokyo and seems to be a private school set up by an English language company 30years ago.
If you are planning on teaching there it will probably be hard to get into it without prior experience and also it will be different to being in a normal school and so you may not get a true japanese cultural experience BUT it depends what you want to get out of being here
|PDixon 169 posts||
***Update*** - to continue with this thread i am going to post a series of posts relating to different aspects of school life...hopefully it will be useful
School Uniforms - male (High School)
Now for anyone who has seen a japanese film set in modern times or watched anime, read manga etc then you will probably already have an idea of what the school uniform is like.
For a lot of schools, especially private, all boys schools and most city schools the school uniform is of a western military style. The boys basically have to wear a military, round neck, black suit jacket/blazer. There are usually three types that you can buy - standard, summer and winter (summer is slightly shorter and thinner whilst the winter is a longer coat) - most boys will wear the standard one which should come to mid thigh length.
These jackets can be quite expensive, especially if you are getting a winter/summer one and even more so if it has the school logo embroided on it. Students can be expected to pay anything from ￥70,000 upwards...the most expensive ive seen is ￥200,000 for a winter one.
To go with the jacket you wear black trousers which for some schools again have the logo on. You have a white shite and tie (usually clip on so that its the same length for everyone). Shoes are usually anything to get to and from school and then at school you have indoor shoes with a set colour (blue, gree or red) depending on you grade. Again sometimes you have to buy school specific shoes which might be trainers or even flip flops type shoes.
You will also often see on the collar badges of numbers and letter..eg 1A...this relates to their class and grade they are in...some schools also use additional badges if they are head boy etc.
So because these uniforms are expensive the kids do usually look after them...i teach at an all boys school and at lunch time if they are playing soccer etc they will take them off and put the jacket in a clean place. You will often see the boys taking out a fabric brush to make sure they are tidy.
I also teach at 2 other schools but they dont have the military style uniform. instead the boys wear a either a blue or white shirt (depends on the school), a standard navy blue blazer jacket (like in england at some schools), trousers vary depending on school, usually grey or black but can be checked and at one school (that i dont teach at) they have blue with green checked trousers, they also have a tie (again usually clip on) and school shoes.
As for school bags, these vary in all shapes and sizes and colour...ive seen some boys with pink checked bags and silver glitter etc...something a boy in england would not have. Most of the time just will have more then one bag and the size will depend on watch subjects they have that day...for sports it will be these big PVC bags with a sport logo on, a general school bag is just like a normal back pack for school at home but if its just books the boys will carry Tote bags - again something boys in England wouldnt do.
I hope this gives you some idea on the boys school uniform..unfortunately i cant comment on JHS or elementary because i havent taught at them...from what i have seen in my area its normally blue trousers, white shirt and tie for JHS and for elementary ive seen them where tracksuits.
In my next post i will write about girls school uniform...i will also be writing a blog in next week about my schools sports festival...hopefully i will have pictures
|PDixon 169 posts||
Girls School Uniform.
Now for anyone who has seen anime, watched a japanese film or reads manga you will probably have seen most girls wearing the infamous `Sailor uniform`
However, this is not the only style of uniform...
The sailor uniform is the female equivalent to the male`s military style i mentioned in the previous post. A lot of high schools, especially in the cities, adopt this uniform. It is also expensive and so the students do look after it. Normally, the girls also have school schools to wear to school, then change into the indoor shoes (which are the same as everyone else).
Unfortunately this uniform has become an iconic image across the whole of japan and is viewed as a symbol of innocent and purity. For this reason it is also used in many adult manga and fantasies. To a non-japanese person these images scene on TV, books, papers, posters...everywhere...would be considered paedophillic and certainly not be in public view. Bare in mind that school children who would wear this uniform also include JHS and so the age can range from 11 upwards...it is common to see children as young as 13 in fashion magazines in skimpy clothes and the uniform.
But when you ask a Japanese person whether they think this is wrong they will be confused because this is the norm to them...for most they dont see a young girl in a uniform but an `idea/representation` of something they cannot have but not necessarily desire...for other girls its like looking at a beauty magazine and for woman its a rememberance of youth, innocent a purity...its not really viewed as a sex image like in the Suns page 3.
Moving on from this there are also many schools that choose to have a more simple uniform which is almost always a white or blue blouse, a neckachief (not a tie) in a bow or held by a toggle (like with scouts), normally a blazer jacket (usually navy blue), a skirt (i have not scene a uniform that has trousers for girls - skirts are normally navy blue but just like the male trouses you can get other variations of checked skirts), socks (white, black or navy depending on school) and shoes.
Note: the socks are suppose to be pulled up to just below the knee and the skirt is suppose to be 3/4. However it is quite common for the girls to roll the skirt up. Most schools will normally accept knee length but if it goes above the knee then the girls are in trouble...at one of my schools though many of the girls get away with wearing them like mini skirts.
Make up is normally not allowed but sometimes foundation is ok...again, though, at one of my schools some have lots of makeup on.
Hair is suppose to be short and certainly no styled hair...pigtails and pony tails are ok...jewellery is generally not allowed except for things like frienship bracelets or charms relating to religion.
If you have any question please ask...
Also if you want me to write about another topic then i will start another thread...also i am planning on doing blogs on youtube so please message me with things you want to know a see and i will get making, especially with the summer hols approaching in 3-4weeks
|PDixon 169 posts||
***Yet another update***
Cleaning Time and Entry Exams for High School
Most schools in japan just simply dont have the budget to pay for regular cleaners, so instead its the job of the children.
To western people this is a strange concept but let me explain...
In the west a school is a school, a place just for learning. Here in japan a school is like a second home, in fact most children spend most of their time at school then they do anywhere else. A typical school day is from 8am-4pm but if you are part of a club then you might have before school practice, afterschool practice and club meetings...also study time etc...school is also open at the weekends. most of my students, especially the boys have club practice 8am-1pm on saturday and sunday.
Also because the kids are at school more often then not teachers are also classed as the 3rd parent. Its not uncommon for the teacher to be called by the police if a child has been caught stealing etc rather then the actual parent and if the parent finds out what the child did then normally the teacher gets blamed for not doing a proper job...
Sorry for the tangent but it was necessary...basical a school is like a home, the kids basically make most of the mess and so it is their responcibility to clean and tidy. normally its only about 15-30mins at the end of the day to clean boards, erasers, sweep, clean toilets etc...there is also normally a rotation so its fair on all...
schools believes it create bonds, improves team work, gives responsibility, teaches kids to respect their school etc...some parents think it is unfair and that the time should be used for teaching.
I partly agree with both the teachers and the parents. For some kids they have trains and bus`s to catch, they also have a busy schedule and have homework and studying to do...furthermore, it is also a method for the school to reduce cost even though student tuition is very high...High School is optional and so you have to pay
One of my High School its ￥200000 a year plus text books, uniform etc etc...in total it can amount to about 2-3000pounds just for tuition - which doesnt include school trips or club activities.
I'm not sure how elementary or JHS works because they are compulsary...i think it depends on the prefecture on how much they charge...also some schools you have to stay in dorms.
University is usually about ￥500000-￥800000 just for tuition plus fees for dorms, books, materials etc etc...education is taken seriously...98% of JHS students do go to high school because it opens more doors.
However, you have to sit an entry exam and for most part you only get one try...if you fail then no high school...hence all the studying. It is similar for uni...you have to sit an entry exam, except here you have to pay for the exam each time you take...most unis will only give you 3 times...you also need a recommendation.
Most of the time students study in the same area, partly for convinient but also because the education level is different throughout japan and so it makes some schools/unis harder to get into for some students even if they have the same grade.
|Rashe 2 posts||
Is it possible for you to recommend some agencies, websites or schools in Japan where I can apply for a teaching position? Thanks!
|PDixon 169 posts||
The best place to check for up to date listings is on gaijenpot.com
This is also a very good website to find out a lot about japan and places to visit etc.
As regards to schools - it is very rare that you get a job direct with a school...what usually happens is you get a job through a dispatch company (such as interac, joytalk, heart) which then put you with schools, if you stay with that company and the same schools for a few years and they like you then you maybe approached by the school or board of education and be offered a permanent, direct job with them - for this, generally speaking you need to have a good japanese skills and almost be japanese in your mannerism and characteristics
as regards to teaching at private language schools...im not sure of any because this is something i have not considered...generally speaking though these are usually located in big cities, such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Nara etc. These places employ people usually throughout the year. But from talking to other people, most people get jobs with these companies through word of mouth...
So my advice would be to consider a dispatch company - Interac is one of the top companies to work for as it offers the most support and has the least problems...try and get a location you want but generally you have to be flexible with schools (so ask for all levels and maybe say which city you want to be in or near but give a selection), stay there a year...if after a year you like it then stay on. if you dont like it then you will have many other ALTs to talk to about other companies...also its much easier to get jobs when you currently live in japan because quite a few companies prefer face to face interviews.
I hope this helps