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The Good, Bad And The Ugly - ESL Teaching in Japan

by Christopher

I did my time. I spent 10 years teaching at the university level. So I've seen some stuff in my day. First up is the things I totally loved about teaching ESL in Japan.

So Here is the Good
I got paid fat money for teaching a measly 32 weeks out of the entire year. Great health care and its nationalized with competent doctors. Compared to America, Japan is much safer, cleaner and more harmonious. Mass transit system is fantastic speedy like a bullet and is priced moderately for what you get. Food is high quality and pretty fresh with so many choices of decent food. Why even bother with McDonald's?

I was left alone and was free to teach the way I wanted to and was not monitored by administrative staff that never taught a class in their life. I had full reign on curriculum ideas and implementation.

And Here is the Bad
The educational system's core is rotten and I'm saying this about all levels from kindergarten all the way up the chain. For example I failed students but then was requested to "reconsider my decision". I guess sleeping in class is cheaper than renting a hotel room. So my hands were tied on failing students. The only way to can a student is if they don't show up for classes

Most of my work wasn't actually teaching, it was publishing research papers and even when I just cranked out what I deemed to be border line stuff. I wasn't really a teacher, I was a publisher.

I felt that the Japanese faculty really didn't care if the students actually learned English in a communicative sense. Translation to English reigns supreme and it's not going to change because the bloated bureaucracy that is Monbusho set the whole system up - A system of a down. PR is what they are concerned with and not student progress.

And Finally the Ugly
Being treated like disposable chopsticks they give you at noodle shops. In a word or three - "limited shelf life". A definite glass sealing is in place. They want you in and then out. Not feeling as being treated as an equal hurt me the most. The university is like a tool box. In the tool box you have various tools - pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters etc. I was a hammer.

If I had the chance to do it again I would have focused my energy and time in a different direction since I did so little teaching. I should have worked on getting more credentials like a Ph.D. the moment the plane hit the tarmac.

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Oct 18, 2021
Attendance NEW
by: Hiroshi

Christopher has clearly experienced normal Japan.

Attendance is what counts, not performance. So nice to have an unsupervised teaching role, however this also leads to no actual interest in thr effectiveness of his teaching.

One could say Christopher had put a surprisingly positive spin on his time in Japan.

So it seems qualifications are about time served, not actually a measure of performance.

Feb 03, 2020

by: Cadence


I am sorry to hear that things didn't quite work out the way you wanted them to. But then again in life is it not the same way for all of struggling humanity?

The cool thing is you probably made some decent bank and the teaching in Japan thing has afforded you the chance to turn things around and make it all right. Many leave Japan with not much more than a hangover.

Those who read this will benefit from your generous contribution to our site and will add just a bit of weight (as if there wasn't already enough of it) to the adage "hindsight is 20/20.

Best of luck to you

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