Introduction to Teaching English in Japan

Would you like the chance to spend some time in Japan but feel turned off by whistle-stop package tourist trips? If so, teaching English may be the answer. There is no better way to get to know a country than by living and working there. By teaching English you become a part of Japanese society, rather than just an observer looking in.

Teaching English is big business in Japan. Despite the collapse of the so-called bubble economy Japan remains one of the richest and most sophisticated nations on the planet, and this status is largely due to its success in overseas trade and investment. Thus, to get ahead in Japanese society, proficiency in English is a significant advantage. Add to that the fact that being able to speak English is simply considered cool and the huge demand for English teachers becomes clear.

Don’t Japanese people learn English at school?

Yes they do. Usually for 6 years or more. The problem is that, unlike most of the school curriculum, English isn’t taught particularly well. Japanese schools tend to follow traditional teaching methods in which the teacher stands at the front and lectures the class. Students are expected to absorb rather than question. The method produces excellent results for subjects like history and mathematics, but not for communicative, participative skills like language. School English education is likely to consist of lots of reading and writing, lots of grammar practice, but very little – if any – spoken communication.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

Not at all. Of course, if you can pick up a little nihongo (Japanese) it will make your daily life easier, but it won’t help one bit as a teacher. The reason is that the most effective way of teaching language is to use only the target language. Thus the only language used in English lessons is English.

How do I start?

Well, you could simply buy a ticket to Japan and start looking for work. Unfortunately, without a work permit, that strategy is illegal. Unless you have a Japanese spouse you need to find a job that will sponsor you for a visa. It is possible to travel to Japan as a tourist and approach a few of the numerous schools advertising for teachers asking if they are prepared to sponsor your visa application.

It helps to undergo some TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training before looking for work. Not only will this give you some basic teaching skills and confidence, but it also shows potential employers you are serious about teaching and not just a backpacker looking for some financial re-fuelling.

TEFL courses are advertised in most English speaking countries. The more useful ones are provided by working English schools and offer face-to-face teaching practice with real learners.

Accommodation

If you are employed by the JET program or one of the big English school companies they will more than likely arrange accommodation for you. You are of course free to find your own housing if you so wish.

Living in school-found accommodation has the advantage of an English speaking contact to sort out repairs or other problems. The disadvantage is that it’s difficult to quit a job that may not be for you while living in their accommodation. I have also heard of at least one school that charges its teachers a significant premium over market rental rates for use of its accommodation – so beware!

There are several English speaking accommodation agencies advertising in the free English language press, and these generally provide decent accommodation, but at a price.

An alternative favored by many single English teachers are the so-called “gaijin houses” (literally foreigner’s house). These are basically hostels that rent out basic, but adequately comfortable, rooms mainly to non-Japanese clientele. Usually bathroom, kitchen and sometimes communal sitting room are shared. Gaijin house advertisements are to be found in the free English language press.

How Many Times Have You Had A Jewelry Dilemma

Which necklace style is appropriate with this outfit? Should I use a long necklace or a short necklace will be better suited? The following list describes the most common necklace lengths and how to use them.

Collar – 12-13 inches in length

Collars are usually made up of two or more strands and lie snugly on the middle of the neck. Collars are an ideal complement to elegant V-neck, boat neck or off the shoulder fashions.

Choker – 14-16 inches in length

A choker is despite the most classic and versatile of all the single strand lengths and is designed to lie around the base of the neck. It is appropriate with everything from casual to formal eveningwear, and completes any neckline imaginable. Is the perfect length to add subtle elegance to your workday paired with a button-down shirt, yet just as stylish with a cocktail dress. This is a good necklace length for a child. This way the necklace has "growth room".

Princess – 17-19 inches in length

The princess length necklace is best suited for crew and high necklines. It also fulfills low plunging necklines. This is an excellent choice if you are not certain which strand length is most appropriate and is the perfect necklace length for a pendant.

Matinee – 20-24 inches in length

The matinee necklace is the right choice for casual or business dressing. It looks best with high necklines and adds sophistication to a professional look. The matinee length is also very well suited for fancier wear such as long sundresses and formal gowns. The extra length of the matinee necklace gives the wearer a sense of luxury and confidence. It certainly may dress up an outfit.

Opera – 28-34 inches in length

The opera necklace offers many attractive options. Can be worn as a single strand, it is refined and perfect for high or crew necklines. Can be doubled upon itself and serves as a versatile two-strand choker. It can be knotted at the neckline or above the bust to create a stylish vintage look. Traditionally, opera length necklaces are worn with eveningwear, although can be used to accessorize more casual attires.

Rope or Lariat – Over 45 inches in length

The rope necklace is very elegant and dangerously sexy. It can be made with several clasps placed in strategic locations, enabling it to be broken down into different necklace and bracelet combinations, or doubled and even tripled to create a stunning multi-strand choker. This versatile length may also be tied in a knot for a charming modern look. Ropes can also be knotted and slung over the shoulder to accentuate the beauty of a backless dress. Lariats are at last 48 inches long, with the ends left unattached for knotting or wrapping around the neck.

Now that you know all about necklaces lengths make sure you include all of them in your wardrobe so you do not have to worry about not having the right one when you need it.

Learning To Speak Mandarin – The Road Ahead

When we talk about studying Chinese what we mean by that, in 2010, is really studying Mandarin, also known as standard Mandarin. Compared to Cantonese, which is the second most spoken out of around 50 languages ​​in contemporary China, Mandarin is far larger. Cantonese is pretty much confined to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Mandarin on the other hand is also spoken in both these areas, and the entirety of the rest of the country. This did not come about as an accident. 100 years ago there were more languages ​​and Standard Mandarin was not known as standard. The Mandarin of today is an amalgamation of different dialects but is mostly made up of the old Beijing one. The reason that it is so common today is that it has been artificially promoted by the central government for obvious reasons: one modern nation needs one common mode of communication.

When we talk about Mandarin language studies people often say that they are rather tricky. They are not a walk in the park, but it is my sincere belief that people make it out to be a much more difficult task than it is in reality. The thing we need to remember is that Mandarin is very different from languages ​​that have been derived from Latin or the Germanic branch of European languages. But once those differences have been deal with, learning the rest of the language is much less tricky than it would seem when you are just setting out on that particular journey. These initial bumps in the road can be categorized into two distinct groups; the difficulties of writing Chinese Mandarin and the difficulties of speaking Chinese Mandarin. I write difficulties but in reality it is less about difficulty and more about differences.

The first of these two categories, written Chinese, is mostly hard because there is no alphabet. Instead you need to memorize a great deal of pictures, aka characters. The key to success in this matter lies in not thinking of them as pictures when you try to commit them to memory but rather thinking of them in terms of their underlying structure. The two golden nuggets of information that you need to become familiar with is the building blocks that make up the vast majority of characters, called radical, and the way that these radicals are written, the stroke order. Once you have these two concepts firmly logged in your head you will begin to see the characters as a process of writing and not as a finished product. The picture is complicated but the way that it is formed is as easy as pie. It is a bit like riding a bike really – once you get up and going you will cover a lot of ground very quickly and you will never loose that initial effort you put in while learning the first couple of hundred or so the right way.

The second of the categories, spoken Chinese Mandarin, is mostly different in terms of pronunciation. The grammar really is not that hard. Chinese Mandarin pronunciation, however, is. It is hard because as we know Mandarin lacks an alphabet. Instead of being made up of letters that make a sound when put together we have pictures which give little or no indication regarding how the words sound when spoken. To muddle things up even more the Mandarin language is not only dependent on syllables, it also involves modulation of the pitch. This is what is more commonly known as tones, and it makes Mandarin a tonal language.

However, both the difficulties with getting to grips with Characters and their radicals and stroke order, and the trick to wrapping your tongue around tonal modulation while speaking, can easily be dealt with in a small class size. Learning Mandarin without the individual attention of a teacher is very hard, but once you have someone to correct your pronunciation and show you what you are doing wrong when writing, you are on the home stretch, speeding ahead to proficiency in the language that holds the key to the greatest paradigm shift of our century – the rise of China as economic and political super power.

Work and Study

The relationship between work and study should not be underestimated.

It is important that youngsters in general, and teenagers in particular, get real life experience of what it takes to succeed in the ‘real world’, what it takes to make money, and how hard dad or mum have to work to earn those extra few cents.

Recently a dad talked about the problems of getting his son to study; the family is wealthy and the son saw little need to make any effort to revise, do well in his forthcoming exams, and move onto a university and undergraduate subject with prospects of a rewarding career.

He saw his parents, particularly mum, as a ‘soft touch’.

The harder the concerned parents tried, the more obstinate the son became; the inverse law of proportionality seemed to be at work, or perhaps the law of diminishing returns. Necessity was definitely not the mother of invention!

‘Man he is a Lazy B…!’ complained the father.

At school, the youngster seemed to have learnt a lot about his ‘rights’ – but little about responsibility.

He didn’t realise that ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ are the same bedfellows – they both start with the letter ‘r’!

The current situation was inevitable…

Things changed, however, after our recommendation that the son spend time working in the kitchens of one his father’s famous restaurants over the summer holidays (well, what else did he expect given his parents’ gentler efforts?).

Washing plates to earn his pocket-money was no fun; it didn’t take long before the grades started to improve.

Study was clearly a better option than washing plates in the kitchen.

Take Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world.

Warren has a wise head on his shoulders and drives the same old car and lives in the same old house as he did at the start of his career; his common sense has to be respected since his actions reflect his words.

He can afford to live in mansions, drive better cars but through his example has made clear that he intends to give most of his wealth to charity.

Warren believes that his children must learn to earn a living, make their own way in the real world.

The last thing he wants is to ‘handicap’ his progeny by handing over his billions.

Some of the smartest students at The University of Oxford in The Business Management School often spent their summer holidays waiting at tables before they got First Class Honours.

They are now CEOs of major companies, earning a very healthy living.

Consider another example from the world of tennis, the William sisters where Venus and Serena dominated the women’s game for many years.

Their early history is one of being introduced to the ‘Bronx’ by their dad where gang bullets were not uncommon whilst they trained.

The William sisters soon realized that working for success in tennis was a better option than living in ghettos.

Where cajoling fails, direct experience often succeeds.

If you want your children to study more effectively, let them work for it!