Category Archives: EDUCATION

Studying Japanese in Japan: What You Can Get Out of It

Source: Gaijin Pot
An Akamonkai class

People always ask me, “Can you really just find a job where the only skill you can bring is speaking Japanese?” In a word: “Yes!” Let me tell you why I’m so confident about that for people who choose to study Japanese in Japan, but first a little background.

Many of you probably know that the Japanese school year starts in April, and that’s also a pretty popular month for international students to come to Japan. In fact, the application period is right now (those visa applications take time, after all… ). These days, a lot of folks interested in learning Japanese are coming to language schools here, but it can be difficult to know which type of school and what location is best for you.

Luckily, guiding people through this process is a lot of what I get to do in Japan for GaijinPot’s Student Placement Program.

I can certainly tell you the great demand for bilingual workers. A tidbit of information also supported by statistics, such as with the 2015 Survey on Career and Retention for International Students by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). In the survey, businesses cited the top reason to hire foreigners is to stimulate the workplace by increasing diversity within the company. (Oh, and the least imported stated reason was that they couldn’t find a Japanese person to do the job — in case you think it’ll be too hard to compete with the locals).

Learning Japanese in Japan: The fast route vs. the slow burn?

Lots of people just study Japanese as a hobby, and there’s no problem with that at all.

Coming to the country and living here as a student is a lot of fun. Still, though, some of you may also have doubts as to what exactly Japanese can …continue reading


Words can be Worrisome, so Learn Some Beforehand


I was pretty surprised with how English friendly Japan was. Almost all the signs have English under them and most people at least recognize some English. I’ve talked about not knowing Japanese when coming to Japan and how it is still manageable. However, not knowing any Japanese does cause me some anxiety. When I’m on my own, I find myself avoiding restaurants that have too much kanji written on them because I do not know what I am ordering. I did not want to waste my money on buying something I would not eat. I feel guilty every time I talk to one of the Japanese girls on our hall, in English. They struggle to use the English they remember from high school, while I take the fact that English is a global language for granted. When I volunteer with the kids at a Japanese elementary school, I feel stupid when they say something and I have no clue what they say. Reading the hiragana or katakana frustrates me because it takes so long and even when I know the sounds, I still don’t know what the label’s saying. I cannot ask for clarification because I don’t know the wording. For the first time in my life, I understood what my parents feel like, especially when they first came to America. I don’t know how they did it. At least for me, English is globally used, but their language is not commonly used in America. Not knowing the language everyone is speaking is lonely.

I recommend to anyone who is thinking about coming to Japan (or going to a foreign country), to study the language. I don’t think perfect fluency is necessary before coming to another country but basic phrases are a must. Knowing some basic verbs would also be helpful. …continue reading


Cool in the Classroom: How to Work Better With Japanese Teachers

Source: Gaijin Pot
Cool in the Classroom: How to Work Better With Japanese Teachers

As the assistant language teacher, your role in the classroom is just that — an assistant.

It’s right there in your job title. However, sometimes that role gets forgotten. Your Japanese teacher of English may join in your lesson for the class greetings and then hand the reigns over to you for the rest of the class. This, unfortunately, is the situation many ALTs work in and has been for a while. The Japanese teacher’s mindset is that ALTs are native English speakers so they should be the one leading the class, or maybe they believe their English isn’t good enough. For whatever reason, you as the ALT may be finding it difficult to get your Japanese teacher involved in both the lesson planning and the actual lesson.

Today’s A Little Training for ALTs post will show you how to gradually incorporate your Japanese teacher within your lessons.

The first step to getting the teachers more involved is first acquiring the mindset that if you don’t help them change, when the change in the curriculum happens, they will not know what to do.

As we approach the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there will be an increase in the amount of English taught in Japanese elementary and junior high schools. This means that Japanese teachers will have a greater workload and will need to teaching more English themselves.

Step 1: Get in the right mindset

A few teachers may begin changing their style in preparation, but some teachers will still be stuck in their old ways. That’s where we the ALTs come in.

The first step in getting the teachers more involved is acquiring the mindset that if you don’t help them change, when the shift in the curriculum happens, they won’t know what to do. So, because you are in the class and …continue reading


A Different Challenge: Teaching English to Japanese College Students

Source: Gaijin Pot

Most assistant language teacher-type jobs in Japan involve team teaching in a mix of elementary, junior and occasionally senior high schools. From time to time, if you’re lucky you may also be invited to do the occasional visit to local kindergartens or special needs schools.

One type of teaching that had, thus far, eluded me however, was the opportunity to teach at the college or university level. Typically, entry to these types of jobs is more restricted, often requiring specialized teaching certifications or even a master’s degree.

Thankfully, this all changed with my new assignment, where in addition to junior and senior high school classes, I now have the chance to teach college classes. I’ve found, though, that along with this rewarding new experience there also comes a host of fresh challenges.

Here are the five differences between college and regular classes and how to best navigate them.

1) Be ready to fly solo

The most immediate difference between teaching college and teaching elementary and secondary schools is the lack of a Japanese teacher of English (JTE) in the classroom.

As a solo teacher, you need to be mindful when planning activities. Not only do you need to be confident in your own ability to demonstrate and explain the lessons to your class, but you also need to make sure they are easy for the students to pick up and follow. Since you don’t have the luxury of a Japanese partner who can step in and explain everything in the students’ native language if things get confusing, you’ll need to ensure that you can clarify it yourself.

With my students, I’ve found role plays to be particularly effective. Start by giving the students a two-person dialogue, which they will practice in pairs. Once they are confident reciting this interchange, give them a different copy …continue reading