Category Archives: TEACHING

Teaching Babies – How To Make It Fun and Rewarding

Teaching babies can be stressful, rewarding, terrifying and exciting all at the same time. It’s also something that you are likely to encounter if you come to Japan and teach English.

Unless you come to Japan as a student, if you are planning to stay more than three months then it is likely that you’ll need a job, not only for financial reasons but also to gain a work visa. As a foreigner, and if you are like me you are arriving in Japan with only the ability to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Japanese, then you are likely to find yourself teaching English. While there are many different companies and types of teaching English jobs in Japan, one of the easiest ones to find is working in an Eikaiwa.

What is an Eikaiwa?

Eikaiwa literally means ‘English conversation’ in Japanese, so these are marketed as English conversation schools. Most Eikaiwa teach all ages from babies up to adults. There are many big companies that own chains of Eikaiwa schools and there are also smaller family run schools or schools owned by experienced foreign English teachers themselves. Wherever you find yourself, most Eikaiwa will follow a similar structure and have similar materials.

There is one thing that they all have in common though, you must enjoy working with children. If you know that working with young children is not for you, then you most likely want to find an English conversation school that teaches adults only. Working with children is not for everyone. It’s tiring and challenging, especially when they don’t speak the same language as you and you get frustrated that your instructions are not getting heard. However, at the same time, working with children can be fun and rewarding, so I would encourage you to try it and decide …continue reading


Why English teachers in Japan feel like frauds and what to do about it

An issue that is difficult to pinpoint within the English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching profession are those who have joined the ranks without the proper training, and then continue to work. There are lots of people who find themselves teaching English as a default job, or it was an opportunity that arose, and they took it. After all, as the adage is thought, “if you can do something, you can teach it” and your language seems be an easy path to teach. But, this myth can quickly dissipate as the teacher finds himself or herself bored, and often not knowing what to do, leading to all sorts of problems-from disillusionment to other feelings of dissatisfaction.

Some commercial schools have taken their ‘teacher-training’ and minimalized it to the point where the new hires are given mostly instruction on how to fill out forms such as transportation and taxes in Japanese. For those that have more training, there are cases where the new trainee is to shadow a teacher who has been in the country longer. These trainers are often either new themselves, or just experienced in teaching, but have no idea how to train. This can lead to a situation where sometimes “the blind are leading the blind”. Many of the experienced teachers will think of this new mentoring obligation as a pain and will do the bare minimum to not get in trouble, which is not what a new hire really needs to start their career here.

Negligence is often due to cost savings and lack of resources, but these difficult starts are not only limited to privately run language schools either as it can also occur with government schools, private Jukus and post-secondary institutions. There are also a number of dispatch companies that range from extremely professional and competent …continue reading


Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you’re single

Source: Gaijin Pot
Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you're single

Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year. As the songs say, it is a time for joy, a time for family, a time for presents and various other forms of merriment.
In Japan however, Christmas is very much about families and in particular couples.

Perhaps even more so than Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the time of year in Japan when couples fully express their love for each other, usually in the form of elaborate, extravagant dinners and over the top gifts.

However, for some, it can be a very depressing time. If you’re single, Christmas can be a pretty depressing time. It can often seem like you are the only man or woman in the entire universe who doesn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

And even for those of us lucky enough to be in a relationship, Christmas can often be a solitary experience in Japan, as our Japanese partner, and sometimes even us too, are forced to work on Christmas Day, since Christmas is not a recognized holiday here.

It would be very easy to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on the whole thing, just say “Bah! Humbug!” and try to forget Christmas even exists. It doesn’t have to …continue reading


It Snowed in Hamamatsu!

prints on snow

*Originally intended for posting on Dec. 18

It snowed in Hamamatsu! Yay!

I’ve lived here for almost 3 years and this is the first time I saw a considerable amount of snow. It snowed enough to cover the grounds in thin white blanket. When I walked to school this morning, the looked winter-picture perfect. Soooo lovely and a little slippery.
Snow Surprise
Hamamatsu is on the coast of the Pacific so it rarely snow like this. It doesn’t snow in Shizuoka prefecture actually. Most cars in Hama are not equipped to deal with slippery roads. The result? Heavier traffic than usual. Even the buses are slower than their usual turtle pace so they are late. Because the bus was late, I was late in going to school too. Just for 5 minutes though so the vice principal didn’t mind it. Other teachers were late too.
This is the snowfall data from Current Results. See, it doesn’t snow in Shizuoka where Hamamatsu is.


Average annual snowfall
Days Place Inches Centimetres
25 Aikawa, Sado Island 46.9 119
13 Gifu 18.5 47
50 Kanazawa 110.6 281
63 Nagano 103.5 263
6 Nagoya 6.3

…continue reading