Category Archives: TEACHING

What Salary Can You Make Teaching English in Japan

Junior High School Japan

If you go on Facebook Groups or Reddit forums you’ll often find people who will tell you all about how teaching salaries in Japan are capped at somewhere between ¥250,000 and ¥300,000 per month, and that “you’ll never make any more than that.” It’s often used as a thinly veiled excuse for not making more money or for leaving Japan and going home.

However, in my experience it is possible to make a lot more money teaching English when you do a few key things:

  • Become better at what you do – become a great and passionate teacher
  • Become better at looking for jobs – learn how to better monetise your skills and learn how to hustle for work. It’s always going to be a useful skill.
  • Learn what jobs pay the best, and become capable of getting those jobs
  • Carve out a niche or specialize in an area – if you’re passionate about a particular thing, teach it. I taught bakery classes, debate and philosophy, and it just so happens that the more specialised knowledge you need to teach something, the more you get paid.
  • Omit the middle-man – This will not happen overnight (and I am not condoning poaching your school’s students as the school deserves the revenue for students they sourced), but build your own network of private lessons. You would be amazed at both the difference that the extra money makes in your life and how much less stress you will have when you know you can support yourself (or even just extend your exit ramp) if you decide to part ways with your employer. While keeping your employer happy is important, having some money on the side helps you emotionally if you have to refuse an unreasonable request from your boss.

A big part of this is the type of …continue reading

    

Fuji-san & Early Mornings – What climbing a mountain made me realize about a morning routine

Routine is what gives you control over your life, and a proper routine starts in the morning. But finding a time or opportunity to start that routine can be as difficult as sticking to it.

Climbing Mt. Fuji to watch the sunrise forces you to follow a plan. And if you can climb the tallest mountain in Japan, starting a simple morning routine shouldn’t be too hard.

Right?

“Earn the sunrise.”

I
first heard this line while listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast, as
Joe talked about Jocko Willink. For the unaware, Willink is an
ex-Navy SEAL with a strictly regimented daily schedule that runs from
from the early morning to late evening. He
begins every single day at 4:30 to work out and “earn the sunrise.”

Naturally, to see one man impose discipline upon everything in his life prompts well-due introspection. One year has passed since my arrival in Japan, and while many things have changed, many things appear to have stayed the same.

Ambition without direction is a ship without a captain, and this last year has seen a captain who has been inconsistent in his command.

In light of the arrival’s anniversary, I found it high time to helm my ship and guide it into port. This thought was foremost in my mind as I climbed Mt. Fuji last week to earn the sunrise on July 23rd.

My 23rd birthday.

Yoshida 5th Station Trailhead, the start of the journey

A monumental mountain for a momentous occasion

This was a special birthday for me in a few ways. It marked my first birthday in Japan, and exactly one year since I launched this blog. And turning 23 on the 23rd made the day special in that once-in-a-lifetime sort of way.

In short, it felt momentous, and I meant to capitalize on this occasion.

Mt.
Fuji sat alone as the final endeavor on …continue reading

    

Gunma Games 2019 – A Tale of Villainy, Memery, and Family

When you move to a new place it can be hard to find new friends. It’s hard enough when you move across the country, let alone across the world. I’ve been here in Japan for about a year, and in that time I have made many friends and discoveries to enliven my time here.

But with each year comes fresh faces to Gunma, and they do not have those same connections. So last weekend, myself and some other Gunmans carried on a tradition of friendly competition to help everyone get to know each other.

The goal was the Golden Cabbage, but the prize was the friends made along the way. This is the Story of Gunma Games 2019.

Setting the Scene

Gunma Games has been an annual tradition of the Gunma Area JET Organization, or GAJET for brevity’s sake, for seven years now. GAJET is all about bringing people together to make Gunma feel like home, and I joined the 2019 staff to lend a hand in that regard.

It’s not common knowledge outside of Gunma that there exist four different regions:

  • Tone-Agatsuma
  • Seibu
  • Chubu
  • Tobu

*Tone & Agatsuma are combined for administrative purposes*

In addition to the executive positions, there also exist representatives for each region. I sit on the committee as Tobu’s representative, and my main purpose is to motivate my fellow Tobu-ites to attend GAJET events.

Talking Up Tobu’s Heart

Petty inter-region rivalries exist, but during Gunma Games they tend to exist at their most volatile. After all, there’s nothing better than a day of competition to stoke the flames of contention. Tobu, as the reigning champions of 2017 and 2018, was the region to beat.

Due to its size, Seibu always has players who are unable to join any games, and it’s common to see their members defect for a better chance to play. 2018’s Gunma Games …continue reading

    

What Is It Like to Teach English at a Japanese Elementary School?

Source: Gaijin Pot
What It's Like to Teach Elementary First Graders

Ah, elementary school first grade. It’s the class reserved for veteran teachers. Those harried cardigan-wearing sensei‘s who have little to no hair left and a blank look in their eyes that screams “Help!”

It’s also the class that, as a shiny new ALT, you’ll probably be assigned to despite having no experience controlling a room of what feels like a hundred 6-year-olds.

Shinchan Family Chaos GIF - Family Chaos SinChan GIFs

These little monsters, who just a few months ago were still regularly pooping their pants and putting everything in their mouths, are now in your classroom clinging to your legs, drooling all over your arms, and asking you the most absurd questions you’ll likely ever encounter on your ALT journey. Yup, even more than the dreaded self-intro class—an hour that pretty much sums up what it’s like to teach English in Japan.

Elementary school kids are fresh off the educational boat and, for some, it’s their very first time in a real school environment. What does that mean? Well, almost every lesson will typically follow the exact same plotline.

It goes something like this:

Scene 1: Teacher enters

This is the most foreign experience (literally) that these kids will have ever had and they won’t be able to restrain themselves from shouting out whatever thought comes into their heads. Remarks range from “GAIJIN!” all the way to “HE’S TALLER THAN MY DAD!” and even “Why did you become a FOREIGNER?”.

Scene 2: Words come out of the teacher’s mouth and are met by a din of noise

You say your name and country and let the kids freak out over it simply because it isn’t Japanese. Sometimes they assume you’re Atsugiri Jason in a bad disguise. You bask in this moment of fame by association before it gets taken from you when the …continue reading