Fukuoka's 'guest teachers' of English outstay their welcome
Japan Times -- Jul 05
This spring, the Fukuoka Board of Education suddenly informed the 120 "guest teachers" responsible for its elementary school English classes that they were no longer welcome.

According to a Fukuoka BOE spokesperson, with English becoming a required class in grades five and six throughout Japan by 2020, the city was switching to what it calls "native speaker" teachers (NTs) "for the purpose of enriching the classes and improving the teaching ability of teachers."

"Daniel," a 10-year veteran guest teacher (GT) at several Fukuoka elementary schools, says he didn't find out about losing his classes until about a month before the end of the academic year. Daniel didn't want his real name used because he still teaches a small number of classes in grades three and four.

Under the GT system, Fukuoka elementary schools directly hired their English teachers. The 120 teachers were a mixture of native English speakers and Japanese fluent in English. They also had varying degrees of teaching experience. But Daniel says most of the time he taught alone, with the homeroom teacher observing.

Upon receiving the news, Daniel describes feeling "shock and anger."

"It was as if the years I'd been there meant nothing," he says, "but it seems the city had no idea what was going on in the schools entirely, nor the actual consequences of their decisions." Daniel says he lost his main source of income when he was dropped from the 13 classes a week he taught at three schools. Another teacher told the Nishinippon Shimbun, which broke the story May 17, he had been earning ¥3 million a year teaching at least 15 classes a week at three schools.

According to Chris Flynn of the Fukuoka General Union, 10 affected teachers contacted him, all long-term foreign residents of Japan, and the job was the main source of income for at least five of them.

Daniel ended up accepting an offer to teach English to grades three and four, but he had to take a 25 percent cut in hourly pay and now only teaches 12 to 15 days per year, depending on the school.

News source: Japan Times
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