Thursday, 9 August 2012

ITTP TEFL/TESOL: Tokyo Central

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to Tokyo (Japan) , by colleagues at the University of Tokyo, to meet with existing Education Partners and also to form new dynamic professional relationships. Two years ago I also had the fortune of being invited along similar lines to Seoul (South Korea), which turned out to be equally a fascinating trip and an essential networking opportunity for both ITTP and Online, Combined and Onsite ITTP graduates. It's one thing to be asked by a graduate about the current teaching situation in country A and reference the internet for info but it's a completely different advantage to have not only alumni feedback but also to have personally visited country A and know first hand not only the current teaching market, but also the logistics of arriving to that new country or city. We feel that at ITTP that we are not only able to provide expert local Prague info, but also expert international local info.

Whereas the teaching English market in South Korea has continued to steadily rise, the teaching English market in Japan has steadily dimmed over the past few years. In the past it was possible to teach both in South Korea and Japan without an internationally recognized teaching English certificate but nowadays the TEFL/TESOL and a University degree (any subject) is required to catch the best places to teach and also the most lucrative wage options. Oh, and yes - no matter what you may hear on the forums concerning Online TEFL certificates - they ARE considered completely acceptable for the S.Korean and Japanese market if taking an Onsite course is not a realistic time or financial option for you. Note: I wonder who spreads all that online cert nonsense, Mmmm, perhaps course providers specifically focused only on Onsite TEFL/TESOL tuition? ;-)

We do reserve our job guidance services exclusively for clients of the ITTP Online, Combined and Onsite programs so I will very briefly go over some basic teaching English data and then proceed with photos of Tokyo and written commentaries, captured on a hot humid day and evening in Tokyo last week - the city that sleeps (yes unlike New York, Toyko likes to get a semi-early night in for an early morning wake up call).

To begin with if you do want to teach in Japan then you will need to go through one of the larger organizations which will place you in a school. We have very strong links with all the major players who operate throughout the country, organizations who have in some cases been through the financial turmoil and come out the other end healthy: such as NOVA which ceased to operate a few years back, but that has actually risen from the ashes and has schools across Japan once again. Shane School Of English (Saxon Court) were once a big player on the market too but are cutting back and reducing their costs further and have continued finding the market difficult in Nagoya and are now owned by Eiko Cram School. The good news is that they are now performing strongly in the Tokyo metropolitan area and have recently created a new district in Kyoto. There are others that are also actively finding their niche in the market and once again, ITTP clients should contact us directly for this information. The basic starting salary of teaching 25 hours per week is approx 250000 Japanese Yen per month. Some schools do also provide accommodation but if not then you will be looking to fork out around 70000 Japanese Yen for a single apartment for the month (depending on location of course). With experience and an internationally recognized teaching qualification (TEFL/TESOL: Online, Combined or Onsite) you can expect to earn a little more per month: 260000-270000 Japanese Yen (which adds up over the course of a year). Teaching at a Japanese University will pay more but jobs are scarce and most newbies start teaching for private language schools, or within the Japanese state school system.
It is important to note that for visitors to Japan, Japan is VERY expensive but once you are there and earning local currency then the costs are much lower in relative terms.
Please also be prepared for the low motivation which Japanese students show in class and that it will be you the teacher who is to blame if students do not progress at a sufficient rate in their English language learning. However, on the other hand Japanese students are extremely respectful in class so you won't have any of the classroom management issues which you may find teaching in other countries.

Well that is the essential (but brief) low down on teaching English in Japan and ITTP clients who wish to find out more can contact us for further detailed info if they are interested in teaching English in Japan.
Now, onto the general Tokyo info:

!!! WARNING!!! Some of the following images may shock. You are advised to stop reading this article if either you own a horse, or care for a pet fish. Thank you.

The first thing that hits you when you travel from Narita International Airport to the center of Tokyo is the sheer massiveness of the city. If, like me, you take the local train (my guides suggested that I did to gradually see the city unfold from our train window), then the next thing which hits you is the sheer number of people milling around the platforms when you arrive either at Tokyo Station or Nippori station for the change over to the line into the Tokyo center proper (our final destination took us to Shinjuku - incidentally, the busiest train station in the world).

The next things to hit you are the warmth and friendliness of Japanese people, even in some of the busiest hubs of the city. There is always someone at hand ready to help out a visitor and the intention is honorable. Tokyo is considered an extremely safe city and an honest city. Mori, who was one of my guides from the University explained that once he accidentally left his wallet on his restaurant seat and realized his mistake an hour after leaving the restaurant, in Japan cash is king and he had over 100,000 Japanese Yen in it. He didn't feel that worried though because he naturally assumed that someone would hand in the wallet, complete with money to the local police, but he did decide to revisit his restaurant seat and his wallet was still there on his seat and with all money intact.

However, like all cities Tokyo does have it's negative and positive contrasts and the main one that springs to mind are public toilets and smoking. I must have smoked about half a pack a day while I was in the city simply from breathing in the fumes from other smokers on the street or in buildings, such as restaurants. Also, I naturally assumed that as the streets were clean and spotless that the public toilets would also be but very often they were not and in fact were some of the dirtiest I have come across ever on my travels. Tokyo also has its share of homeless lost souls but they do look well looked after (bless them).

However, the positives hugely outweigh any minor negatives of this true 21st century city and as long as you don't have an aversion to giant pokemon-like gimmicky images almost everywhere you look and if you don't mind the constant inescapable noise and close proximity to other people then Tokyo is a city which punches far far far away above it's own weight.

The public transport is punctual and extensive, the locals are friendly, honest and the food is affordable and plentiful.

Please feel free to take a look through some of the photos which I took in the few hours which I had free on my last day and thank you again for reading this blog:

Mori, Jun (my contacts at the University of Tokyo) and myself sharing a few beers and sushi once all the hard work was complete (Click on photo to enlarge)
The unfathomable Japanese Rail Tokyo route map (Click on photo to enlarge)
The slightly easier to understand Tokyo Metro route map (Click on photo to enlarge)
View from the airport local train window of rice crops (Click on photo to enlarge)
The new Tokyo SkyTree: The tallest tower in the world (Click on photo to enlarge)
Basic but tasty sushi from Tokyo Station shop (Click on photo to enlarge)
Poster on the Tokyo JR line: social pressure to try stop perverts on trains (Click on photo to enlarge)
Japanese public toilets are places where you will find the underbelly of Japanese cleanliness (Click on photo to enlarge)
A type of sushi snack found at most convenience stores (Click on photo to enlarge)
Same type of snack, only with a seaweed wrap (Click on photo to enlarge)
Advert on a Tokyo train (Click on photo to enlarge)
When it's 38 degrees Celcius and 80% humidity a fan with Japanese cartoon pics comes in handy (Click on photo to enlarge)
Viva Karaoke! (Click on photo to enlarge)
Plastic versions of the real thing on display in restaurant windows (Click on photo to enlarge)
Typical Tokyo side street scene (Click on photo to enlarge)
This week's Weekly Photo: the 5 crossings (1 is diagonal) at Shibuya which all turn green at the same time (Click on photo to enlarge)
Sushi with wasabi and soya sauce (Click on photo to enlarge)
Sushi chefs in a stand up sushi bar (Click on photo to enlarge)
Free food sample at a Tokyo supermarket (Click on photo to enlarge)
Tokyo Metro entrance at Shinjuku station (Click on photo to enlarge)
Tokyo subway street art (Click on photo to enlarge)
Horse meat sashimi (tastier btw than chicken meat sashimi). (Click on photo to enlarge)
The (awesome) chicken wings man (Click on photo to enlarge)
Tokyo Capsule Hotel: Home sweet home (Click on photo to enlarge)
Corridor of capsules where I was reminded, through the snoring and other noises, that good fences make good neighbors (Click on photo to enlarge)
Sashimi of live horse-mackerel dish.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

ニース!/Lovely day!

Neville :-)