Before you go on an super fun adventure of reading my writing from this year.
After revision and all, or better known as “Profolio Copies”.
If you wanted to know why I think my reflection revision is better, have a look here. It’s short.
My reflection of this semester can be found here.
My Career Essay!
Easier than One Might Think
As a Japanese Language major, there are many yet limited options to choose from. Some are better than others but all encompass what most, if not all, language majors want in their careers. They want to be emerged in the culture. As for Japanese language majors, most go to Japan and teach their native language, mainly English. But just how easy is it to become just that?
Being an English teacher in Japan is, surprisingly, easier than one might think. Really, all one needs is to know English and live in Japan. (Japan’s) A person can literally just pack up and move. However, they might not make it very far not understanding how to cope with day to day tasks. With all cultures there are written as well as unwritten and implied rules. When a person visits or moves to a new country, they become a “cultural child” in some way, shape, or form. They don’t understand everything an adult would know if they had grown up in that society.(“At Home”) Despite that, some jobs only require that they know how to speak and read the English language. For intelligent people, who think plans through, an entry level position as a basic English teacher or even a teaching assistant all they would need is a Bachelor’s degree. This is usually followed by an internship, home stay, or even done while attending college as a study abroad program.
As stated earlier, one must have a solid grasp on at least one of languages before attempting to teach. While some programs are a bit tough by using only English, most utilize both languages. In some cases, they must complete a test showing that they have a strong hold of the new language as that is the main language they will be talking to the students in. They will also need a degree in that language. However, they do not need a degree for the native language they will be teaching. After about the fourth year -or equivalent level of courses- have been taken, the students can take a proficiency test to check how they have progressed. This measures not only their English skills but also Japanese. (“Information”) The Japanese are smart to say the least, they don’t want a mediocre professor who can’t tell subjunctive from indicative.
There is little to no change in the demand for teachers, hovering around 17% , just three percent above average. (“Summary”) Much like the health services field, the education aspect of society will never run out of jobs, regardless of the location. As people everywhere will continue to reproduce, there will always be a need to educate their children. , the working conditions have changed. According to Jane Yamazaki, a current professor of Japanese Culture at Oakland University and a previous teacher in Japan, the only real difference was that there was no central heating in the classrooms or in the provided housing for staff and faculty.
Mrs. Yamazaki taught Math completely in English at a school designed to give mixed race families as well as native Japanese the chance to learn English. She mentions that students from all over central Japan came just to enroll there for a better chance of learning the language. However, this was shortly after the war so qualifications have certainly changed from 1965.
While she majored to be a math teacher, to become a teacher in Japan, one did not need a degree in Japanese. As stated earlier, the minimum degree is a bachelor. Naturally to teach higher classes one would need a higher degree. However, this is not always true as very few jobs can be obtained with no Japanese needed. (“Japan’s”) It is also very common that with the biweekly or monthly paycheck, faculty housing is provided. The more prestige the school has, the better the housing.
A typical day as a teacher in Japan in 1965 was a very cold and little house on the prairie-esq one. All the teachers shared one house that was provided by the school. They would ride to and from work together via taxi. In the winter both home and class life was particularly cold as neither building had a central heating system. Yamazaki recalls that she would often grade papers huddled under a blanket next to the stove in the classroom. In present day, schools are situated a bit away from residential areas which allows them to have central heating. That is hardly the best thing about them. The Japanese education system is structured much like that of the western world, just paced a bit faster.
Like many, she adapted to the Japanese lifestyle, in example, shopping daily. Everyday, a store trip consisted of that night’s meal as well as kerosene for the portable heater of the house. While these aspects of the life one would be taking on still exist, it is not mandatory. Foreigners can expect weird looks if their refrigerator is stocked for a week or more.
In America, teachers are required to register with the state. This is somewhat true for Japan as they report to the national government instead of the head of the prefecture they teach in. Also, it is worth mentioning that unlike their American counterparts that must be certified multiple times during their career, once a Japanese teacher is certified, they are for life. (“Table 4”) The annual salary one could expect is around $51,000. (“Summary”) However that is relative to the area, for both the states and prefectures. From rough calculations of a hourly based job of ¥2000, with fifty-two weeks in a year and roughly 40 hours a week, the yearly income would be around ¥4,160,000. To translate into American Dollars from Japanese Yen, that would be roughly $41,957.76 [at current exchange rate]. Though that seems significantly less than the wages of an American teacher that decided to stay in America, one must remember that their economy is slightly different than the United States.
What kind of person does it take to be a teacher? According to Onet, it takes a person who can obviously instruct, but also knows multiple learning strategies as well as active listening and learning. Not all people learn the same way, so they’d have to be flexible in the strategies they use. Having more than a little bit of social perceptiveness will also help out in any situation, no matter the language. Teaching small children, pre and actual teens, or even adults, these skills will go a very long way.
With any job that deals with people, friends are to be had. Yamazaki reminisces about her days mingling with her students’ families, who were absolutely thrilled at the thought of their children learning English. Many of them had American blood in them, as she put it, “leftover relic[s] from the soldiers that were stationed there.” She also was invited many times by one English speaking club on long trips. More often than not, she was whisked off the street by people who just wanted to practice their English skills with her. Any language major would rejoice in the fact that so many people were willing to engage with them. Knowing that they hadn’t wasted money on college courses instead just moving there, hoping for a teaching job is reassuring to those on the fence about actually committing to the major. It’s more of a backward situation than anything. Most think they go to college just for a better paying job. In this situation, the college courses are for everyday life and the prior knowledge of English is for the job.
Bachnik, J. “At Home in Japan.” At Home in Japan. Ohio State University, 2004. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
Yamazaki, J. Email Interview 8 Nov. 2013
“Information for Majors.” Japanese Majors. Oakland University, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2013.
“Japan’s English Teaching Job Site.” Japan English Teacher. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2013.
“Skills.” Elementary School Teacher, Except Special Education. Onet, 2010. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
“Summary.” Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2013.
Wang, A. H., A. B. Coleman, R. J. Coley, and R. P. Phelps. “Table 4.” Preparing Teachers Around the World. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, 2003. 25-26. Ebook.