Being an English Teacher in Japan (Part 1)

This happens to be a big topic in my case because that has been my job for 17 years now. I enjoy teaching and never expected to be a teacher until I was thrown across an ocean.

I was lucky, fortunate, blessed to have started teaching at a company that actually trained their employees how to teach. Being in a foreign land, with new foods and living experiences is hard enough. Throw in a completely new work environment and you have a recipe for trouble. I think that is why many of the people in my second company had such a hard time, they had to fly without the benefit of training or experience, but I am getting off the point here, aren’t I?

Teaching English to Japanese students has been both a challenge and a joy. The typical class of kids deals in teaching them a grammar point, “This is a pen.” and working on things like reading, spelling and listening to spoken English. Kids classes are a great joy to teach, or they will make you lose hair. This is why I am bald! No, that is called heredity not workplace stress. Yet, kids classes need energy and that is where you face an up hill battle-kids will have more energy than you so you’ve got to have your method down, that’s for sure.

Teaching adult students is very enjoyable. They have interesting and involved lives which most are not afraid to tell you about. I’ve taught hair stylists, TV announcers, government employees, college students, lawyers, doctors among many many others. They have enriched my life and I am honored to have had a part in their lives. I think that right there is part of the joy of teaching.

Just like a chef can enjoy seeing people eat the dish they worked over, a teacher takes part in the joy of others learning something new. I am truly happy when students go off and use what they studied. It was the whole point.

Being in Japan is maybe another story altogether. I live in a place where English is not that common. It is, in fact, still a very rural place where the people are shy and the weather is nearly always raining. I am not complaining, I am happy I settled here instead of a big city like Tokyo, but it has been said that you can live in Tokyo and not need Japanese at all. Here that would be impossible. Not complaining, just saying it is very different type of place from the big cities of Japan.

I still like living here though. The food is good, humid weather is good on the skin and there is more nature than you can, well shake a stick at! I am tired of the language barrier, but hey that is my own fault and not others. Still teaching has bridged that gap for me too and I am thankful to be doing a job that is enriching people’s lives.

Keep writing.


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