Teaching English in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan
Report submitted on 15 May, 2015 by Elena.
Teaching English in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan:
How can teachers find teaching jobs in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan?
This is a sister city program, working as an Assistant English Teacher at public schools. If you live in California or Oklahoma, you can look up the Mito AET program and apply.
Similar programs include the JET Program, or you can apply to work at English conversation/cram schools online on sites such as gaijinpot.com.
The main English teaching jobs available are:
Full time English language school positions, part time English language school positions, teaching at kindergartens / pre-schools, teaching at state schools.
What are the minimum teaching requirements?
– Bachelor’s degree, and preferably a basic understanding of Japanese language.
– Some teaching experience preferred, but not required.
– They like to see experience with children, some experience teaching, some Japanese knowledge, and a passion for teaching/living in Japan.
– The most important thing they look for is character – if you seem determined and well likeable, you can be hired, regardless of experience.
What teaching requirements would you recommend?
– Have some experience with children and teaching- especially learn how to make lesson plans, create/use games, etc.
– Know how different age groups think and what kinds of activities they react best to.
– English level can be basic (native, or proficient, but you don’t have to be an English major).
What are the levels of payment?
AET/ALT positions are typically US$13-15 per hour, full time position.
How many teaching days a week is normal?
4-5 days per week.
How many face-to-face teaching hours a week is normal?
10-20 hours per week.
What is the normal arrangement for holidays?
National holidays are paid vacation. Depending on the employer, a certain number of paid vacation days and sick days are allotted per year- typically 20 vacation days, 20 sick days. These paid vacation days can be taken by the hour, so you can go to the bank/post office, take a half day off, etc.
What advice would you give to someone considering coming to Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan to teach English?
Learn to read basic Japanese characters so you can read signs and labels. A lot of words are borrowed, so you can recognize some English words if you can read the characters. Also, make sure you’ve travelled before. This will be a completely different place from your home, and if you are not used to being in strange places, you WILL experience culture shock and stress.
What are the positive aspects of teaching English in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan?
Everyone is extremely kind and goes out of their way to make you feel safe and welcome. They place a very high importance on English education, so your position is considered to be very important. You will have a lot of support, and a lot of fun. The students love to greet you, and will never fail to say “Hello” or “Goodbye, Sensei!!!”
What are the negative aspects for teaching English in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan?
– Culture shock and culture stress is a very real thing. Japan is extremely far from the US and Europe, and unless you come from a place super close to Japan, you can’t just come home when you miss your family.
– Japanese teachers think differently from American teachers, and the school set up is completely different.
– The phrases, environment, and expectations are all brand new, and it will take a lot of mistakes and memorizations to get it right.
– Also, communication is not really a thing. You will get cut classes, added classes, or the main teacher will not be there and you will have to teach on your own, without a lesson plan, on the fly. Things happen, so you have to always be ready and expect the unexpected.
What are some of the teaching challenges for English teachers teaching the local people in your area?
– Sometimes the teachers are hesitant to help or lead your class, making ASSISTANT English teaching very difficult.
– The programs in Japan are meant to create a team teaching situation, which is rarely the case in reality.
– This stems from the fact that Japanese teachers are embarrassed not to know English and do not want to make a mistake when they teach. Your job then becomes not only that of a teacher, but also a cheerleader. You typically will spend months working on dragging the main teacher out to demonstrate examples, assist in games, or answer questions in simple English. You encourage them and let them know that no, you, the native English speaker, are not judging your main teacher’s English skills, and yes, they are doing an amazing job, so please please please help with this class.
Living in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan:
Are there any visa or other legal requirements to live in Japan?
You need a work visa to live here, as well as a residence card.
What is the cost of living like in Japan?
Comparable to living in Southern California, but slightly more expensive. Accommodations (small apartment) are approximately US$800/month, groceries usually run me about US$40/week, and eating out, I can’t get away with paying any less than US$8 for a meal.
What are the usual accommodation arrangements and how can you find accommodation?
If you apply through Mito AET Program or JET Program, accommodations will be arranged for you. Depending on location and program, the program will pay for part of the cost, as well as transportation costs to your schools.
Other than teaching, what positive aspects are there for living in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan?
– Most English teachers will ride on buses, trains, bikes, and subways. This can be annoying, but I think of it as relaxing. Public transportation is almost always on time here, so it takes the stress out of worrying if you’ve missed the train or if it’s still coming.
– The scenery here is amazing!!! Forests, farmland, hills, ocean, new and old traditional buildings, shrines and temples and cemeteries, metropolis and suburb and rural land… They all exist in my tiny little city of Mito. It is truly unique and gorgeous and I fell in love with it!!
– I can’t say it enough- the people here are so kind! I’ve never once felt unwelcome, or unsafe. They are here to help, and they go way out of their way to make you feel welcome and at home.
Other than teaching, what negative aspects are there for living in Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan?
– It is insanely difficult to get a driver’s license here. It is also insanely expensive to own a car. To me, no matter how annoyed I am that I can’t drive anywhere, it isn’t worth the pain.
– They have almost no American/non-Asian food here. They do have Indian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese (limited selection, but they exist). They have no American food, or British. They have “Italian” food, but you can tell how I feel about that one.
What advice would you give to someone considering coming to Mito-shi, Ibaraki, Japan?
– Make sure you bring enough money with you to start you off. They don’t pay you until the end of the first month of work, so you have a month of living here before getting paid. You may have to pay rent, buy groceries, buy appliances, pay for buses/trains, etc, so be prepared.
– Pack a raincoat, and have a hat and sunscreen with you at all times. Since it is humid here, it rains a lot and the sun is strong – it is extremely easy to get sunburnt here, as compared to dry California in similar weather.
What things do you miss most (other than family and friends) from your home country?
American food, speaking English, being able to read the random papers that are given to me at work every day, and most of all, I miss my car.
What do you think you will miss most when (or if) you leave Japan?
The scenery. This place really is beautiful, and I fell in love with the city life here, as well as the people in general and the land. Just the atmosphere and the… general being of this place? It’s hard to describe, but I would miss just being here.
What things would you recommend to new teachers in your area to bring with them from their home country?
Bring Mac n Cheese, your own brand of face wash, deodorant, your own shoes if you are a woman past size 9, and lots of clothes if you do not match the Japanese body type (few curves, petite, stick-like). If you are busty, have hips, are tall, have long legs or arms, etc, you need to pack lots of clothes. If you dyed your hair blonde, bring some extra hair dye. They don’t cater to foreign hair/body types here.
Is there any access to culture shock/stress help in your country?
Yes, it is available. The school board offers a hotline for extreme cases of culture shock or culture stress, and the structure of the program allows contact between all Mito AETs, resulting in a tight-knit community of foreign teachers who can help one another in an instant. If you are in a situation where you feel lonely, panicked, stressed, pessimistic, or otherwise unsettled, do not hesitate to reach out for help.
About Me and My Work:
My Name: Elena
Students I’ve taught in Japan: Pre-school / kindergarten (4-6 years), elementary (6-12 years), junior high school (12-15 years).
Where I teach: Iitomi Junior High, Elementary, Kindergarten, Mito-shi, Ibaraki. Teaching here for 1 year.
My school facilities: Good – teaching resources are outdated and I have no textbook at the elementary level. I have to create a lot of my own tools, and there are not many supplies in the schools at my disposal. I cannot bring my own computer and my school computer cannot print, making it difficult to prepare worksheets, etc. However, I have my own classroom in Elementary school, I have a very supportive English teacher in Junior High, and I have a lot of time in school to plan my lessons.
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