Friday, April 16, 2010

Get a job (Sha na na na, na na na na na)

One of the primary reasons for pulling this trans-global back flip was for the purpose of securing a steady income - and since America's economy is down the toilet and lodged securely in the S-bend, it seemed that Japan might offer more prospects for someone whose primary work experience is as an "Eigo-sensei" (English teacher).

Now, although Japan's economy has taken a hit as well, the English teaching industry hasn't felt much of this pinch. However, the number of unemployable slack-jaws like myself who are washing up on Japan's shores with abc flash cards and a "Let's Go!" textbook has seemingly skyrocketed. This means the competition is fierce. There was a time when you needed only to have a passing familiarity with English and English cram schools would be kidnapping you off the street, thrusting thousands of yen into your hands and dropping you in a classroom, deaf to your protests that you may have blond hair but you were clearly German and on the way to an important meeting with the boys over at the BMW dealership.

Things have changed.

One big change is that fewer schools are turning to the government-run JET program for their teachers since, in short, they over-charge the schools and deliver a product of unreliable quality. (yes, I was on JET - and it was a two way street - we had no idea what kind of school we were getting as well - it was really just like an arranged marriage)
The second change is that the law now requires English education to begin in elementary schools, leaving the elementary school teachers, who never had English as a training requirement, completely boned.
The rub of it is that now the schools can demand a lot more of the prospective teachers. Two big requirements that were never there four years ago are 1)Experience in a public school (not a private "eikaiwa" or English conversation school which run hour long private or group lessons, often for adults) 2) Japanese speaking ability - not fluent, but enough to communicate with the staff.

So I have landed a job at a not-so-nearby board of education who will for now remain nameless. The application opened my eyes to the hell of job applications in Japan. This BOE wanted a Japanese resume, and Japanese work experience list. In Japan, the resume is not your chance to show off your clever skills at turning "mail room boy" into "Vital to the internal and external communications structure for over 500 people." Rather it is a very structured form with a specific order that must be hand written.

Let that sink in.

Hand Japanese

Needless to say that mistakes are not tolerated and yet have a soul-crushing tendency to somehow roll off your fingertips with remarkable reliability on or about the last line of the resume. It took me seven tries.

In addition, the entire interview was in Japanese along with a lesson plan you had twenty minutes to cook up before presenting it to a stern-looking consortium of elderly and unamused Japanese men.

Below is the entire collection of documents for just this one job.

Thankfully I landed this one and can put off posting about ritual suicide until a later date!

1 comment:

  1. Dan, your job should be creating and hanging more English-only absurdities (like the one in your previous posting) around Kobe. You'll be like that weird artist Christo and his "Gates" around Central Park, only good. Good luck with the kiddos!