Teaching at a junior high school or high school

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One common job in Japan or in Asia is to be an assistant language teacher. Basically what this means is that you help and assist a Japanese English teacher at a local junior high school or high school. These types of jobs generally pay about the same or occasionally more than a teacher’s job at an English conversation school. But where most English conversation school jobs are more or less the same regardless of the company or the location this cannot be said for being an assistant English teacher. Often times you can find yourself at a great school where all of the Japanese English teachers have great communication skills and they can speak English well and everyone tree to very nicely but on the other hand you can easily be placed at school where no one wants you there and no one wants to communicate with you because they are embarrassed by their lack of English ability. Often these types of jobs are also located in rule areas so the amenities of life can be very different than you’re used to. I know of a friend who is teaching in a village as a junior high school assistant English teacher and the village has in total 2000 people. There is only one convenience store the closest supermarket is a 20 minute train ride away. He is surrounded by mountains and almost no one except for the local doctor speaks in English at all. The people of course are very friendly once they got to know him but it took a little time before they warmed up to him as well. This type of job really can be rewarding if you get a position that allows you to try and use your intellect to better teach the children and help the children. But you can also unfortunately become a human tape recorder. This is a term that you will often hear in Japan and it basically means what you think it means. The Japanese English teacher will not use you in the correct way, in fact they don’t really have any idea of how to use and assistant English teacher so what they end up doing is simply asking you to read various sentences or conversations that are found in the textbooks. And then basically that’s it. She might occasionally ask you to make up a game or an exercise. She might ask you to give a quick speech about where you’re from. But you certainly are not going to be taxed mentally in any of these activities.

There’s also one more thing that we need to talk about with these jobs. Back home the image that we have of Asian schoolchildren is one of ultracompetitive very well mannered and behaved children all sitting straight up and listening attentively to everything the teacher says. This is not the reality. In fact I think most people back home would be shocked at the type of behavior that you can see in various schools. Again it always depends on which school you’re at but I have seen very often students sleeping in class with her head down on the desk and the teacher completely ignoring it. I have been in classes where the majority of the students were sleeping in class. Most of the students will have their cell phones out and will be using them and not hiding the fact very well. If you are a woman teacher there is a very high likelihood that someone will attempt to touch your breasts or other nether regions and if you are a man your own was guaranteed to be felt up in the same areas by the same students. There is also a game that many students play called “kancho” , this game involves friends sneaking up behind another friend and with both hands class together and only your index fingers jetting out attempting to insert said index fingers into your friends anal cavity. It does not feel good. And you would think that teachers would be immune to this. But I have heard many stories where foreigners have been subjected to this type of bullying. So if you are going to come and teach at a junior high school high school you need to set aside all of the stereotypes that you have of Asian students. If you don’t you’re going to be in for a rude surprise. I am certainly not saying that Asian students are bad. What I’m trying to get across to you is that they are normal. Normal teenagers are not the best behaved in the world.

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