Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Job

I suppose I should write a little bit about the job I'll be doing here. I'm back in the same prefecture I was in during JET, but the job will be very different.

During JET I was working as an assistant English teacher in the junior high and high school. During that time I was employed directly by the local Board of Education.

Then I moved up to Gifu, where I was more or less doing the same thing, except that I was technically contracted out to the public schools through a private company.

This time around, I'm working for what is known in Japan as an Eikaiwa, or English Conversation company. In an effort to make this blog a little more professional, I'm not going to mention my employer by name. But if you're at all familiar with Japan, it's the big one.

Instead of working in the public schools now, I'm at an office teaching private lessons to students who sign up for it.

Whether this is better or worse than my previous job remains to be seen. Obviously I didn't come to Japan because of the job, but because of the girl, so this is just something to fill up the year.

On the surface a lot of things about this job seem more appealing than the last one. All the lessons are pre-arranged, so I won't have the stress of trying to think up a new lesson out of thin air 30 minutes before the class begins (as was often the case during my career as an Assistant English Teacher).
I'll be doing a lot of 1 on 1 and small group lessons, so I'll be able to have more direct contact with students instead of being up in front of a class the whole time.
And best of all, I'll be teaching students who actually want to be there (as opposed to many of my Junior high school students, who decidedly did not want to be there).
And, although I'll still have some kids lessons, I'll be working mainly with adults, which will be a nice change after the past 5 years in Junior high and elementary.

As a JET, my favorite times were when I got to work 1 on 1 with a student, or when I taught the English Speaking Society at the high school, or when I did my adult English Conversation class. All of which were very rare. Most of the time I was up in front of a junior high school class who couldn't care less.

Sounds like an improvement, doesn't it? And yet private Eikaiwa schools in Japan, and my employer in particular, have a reputation for dissatisfied employees and high turn over. And during conversations I've had in foreign bars and ex-pat parties here in Japan, I've heard them complain a lot.
(Another JET friend once said, "I really hate talking to those Eikaiwa employees. They always bring me down. All they do is complain about their job. It's just meh meh meh meh meh and furthermore meh!")

How much of this complaining is legitimate and how much is just the natural human tendency to complain is hard to tell. After all if you get a group of JET's together, within 10 minutes all of them will start complaining about their jobs, and you can't get a more cushy job than JET.

We'll see how I'm feeling in half a year's time, but so far I'm enjoying myself. I meet my co-workers, and they are a lot more positive than I remember the Eikaiwa gang being the last time around. And the few lessons I taught so far I really enjoyed.

The big disadvantage, as opposed to JET, is that I'm actually working the whole day. As a JET I might teach 3 classes a day, and then have the rest of the day off to sit in the teacher's lounge, study Japanese, read books, or blog. Those days are gone now. As my dad said, I'm now learning the difference between a government job and a job in the private sector.

In terms of amount of pay for number of hours worked, JET is a tough act to follow. I'm doing it somewhat backwards because most people come over to Japan with a private Eikaiwa school, and then try and get into the more cushy JET-type jobs. (Although I have known a few other people before me to go from JET to Eikaiwa.)

But you know, maybe it's not all bad. Strange as this may seem coming from me, part of me thinks it would be nice to actually have something to do at work. Often I would get most depressed about Japan last year when I was sitting at my desk with nothing to do. Or I would feel so bored at work I felt the need to go back and explain all of the old Chimes articles I wrote back at Calvin.

Also Eikaiwa students don't have time to study Japanese like JETs, because they are teaching the whole day. But since I gave up on studying Japanese a couple years ago, this isn't so much of an issue for me.

Useless Wikipedia Fact
In 1981, Jackson County, Florida challenged the novel "1984" on the grounds that it contained pro-communist material and sexual references. [4], [5]

Link of the Day
Did Spitting 'Victim' from D.C. Protest Cry Wolf?

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