the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting a job and having a life in Japan (part 2)

Teaching in Asia usually doesn't require an ESL certificate because
there's such a huge demand for English teaching. But if you want "a good
job" (with interested motivated students, for example) you'll probably
need one. Also, I hear most English jobs in Europe require an ESL

I first learned Japanese at a local "Japanese Club". This was a place
with individual volunteer teachers (some had experience, some didn't).
It cost 100 yen per visit for rent and snacks - pretty cheap. It was a
good place to start, I found a textbook and stuff there. I guess those
kinds of places are fairly typical now in towns of over 100,000 people.
Although the exact details change (class size, fees, student to teacher
ratio, schedule, etc.) the concept is the same.

Right now I'm learning out of a college text I got from an exchange
student who left a couple years ago. A couple of older women from church
help me study from that book. Sometimes we study, sometimes we just chat.

There is also a test called the Japanese Language Proficiency Test
(JLPT) - nihongo shiken (日本語試験) in Japanese. I took this last year,
although I really don't care about tests. Like I was talking about with
my friend the other night, the test itself isn't really anything. It's
more of a goal to aspire to. In fact, when I started studying with these
two old ladies, I didn't know how to explain what I wanted to learn or
even how I wanted to learn it. But I knew how to say JLPT level 4. They
understood that. :)

If you want to learn Japanese, the community classes are relatively
cheap. And I guarantee you'll meet someone here who wants to teach you
Japanese if you just ask. If you can find a big bookstore like Kinokunia
(think Barnes & Noble in blue with no coffee or chairs), I guarantee
you'll be able to find a textbook. And between a textbook and a good
friend, that'll be plenty to get you started learning.

Also, don't study your brains out when you live here. Even now I can
hardly do more than one lesson a week (sometimes less). Life is just
busy, and while studying is important, it's also important to live a
sane life and have some friends.


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