Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I'm leaving....

Well, this is a sad announcement. I'm leaving Japan. Really soon.

On July 25th, Jeff and I will fly out of Narita and into London (after a long stop in Kuala Lumpur). If we survive a flight with Malaysia Airlines, we'll be in the UK for two weeks before heading to our next destination.... Prague.

I didn't tell you before because I hadn't made it official, and I didn't want my company reading about my departure over my blog before I'd sent in a resignation.

So, why am I leaving?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Sexy Japan - 5 Things That Might Shock You! (Warning - 18+)

When people think of the Japanese people, all kinds of adjectives come to mind. Reserved. Weird. Polite. Wacky. Welcoming. Shy. Friendly. It depends on where your ideas come from. If you've browsed the internet a lot and come across a lot of Japanese porn  (sorry, bad choice of words), you might think that we have here a nation of possibly perverted, sexually repressed individuals. I've heard it said plenty of times - "they produce so much porn because they're so sexually repressed", to paraphrase many self-proclaimed experts on culture and psychology.

Well, it's certainly true that Japan produces a lot of porn. And it's true that a lot of that porn seems to depict girls of questionable ages being pressured or forced into sexual acts that they're not up for (at first, anyway). But a sexually repressed nation? I'm not so sure. While my 15-year-old students seem innocent and naive about all matters grown-up, I've peered inside enough manga (comic) books to know that this isn't exactly the case. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm no believer in "let's shelter our children from all knowledge of sex or violence"; I think that this almost casual exposure could be a positive thing if done properly. A lack of decent sex education has been blamed for many teen pregnancies, although that debate is for another time. What fascinate me are the differences in attitudes towards all things sexual between Japan and the "Western" world which I'm used to. Before I prattle on any longer, let me tell you about some of the things that are a part of Japanese life, and I'll let you make up your own mind.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Creating TEFL Lesson Plans

If you are a TEFL/ESL teacher, chances are that at some point you will have to plan a lesson. Sure, some people like to turn up and wing it. If you run conversation classes, you might not have to do any more than talk. Some schools will give you a step-by-step lesson plan to follow. However, sometimes an English teacher will be called upon to produce a lesson plan.

If you teach at elementary school, this is more likely as the homeroom teachers' English level varies greatly and some don't feel at all confident teaching it. At Junior High school, teachers have specialised subjects, so the English teachers might feel confident in creating the lesson plans themselves - in fact, they might feel so confident that they see the presence of an ALT as a hindrance and will have you doing little more than reading out the occasional sentence. If you teach at an eikaiwa (conversation school) or run private lessons, chances are that you will have to produce your own lesson plans.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

10 Tips for Saving Money in Japan

While writing my FAQ (see Live, Teach and Work in Japan) I realised that I was writing a lot about living expenses and ways to save money, so I thought that I would expand the discussion to this article.

There is a pre-conception floating around that Japan is really expensive. I'm not out to challenge that view head-on and say that it's a budgeter's paradise, but it does seem that ideas about Japan's average prices come from people who've never stepped foot outside Tokyo's business districts. The cost of living in Japan is probably one of the highest in the world (close to Australia, Euro-using European countries or the UK), but the money that you can make here is pretty good, too. If you're careful and wise (and take on some private English lessons on the side), you could put away around $1000 a month in savings! "HOW?" I hear you cry. Well, let me give you some suggestions...