31 1月 2015

A long-ass post

Day Written: Jan 30th, 2015 and Jan 31st

    So it's been one week and on wednesday I got an email asking me what time on Friday or Saturday I am free. I told her I and free after 5 on Friday and all day Saturday. 

    Well today is Friday and I started to get worried because I didn't get a reply from my email. It figures she got sick and wasn't able to reply. No worries. You need your time to rest right? So she was able to send me an email today around my lunch time, and probably she will call Saturday at 11am. 

    Which means my free krispy kreme ticket won't go to waste. Today is the last day and I honestly thought that I would have to let it expire and not use it. :../ 
    So my plans just changed at the last minute, and now I'm definitely going to Aeon (the mall), even though it's almost an hour drive just for an average mall. But I get to have krispy kreme, Starbucks, an atm machine conveniently inside the mall, and check out the bookstore. I do kinda wanna go to the Kaldi store (where they have foreign goods from random countries, so no true target customer) and get cereal and oatmeal but I forgot the money at the apartment. 

    And I know my problem is that once I step inside that apartment, I'm totally in my comfort zone and don't wanna get out. Even if I need some food. Plus it's a Friday. The most laziest day in my schedule. It's completely my time after work to waste it as I want. 

~ * ~

    It's now Saturday, and my schedule for yesterday kind of changed. Apparently if you tell the school that you pucked, the school nurse will advise you to go home early. At least that's what happened to me. Immediately after lunch, I threw up all my food. Not that I ate much. But the problem with that is that some of it didn't make it to the toilet. Actually I didn't even get to the toilet at all.
    Part of it came out in the hallway (outside area, so no one steps on it). Then I ran as fast and as safely as I could to the bathroom but puke was already coming out and I had to do that awful thing where you hold it in your mouth, which just makes you want to puke more.
    So instead I went and threw up in the trash can of this room next to the bathroom. Luckily no one saw. But I still had the problem of picking up my own puke that was outside.
    I asked the cleaning lady if she had any plastic bags, told her the reason, but then she went and told the nurse, and then the nurse told me it was ok. That she would pick it up and that I should go home. But in my head I'm thinking, I'd rather pick it up myself. I honestly don't mind. It's picking up other peoples puke that I can't handle as well.

    But she insisted, and insisted that I ended up calling Interac and telling them that the teachers said it was ok to leave early. I called because I figured they would give me a more direct "order". But it was all kind of messy and annoying.

     To explain it more easily here's what happened:
  1. teachers told me it was ok to leave early
  2. I tell teachers I'll call Interac to see if THEY also say it's ok
  3. I call Interac and tell them what the teachers told me
  4. Interac tells me they'll call the teachers to see if it's ok with them
  5. Interac calls the school and talks with the secretary and the head English teacher who I assist (JTE)
  6. I talk to Interac via the phone of the school
  7. I talk to the JTE again and say it's ok.
    Trust me. They make things more complicated than what it needs to be. 
    Recently in my last visit for the Kindergarten, one of the teachers had the schedule ready for me. But the secretary said to send it to Interac first, and then Interac sends it to me. But I thought, mmmmmmmm,

    Why send it to a middle person in Nagoya whose priority is not my schedule nor my time, and will take more time because they wanna translate SOME of the schedule in English since they believe I need that, when I'm sitting in the same office as the other teacher and she can quite literally give me the schedule in hand?
    Is it not easier to give the schedule to Interac AFTER giving it to me? 

    I mean they also take time to scan it, translate a portion of it (which if you're gonna translate a document, do it properly and not half-assed), and turn it into a PDF file (and not the complete schedule at one time let me tell you. It's like a student who sends you the first 2 pages of their report in one email and then 30 minutes later they send you page 3 and 4 in a second email, with all pages being a separate file). 

    If this was DePaul, my teacher would have replied to me saying to send all the pages in one file and in one email, even though you have already sent the whole thing. It makes life easier for everyone. But universities here are a joke (this is my opinion; the thing people write in blogs and diaries), so I doubt people actually learn anything valuable that prepares them for life and their occupations.

    But anyways, I know my viewpoint at the moment is very negative so I'll move right along to what I wanted to say. Which was this:

    I had thrown-up before, but I didn't tell any of the Japanese teachers. Just the Brazilian helper, but we both know that throwing up is not a cause to stay at home. It happens. You move on.

    I ended up going home early and just ate some food to fill my stomach, and took a one hour nap. Then headed to AEON (the mall) by highway. That costed around 4.20$? to use the highway. But I prefer the highway since there's no one in my way, I can drive at the speed I like to drive (pretty fast), and I can get there faster too since most people don't use the highway. And I learned you can use your credit card in those highway booths too. But cover up your nose since that booth is gonna reek of cigarette smoke. I guess they're just really bored that they end up lighting up some tobacco as they contemplate about their lives being spread on the open road.

    At least that's what I imagine.

    At AEON, I went straight to the bookstore. That's where I most loose myself. Even if most things are in Japanese and I can't read them. I just like books. And it reminds me of the reason why I like learning Japanese. Why I like learning languages.
    Because I wan't to read all of those books.

    Ok, maybe not all of them but at least the ones that interest me. And it's the best way to increase your vocabulary. I know this first hand, because that's the same thing I did with English.
    My mom knew my English wasn't good, or at least not up to the standards where I could survive on my own. So she was my teacher too and read books with me in English at home and started speaking more and more in English. Although I believe this also has a backside because without having a solid first language, it stops your cognitive thinking in your second language as well. And as I child I just liked talking in Spanish, because I liked it and nothing more.

    But to my point, I read and read, and because I naturally like reading anyway I started going to libraries and just picking up anything that looked interesting. Of course, being in ESL was a factor within all this but they all helped each other to increase my English. So when I look at books, all I want to do is understand everything and anything. You're being sucked into a world you're just curious to explore.

    I looked at most of the shelves, and stopped mostly at the 日本語 section. Looked mostly at childrens stories too, and a bit on English learning books. Which isn't much learning if you're translating everything into Japanese. All you need in your own language are the explanations, and maybe 2 - 3 sentences that translate only the portion of the grammar you're studying.
    Otherwise, it should be all in the language you are learning.

    Of course in the beginner level, you can't help but have a lot of your own language EXPLAINING things, but as you go up to intermediate and advanced, you shouldn't need your own language at all, because you have learned how to use dictionaries and sources to look for words or grammar. If the book is introducing something new, only unless you are in the advanced level should it explain to you in the language you're learning, but it should have a nice little glossary in the back or just a vocab chart within the chapters. Otherwise I don't see the problem in it having a short and blunt equivalent of your own language.

    This is the problem that I saw with most books that try to teach you Japanese from a Japanese bookstore. They don't have the equivalent. Even though the reader is specifically targeted from whatever language they are coming from. In my case, I'm learning Japanese through English. Learning it through Spanish would just complicate things (for me).
    They give the sample sentences so you know the grammar/word in context and some multiple choice questions, but essentially you are learning it in test form and not through acquisition. Even some level N3 books are introducing new grammar, but they don't show me the equivalent so I have no idea what I'm learning. So I figured it's best to stick with Japanese language learning books from English bookstores (including Amazon), and children books since they tend to have interesting stories.

    And I mean childrens books as those that are for elementary schoolers or those thick books that have 365 days of folktales, or interesting facts. I myself have one called 世界を変えた人たち 365, aka People Who Changed The World 365. What's strange is that they have a translation of the title in English saying "365 Ways To Change Your Life", but that's not what the title says at all.

    After that I got some donuts from Krispy Kreme, and then sat down on a nice comfy sofa and drank my tall hot chocolate that was around 4 dollars and something cents. I honestly don't care about the price because I've been deprived of my Starbucks for months now from being in the middle of nowhere. So 4 dollars isn't gonna hurt much. The next time I'll be having a Starbucks will be in March, so really. Let's get serious.

    With that said, AEON told me about the school location, and gave me their website which you can see HERE to look more info up. It's the Kita Senju Branch in Adachi-ku, super close to the Kita Senju train station. I mean it's literally a walk away. I've asked some people I know about the area and they told me it's a city area (compared to Saitama), and something about being an old town so there's a tomb. I've also searched it online but I only get things like famous places, which at the moment I'm not interested in.
    So my best friend has been google maps and just searching regular everyday places like supermarkets, malls, IKEA!

    So far I like it, and I read over some of the details they provide about the staff in the website. Although I used popjyso.com to help me out with vocab I don't know. But anyways, looks like a really good location. And some of the peeps I've met at the group interview will be located more or less around the Tokyo area, so excited to meet up again.

    For this location the contract is from April 1 2015 - April 20th 2016, with a much bigger paycheck than what I get now. So I'll be able to save more money. (With the salary I have now, I barely have enough left in my bank account to put towards savings. It's quite worrisome and stressful because I have to worry whether I spent too much this month or not, to be able to carry me over for the next month.)

    Training is from April 1 to April 10 with 80 dollars for a full day and half for a half day of training, and of course like they mention on the website, the rent for apartments is fixed. For the training, it's gonna be held at Omiya Training Center and the email tells me we should arrive there by 6/6:30 pm on March 31st , soooooo I'm not sure if we actually stay there or if we can live somewhere else for the meantime?

    Mk. Just asked a buddy of mine. He said we live there for the time being. So probably what I'll do is leave most of my things at Kento's place, and then just live out of my suitcase for that time.

    Oh and one last thing!

    This is a question my friend asked me. "What would you say to the young ones at school if they are thinking about becoming an ALT?"

    I would say:

  1. know your rights. Just because you work 29.9 hours, therefore being below 30 hours does NOT mean you are not eligible for shakai hoken (insurance. and the very important type).

    this is a lie that dispatch companies will tell you because they don't want to take responsibility for paying for employees health insurance. Thus this makes the practice illegal.!.!.!.

    If you are applying to JET, I wouldn't worry too much because it's through the government, but do keep your eyes open. And I would be extra careful with other dispatch companies.

    Essentially read ALL of your contract details, and if they don't give shakai hoken and give you this bullshit about you not qualifying, simply say no.

    Everyone in Japan is eligible for shakai hoken regardless of hours. In Japan, part time jobs and full time jobs are not so black and white in regards to hours like it is in U.S. Here a part time worker can work almost as much as a full timer, but they won't get much of a voice in things.
    People here work under one saying: If you don't ask me, I'm not going to tell you.
    But the problem with this is, you CAN'T ask about something you DON'T know. Thus making it hypocrisy. But you're not in U.S. You're in Japan. You're the newbie who's expected to ask questions about anything and everything.

    If I were JET or a dispatch company, I would give you much more information. Like how a teachers room is set up. Because the pile of information in that room is also important to you!

    I would tell you how schools are set up and how you only have 20 minutes or less to eat your entire lunch. You are welcomed to eat with the students, again, IF you ask. It's ok not to eat with them, but then they'll look at you like you aren't a team-player.
    And if you don't like the school lunches, just bring your own. Cancel your payments to their school lunches and prepare your own. That simple. That way you don't have to tell them that you don't actually like their food.

    Many people here don't separate emotions from judgement, so they will take most things personally. If you say you don't like rice, natto, squid, mushrooms, tomatoes, whatever. They're gonna look at you strange and emphasize again how delicious it is. But wait until they go home, or those kids grow up. They're gonna tell you all the foods they don't like, and don't want to eat.
  3. Make friends with BOTH Japanese and international people.
    Japanese will be your window to those things you don't understand as well to learning new things about Japan, and international people will be your window for frustrations, work comparisons, and simply taking a break from Japan's way of thinking.

    Japanese people will love to explain to you why they love eating rice (because they've been brainwashed after the economy had a surplus supply of rice and made it the staple food ever since). They'll love to tell you all things Japanese, even though you may already know about it. One thing you don't wanna do to much is say "I already know that".

    Again, they're gonna take it personal, and may not open up for other things in the future because "you may already know". Childish. I know. That's why you have your international friends.

    Some people say, "ooh. I'm in Japan. I don't wanna nor need to make foreign friends. I want Japanese friends". I understand that. But trust me when I say that there will be major differences at first. And if you haven't already experienced culture shock, it's going to be very difficult. A balance always makes your life happier and much more rewarding.

    Your japanese friends may know where to get the best sushi, but your international friends will know where to buy clothes and shoes your size. (That actually fit.) Or information to medical facilities that have western services as well as English speakers.
  4. Stay professional.
    In Japan, and some other Asian countries, emotions are not separate from the workplace. People here take effort in making you feel comfortable/happy/at ease/whatever. But if you upset someone, they're not going to want to fix the problem and it may be best for you to transfer. So be the strong westerner, and keep your emotions aside.

    If you're gonna cry, cry later. Because you need to stay strong and show them that you are level headed. Keep that sadness and anger, and savor it for the moment you leave. Not saying that everyone will leave, but just saying if you are, savor it for that last moment and then let SOME of it out. Just be honest and blunt.

    If that school doesn't respect your abilities and that you can do more, just say that. If they don't provide information about things that are important and which also affect your time at work, just say that. Personally, if someone hurts me, I have no reason to be nice to them anymore.

    So stay professional, be polite, and savor all that negativity for when it is most convenient for YOU.

    You are the best person there that can show them you are a hard worker and take your job seriously.
  5. Pay attention to your salary and checks every month.
    Keep a tab on how much you get paid and any insurance and deductions you have every month. It's important to know this so that you can keep a balanced life, and not be dead poor by the time the month ends.
  6. Call your friends and family back home. Talk to them often. Send boxes of things. Write some letters. Make calls. Heck, make plans to meet for the future.

    They are your support group, and as much as they are sad that you left, they will support you in what you want to do, so don't leave them hanging. Support them back. Keep track on their lives too.
  7. Always talk to other people who are in your same line of work. You never know when you'll find a better scenario and may want to change.
  8. Keep your options open. Don't settle. This is how people will take advantage of you, and you may not get much opportunities for advancements.

    As soon as that 3rd month rolled in, I knew that being an ALT was not going to be a job I will keep doing for many years. Some people like it, some people don't. I like advancements, and learning and improving my skills and abilities. And I like having responsibility. I don't like being in a position where I have to ask if it's ok to do something. It's annoying. I like being the boss. But if my job doesn't give me the opportunity nor the money to BE the boss, then I'll look elsewhere. It's that simple.

    Yes, I have a latino mentality when it comes to work. It's not a problem. There's this awesome thing called working in multicultural environments that Japan just hasn't grasped yet, hence why they have problems with most workers who aren't Japanese. And don't buy this bullcrap of Japan being a one race one culture country, 'cuz it's not. No country is. There will always be majorities and minorities, and being respectful is key to success.

    Think about it this way: if all "foreigners" suddenly left Japan (and I'm talking about EVERYONE, including those who are considered foreign but may not be so. So like all Chinese, Koreans, Brazilians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Americans, Brits, Ainu, second/third generations, halfs, everyone.) And no new foreigners ever entered Japan, do you think Japan would survive?

27 1月 2015

AEONの面接 Interview

     As I prepare my shower (with old knobs that no one uses anymore in technologically advanced countries), I'll write a bit about my interview with AEON.

     I thought to myself every minute "I will get this", and it ended up being a good interview. Here are the basics:

  1. you come in as a group, where they give you some information about their company. most of it is review, other little parts are new. Those are the parts that I wrote down. Although they don't give you much time for your own answers since they're kinda in a hurry to do all that is planned. And let me tell you, it took our group basically the whole day.
  2. then she or he shows you what a lesson is like at AEON and some of the "new" technologies they implemented (a TV connected to an Ipad. . . . . yea, like I've never seen that before, although compared to my situation now (only 1 old windows computer at the elementary school, and nothing else; I am limited to even make my lesson materials) , it saves SOOOO much time and stress. As well as how they break down teaching of certain phrases. And then some simple activities (1 for adults and 1 for kids).
  3. next was the little grammar quiz they give you. I had this same thing in Interac, and I have to say this one was much harder. But because I had gotten my TEFL certificate, I felt more prepared to explain differences. And I had plenty of non-American friends in US who always asked questions about English, so I'm quite used to explaining differences in similar words and I like giving examples.

    Basically the interviewer says 4 to 5 words out-loud and you're suppose to spell it out. Then there is the vocab and grammar sections where you just explain the differences between the two. I don't remember everything, but I do know I was stuck a little bit on what's the difference between "farther" and "further". I had another one that asked the difference between "I have played golf" and " I have been playing golf". That one was fairly easy for me as we studied this in TEFL.

    Answer here ---> The first one talks about experience. The experience of doing something in the past, thus it stopped and isn't continuing now. The second one talks about an action (playing golf) that starts in the past and is continuing into the present, and probably will continue. 'Though when this action will end, we don't specifically know when. Definitely in the future, but when specifically, we don't know.

    And on the back they just ask questions about your preferences for the job (what day you can start and where you want to work), things like how would you help the companies goals and how would you be as a co-worker. Usual things. Nothing to worry about.

    We did realize that people had different quizzes, once we talked to each other about the answers. Some of those questions were difficult, even for native speakers.
  4. After that, we were split into 2 groups (though still in the same room) in order to do our demo lessons. At this point another interviewer walks in the room, so there is one person watching one group and another watching the other group. Saves time I think. What they had told me for the demo lesson was simple: choose whether you are doing the lesson for kids or adults, it's 15 minutes, and include the usual things like (being interactive, communicative/speaking a lot from the students, TTT (Teacher Talking Time) is to a minimum, have warm-up, some sort of review of words or phrase, etc). I'm not gonna say them all because you learn this in TEFL.

    I highly recommend anyone to take a TEFL course before applying to a teaching job in Japan; even if it is just to be an ALT. It really helps out in the long run of your career.

  5. Then I forgot what we had right after that, but I do know during the group session time, you watch this 20 minute video. But definitely they told us whether we passed to the next phase (the one-on-one interviews).

    The difference here that I found with Interac and AEON, is that in the Interac interview, you are pretty much given the job once you are welcomed to the group interview. Verses AEON this was not the case. You're still on your tippy toes worrying whether your trip to the office was worth it. In my case, my round trip was around 200 dollars. Really. No joke.

    Luckily, we all passed to the next round so it wasn't awkward to tell anyone to leave at that point. 150 people applied this time around, and only 10 of us got to the group interview round. I think this was just interviews within Japan. I can't talk for the number of applications outside US.

    They then told us briefly what time our interviews would start. So some of us were at 2:30, 3:40, 4:20 (me and 2 other guys), and some afterwards. The interviewers did take an hour for lunch before starting on anyone. We took our breaks also. To eat and just relax for a bit.

    Until one guy came back with his horror story about one of the interviewers being really strict. That's when we all were thinking some of the following or all of the following: "holy shit, i hope i don't get him as my interviewer", "I won't step out of line", "If I get him, I won't get this job", etc.

    The poor guy was criticized for his accent. And was disciplined for crossing his legs during the info session, and accused of laughing with the person next to him. (I was sitting next to him! But we never once did that. Many of us laughed at some parts of the video, but that's a natural reaction when something is funny on TV. I didn't even pay attention to him when the interviewer was talking.
  6. He told us this after he had finished with his interview. Then it was my turn and another guys to do our one-on-one interviews. Btw, we hung out at a near McDonalds on the second floor. We tried a restaurant, but it would have taken too much time for a party of 6. So McDonalds it was.

    Apparently I didn't know about this part, but you do another demo lesson during the one-on-one interview round. They just show you a page of one of their books. (we all had the same page to demo on). This page was from one of their grammar books, and it had an example dialogue and some examples to follow. Then they wanted you to do the free section (aka production exercise). You got 10 minutes to prepare. And the lesson would be 7 minutes long. My interviewer left the room during those 10 minutes. (I didn't ask the others if that same thing happened but I'm sure it did.)

    During those 10 minutes, yea I panicked and tried to calm down. They also told me that I could use the whiteboard and the textbook. Meaning ---> I SHOULD use the whiteboard and I SHOULD use the textbook.

    Of course I had things to improve on, so they give you a second try, after they have given you feedback. And you better write that shit down, 'cuz they are not nice about repeating things.

    This second time, I had the same amount of time to prepare, and they told me they would just stop me whenever.

    I did better, and then they went on to talk about an example schedule, and specifically talk about the questions regarding when I can start and where I want to work. They asked why I had chosen Saitama. It was mainly because I know people there, so it's easier for me to get things done and ask for help. And if something happens to me, let's say me being half dead, then someone can identify me and speak for me. Also because it's close to Tokyo.
  7. After this, some of us got together and had dinner. All I really ate was meat meat and more meat and lots of cabbage. I had a free beer from one of the guys that offered it to us all, and I chose to have a red wine. Though I'm never gonna order wine again in a restaurant unless I want the whole bottle. Damn it Japan. You have no idea what you're missing in the wine world. There aren't just 2 types of wine. And even those two are not suppose to taste the same all the time.

    This is what I've noticed when I order red wine at a restaurant. They all taste the same. They never tell you the year, nor the place of origin, nor what kind of wine. Same with the white one. They just tell you, red or white.

    Like wine is really that simple to categorize. Well, apparently they made it so. They're more into beer. And with wine, they don't even know how to serve it. I've seen it being served in so many kinds of glasses and cups. All I have to say is that Japan doesn't know what wine is, and they're missing out big time.

    Imagine all those people who don't like beer. They could be making money by selling them other things.

    Another of my number 1 favorite drinks of all time, that is like this rarity over here is tequilla. You heard me. I rarely see it. And when I do see it, I take the opportunity and drink as much as I can handle.

    That shit is not leaving my sight until I drink all of it. Damn it. I can't even order a mojito.
    If it's not made with tequila, then it's not a mojito. That's just common sense. Then again. We're talking about a country that doesn't want to learn new things outside their invisible shields. And if that's what they want, then that's what they get.

    Just don't expect others to ignore you. Because lack of information is weakness. And stop complaining about your declining birth-rate and population. You don't want to accept immigrants, nor improve the rights of women so you're making this issue bigger on your own.


     Anyways, that's what happened. It went well and at the end they told all of us except for one girl, that they would call us in one week.

21 1月 2015

Interview no.2 (Group Interview)

    So I've recently made a big list of things I want to talk about here, and let people know about being an ALT. At least from what I have experienced. I do take my tasks seriously regardless of what it is. As well as talk about some of those things you can't find in a textbook.

    This is something I've said since I was in DePaul. How I wanted to go to Japan and learn the culture and peoples way of thinking. And that's what I got and still getting. But I'm also learning that along the way, there will be things you like and things you won't like.
    So I just wanted to give the heads up for that. I know I kinda flew by with the training details, and a lot of the culture that I encountered in the schools, as well as peoples behaviour that is spread pretty wide. It's not just one particular person nor a particular school.

    But before I get into all these topics, I just wanted to briefly say that I'm now applying for other jobs. I've found that it's easier to find jobs once you are IN the country. Companies definitely favor you already being here verses overseas applicants. They'll respond much quicker. And it's less preparation on their part. Also there are many places that want you to have at least 2 years of experience, and if you fall below those 2 years, they won't really consider you for the position.
     This is the next hard part of finding jobs, because it means you'll have to stick with whomever you initially contracted with until you get those 2 years under your belt or find another company that doesn't ask for much. But in that instance you may not be able to increase your salary.

    Japan is old-grampa like that. They pay more for more "experience", and not for qualifications per say. Yes teaching as well as any other jobs does require experience in order to get better, but if that experience limits what you can do then it's not a learning experience with growth. It's just an experience for the heck of it, and you may not get any better. I think here is where US and Japan differ, and I'm on the US team for this one.

    I value an experience where you grow in your strengths and abilities, as well as expand your knowledge and being an active participant. You can't expect a new person to do exactly what you just did if they're just looking. You can only create output, with active output participation.
    Whereas, here it's more about an input, passive participation. But their expectations will be much lower to begin with. Teachers in classrooms will even say things like "you can't do this huh...", which from my point of view limits their willingness to explore more and try more.

    Anyways, like I said: applying for other places. So far I have an interview this coming Sunday (January 25th, 2015). Today is Wednesday and haven't made travel arrangements yet. . . . Yikes.

20 1月 2015

I'm a flower killer

     This is a response to something that happened today.
     Something shocking.
     And something even I can't believe.

     Not just one thing but two.

     I had a lesson for 3-1 (third graders) in Sakahogi. The target language was "What do you like? I like (insert name of fruits here)". The previous lesson was about "Do you like (insert animal name here)? Yes, I do./ No, I don't". I wanted to review this a little bit in the beginning because the last time they had an English lesson, was more than a month. And it was a cool way to introduce the new target language.
     Of course, from now on I've decided to check if they know the meaning of these phrases (most likely not), because while MEXT wants kids to have fun in English, I believe learning a language seriously IS fun. MEXT is just in denial because they're a bunch of grumpy old men who don't read or keep up to date with research.
     So, we check the meaning and then we go into this little chant I made. Pretty predictable so students don't have a hard time with it, and then a game to practice what I just showed them. It's basically telephone, but instead of a big circle, you do it with rows as teams, and the last students say the message one by one. If they are right, they get one point.

     The problem that I'm talking about happened before the game and before the chant when I asked the students "what meaning". This one girl said "what" means なに. (This is 'what' / nani in Japanese.) And this other student who was never paying attention and being totally rude, said:

This means: Of course/As I thought, the foreigner knows.
     But the word foreigner in this instance was used in a very rude way. And second, she's Japanese.
Even I had confused that when I first saw her because of her appearance. She seemed kinda filipina to me, but culturally she's Japanese. That's what I thought. But later I learned through the other teachers that there were no foreign children in grade 3, so I thought "ok. she probably is just the prettier version of Japanese girls. And never needs to worry about getting red under the sun".
     I mean, c'mon. I wish my skin was just a little darker so I would always have this light tan, and don't turn into a pinto bean in the winter. Seriously, they need tanning beds.

     What surprised me first was just that. These are third graders, and their teachers don't relay messages like "everyone is different, and that's ok. We need to be nice to people no matter where they are from. We are all beautiful", etc, etc.

     The homeroom teacher didn't say anything about it either; he was just trying to control all the noisy kids and I don't blame him. They were being completely disrespectful to me and him. If they talk all they time, then they're just wasting time for themselves and their classmates.

     But if IIIIII were him, I would have just stopped it right then and there, made fun of him by saying "やっぱりおまえは知らない" (As I thought you don't know (the answer)), lectured him, and made him apologize to her for being racist and an idiot. But that didn't happen.

     Throughout the whole class, it was very chatty (in a bad way), and they wasted a lot of time. We didn't even get to finish the practice game, and we didn't get to do the second activity.
     I was really disappointed not only for them not respecting me, but because I had witnessed something fly by without scolding.

     So I asked the secretary of the school, if kids learn about multiculturalism or at least the idea that we have to be nice to everyone, regardless where they are from or what they look like. She misunderstood me and talked about how students don't learn any other history other than Japanese history. So I just went straight back to my question, but in a different way. She diverted again, and I returned to the question again. Lastly she said how in Japan there is just 1 culture, so students don't
have the chance to meet people from other cultures. And how basically English class is a window to that opportunity and learn how to communicate. But this is where she is wrong, and again I went back to my intended meaning and said something about how when travelers come to Japan and learn that people here are racist and not nice, they won't like Japan. This in turn hurts the Japanese economy, because no one will want to come and spend their money nor decide to live here and contribute.

     Why should they if they're only going to be treated as second-class and third-class citizens? And then I just said some bullshit like "well, maybe people here will grow up to be nice". Left it at that.

     But here's another issue. She tried to avoid being honest with me and tried to give an answer but I closed the conversation, simply because I was tired of her bullshit and I needed to stay in good terms with this person until March 25th.
     Next, she's like a starting gramma age so I'm not surprised she said this, but I wouldn't be surprised if young people said this also. That Japan is composed of just one culture and one 'race'. Even though race is not a scientific, measurable concept.

     Japan is in fact composed of many cultures, but one culture tends to be the majority just like any other country. You therefore have your minorities, such as the Kyushu people and Ainu whom have mostly been integrated mainly by force into the "Japanese way of life". Then you have your Chinese and Koreans who came here during the war era as construction and factory workers, and other jobs Japanese people didn't want to do. Most have been melted into the mainstream pot in most ways, but what keeps them separated is the fact that Japan recognizes national citizenship from whom your parents are by blood. (Another non-scientific aspect of a country that is supposedly technologically advanced.)

     So for example, if both my parents or one of my parents is a Japanese national "by blood", then so am I. If both my parents are not Japanese by blood, let's say they're from Denmark or some other cool country, then it doesn't matter if I'm born in Japan. My parents are both from Denmark, therefore I cannot have Japanese citizenship. Now, if I MARRY a Japanese person, then I can have a spouse visa and after some time switch my citizenship. But I will still never be recognized as part of the country. Cuz Japanese are anti-strangers in many levels. So you still have plenty of Chinese and Koreans whom are considered Chinese/Korean, and hold these citizenships, regardless of whether they have ever seen/visited China/Korea and regardless whether they know or don't know any other language other than Japanese and any other cultural way of life other than a Japanese one.

     Next you have your nikkeijin and these are basically Japanese farmers who were bombarded with propaganda to go to the Americas like Mexico, Peru, and Brazil (to name some of the biggest ones) because the life there was more promising. And hey, why don't you bring your family with you?
     But after some time they came back to Japan, having the same hope most people have (to make money and have a better situation), but they were met with dissent because these "Japanese" were not seen as "Japanese" anymore. Their culture is different. It's not "Japanese" anymore. 

     Well, what do you expect after living in another country for more that 3 generations and never knowing about your other origins? C'mon people, it's not science, it's common sense.

     They may or may not have Japanese names, and their appearances vary drastically, but they are still treated as "foreigners" and "outsiders" simply because they are not fully Japanese. Something changed and Japanese compute that as something not Japanese. Very childish right?

     Even their children who are BORN AND RAISED in fuckin' Japan are still considered not Japanese, and are treated as foreigners in their school system.

      Who fuckin' cares how much of you is Japanese or not?

     I mean, have you ever seen or met a Japanese person who doesn't like curry?

     I'm just saying, curry isn't a Japanese dish. And neither is tea, buddhism, zen art, building styles, to name a few. C'mon. Fuckin' Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas!.

     You can't tell me that THAT comes from Japan.

     Finally you have your other foreigners who come from other Asian countries for various reasons, like Filipinos, and Vietnamese. And your other foreigners who come from western countries who are basically lumped into 1 big group because apparently we all look the same. 

     Then you have your mixed individuals. Which is another story that boils my temperature too much to talk about it without getting mad simply because it's just stupidity gas being snorted all around this country. 
     If you mix coconuts, pineapples, and bananas in a drink, are you REEEALLY gonna call it a "Coconut Pineapple Banana Drink"?? No.

     You're gonna call it a Piña Colada. You're not gonna say ooooh, these coconuts, pineapples and bananas taste really good. No. You're gonna say waaao this Piña Colada is fuckin' awesome.

     If you mix strawberry milk and chocolate milk. 50% of each. Can your tongue really identify the exact percentage of molecules that are strawberry and chocolate?
     If you saw a cup with 50% water in it, are you gonna see it as half-empty or half-full? That's the problem. You're thinking of it as half from the start, when really the other half is just invisible because you don't want to see it. You already drank it.
     That person is not half-full nor half-empty. It's just a person.

     So you have all these minorities (both in number and power), whose voices are not heard because
Japanese people don't really talk about things. They hold firmly to the strategy of "if you don't talk about it, believe it can't be helped, it'll go away". And if you protest too much, they're gonna take it personal and make it seem like you're insulting them and how you should just leave, when really 'you' are also part of 'them'. They just don't WANT to see it that way.

     Basically, think back to UK and those adorable episodes of 'The Paradise', 'Downtown Abbey', or any other shows like that (which are awesome btw. I would have never believed that today I would be watching shows about brits). But think about that world and how people are not really that emotionally expressive as their American counterparts. Especially to Latin Americans. We're pretty expressive and not shy to shove it up your face. You will get a piece of this awesomeness, that it will make you blind.
     But back to my point.
     Think of that not so emotional character, who follows a lot of etiquette rules and the 'proper' way to do things in daily life. Even how to behave is followed strictly to a certain way, and if you do something outside of that 'way' you'll be too embarrassed to do so. Think of this same character who is watched by everyone, because we know that everyone wants to know everyone elses business. Thus making us even less likely to step out of those boundaries, and more conscious about our weaknesses. Forget about your strengths. There's etiquette to follow right?

     Remember how that was in UK, and in US a long time ago?

     Well, it's not such a long time ago for Japan because that's what it's like today. Even young people and kids often say "i'm too embarrassed to do/say that. It was only about 15 something years ago when women were housewives and get jobs nor attend a university or higher education. 
     Well, many of those women now have to work, so they have lower level jobs because of that lack of education and experience. A university graduate from US would be making twice or 3 times more
than what a used-to-be-housewife makes now. I truly feel sorry for them because they don't know what it's like outside their little cultural box.

     Sure there are some people who are starting to resemble their eastern and western counterparts, but that change is sloooooooow. Imagine that jump in the US from the super puritan-like white families to the hippies. Yea. Japan hasn't gone to the hippie era yet where everyone just says "fuck the system, i just wanna give you a flower man".

     So why don't we do that?
     There's some super inexpensive flowers at dollar stores here. Spread them around and say, fuck the system. I don't care what anyone thinks. I'm not gonna step in your way of destructing this world, because I'll make my own world. You're welcomed anytime. Let's just enjoy our time.

     'Cuz I'm too lazy to take care of real flowers.

19 1月 2015

ALT Training: Tuberculosis Check-up

     Here is another detail I forgot to mention in the previous post - - ->

     In training we are required to get an x-ray to check for tuberculosis. Apparently in Japan there was a huge number of it during the pre-war era. And it died down after the war but came back up again.

Does anyone even know what that is?

     Maybe it's just me being part of a young generation that just gets a vaccine for it, 'cuz I've never heard of it until training. I even told my mom about it and she said that it was even rare when she was a kid.

     So yet another thing that Japan is behind on. Seriously, vaccines makes the world a better place. I even got a chicken-pox vaccine, so never got 'em.

     Regardless, I didn't have time to do it during training and had to do it on my own after training. One of the ladies in the office even asked me if I wanted to set up the meeting on my own or not. Well, my medical lingo is not up to par in Japanese, so of course they had to help. All I did was just show up, wait 30 minutes until they opened, and be totally lost in his super fast Japanese.

     It was the first time I saw such a dirty and run-down facility. I'm so used to American hospitals where everyone and everything is clean, no smoking, everything is new and up to date. Yet this place, didn't even clean their walls, part of the paint on the doors was coming off. And the room had no heating, and looked like a possible murder scenario. It was shocking. I have high cleaning standards even to my American counterparts, though I consider them normal, but this was just unacceptable for a doctors clinic.
     I don't care how little it may be, and how much in the bunnies it is. It's a medical institution and it needs to be clean for very obvious reasons. And no smoking.

     That last one is just common sense.

18 1月 2015

ALT: Jr. High School Substitutes, Schedules, and Training

Let's continue from the previous post where I talked about the example teachers that I've been paired up with. Before I mentioned some English teachers, all from the Sakahogi Jr. High School. Let's talk about the last one now.

     >>>EXAMPLE 3: <<<
     This guy just started after the winter break (after New Years).

     Did I tell you I didn't get christmas vacation?!?!?


     That was a load of bullshit.

     So this new guy whom I'm not even going to bother remembering his name, is yet another sub for the main teacher who's still sick at the moment. He's a juku teacher, and he even said himself that he's not enthusiastic about teaching English. In front of the students. In class. I'm like. . . . wao. YOUUUU have some serious issues there. After the last old man that was here, I'm not even going to bother caring about you in any way. My hope is just utterly gone.

     But because of his juku background (for those of you who don't know what juku is, it's an after-school program aimed at kids to guess. . . . study more. It's not because they're slow. It's because the main schools don't provide the necessary education), he does have a good flow of the class and doesn't need a paper to remind him what he has to do. He pays attention to the energy of the class, and does 'amusing' stories for the kids to keep them interested.
     And he uses his MacBook Pro (mini) to conduct his lessons via powerpoints, and overdoing it on the special effects. While he does do power-points, he's not really knowledgeable on how to do them.

     For example:

  1. you never put more than 1 or 2 points in one slide.
  2. don't over-do the special effects because it will waste time when you have to go back and forth between slides
  3. use font that isn't too small. you want everyone to see it (especially if you want them to write down and copy that information)
  4. don't write down your whole speech. aka, don't be reading from the screen/projector all the time. you want to be looking at your audience most of the time.

    if it's a quote, or in this case a passage from the book that you're not required to memorize, by all means read it. but because the school gives him a book, he should be looking from the book also.
  5. have titles and sub-titles like "let's write notes" so the kids know when to start writing.

    in middle school, kids won't write anything down if you don't write it on the board. you have to tell them "write this down".

    *I'm not sure how it is in Japan, but this isn't a problem for 8th nor 9th graders in U.S. And it becomes second nature to write your own notes once you're in high school and a necessity in college/university.
     At least the guy makes handouts for the kids, although he forgot to do these the first two weeks of his subbing work. Another good point is that he knows how to order his lesson, hence why he doesn't need a written-out note. But at the same time he doesn't time his lessons very well. They're timed to be a little longer (something standard for a juku class).

     While he does have some good points, I generally don't like him mostly because he's still sloppy and not friendly at all. At least to me. He'll talk to the Japanese teachers, but he won't talk to me. The only time I actually talked to him was when he was explaining to me what he wanted me to do during his lesson. I realized this first conversation is a great way to know what level English they're at. And this guy could barely talk. He even switched to Japanese at one point.
But because of my experience with the previous old man, I decided for myself to give them a hard time for the first conversation. In other words, only talk in English to them because it IS their job of course.

     Outside of that, I've only heard him say thank you to me (in Japanese) maybe twice? or three times? He's like the anti-social juku teacher. So since that's what he wants, that's what I'll give him. I'll just give him the cold shoulder and not pay much attention to him. 

     It did bother me the first 2 days I was around him in the Jr. High, but not so much anymore. I guess in Japan, I just care about the things people here don't care about. And then I don't care or think it's unprofessional about the things they care about. But whatever.

     This guy is going to be here for the concluding 3 months. School year ends in March. For this location, my last day is on March 28th.

>>> Daily/Monthly Schedule <<<

     Another point I forgot to tell you was about my schedule. On certain mondays of the month, I go to the Sakahogi Kindergarten (坂祝幼稚園) and teach about 4 lessons: 2 for the older students and those are about 30 - 40 minutes long, and 2 for the younger students and those are 10 - 15 minutes long. I do the same for all ages, except do less activities for the younger kids simply because there's no time for it. It keeps my notes very organized and I don't have to double prepare.

     Maybe I'll go to the kindergarten about 2 or 3 times a month.

     Then after kindergarten (the days that I am there I eat lunch and then leave), I go to the elementary school in the same town. All the schools are in the same town. There are no lessons in elementary on the days when I have been in the kindergarten, so I just chill in my desk usually preparing for future lessons. I have to talk with the teachers about what I will do in the lessons, and I like this part because I don't have to waste time during class explaining it to them. Usually the second grade teachers are the most helpful (especially this one guy because he gives me advice on what may work better for certain details, and gives me advice afterwards. not very helpful with discipline during class, but helpful during our meetings and after class).

     Then I may have elementary on tuesdays also (sometimes even wednesdays). The rest of the days
 are dedicated to me standing in classes in the Jr. High. During my free time there, I usually study Japanese or organize my expenses, make calls to the company if I need to. Other times I'll visit the students classes (especially the art class just cuz I like art).

     I always eat lunch with the students except for one week in the month when I eat with the teachers or by myself (if it's in the elementary school), because they eat like rabbits and my stomach needs a break from hurting it all the time from trying to eat within the time limit they give me. About 30 minutes. The other 30 minutes are dedicated to recess if it's the elementary, or cleaning and other duties or hanging out if it's the jr. high. During this time I'm either in the teachers room doing something, or in the lunch ladies room eating the rest of my food (or snacks that I bring).

     I don't really like the school lunches here, and I realized that the rice was making me bloated. For me, if rice isn't mixed with something else, there really is no purpose in eating it. 

>> Diet <<

     My diet has changed 180 degrees, to the point where it gave me some serious problems in the beginning. Even now I don't eat the usual staples that I used to eat (rice, beans, meat) simply because they don't offer it, and I don't have the kitchen space nor the time. My body has gotten a lot weaker because I don't exercise also. By the time I found out a neat trail for running and jogging, it got too cold.
     And I used to almost always eat some sort of meat everyday, but because here's its basically non-existent, unless I go to an izakaya full of smokers that taint my beautiful meat, I don't have the opportunity to eat meat. So those pretty low iron levels that I used to have got even lower. I can tell because I feel weak and I get tired more easily, I'm more dizzy than usual and I have to move slowly so I don't get that thing where you get static TV vision,

     (when you stand up or sit down or bend down quickly, your eye vision kinda dissipates into this thing that looks like when old TVs went out and just had this static screen with a bunch of dots and looked kinda gray <---- call="" div="" i="" is="" nbsp="" static="" tv="" vision="" what="">

I have headaches (I almost never get headaches), I'm more short on breath and my recent periods since I've gotten here are heavy to the point where I just have no energy those days. I literally have to sit down or lay down, because I can't concentrate on anything. And more recently my hands and feet are colder than usual but that's because they don't know what central heating/cooling is.

     The first few days I was here, I was ok. It wasn't until I was in training that I really noticed it.

>>> Training <<<

     I had training in Kanayama or something like that. It's the stop before Nagoya station. It was an urban place. I would say kind of like Chicago but smaller in diameter. And I stayed in a small little hotel with my one suitcase and bag. My other suitcase was at the companys headquarters. From there I walked to a room that was being rented by the company to hold the training meetings. It was about a 10 minute walk. 

     I liked it. There were restaurants, bookstores, clothes stores, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme (to name a few), and bright lights. It's my type of place. Enough people to fill in a McDonalds and constantly be busy. I learned then that people stay in places like McDonalds or other fast-food places and cafes to study or work. But you always buy something. Even if it's just a drink.
     And I liked it so much that when I visited the area that I was to stay in, because I needed to register with the town hall and make my insurance card and bank account and try to get a cellphone, I was glad to go back to Nagoya and away from my location. I didn't think to much of it at the time because I was more focused in enjoying my time in Kanayama. (I hope I'm saying that right. . .)

     We did things like how to do warm-ups and generally the level of English you will need when you get into the class. We signed papers, and talked about how the expenses work. At that point that's
when I started getting stomach aches, and just puked everything that I had eaten that day. It was curry. The next day I had a super high fever, and puked again, even though I barely ate anything, and had to excuse myself from the company for the rest of the day and stay in bed. After that all I had was water and more water 'cuz I was too afraid to eat anything solid. I barely had anything in my body and I was still puking. 

     Some people called it stress. But I wasn't stressed at all. I was happy, and I felt prepared after taking my TEFL course. That shit was intense but well worth-it. I had many sleep-deprived nights and had to stay with a classmate because my house was way too far and it would have been impossible to have done all that work and ride the train 2 hours a day. So I wasn't stressed.
     Compared to DePaul and TEFL, this was the easiest 'training' I have ever been a part of.

     But let me say this.

     During training, it was so hectic. They planned out everything to the minute, but didn't leave room for errors. They planned it as if everything was going to be ok. But sometimes, like my case, I had no fucking idea what the hell was a CIS or IS or ICS number for my bank account so I couldn't make a bank account. Then the cellphone places wouldn't let me sign a contract because my visa is only a year long. And I couldn't sign up for the extra insurance because the lady at the town hall was too much of a bitch.
     My 'helper/assistant' kept prizing how she did well in high school, but she didn't have the skills to get these things done. She was better of staying in the retirement house where she worked. She truly let me down, and the company let me down from their poor planning. You need to make plans and leave space for time. Like getting lost in train stations, or when things don't go the way you plan. Because it gives everyone a headache, when you have to replan and you're still just fresh of the boat trying to figure out this new world you put yourself in.

     Don't get me wrong. They are nice. But during business, I don't care about being nice as much as getting things done. You can do it in a nice way as long as it gets done. And properly. Not rushing. 

     They did give me a book on teaching, and teaching theories. Aka, a simplified version of the TEFL course book I have but nonetheless more specific towards Japanese students and ALT's jobs. And they also provide this online training course thing, but I have just 3 months left and I still haven't done it.

     During this time, they'll also tell you more about your location and give you the textbooks you'll need as well as a map of your area. When you visit your location, they will show you how to drive to your schools. My location is a driving one, so they showed me that. Although it makes no difference
to me because I don't remember how to get somewhere from just being in the car once.

     I am sooooo directionally challenged. I need to start at the same starting point all the time. If you start somewhere else, I'm gonna be lost. So it made no difference to me because I couldn't take notes no landmarks, etc. So I basically just had to learn on my own once I was there using google maps on my phone, for about 3 to 4 weeks.

     Anyway, I did meet some cool peeps at training. Haven't kept in contact though. I don't keep in contact with people who don't make an effort.
     They are helpful in ways during training, but I think they just need to plan it with more time. Otherwise, it was important to see how I had to adjust my English during lessons.

     I ended up not using much of what they showed me simply because my location doesn't ask that of me. (Human recorder location) But I did take some notes down, so I can always look back at it.

Alright so that's all for now about training. Remember the whole lesson in this is,



If you have any more questions, leave comments below and your question can be featured in the next post.


ALT: My Teaching Location/Assignment

     Alrighty, soooooo,
last time I left you off was when I finished my little 5 day vacation in Saitama.

     And I apologize for the long ass awaited post. It hasn't been the most joyful experience for me and thus I lost the energy to do any of the creative outlets that I once previously had been doing. (Including this blog)

     But this will all end soon, as I will move to a new and different location altogether to get away from this middle of nowhere hell hole. But let me explain a little bit about my position, before I get ahead of myself.

     I've been working with Interac (a dispatch company for ALT's to be "dispatched" to public schools) in Gifu. I work in Sakahogi town but I live in Minokamo city. And I'm the only ALT for this whole vicinity. Meaning the next ALT next to me will be about 20 to 30 minutes away.

     It's a very VERY rural area (at least to my standards; I've been going to school in Chicago, so anything small to me feels like ''get me the hell out of here"), where everyone knows everyone.
There's tons of nikkeijin (second generation Japanese who previously lived in Brazil or in other areas; but mostly Brazil) and filipinos, so that makes me kind of happy. Until I realized how they are treated in schools here. *A topic for another discussion.*

     To give you another visual; I have to drive everywhere and the closest decent shopping mall is about 25 minutes away. The closest Saizeriya (a japanized Italian restaurant - smoking section included) is about 40 minutes away, in a totally different city. And the closest EON (shopping center), is 50 minutes away (not including traffic). And there is no Starbucks, nor any other main shops. Which makes my life hell, 'cuz I hate driving everywhere. I like things close to me (within walking distance).

     I don't expect anyone to know nor speak decent English 'cuz Japan is notorious for its low English test scores. And it's also proven by the few Japanese who do travel abroad, and their education system.

     Anyways, I work in the Sakahogi Kindergarten, Elementary School and Jr. High School. And this set will never change because the area just isn't big enough for an ALT to do just one level. It would be possible to do just Jr. High here, but then if there was an ALT for just Kindergarten and Elementary, then they wouldn't be able to work the minimum hours required by your instructors visa. (40 hours) So in this area, whoever becomes an ALT here will be in these 3 levels.

   >>>  A little history about this location <<<

     All the previous ALT's have only stayed here for 1 year. And the ALT before me didn't even finish his contract and only stayed for 6 months. I'm finishing my previous ALT's contract.

     If you are abroad, most likely you will not be able to pick your location quite detailedly, so be sure to ask whoever you are applying to how long the previous ALT's have stayed in that location. If they stay for a long time (1+ year, you can bet it's a good location and probably their personal needs changed). If they stay for just 1 year or less, then it is a matter of the schools not providing a welcoming and supportive environment.

     In my location, there was only once when an ALT stayed for 3 years and after that they got tired of him so the schools requested a new ALT, but that was long ago. And there was a previous ALT, whom actually had the responsibility of teaching the students but she skipped many chapters, and started from Chapter 6. She was from Hiroshima and she wanted to talk about Chapter 6 (which covers Hiroshima and the atomic bomb) as the first lesson. But the students hadn't even covered the previous lessons.

     That story kind of shocked me because from what I can tell, the previous ALT's and myself are
here as human recorders. We only teach the lower levels, which makes the job extremely easy. Easy job = easy money. I wonder if they changed their ways after her?

     And because my predecessor didn't finish his contract, I think the school or BOE requested the company to visit every month and see how the ALT is doing.

     In Japan, they talk about feelings and take great measures to keep peoples feelings well intact. Companies and people take care of your 'emotional well-being'. So this mentor surprise visits me every month, just to give me some feedback and basically talk.

     Personally, I don't think it's professional to talk about feelings in the workplace, unless someone made a mistake that encompasses a persons feelings such as the proper behaviour a person is suppose to conduct.  And I'm neither the person to talk about feelings anyway. Just don't piss me off or make me mad. Nobody likes a mad Puerto Rican woman.

     On another point about this location, the ALT is the main teacher for Kindergarten and grades 1
through 4 in Elementary. Then you are supposedly set up as a group teaching method for grades 5 and up, but don't expect to team teach with the JTE, because even though the contract specifies that, it is not what actually happens.

     The JTE is the main teacher and you are there to provide pronunciation. AKA be a human recorder. One of my teachers is fairly nice and has entrusted me with passing out papers (while she writes on the board), say the morning greetings (this is when you ask the students as a class 5 questions: how are you?, what day is it today?, what's the date?, how's the weather?, and what time is it now?), as well as the goodbye greetings, and directing the vocabulary drills.

     There was once when she let me plan out the whole class for grades 1 (7th graders), and I just did fun activities where they basically reviewed the grammar and vocab that they had already learned through games. And not just any game. I was determined to make them as output as possible. I'm tired of them not speaking in class. So this was my way to change that.
     We also read the book together, for the dialogue sections, and she always does the warm-up activities with me. She also sometimes asks me questions about things she is unsure about, or just to make me feel like my position is incorporated in the classroom during those days when it focuses mostly on grammar. She also lets me correct students answers with a red pen.

     And let me tell you. This teacher I just told you about is an exception. She is very proactive about teaching English and it's something she enjoys, as well as makes it fun. The other teachers I've been paired up with are not this friendly, and their interest in the subject is much less.

>>> Types of Teachers I've Been Paired Up With in JHS <<<

     >>Example 1:<< There is another main teacher at the JHS here in Sakahogi, but after the 3rd month of my contract, she started getting sick. All I know it's that it's something serious, where the school has to find substitute teachers to fill her spot for the mean time.

     She was pretty good. She emphasized a lot on grammar, and grammar input. She enjoys this. But she made it very clear to me that she doesn't need an ALT, nor does she know how to work with one. Even though my position in this school has be debunked to human recorder, she still used the CD-rom that comes with the book to have the students listen. This was at the beginning of my contract when I actually cared a lot about being an ALT.
     She only talked to me after class about petty and unrelated things, and that was ok. At least she was trying to be somewhat social. Though that didn't change the fact for me that I'm not close to her in any way. Nor do I respect her.
     She didn't ask anything of me. Not even the greetings before and after class, and it pained my ears to hear such a bad accent.

     >>Example 2:<< The teacher as example 1 (Fukunaga) got sick. I dunno why nor do I care. (Side Note: she was in charge of the 8th graders and one class for 9th grade.) So most of the 8th graders didn't study English for like 2 months or something. Meanwhile the school was looking for subs to fill in her spot. And at one point they did find one. He was here for 3 months.
     This was a guy who didn't know how to teach and has never taught. At least that's the impression he left on me since he was always writing notes on his lesson plan. Maybe he taught like 40 years ago or something. I dunno. But the guy was horrible.
     At one point I was talking to him and he gave me the hint that he's a tutor for foreign children. He said how their pronunciation is great, but they don't know the grammar. I was like. . . .

. . .
. . .
That is such a wrong statement. First of all, foreign kids excel above and beyond their japanese classmates in English. That's a fact. It's only when they come here very young, like 5th grade and under that they such just as bad as their japanese classmates. BECAUSE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM HERE SUCKS! They don't learn anything. So they are using what they know from their mother tongue to sound out English. So that's when I asked this old man how old was his student, and of course he said he was elementary age. No surprise there.

     Anyways, this guy really emphasized reading and reading and reading. Plus his background is being a tutor (a bit different from being a teacher), who just made his students do the actual work at home. In class he never used the board, never wrote anything down, and never explained WHY an answer was right or wrong. He didn't care about anything other than reading, so he made the kids repeat the reading sections over and over again. Same with the main key sentences that used the grammar in their study notebooks.

     Even I was so bored and dreaded his class. Many kids from the 9th grade class came up to me and told me, "he's no fun, he's boring and we don't like him".

     I truly felt sorry for the kids. They wouldn't pay attention in his classes also, and acted up. I don't blame them. The guy wasn't a teacher and didn't care about them. He ate lunches alone, and cared to much about proper behaviour like no hands in your pockets, standing straight like a robot, and ALWAYS paying attention.
     Story is---> he sucked. He also didn't know how to work with ALT's. So I was pretty much just standing around in class doing nothing.

~ * ~

      This is when I truly stopped caring about how much amount of work I actually had to do in this school. With the first teacher I cared. And once this guy came, (of course I still care now about their English) but I just don't care as much about my work load, because I know they're not going to give it to me. They don't require it from me nor need me, so they won't ask it of me.
     So I'm like. . . .


     I know they don't need me. I'm just a human recorder, and I honestly don't have any work other than prepare lessons for kindergarten and elementary. At the same time, I won't get payed for extra/overtime work, so I'm not gonna do it.
     I'm fine not working for them. Gives me more time to do the things I want to do. Like apply for other jobs where I'm actually an important asset in peoples lives. I need that feeling of being busy, feeling important, and feeling satisfaction from the hard work I'm doing. Otherwise, I don't really have a purpose.
     A version of myself who's not busy MOST of the time? I just can't do it.

     Even in school I was always busy with something. Of course I've always valued my holidays, and resting time, and those days where you just chill at home in your p-jays and watch TV or do your hobby. But these two were balanced in a way I felt appropriate for myself.

     So why am I explaining this to you?

     Because this is really important for what is coming up next.


HTML Comment Box is loading comments...