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Teaching English in Japan: JET or private?

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Teaching English in Japan: JET or private?

Postby piepiepie75 » Tue 05.13.2008 3:11 am

Like many, I am hoping to teach English in Japan after I am finished with college. I was originally aiming only for JET, but I realize that JET is hard to get in to, and also that some of the private corporations (Like GEOS) offer some pretty good benefits, such as paid health insurance, and incentive pay.

Well, I decided to look up some horror stories on both and try to get an idea of how many from each group were actually satisfied. Obviously, I found that a majority of participants in JET and things like GEOS seemed to enjoy the experience.

When looking up the private horror stories, I found complaints of overwork, and being placed with mean co-workers. Blah blah, all normal complaints for nearly any job. I found similar complaints for JET...at first. Things like...underworked, non appreciation by teachers etc., but then I found more serious accusations. Students sexually harassing JETs while teachers looked on and laughed, students physically attacking JETs and teachers, and in rare cases, sexual assault. The most frightening thing about these stories was that the higher-ups in the JET (according to these complainers) did nothing about it, even leaving the participants in the same school.

So, here are my basic questions:

Which pays better? (I know that JET's base salary is more, but I notice that GEOS offers overtime, incentive pay, and also pays for health insurance)
Which has the best living conditions? (Which program would get me a DECENT place to live. And my family is pretty poor...so my standards aren't high.)
What kinds of students would I have? (I know JET goes to public schools, while other places have people pay them to learn English. Is there a huge difference in how the students behave?)
What kind of support do the offer? (If I'm having problems with students, such as being physically threatened or assaulted, what can I expect the organizations to do about it?)

Thanks in advance :D.
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Re: Teaching English in Japan: JET or private?

Postby distantsmoke » Wed 11.19.2008 3:35 pm

Teaching English can be very lucrative...if you have the right credentials. If someone is going to pay you a lot of money to teach English they expect you to have the appropriate Education and English degrees from a good school. If you plan on coming here and teaching English just becasue you are a native English speaker, then not so much. Additionally, getting a visa other than as a tourist is difficult unless you have a company, like JET, sponsor you.

I have heard of people who came here on tourist visas and then got a job and stayed, but they almost always have a valuable skill set with the documentation to prove it. More often people come here on a tourist visa and then just overstay, getting work where ever they can. But that isn't a very safe lifestyle.

I do know some people who are making money teaching English without the degrees, but they are mostly wives of someone who is working here under the appropriate visa. And they mostly teach "conversational English" which doesn't pay that well. The pay ranges from about 2000 to 3000 yen per hour. (About $20 - $30). But you have to have enough students to make that a living wage. If you teach 30 students each 1 hour per week, that's only about $900. Not a living wage here.

Also, something to consider, one company (like JET) went bankrupt last year. They kept promising to pay their teachers, but in the end they never did. They were prosecuted, but that didn't help the teachers who were stuck here without jobs and not enough money to go back home. It was quite the scandal. So if you choose that route, I would encourage you to do an extensive background check on the company you plan to work for.

And that brings up the exchange rate. When I got here a year and a half ago the rate was 137 yen to the dollar. Now it is 97 yen to the dollar, so since I get paid in dollars, everything is a little more expensive for me this year.

The kind of students you encounter would depend on the type of school you are assigned to. As is true everywhere, some students are better than others. A lot would depend on the company you are working for and what schools they "service".
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Re: Teaching English in Japan: JET or private?

Postby Dehitay » Wed 11.19.2008 8:22 pm

Wow, this thread actually went 6 months without a reply? It seems fairly interesting too.
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Re: Teaching English in Japan: JET or private?

Postby chikara » Thu 11.20.2008 1:02 am

distantsmoke wrote:...... have a company, like JET, sponsor you......
...... one company (like JET) went bankrupt last year. .....

JET is not a company. JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme) is a program run by agencies of the Japanese government and its funding comes from the Japanese government . The company that went bankrupt is Nova which is nothing like JET at all.

Since you can't make the distinction between JET and Nova you are unable to address the OP's question of whether they should choose the JET program or a private company such as Nova.

Happy necroposting :roll:

Dehitay wrote:Wow, this thread actually went 6 months without a reply? It seems fairly interesting too.

Given that the OP hasn't visited this site for two months though it is doubtful they will ever read the responses.
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Re: Teaching English in Japan: JET or private?

Postby BrianM » Sun 12.21.2008 1:06 am

For all your JET questions I refer you to this man, Jason. http://www.youtube.com/user/myargonauts
Those videos have helped me so much! He has been in Japan on the JET program for 5 years and can answer any question you have.
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Re: Teaching English in Japan: JET or private?

Postby Kurious » Mon 12.29.2008 9:08 am

distantsmoke wrote:The pay ranges from about 2000 to 3000 yen per hour. (About $20 - $30). But you have to have enough students to make that a living wage. If you teach 30 students each 1 hour per week, that's only about $900. Not a living wage here.

1. I wonder, what is considered living wage? Yes, this may vary according to lifestyle and location. But are there general numbers just to have an idea?

2. I thought that English was taught to groups. This example about the 30 students seems to me like it's one-on-one tutoring then. What about groups?

Thank you.
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