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Moving to Japan...

Postby Chaosenemy » Thu 08.03.2006 1:27 am

Lately I've been reading alot on what people go through moving to Japan. I've been hearing alot of bad stuff... about how hard it is for foreigners to get a job and a place to live. No not hard... impossible. I understand that immigrating to another country isn't easy at all, but according to most of these sites I've been to recently, its next to impossible to move to Japan and intend on staying there for the rest of your life. So basically I'm getting a little worried. Is it really THAT difficult for foreigners in Japan?
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby Ren » Thu 08.03.2006 2:00 am

I've heard the same things... There HAS to be foreigners that live there though, right? I don't understand why it matters if you are from there or not, as long as you speak the language and meet the requirements.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby billy-jay » Thu 08.03.2006 2:10 am

It's not impossible. Sometimes it's difficult.

I'm in Japan, but my situation is a little unusual in that I was stationed here as a member of the USAF, then I got out and stayed. I still work for the military so I have a military visa. It was a huge surprise to me to discover that for a standard work visa you need to have a degree. I've worked in this country for years without one.

But enough about me. My point was that every situation is unique. The best advice I can give you is come up with a plan for what you want to do. If your entire plan is "go to Japan & get a job," that's not going to hack it.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby keatonatron » Thu 08.03.2006 4:01 am

Chaosenemy wrote:
So basically I'm getting a little worried.


Wow. Sounds like if you can't live in Japan you're going to die or something.

Is it hard to simply live and work in Japan? Not at all.

Is it hard to get a DECENT job living and working in Japan? Quite.

If you simply want to go, there are a few ways. One, as has already been mentioned, is working for the US government. The US and Japan have a close working relationship, so the US can bring in whoever they want. Of course you have to be able to do some sort of specialized work that the government needs done in Japan (i.e. certified teacher, computer engineer, mechanic, translator, etc.). You can't really go to the Department of Defense and say "I'm ready to flip burgers, send me to Japan!". I'm not sure exactly how it works, but getting transfered to Japan might also be tricky, especially if there is a greater need for your skills elsewhere. Having strong Japanese skills and requesting a translation job should make it a sure thing though.

The other easy method is to get a job for one of the huge English teaching companies. They will give you a visa and $2500 a month. Seeing as how living expenses can be around $1200-1500 (no car) a month or more, this ain't much. Plus you don't get much respect from the other foreigners living in Japan. You will have little time to practice Japanese as everyone around you wants to speak English. A college degree is required.

The only way to get a good job with a decent salary is to get a job with some specialty. These require a degree and/or lots of experience, and a considerable amount of luck to find an opening. Since this method is more difficult and is different depending on the person, I don't know what more I can say about it.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby Diana » Thu 08.03.2006 7:44 pm

I have a unskilled labor at Sony but some japanese I speak sometimes say is too bad work there. I don't know why is that bad work in a factory like Sony.

I think most foreigners from english-speaking countries only work on "white-collar" jobs. Anyone from US or Canada ever know what is work on a assembly-line for exemple. I don't find it so bad.

Few responsibilities, not so bad wage at all. People just say "you work too much!" but japaneses work a lot too!

Come on, you can consider a blue-collar work here!;)
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby adam » Thu 08.03.2006 9:08 pm

Don't knock the teaching jobs. The teaching jobs are actually really fun and a good experience. You can save a lot of money(Usually around $1000 US dollars a month, and that's with having fun every weekend). The company really sets up everything for you such as apartment, bank account, and fully accustoms you to living in Japan. On top of that you get to meet a lot of new friends, and get introduced to the culture (I've been invited to the most wild places by students. For example, a student's private horse ranch in the mountains).

You have a lot of free time, and a lot of vacations. There's plenty of time to study Japanese, you just gotta make sure you keep the motivation. Also they are a great springboard, so if you eventually want to change fields, you've already gotten to know the country. My co-worker just got a job working for the japan times. And as for respect from other foreigners, who cares. Most don't think that way. The one's who don't respect the teachers are usually so full of themselves, and have their head stuck so far up their, well you know, so need to worry about them.

In conclusion to ChaosEnemy. It's difficult, not impossible. Things in life that are worthwhile are not easy. Work towards your goals, try hard, and don't give up. And good luck.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby Ren » Thu 08.03.2006 10:03 pm

Wow, so I take it being an English teacher would a good path to take? I might consider that one day. How would you go about getting one, do you set it up in your home country and then move there?
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby Shibakoen » Thu 08.03.2006 10:37 pm

adam wrote:
Don't knock the teaching jobs. The teaching jobs are actually really fun and a good experience. You can save a lot of money(Usually around $1000 US dollars a month, and that's with having fun every weekend). The company really sets up everything for you such as apartment, bank account, and fully accustoms you to living in Japan. On top of that you get to meet a lot of new friends, and get introduced to the culture (I've been invited to the most wild places by students. For example, a student's private horse ranch in the mountains).

You have a lot of free time, and a lot of vacations. There's plenty of time to study Japanese, you just gotta make sure you keep the motivation. Also they are a great springboard, so if you eventually want to change fields, you've already gotten to know the country. My co-worker just got a job working for the japan times. And as for respect from other foreigners, who cares. Most don't think that way. The one's who don't respect the teachers are usually so full of themselves, and have their head stuck so far up their, well you know, so need to worry about them.

In conclusion to ChaosEnemy. It's difficult, not impossible. Things in life that are worthwhile are not easy. Work towards your goals, try hard, and don't give up. And good luck.



I'm just curious, but are you from the US or one of the other English speaking countries? If you're from the US then I'm surprised that you can find enough time to study, "go out every weekend", and travel much. Unless they changed things, American's can't work part-time and for those with NO teaching experience and working for an English Language school, it can be very hard to find the time (if you want to do a good job at work). Friends of mine from other countries were able to come on Working Holiday visas and stuff like that which allowed them to work part-time. That way their schedules were much more flexible. Also, as a new teacher you'll be very lucky if you can get a single weekend off, so unless you want to go to work still feeling the effects after a night of partying, then you really don't have many opportunities to hang out on weekends. Everyone I knew lived with other gaijin so not only were we teaching English all day, we'd be speaking it when we got home. I also don't know how cheap things can be in Chiba, but next door in Tokyo my school was taking a substantial chunk out of my paycheck for a tiny room (more like a closet). The fact that my roommate was a slob meant if I wanted to save money on food and cook in the apartment then I'd have to clean up after the lazy good-for-nothing every night, so count on 1000 yen per day at least for food. Then if you actually have taste buds and want something decent, it will cost considerably more. Add to that the fact that company policy often strictly forbids socializing with students (even if you're not one for observing rules, your students probably will) interaction with students outside class is not the best bet.

However, if you get a teaching job in a Japanese high school you can have a much better time. Your schedule is better with all holidays and weekends off and the teaching load isn't as heavy as a new full-time teacher in a language school. Adam is right, however, in that experiences obviously vary from person to person, but the turnover rate at language schools is indicative of the difficulties in adjusting to the lifestyle. Of course there are people who love it and stay there teaching for years, but face it, there aren't as many opportunities for advancement as an English teacher as there would be for say, an IT professional or someone in the financial sector. And teachers are looked down on by other gaijin in Japan because, well, English teachers have a reputation for doing more than just going to "private horse ranches" with their students. My new roommates (you didn't think I'd live in that hole for long, did you?) were a much more diverse group of mostly professionals who still often couldn't get out of gaijin houses and move into a real apartment (key money is expensive).

If at all possible, I would recommend learning a skill (most likely Japanese fluency, but IT and Financial Services are good too) or having some professional experience. Believe me, even with an advanced degree, several headhunters, friends and colleagues helping search for a job, it is VERY difficult to get sponsorship for a visa without experience and/or japanese language skills. My advice is to start studying and really dedicate your time to it if you want to go to Japan. Sure, you can go as a teacher but I really think you'd have a much better time if you got a more professional job.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby keatonatron » Thu 08.03.2006 11:39 pm

I don't mean to specificly put down anyone here, but what makes me think lowly of many English teachers is that they're using a skill they didn't have to use any effort to learn.

There are some English teachers who majored in English and got an ESL certification and are really professional; I don't mind those people one bit. The people I don't really care for are the ones who say "I want to go to Japan. What skills do I have? Well, I can talk. I studied English in high school, guess that's good enough." How many millions of people in America and Britain can speak English? How many of them studied English as a requirement in high school and college? It just seems like the laziest job possible :@

I do teach some English, but it's only part time while I'm in school. Listening to some of the other English teachers talk to their students, I start to feel kind of bad for the people learning from them. Most of them can't explain what an adverb does or what a gherund is. Of course, this is just a conversation school, so maybe the standards are lower...
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby richvh » Thu 08.03.2006 11:52 pm

Well, I don't know what a gherund is. Oh, wait a minute, you meant a gerund, didn't you? :) Seriously, if all they have is high school level English with no foreign language training, they probably don't know what a gerund is (let alone be able to spell it, or explain what it is.) I don't think it ever came up in my English classes (Regents level, which means they were for the kids who would probably go to college); my first exposure to gerunds was in Latin class.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby Ezrach » Fri 08.04.2006 12:43 am

What if you majored in a second language and are completely familiar with the steps required for second language acquisition? Sometimes having been the student yourself is a more valuable experience than learning vague theories that apply to students (and even those are debated among linguists - Rote vs. CA, CA student centered vs. CA teacher centered, roleplay vs. true application, form versus function).

A lot of "qualified" teachers in Japan have never actually learned a second language. I've noticed, also, that in teaching ESL at the university level, "qualified" teachers waste a ton of time with term memorization. Students should not have to know "past perfect tense" unless they intend to become English linguists. They should, however, know how to use the form properly.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby keatonatron » Fri 08.04.2006 1:00 am

richvh wrote:
Well, I don't know what a gherund is.

Oops.

I don't think it ever came up in my English classes (Regents level, which means they were for the kids who would probably go to college); my first exposure to gerunds was in Latin class.


I was learning gerunds, particples and the like in 7th grade. Of course, that was at a private school, and I learned more English in 7th and 8th grade than I did in my 4 years at the public high school.

Victory Manual wrote:
What if you majored in a second language and are completely familiar with the steps required for second language acquisition?


I think that helps a lot. I've spent so much time comparing English and Japanese that I have a pretty good understanding of how the two relate. Plus I know all the terminology in Japanese, which means I can explain it to new learners. (I actually know my 形's better than my tense's :D)

And so many English teachers are in it just to meet girls, which I think is really really creepy and an abuse of the position.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby billy-jay » Fri 08.04.2006 1:11 am

keatonatron wrote:
(I actually know my 形's better than my tense's :D)


...and your rules for pluralization.

;)
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby adam » Fri 08.04.2006 1:12 am

You're judging a group based on a minority. First as a teacher I do have a lot of free time. My working hours are usually around 6-7 hours a day M-F. So I have weekends off, and mornings to do whatever I want. As well as 5 weeks of paid vacation. That's enough free time for me. Also I live by myself, in a nice single apartment. I live pretty well and save money just fine.

People abuse their jobs everywhere, but it's really rude to say that it doesn't take any skills. Yes there are bad teachers that are accepted (you do still need a 4 year degree), but it takes a skill to be able to make people excited and enthusiastic to learn. If you go in there and just talk, people are bored to tears. Teaching (effectively and making a class great) is easy from people looking on the outside, but it's rather difficult. And yes I consider it a professional job. A really great job at that, if you find the right place and make the best out of it. I teach mostly children and I've never had more fun in my life.

So don't go judging a profession just based on what you've observed. Go in and meet some great teachers and you may change your viewpoint

And to Ren: You can set it up in your home country usually. It is a great path. Usually people who say it's bad either had bad experience or weren't happy people to begin with (Yes I've met some of them) or are judging it from an outside predjudiced view. If you have any questions, free feel to pm me.
Last edited by adam on Fri 08.04.2006 1:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Moving to Japan...

Postby Justin » Fri 08.04.2006 2:43 am

I really don't think keatonatron is condemning the entire English teacher profession like you're out to make it sound Adam. He's seen the bad, you've seen the good, nothing wrong with voicing how you feel about it.

it's really rude to say that it doesn't take any skills

It's something "anyone" can do to an extent, but something that definitely takes skill if you actually want to do it well.

And yes I consider it a professional job. A really great job at that...

...and that is what separates you from probably a good majority of the English teachers out there in Japan, you're interested in Japan and it's culture, plus you actually care about your job, I think that's great.

I've personally seen my fair share of !#$&@! bag English teachers using their time in Japan as nothing more than a way to score with chicks, and to tell you the truth, I'm really not too fond of the name it leaves for those of us who actually care about Japan, it's people, it's culture, and it's language. I'm not going to judge anyone who is an English teacher based on some of the bad I've seen, but it's not going to stop me from saying that I dislike those who abuse what they've got and treat Japan like their own personal playground. :D
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