Abe Administration Flings More Money At English Education

Japanese politicians are blabbing once again about internationalization, something they know nothing at all about.

The plan? Just as bone-headed as all past plans – double the number of ALTs in Japanese schools and switch from one useless test to another useless test. The net effect will be zero and in a couple of years, they’ll decide it was a waste, cut the number of ALTs, etc. And then in a few years after that, talk about internationalization again, and so on, and still nobody graduating from a Japanese school can answer the question, ‘How are you today?’ Continue reading

The Longer You Teach in Japan, the Better It Gets

I just ran into a guy the other night that I used to work with many years ago at a crappy eikaiwa school. It was weird because I’d totally forgotten about that place, and just seeing him brought back all of this crazy trauma. It reminded me of an alien abduction movie I saw where the abductee has a flashback and curls up under a table at a party and sits there in a fetal position shaking.

I was like that guy under the table.

The eikaiwa was run by a madwoman who suffered from acute paranoia and thought everyone was stealing from her. She made my life a living hell for a good six months before I had enough and quit. Continue reading

Mickey Acorn Talks About Getting Published In Japan

My buddy Mickey Acorn has just published an ESL textbook here in Japan and I couldn’t be happier for him.  Aside from being an English teacher, a fiction writer, and a fellow Japan-lover, he’s also a great songwriter and does a bang-up rendition of Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl.’  I was psyched to hear about his book and thought it would be cool to interview him about publishing in Japan.

Greg: First of all, Mickey, please introduce yourself and tell us how long you’ve been in Japan.

Mickey: I’m Mickey Acorn, I’m from Prince Edward Island in Canada (known for the story “Anne of Green Gables” –> 赤毛のアン). I came to Japan for one year on a Working Holiday visa and decided to stay once I realized how amazing the quality of life was in Japan. I’ve been here for just over three and a half years and I don’t intend to leave anytime soon.

Greg: What’s the book all about? What makes it unique?

Mickey: The book is special. Most textbooks like it have used previously published materials to test the reading comprehension of Japanese students. The content is usually pretty boring. Topics such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and cultural differences between the West and Japan are very popular.

Yasukochi Tetsuya wanted to created a textbook used for the same reason, but with original content that was both fresh and interesting to the reader. After reading a story I wrote he became very excited to use it as a way to help people not only improve their reading skills but also let them enjoy English. The book is my short story translated and annotated.
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Living In Japan Without Teaching English

Last night at 2:30 AM, another of my gaijin friends left Japan.  What can I do to keep them here?  He got on a plane with his family back to New Zealand where he will open a convenience store (what I guess they call a ‘dairy’).  He figures that it will be more fulfilling than a career as an eikaiwa teacher.

There were serious reasons why he quit actually.  There was a ridiculous complaint that was totally unrelated to teaching leveled at him by an unsatisfied customer (oops… I mean student) and his superiors stuck up for him.  Kind of.  Well, they defended him, reassured the complainer that he’s a good teacher, and then put him on The List. Continue reading

Insurance For Teachers

When I quit working for one of the big English teaching companies, I had to get insurance from somewhere.  My wife suggested I use the national health system that Japanese people use.  I thought that would be a good idea, but I looked into it and it wasn’t so great after all.  It was very expensive and didn’t offer full coverage.

One problem with National Health is that, when you sign up for it, you have to pay a big chunk to get started.  You have to pay for all the months you were in the country and covered by someone else.  For me, that would have meant paying three years of insurance all at once!
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