Monday, April 14, 2008

Answers to David's Questions

As you probably know by now, one of the main reasons for me keeping this blog is to help other people do similar things to me, and to reassure them that it's not impossible!

I welcome any questions or thoughts you have that I may not have answered fully or just plain missed! Some more came through last week, so I will try to answer them as best I can!

1. Since I'm not living in England or another country that has a Working Holiday visa arrangement with Japan at this moment, I'm up the creek as far as getting a Working Holiday Visa is concerned. I know that you don't get issued a Work Visa unless you have proof that you have work, but schools (like Gaba, which I'm actually going to try and get a job with, thanks to you!) generally don't hire you on a tourist visa (which is the only way you can stay in Japan for an extended time (if you're not eligible for the Working Holiday visa) to look for work). It's a little confusing! Any advice?

This is a very difficult question! One of the main reasons it's taken me so long to post a reply! As far as I'm aware, Gaba cannot sponsor people for Work Visas now, but they do not accept job applications from people on a Tourist Visa. I checked this again, and I was wrong, Gaba can sponsor you from abroad, but it's not as flexible as non-sponsored as you need to work a certain amount of lessons every month. I think it's at least 150 lessons per month. Other eikaiwa (English conversation schools) can sponsor you for a Work Visa too and you can work with them for a year, or extend it for up to 3 years. Some appropriate schools I can think of are Geos, ECC and Aeon (not Nova now!). To my knowledge, these schools can sponsor full Work Visas. There's more information in my post on Working Holiday Visas. If you find any information to the contrary, please tell me and I will change this post immediately, but that's all I know right now. Sorry I can't be of more use!

2. What kinds of things do you teach in your lessons? And how do you teach them? Do you introduce concepts in English, then elaborate on them in Japanese? That's something that has intrigued me a bit!

In Gaba lessons, I teach from the textbooks, working through prescribed lessons and answering any questions that the student has. It's pretty self-explanatory, and sometimes the students would just prefer to chat to you and talk about things. They're the best type of lesson. With private students, I find current affairs and news topics work really well as a base for the lesson, and then let the flow of the conversation take you somewhere else, all the while correcting grammatical or pronunciation mistakes.

I never elaborate on things in Japanese (I wish my language ability was that good!), as Gaba prefers only English to be spoken. However, if I know a word in Japanese and can't describe it in English then I will just directly translate it, or write it in Japanese. Katakana (the phonetic alphabet used for foreign loan words) is extremely useful if a student is having difficulty remembering the pronunciation of a word too.

3. I'm well aware that foreigners get a lot of curious looks, but have you experienced any blatant racism? Or have you seen it? I would imagine not, but I'd also like to know for sure!

Personally, I have never seen or experienced racism (that I know of!) but there is discrimination towards Westerners in terms of finding apartments (landlords don't want the hassle of dealing with non-Japanese) and maybe being refused work because you don't look 'foreign' i.e. blonde hair and blue eyes. I have heard a couple of stories of non-violent moderate prejudice towards Chinese people here, but nothing major.

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