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Time to Say Goodbye to JET and Dispatch ALTs

Given all the talk of the JET Programme on the chopping block, I've been thinking about the discussion it has generated. The consensus seems to be that the program should be saved since it's a great soft power tool and exchange program for Japan. Although I wrote along similar lines earlier, I've realized that I was ignoring the elephant in the room: the way Japan teaches English is a complete mess and needs to be changed. Part of that change would involve ending the JET Programme and use of dispatch ALTs, and replacing them with qualified language teachers.

Although Debito's latest column in The Japan Times is about keeping JET, I think he also inadvertently makes the case for ending it by pointing out that the way English is taught is broken.

First, he lets JET off the hook because the "E" in JET is for "Exchange," not "English." While technically correct, anyone vaguely familiar with the program knows that the ALTs are in the classrooms giving English lessons. A quick glance at the JET website shows that "More than 90% of JET participants are employed as ALTs." If nearly all of the participants are ALTs, you can't really let them off the hook given that the program has done nothing to boost English levels over the past 20 years, can you? If JET is supposed to be a cultural exchange program, then there are probably better ways to implement it instead of disguising it as teaching English. It could be rebooted into a homestay or student exchange program, for example.

Debito then goes on to point the finger at Japan's "psychotic" classroom, a combination of rote textbook learning reinforced with ridicule and shame. The problems with the way English is taught in Japan are well known, so just when you think Debito is getting to the heart of the matter, he comes up with this gem:

Ever notice how the Japanese media keeps voicing over Japanese when they speak English proficiently, or picking apart their performance for comic value? Because eigo is not supposed to be easy — so throw up some hurdles if there's any threat of it appearing so.

Good Lord, it's a conspiracy! English is difficult so the media is throwing up all sorts of roadblocks to stop it. He doesn't give an example of the media throwing up a hurdle, but probably has some idiotic variety show in mind where hitting someone on the head with a plastic hammer and laughing at their poor English is considered comedy. The only example of voice overs that comes to mind is the simultaneous interpretation seen on news programs like NHK's Close-up Gendai, when the host, Hiroko Kuniya (bilingual herself), interviews foreign guests. Amazingly, NHK voices over the English on the assumption that the audience might be interested in what's being discussed.

It is Debito's conclusion, however, that reinforces my belief that JET should be scrapped.

Get rid of JET, however, and the eigo psychosis will force things back to the way it was, with cries of "Gaijin da!" from behind garden fences.

Wow. Only JET can save the nation from the inane utterances of school children. That's his justification for saving the program, never mind that he emphasized that JET wasn't a teaching program at the beginning of his column. I need a drink.

If you don't find Debito persuasive, perhaps the Have Your Say feature can scare you into keeping the JET Programme. With photos of school children from Christiana Aretta's English Dreams project mixed in with reader comments, the underlying message is that ending JET will crush these kids' dreams. I find that hard to believe. Little Aki won't grow up to be a pilot because there was no JET ALT in his classroom, he'll fail because he wasn't taught communicative English in the first place and will probably have to get his parents to fork out thousands of dollars to make up for that lack of teaching at a cram school or English conversation school.

Dispatch ALTs

Like JET, the use of dispatch ALTs is another practice that needs to end. A recent excerpt from the Yomiuri's Gakuryoku-ko series succinctly illustrates the insanity that goes on:

It's early July, and Eri Imazeki, 26, is teaching her sixth-grade English class at Kashiwa Municipal No. 1 Primary School in Chiba Prefecture, with the help of Australian ALT Dina Tang. But the two educators do not speak to each other.

When Tang stood at the podium and said, "Hello everyone," Imazeki went to the back of the classroom and watched the children as they spoke English with Tang.

In Kashiwa, public schools do not directly employ foreign teachers, instead contracting third parties to supply them. One reason for this is cost-cutting.

However, when using such ALTs, teachers are not permitted to directly instruct their assistants.

In April, a teacher asked an ALT to place cards on the blackboard. Though on the surface this may seem a harmless request, the Chiba Labor Bureau demanded the school instruct its teachers to not ask anything of the ALTs, as it would be considered an order, and making the use of a third-party appear as mere camouflage.

Following the order, the school opted for the safest approach: banning all conversation between teachers and ALTs during class.

The people in charge of teaching the students how to communicate in another language don't communicate amongst themselves because it could violate labor laws. In addition to this, the hiring of dispatch ALTs has been fraught with it own issues ranging from lack of training, illegal contracts, low pay, no job security, high turnover, and lack of benefits.

As it stands, teaching English in Japan, be it via JET or dispatch ALTs, is conducted mainly by untrained, unqualified, university graduates whose skill happens to be the ability to speak English while looking nice at the same time. It's time to end these classroom distractions, but with one big caveat: that Japan gets serious about teaching English. It would be a massive undertaking in terms of time and effort and would require a complete overhaul of the English curriculum, and the hiring and support of qualified teachers. Moreover, it would probably take close to a decade before any concrete results are seen.

This may be wishful thinking on my part since it requires a major change of thinking by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. On the other hand, keeping JETs in the classroom for the sake of diplomacy (or saving the nation from some idiotic conspiracy) and hiring dispatch ALTs because they are cheap does nothing to improve the level of English in Japan. How about some constructive thinking on improving English teaching and boosting TOEIC scores instead of keeping alive ineffective programs and practices and hoping that it will all magically work out? In fact, we should be asking ourselves what are the consequences of amateurs in the classroom.* Leaving things the way they are is nothing more than bread and circuses.

*I'm not so jaded as to think that JETs and dispatch ALTs are incompetent and have not done good things in the classroom. They have, but in looking at the big picture, they haven't been very effective.

Comments

JET or no JET, I wish there was a way to get round this "Every white man is an American" mentality.

Click on the "chopping block" link above, and the first lines in the article are : "Every year for the past two decades, legions of young Americans have descended on Japan to teach English"

Sigh. What about the rest of us?? I thought the majority of teachers on the JET were Australians?

As an aside, check out the chick in the pink top further down the article. Maybe JET's not such a waste of time after all!! I'd hit that and more some.

I read that Japan Times article by Debito and had the same sort of forehead-slapping "why Debito? Not everything is a conspiracy" moment that he so often provokes when he seems to be making a reasonable point and then suddenly goes off on some tangent in order to connect whatever he is talking about to the great anti-foreign conspiracy.

Good post. Who knows, maybe the threat of the funding axe to JET might lead to improvements. Or, sadly, to more school boards employing dispatch ALTs and just exacerbating the downward spiral.

The JET programme has been chipped away for years. I'm not surprised it's finally about to be put out of it's misery. I came over as a JET about 10 years ago and afterwards signed up with a dispatch company. At 2 of the 3 BOE I've worked at since (don't hate me for being dispatch please), I was a replacement for outgoing JETs. Dispatch AETs are (arguably) cheaper and definately lower maintainance. I'm not going to go into the various and sundry evils of the dispatch racket, or what my solution to the problem is, but just want to make the point that this is an example of market forces at work. The JET programme is looking like a dead man walking to me.

The new rule that the JTE and ALT is just plain crazy. It's to make sure the ALTs, or whatever they are called now, are gyomu itaku so that their dispatch companies don't have to make them permanent employees. And to keep them off shakai hoken.

Its a very good discussion to be having.

It may just be about culture - ie, cutting costs, we dont need English as we thought.

JET has been a very useful program for teachers, schools, japanese students and japanese society at large and should continue and should in fact expand. But cost cutting is also an important cultural issue that dominates. How to make it cheaper, faster, quicker, lower quality - race to the bottom for higher profit. Culture takes over and it loses its meaning

What debito is trying to share in his article, he should know he has the experience, eye and knowledge, even though you may not agree with all his views, his cultural knowledge is spot on.

Step back and look at some other events that have been also occurring simultaneously over the last year before jumping on JET, consider the big picture for a moment.

English content about Japan from news agencies has been reducing at an alarming rate, check the content on the internet of major Japanese dailies over the last three years.Once you had one page stories and now they are one line of text.

Distributors of English movies are being asked to dub them in Japanese at a greater rate than ever before, maybe in 18 months it will be difficult to see an English movie in its original form at the cinema.

Conditions for English teachers are reducing ever more rapidly than ever before, paid by the hour not by the day and have to scrape, 10 gigs for a living. Less full time positions, less pay for full time positions, etc.

Do we really need English and if we do do we really need to pay for it? Is also about culture.

How about learning English online with a Philippines based teacher for 390 yen a lesson? The hottest online English learning sites

There are many signs out there.

If a culture can ignore English education for 157 years since Perry landed maybe they can question its role every once in a while. Maybe its one of those times, now

Who exactly pays for the JETS anyway? Does most of the money come out of Tokyo?

Whatever you think of the program, it is certainly an expensive way to hire english teachers....

Jet may have had some nominal benefits once, but the overstatedness of these benefits is now fully recognised. Great. Let's dump Jet. Let's dump bringing over foriegners to sell their idea of their culture to us on the cheap too. It's not worth much, never was.

Let's improve our education system? Umm. What for? We can't afford to pay our overeducated workforce as it is. Let's not improve the system so more people feel lucky to have any job no matter how low the pay, and do what they are told rather than thinking for themselves. The English language is a pain in the arse. Let's keep it that way. Simple

Oh come on. The kids already stare and shout, "Gaijin da!" anyway. In fact, you would think that most urban folks are used to foreigners by now, but they don't seem to be even in the slightest. JET hasn't helped that at all.

Thanks for mentioning my project 100 English Dreams in your article. I think you raise some interesting points and I have a few of my own I'd like to add to the debate about the value of the JET Programme. IMHO, there are a number of fronts that need to be addressed:

1. Spoken English is not part of the high school entrance exam. It's still mostly reading and writing skills, which means that junior high teachers focus on teaching those skills to the near exclusion of speaking and listening.
2. Most ALTs (from JET or elsewhere) have no formal ESL or EFL training. So they don't really understand how to teach English to non-English speakers who never hear English outside of music, movies, and school classes.
3. JTEs often can't speak or write English themselves and have little interest in teaching it as a living language. Their primary function (like every other teacher at junior high) is to get the kids through the high school entrance exams. They have to effectively make a choice between teaching actual conversational English (that will most likely not be on the exams) and the English the kids will be tested on.
4. English classes even three times a week are not enough to build and maintain fluency. Learning a language has to happen contextually and contextual conversations have to occur for language to be obtained naturally. Textbook learning can give students some proficiency in the beginning but can't replace frequent conversations with native or near-native speakers over the course of a lifetime.
5. Getting people to stay in the countryside and build meaningful relationships is a real challenge. Most of my JET colleagues hated the countryside and stayed for a year (or less!) before returning home or moving to a city job and most of the non-JET ALTs I knew did the same.

After devising and putting into place a roleplaying curriculum at elementary and a weekly roleplaying exercise at junior high, I wanted to see if my students could imagine English as a part of their dreams for the future. I put together 100 English Dreams to show that many of the students did and that they specifically imagined using English in ways we had practiced it in the classroom and outside of class. Whether Aki will grow up to be a pilot remains to be seen but whether he uses English as a pilot is definitely related to the usefulness of the English he's exposed to at school or elsewhere.

The real question is who decides what's useful English and how to teach it. Useful English to a JTE and a parent (and often a student) is the English that is going to be on the test. Useful English to the Japanese government is English they can measure and assess. And useful English to an ALT is contextual English conversation, full of regional variation in pronunciation, spelling, gesture, and accepted usage (not unlike Japanese, with all its dialects ;).

There are a million solutions to the problem that many countries with a bilingual or trilingual populace - the Philippines, South Africa, Singapore, Sweden, etc - have effectively employed. It seems clear that there is no lack of example to follow; what's missing seems to be the willingness to accept that there could be an entire country of people who speak both English and Japanese that is still called Japan and still honors its culture. I think until the Japanese government decides that this is a necessary and desired result, there won't be any real change in the way English is taught in Japan.

Christiana, thank you for your honest and thoughtful post. It really does come down to the Japanese willingness to truly embrace English in an English context. The problem is there is growing nationalism, some quiet but still unnerving, within the country in the face of declining economic status / power in the Asian theater. Simply put, many Japanese have no interest in teaching English because it is not their language or culture...They see it as a threat to their culture and bring no passion or true Western culture, both necessary in the advancement of the language, when they teach or structure programs for gai-jin to teach. They do not want other Japanese to fall in love with the language...

It should be obvious why the idea of a nation of Japanese and English speaking billinguals is unacceptable. If they were trying to learn Korean or Chinese, such a thought would be marginally preferable. At least they might start to get on better with their nieghbours.

But English? Who but a very small cadre of the business sector actually needs it to any great degree? Roll on the day when China assumes it's natural place at the centre of the universe. A nation of Japanese/Chinese speaking bilinguals I could live with.

8:53 But that thinking is exactly why Japan is declining int he world today. English speaking countries are their only friends...The Chinese and Koreans would love to see them fail, and Japanese will never learn Korean or Chinese for the same historical reasons, so forget about that. Japan will just further isolate itself from the world and decline even more in regards to economic and political clout. Japan's sun is definitely setting.

No argument here. Those are all valid points and show just how difficult getting serious about teaching English would be. You should have written Debito's column. ;-)

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

I'll take the year, thanks, and then get a "proper" job. Anything (including playing the piano in a house of ill-repute for drinks) is better than ending up as an ESL manager or a dos or a "co-ordinator" in this eikaiwa show. Those eikaiwa jobs almost always end in tears-before-teatime anyway.

Yup...I meet a much better class of person these days in the new job.

A better class of person rises to the challenge, and takes that next step, in their Eikaiwa career. A career, or beer, at the piano bar, were the choices you were given. You chose, piano bar. Congratulations. I wish you well in your beer career, behind the piano.

Kick the Moon: You definitely spouting your typical GEOS/ Mr. K babble BS...Give us a break, please. Many have been forced to listen to the patronizing, propaganda nonsense as Mr. K's Internet speeches. You sound like his little right-hand man. Get out much? See the world? Nope, in your limited GEOS world it is all about daily Cash Target reports and pushing teachers to act like used car salesman. "Rise up"?? What are you leading, a revolution?! Grow up and get out of the failing GEOS/ eikaiwa scum-sucking, nasty world.

Must be that ...[uri} {C...guy everyone talks about on here. Only person to sound that idiotic enough.

Kick the Moon: You definitely spouting your typical GEOS/ Mr. K babble BS...Give us a break, please. Many have been forced to listen to the patronizing, propaganda nonsense as Mr. K's Internet speeches. You sound like his little right-hand man. Get out much? See the world? Nope, in your limited GEOS world it is all about daily Cash Target reports and pushing teachers to act like used car salesman. "Rise up"?? What are you leading, a revolution?! Grow up and get out of the failing GEOS/ eikaiwa scum-sucking, nasty world.

Must be that ...[uri} {C...guy everyone talks about on here. Only person to sound that idiotic enough.

I strongly doubt that Kick the Moon is being serious. If he (?) were, his (?) posts would be much more entertaining. Real eikaiwa middle management thumbsuckers probably don't post on blogs like this.

Nah, he wasn't serious...But the response was so right about Cash Targets, etc.

You
"that Japan gets serious about teaching English."

Debito
"...Debito then goes on to point the finger at Japan's "psychotic" classroom, a combination of rote textbook learning reinforced with ridicule and shame."

Debito opinion bad :(
My opinion good :)

Sounds like Debito knows more about whats going on inside Japan than you do.

I love it when arrogant, self righteous, assholes criticize their own culture and other westerners, but promote the culture of their "adopted" country as some how superior and untouchable and immune to criticism, and then hypocritically go on to push their own opinions as to what REALLY should be done.

Coming from you maybe the JET and ALT programming surviving wouldn't be such a bad thing. Would being "qualified" meaning having as many years teaching English in Japan or living in Japan has you have? Or maybe it means that you should be appointed as some sort of "English Teaching Czar".

Not an ex-JET,

You need to learn how to read. The bit you quote about Debito, is a summary of what he wrote, not a criticism. The criticism comes after that sentence where he makes the unsubstantiated claim that the media is throwing up hurdles to learning English.

The problem isn't that Debito's opinion is bad, it's that it goes completely off the rails. His column can be boiled down to, "JET is an exchange program, not a teaching program, but the situation is so bad in the classroom that we should save JET so Japanese don't go running around the nation shouting, 'Gaijin da!'" That doesn't make any sense.

If you don't like what I wrote, well there's nothing I can do about that. All I've suggested is that government get serious and change the way it teaches English. The way JET and dispatch ALTs are being used just isn't getting the job done. That's not a difficult concept to understand, nor is it me be a self-righteous prick vying to be an "English Teaching Czar."

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

The point of JET was mainly advertising Japan, to a consumer base that existed in the most part in the USA, who back in the day, Japan's economic growth depended on. With the demise of the USA, which will only continue to accelerate, because the next bubble to burst (following tech and real-estate bubbles), is the "stimulus package" bubble. The USA at that point will be an officially bankrupt country, or a "banana republic". Japan knows this. Japan knows it's future fortunes are no longer so strongly linked to the USA, if at all. Thus, the JET program is rapidly becoming insignificant.

I'm White. I'm an American -- Who told you the majority of JET teachers were Australian? They're outnumbered almost 10 to 1 by Americans, and there are almost twice as many Canadians.

United States 2,428
Canada 459
United Kingdom 373
Australia 251
(numbers are for ALTs only)

http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/introduction/statistics.html

Yes, Americans will be hit hardest. But when you look at public sector debt in America, it is a Greece-scale 120 + + percent of gross domestic product.

Japan knows it is now "Bye Bye American Pie" time, hence scaling back tax payer funded America focused programs, like JET.

Japan knows, the future is now not all about America, because America is by definition, bankrupt.

Rebuilding American infrastructure will only make it worse, because it is a temporary band-aid that does not address the core issues facing the economy of the US of A.

Print more bank notes perhaps?

Will the little kiddies still line up to learn English, when the pigeons come home to roost, and the USD has collapsed to 20% of it’s current value, and unemployment in the States hits 20%?

I doubt it, and these events are just around the corner, mark my words.

There is no incentive left for world participants to buy US treasury bonds. The game is over. A new dawn is on the horizon, and Americans will take arms, against themselves. America has abused the very system it created, to the point that implosion is now inevitable.

It’s good-bye JET, because the Japanese know it is good-bye America. A terrible but very clear and simple fact.

Let's not get carried away wringing your hands over the end of America. Go find a Doomer forum for that.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

I have a similar sentiment. I appreciate what Debito said in his Japan Times piece, but you point out the various weak areas, and they all lead to the conclusion that Japan has to reform English teaching in Japan.

That means JET has to be reformed. "Scrapped", in the sense that this "exchange" is not the main emphasis of the program.

Great post!

I never find Debito Arubaito very convincing about anything except what an arrogant something or other he is.

Actually, his JT piece was better written than most of his stuff. Do they still have editors who edit at JT?

I think the same impetus that brought JET into existence will destroy it. The government had money to spend; it now no longer can raise that sort of money to spend. 'English education' is not really a priority for most involved in education, most especially the administrators who make all the decisions. If the goal of it was to introduce English and anglophone cultures (mostly US) to ALL Japanese, then it works very well, and JET is a big boost to those efforts. The program is not and never was a failure.

I think where the inefficiencies lie is in the bureaucrats and all that money to set up CLAIR to oversee the program.

Alternate ALT programs probably undercut the JET Programme, but they also probably undercut regular teachers here in Japan, especially English teachers (who are more expensive than JET ALTs because of the retirement packages).

If the national government cuts the program loose for the 'local governments' to administer, then it should simply eliminate CLAIR. However, most local governments are not set up to get their own ALTs from overseas.

I guess the question is whether or not the government can figure out a way to keep JET intact while getting rid of CLAIR's huge expenses. I doubt that it will succeed.

Is looking at JET, or ALTs, or even the nefarious dispatch companies and the local authorities who deal with them looking at the cause or the symptoms? Maybe both, but does that really cover all the causes? For a start, the vast majority of 'English teachers' at all levels, right on up through university, are Japanese, not the imported models.

The Japan Times' article mentions that the series draws upon the bankruptcies of Nova and GEOS. It'll be interesting to see what they do with that. Will the teachers be teaching for food in the park? Will they be lied to and robbed blind by the manager? I'm looking forward to more.

In relation to this, you may want to visit our online English academy is bases in Cebu City, Philippines. It is an institution with competent, effective, and efficient ESL teachers well-equipped to provide easy and fun way of learning English at a minimum amount of time per session.

Being an ALT, assistant language teacher is a pathetic job. I don't enjoy my work. Are there people that are more qualified than I am to be an ALT or Y or X or Z?
No, I think differently. I go to my job with an open mind. What do I get in return? A teacher's room filled with teachers who refuse to speak to me. Ironically, the only teachers that speak to, or with me, are teachers that have nothing to do with the English curriculum.
The jealousy factor has to be mentioned... For the most part, the Japanese teachers are peeved because the foreign teacher is much more popular with the students than they themselves are. I kind of relish that fact because the teachers don't actually try to be personable, nice, warm or understanding...
The failure of communication is the root cause of the entire problem.
I think it is called Bureaucracy ...

you my friend are a wizard!
There is a good movie that I can suggest for you.
It is called, "The Sword in the Stone"
An old Disney Movie...
Have a look...

They've killed it. They want us for our creativity, yet are jealous of the same. The teachers are amazed when we can get through to the students and will immediately move to destroy any breakthrough or progress. The Japanese want to prove to students it is impossible to learn English (or any other foreign language for that matter) and god help you if you are a talented or gifted teacher. They will %&('& you up.

They want to get out one way or another. Some move to town... others commit suicide. The rural life could be wonderful, but I imagine the J's have ruined that for themselves as well.

it's back! Elementary schools and junior highs have introduced emperor worship again. History repeats itself. The economic decline has forced Japan back into it's warm little hole. I wonder if Debito had time to tell the United Nations? Even if they could afford real, full time gaijin employees, I doubt they would want gaijin to see their ceremonies going on in school. Word would get to the outside world.

For all of you out there thinking ALTS are over paid, you are correct if they are not qualified teachers. However, if they are qualified teachers then they are underpaid.
I am currently a JET and unlike most JETS my ideas are used in the classroom, and I have extensive outside collaboration with my coworkers.

I have my master's in ESL and teaching. I enjoy the cultural exchange part of the job, teaching English, and being quite popular with the kids. Do I get paid enough with my degree? No, I could make a lot more in America; however, I chose to come to Japan for the cultural exchange part of the deal. I am learning a lot, and I value my experience. I think the people whom I have met value the exchange as well.

Unfortunately, a lot of my local counter parts spend their free time drinking at the bar and gaijin-ing it up, making an ass of themselves and the JET program.

The problem with JET is the criteria for hiring ALTs target college partying asses who are hoping to hook up with some Japanese men and/or women.

If JET and other organizations increased their standards and the salary, then they would get better results. You get what you pay for. Is that or is that not common sense?

Internationalization, you dip sticks.

Let's face it, Japan definately has a skewed persception of anything foriegn.

"Subject says enough"

11:12 Spoken like a true Canadian. However the reality is Japan has and for the foreseeable future will be connected to the U.S. and dependent on them. This is is especially true with China rising and all the ill-will still held by Korea and others towards Japan. Just look at the lefty Japanese government and their about face on closing or moving the American military. For all the tough talk against the U.S., reality set in and they know they need the U.S. for peace and security, and that means the U.S. military. The fact that the U.S. is still the largest economy (even with Obama debt problems) only enforces this need. How much does Canada trade with either Japan or China? Not much. Canada is so overly dependent on the U.S. to pay its bills, with 93% of all trade. Hence why Canada is also so dependent on the U.S. for its survival. So Japan saying . All signs point to Japan staying inter-connected with the U.S. for a very long time, even if only as a hedge against China's perceived dominance in the region.

One thing to note, for all the talk Americans will still always have a bigger slice of the pie in Japan than Canadians. Just economic, military, and perception mentality. Australians will probably surpass Canadians in the near future, even though they have a smaller population. The fact that Aussies learn Japanese at a much higher rate than Canadians in general will aid this.

You sound angry because people are considering ending JET.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Nah, I am kind of glad JET is going. Most overrated piece of work I have ever seen. Honestly, it is a dying breed....Time to say bye-bye.

JET program is finishing, because over-all, it is a waste of Japanese tax payers money.

It was originally about promoting Japan, actually

Everyone knows Japan now, and there is no need to do that anymore.

For those who want to have English Instructors, it is cheaper for greater Japan via the Eikaiwa route.

Eikaiwa instructors are cheaper, and Eikaiwa, unlike government schools and government Boards of Education, can more readily break the law, in terms of eating into instructors legal entitlements, and profits the schools make by and large stay in Japan.

This is good for Japan.

It really is better for Japanese consumers that instructors, if they need them, are engaged via Eikaiwa, cause it is so much cheaper, when you really think about it.

And at the end of it, the instructor can say they were part of a big Japanese company, instead of saying they were a public servant.

Better all round for everyone, if you really think about it.

Eikaiwa instructors are cheaper, and Eikaiwa, unlike government schools and government Boards of Education, can more readily break the law, in terms of eating into instructors legal entitlements, and profits the schools make by and large stay in Japan.

You really make eikaiwa schools sound like great places to work, don't you?

And at the end of it, the instructor can say they were part of a big Japanese company, instead of saying they were a public servant.

Better all round for everyone, if you really think about it.
.

Except the eikaiwa instructors on low salaries who aren't getting all their legal entitlements, obviously.

Oh, and the Japanese students who are generally getting really shit lessons at eikaiwas, because the instructors are poorly qualified as well as poorly paid.

The majority of these posts are just sad. They are indicative of people who are unhappy with their surroundings but unfortunately can not or will not make a move to a more positive environment, be it back home or a better job or environment in Japan, and have become embittered. Becoming embittered, these people complain about everything and anything so much they believe themselves experts in everything and anything they complain about, which creates a neat little vicious circle as they begin to believe they are entitled to complain. Meanwhile, they know little of what they speak, and are destroying any chance for an enjoyable life or a meaningful experience at work.

Listen, instead of blaming your job, your Japanese co-workers, your supervisor, the Japanese education system, the 10 year-old kid who called you a foreigner, the JET from another country, or the eikaiwa worker who actually seems to be happy with their work and life, grow up and take a hard, honest look at yourself. It might be time to move on, and if you can't afford to move on, you had better make a plan for moving on. You'll feel better for it, and probably everyone around you, too.

Sheesh.

It`s much more simple than all the above. The key is to let ALTs teach. You could compare it to the Kobe earthquake in which Foreign Doctors were not permitted to treat patients because they didn`t have a Japanese License.

Let ALTs teach with some kind of equal dignity and, in general, separate from Japanese teachers. Recognize that the average ALT has a distinct skill set apart from the average JT and their skill set. Can Japan afford to attract and keep and disperse only licensed teachers? What is best? A licensed ALT or one who speaks Japanese to a high level? Why is it not possible for ALTs to develop into good teachers?

ALTs all have degrees which is the same as what a teacher in the states would have before starting a 1 year alternative route to a teacher`s license. Alternative routes to teaching usually involve a lot of on the job practice. ALTs have a huge amount of ability to tap into that most JTs don`t have and whether you think that is just common native speaking skill doesn`t really matter. Science has proven that a teachers grasp of the subject matter is of paramount importance, pedagogical ability, how to teach, is secondary to this and can be learned more easily.

Lose the assistant part of ALT, give them their own classes starting with what a particular ALT can handle. In Junior High I usually found speech contests and eiken preparation the only time where I could do some real teaching. These situations need to increase. Reading Recovery methods are one example of how native speaking teachers could be used effectively to help support struggling students. Some JTs will split a class with an ALT or make the ALT responsible for 1 class per week (perhaps the conversation unit) but by in large ALTs will be sidelined by a JT. Until ALTs can demand that a JT get out of the way you won`t see students improving through the ALTs efforts and you won`t see ALTs developing as teachers.

ALTs, JET or otherwise have never really been given a framework to function as real teachers. At elementary they are usually used as entertainment where true learning from reinforcement is not really possible. They are planning hard for elementary and executing good lessons but the framework works against itself. ALTs are spread thinly across grades, classes, and schools in a way that would never be expected of a Japanese Teacher. They can`t win in that situation. Unless of course there is just a shallow purpose to begin with as Debito pointed out.

TS

It`s much more simple than all the above. The key is to let ALTs teach. You could compare it to the Kobe earthquake in which Foreign Doctors were not permitted to treat patients because they didn`t have a Japanese License.

Let ALTs teach with some kind of equal dignity and, in general, separate from Japanese teachers. Recognize that the average ALT has a distinct skill set apart from the average JT and their skill set. Can Japan afford to attract and keep and disperse only licensed teachers? What is best? A licensed ALT or one who speaks Japanese to a high level? Why is it not possible for ALTs to develop into good teachers?

ALTs all have degrees which is the same as what a teacher in the states would have before starting a 1 year alternative route to a teacher`s license. Alternative routes to teaching usually involve a lot of on the job practice. ALTs have a huge amount of ability to tap into that most JTs don`t have and whether you think that is just common native speaking skill doesn`t really matter. Science has proven that a teachers grasp of the subject matter is of paramount importance, pedagogical ability, how to teach, is secondary to this and can be learned more easily.

Lose the assistant part of ALT, give them their own classes starting with what a particular ALT can handle. In Junior High I usually found speech contests and eiken preparation the only time where I could do some real teaching. These situations need to increase. Reading Recovery methods are one example of how native speaking teachers could be used effectively to help support struggling students. Some JTs will split a class with an ALT or make the ALT responsible for 1 class per week (perhaps the conversation unit) but by in large ALTs will be sidelined by a JT. Until ALTs can demand that a JT get out of the way you won`t see students improving through the ALTs efforts and you won`t see ALTs developing as teachers.

ALTs, JET or otherwise have never really been given a framework to function as real teachers. At elementary they are usually used as entertainment where true learning from reinforcement is not really possible. They are planning hard for elementary and executing good lessons but the framework works against itself. ALTs are spread thinly across grades, classes, and schools in a way that would never be expected of a Japanese Teacher. They can`t win in that situation. Unless of course there is just a shallow purpose to begin with as Debito pointed out.

TS

I don't have much problem with that, if the teachers are licenced state teachers in their own countries, or had post grad applied linguistics qualifications and experience - as well as being fluent in Japanese. However, even if the salary was a heck of lot better, it would be very hard to attract people with that background in significant numbers, which is what would be needed if you wanted to have the same number of native speakers functioning as real teachers in a Japanese school. as there currently are ALTS.

Sometimes you can attract a few people of appropriate calibre. However, there is also then the problem of how long they will stay. One year? Two? That is to say, even with people of the right background, most would leave just as they were starting to hit their stride.

Raising the abilities of the JT, and occasionally hiring people with sufficient abilities from other countries here and there would be a much better use of resources than the current ALT system. However, if ALTs of the kind currently here are kept, then the JT should take greater responsibility for them and what they do and stop pandering to their notion of being something that they are not.

I definitely agree the system needs to be revised, but I don't think it should be thrown out entirely. I'm not sure how it is in Japan, but I taught English in Korea, and -- other than tv and movies -- EFL teachers are the only foreigners most rural or smaller city Koreans ever meet. In general, Koreans find foreigners scary and suspicious, so I think forcing them to meet and interact with real people teaches a very valuable lesson, that you shouldn't fear someone just because they're different. Is the English teaching system perfect? Of course not, but the objective shouldn't be to turn everyone into fluent speakers.

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