Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 September Grand Sumo Tournament - Day 15 - Final Day

Good summary of the final day of Sumo in Tokyo. (In English)

A great end to the tourney, with a yokozuna showdown on the final day.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Memories of June

Farewell eigo board part one - 6
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I just posted another 60+ pics to my public Flickr site.

Pictures that are all from the month of June 2009.

The picture above is a display I put together to say farewell to my main Jr High school where I worked as an ALT from 2004 to 2009.

This first display included photos from 2005, when I first got my digital camera to about 2007. Many of the students in the photos are the older siblings of the current students at that school.

Farewell eigo board part one - 2

I did a separate display for the current kids, and I'll post pics of that display in my July 09 batch.

I also posted a bunch of pics from CHESS 2009.
CHESS is Camp for High School English Students of Shimane, an all-English, 3-day camp for HS students we have every year.

It was my fifth and final year being part of the camp, and I've had tons of fun every year I went.

Here I am with Rob, the ALT PA and an all-around swell chap (he's from England).

CHESS 2009 - Day TWO - 123

I also have pics from various student events I attended - some with my secondary Jr High and some with my main school.

One such event was a kendo competition in neighboring Hiroshima prefecture.
I made a video about it on my main YouTube page (Myargonauts) as well.

June kendo taiikukai at TJH - 2

I'll post pics from July soon, and then I might stop posting to Flickr for a while.

I've found a new online photo site I want to try called Phanfare.
It offers a little more safety and privacy options than Flickr and I like the way I can organize photos on the site AND include my short video clips as well.

If you're interested in seeing a few of my albums on Phanfare, send me an email and I'll send you a private link.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

2009 Undokai in Under 2 Minutes

This is one of the coolest vids I've seen on YouTube in a while.

I used to love September in Japan, cuz September means SPORTS DAY! I loved Sports Day every year at my Jr High schools.

This ALT in a very beautiful part of Japan uses time lapse technology to compress his entire Sports Day into two minutes.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hinomisaki with Eli and Robin

Hinomisaki with Eli and Robin - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I just uploaded about 60 pics from April and May in Japan.

Included are pics from a visit by fellow JET Eli and his wife Robin. I showed them around the local sites one day, including Hinomisaki lighthouse and Hinomisaki Shrine.

I re-established my PRO account with Flickr, so there should be about 2500+ pics to look at once again on my page.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I get all kinds of emails at my main YouTube channel, where I post mainly videos about living in Japan and being an ALT for the JET Program.

One of my subscribers (and I have over 2600 now - pretty amazing) recently asked me to answer some questions about being an ALT for a college paper he's working on for a careers class. He wants to be a JET after he graduates.

Here are my answers to his questions - I thought other may find them useful.


(It should go without saying that the following is my opinion of being an ALT and the JET Programme)

OK - here come the answers....

About how many hours a day does an ALT/ESL Teacher typically work?
typical day is 8 hours (with a short break at lunch time)

What sort of tasks do you perform on a day to day basis?
teach English, team teach with Japanese teacher of English (JTE), grade papers, etc.

Are you free to offer personal lessons or is that not allowed?
Not allowed, altho you will be asked to teach some community approved adult classes on occasion

Is it normal to continue your education while working this job?
You can certainly do something online, but it would be difficult to try for your Masters while being a JET; of course, you can certainly improve your Japanese language skills while a JET

What are some important skills as an ALT/ESL Teacher?
genkiness, adaptability, good speaker, like children

As a teacher do you have problems with unruly children or administering discipline?
Discipline is not the job of the JET - it's up to the Japanese teacher in charge of the class. How you deal with the occasional unruly student is another factor that separates truly excellent ALTs from the merely average.

Are the students attentive and interested in learning or is it sometimes a fight to get them to pay attention?
Japanese classes at the JH level are not separated by ability - there are no honors classes - so you get a mix of students in your classes - some are very interested in English - others are mildly interested and some could care less

As you come from a different culture would you say the students are more interested or apprehensive about your background?
definitely very interested - in just about everything about you and where you are from - but they also have preconceived notions that can be completely wrong at times

Are there some things that are not culturally acceptable that take some time getting used to? Yes, it can take a little while to figure out how to act in certain social situations, but that's part of the fun too.

As this job requires you in most cases to move away from your home country would you say it is difficult to keep in contact with family and friends back home?
Not in 2009 - with SKYPE, email, webcams, digital photos, and the plain old telephone, it's pretty easy to stay in touch with those that matter to you. Having them be interested in all that you're doing in Japan is another matter....

Are the parents very involved in their students school work?
Can't really say... They are active in supporting their kids in their after school clubs, like cheering for soccer or attending brass band concerts, but as an ALT you're not involved with parent/teacher meetings. I have had many parents come up to me in town or at school events and tell me how much their child enjoys English or my lessons, so that is always gratifying.

Do you meet with the parents on occasion to discuss their childs progress?

Do you need to spend time after work on projects?
yes - but it varies. For example, autumn is typically the time for English speech contests, so I would spend on average about 1 hour after school each day from Sept to Nov working with kids and helping them prepare their speeches. An ALT will sometimes stay after school to talk to another teacher, prepare the next day's lessons, etc. and sometimes just to hang out with their students in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Is there work on the weekends?
Very rarely, there will be a school event on a Saturday, but you usually get another day off the following week to make up for it.

Do you work with multiple schools or just one?
I worked with one Jr high school and 5 elementary schools for my first three years and then with 2 JH schools and 6 elementary schools my final two years. I'd say about 80% of ALTs I've known have at least two schools.

When visiting multiple schools do you have set schedules or do the days vary?
Usually they have a set schedule - even if it's just laid out a few months in advance.

When working with Teachers as an ALT are you able to participate much or is most of the work left up to the teacher?
This varies too much for me to give a simple answer. It varies depending on what level of student you're teaching (grades 1-6, 7-9, or 10-12), and what Japanese teacher you're working with.

Are you able to come up with your own lesson plans are do you need to stick with set standards?
For JH, there is a textbook and a set curriculum, but there is flexibility within that structure. Elementary school is much more open to ALT created lessons.

If a teacher is absent for some reason would you be asked to fill in for them for the class period?
You'll almost never be asked to teach alone. If a teacher is absent, they either have another English teacher cover their classes or reschedule them - there are no one-day substitute teachers in Japan.

Do you work with teachers besides the English teacher?
That is up to you and what kind of relationship you create with the rest of the staff, and this will depend a great deal on how much Japanese you can speak.

Do you need to tutor some students outside of the normal work hours?
Sometimes, but not too often.

What training or education is required for this job?
You have to have a BA/BS degree, and submit a detailed application with an essay and letters of recommendation and then be interviewed.

Are there any certifications required for this job?

Is there room for advancement with special certifications?

Is extra training needed throughout the career?
There are mid-year seminars and teacher training seminars - some are mandatory for all JETs and some are optional, where you can get more training.

What are some of the benefits that you get with this job?
Furnished apartment, national health care, decent salary.

What qualities help make a person successful in this career?
A genuine desire to be accepting of Japanese cultural differences and wanting to connect with your students and make them more culturally aware of where you came from.

Are you always spending your time with your students and the teachers or do you have to work alone sometimes?
There is a lot of free time during certain periods of the year (for example, if all the students are taking tests), so you have to be self motivated to study Japanese or find ways to keep yourself busy when you have no classes.

What do you like the most about this job?
My awesome students!

What do you dislike the most about this job?
The limitations of my poor Japanese language skills.

Do you need to travel frequently for this job?
within a set parameter, you can travel from school to school, and some ALTs go to a different school almost everyday. But your travel expenses are taken care of, and many days you're at the same school all day.

Do you need to relocate for this job?
Umm... you need to move to Japan. :)

Is the job market for this growing or shrinking?
Shrinking, as far as the JET Programme is concerned. It's somewhat expensive for a local city Board of Education to hire a JET, so many BoEs are opting for cheaper alternatives,

Is the typical salary for this career enough to sustain a family on?
The JET salary is 3,600,000yen per year or about $3000/month. It's more than enough for a single person. I wouldn't know if it's enough for a family.

Is the turnover rate for this career high or low?
Most JETs stay 2 years, but with the recent economic downturn, many JETs are choosing to stay even longer.

Do most people stay in this career until they are retired or move on to something else?
It's a one year contract that is renewable up to 3 years, and also up to a maximum of 5 years for exceptional ALTs.

Do you feel that you are treated fairly in this career by your coworkers and superiors?

Good luck!

Monday, September 07, 2009

2010 JET Application - out soon - check with the consulate homepage for your area

Good links in the sidebar on the YouTube page for this video.

Good luck to everyone applying this year for the 2010-2011 JET year.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Jason in San Diego - Vlog #1 - Legoland

Hello All -

Been a while since I posted to this blog.

Here is a fun video of my trip to Legoland last month - I went the first weekend I was home from Japan.

Hope all is well where you are.