Monday, November 29, 2010

11 Useful Vocabulary in Your Job Search (Part 1 of 2)

If you're determined to find a job outside of the English teaching industry, it helps to familiarize yourself with the Japanese job-seeking world: A whole subculture exists for university juniors and seniors in which they identify the companies they want to pursue, attend seminars for those companies, climb a pyramid of four or more progressively more demanding interviews, and finally get hold of an offer for a job that won't start for another year.

Accompanying this subculture is its own special vocabulary. Here are the first five of eleven words you ought to know when venturing into the Japanese job market, and what they mean:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WS: Pen Pals for Students

In line with this week's articles on making new friends with pen pal services, we'd also like to introduce a pen pal service that can be adapted for use in the classroom:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Why Don't My Pen-Pals Write Back?: How to Keep a Pen-pal Relationship Alive

(Admit it. This is what you are really after.)
It's easy to get onto a "friend finder" website, write up a form letter about how you're a lonely foreign person looking for friends in Japan, and send it off to the first 20 people that show up in your search results.

But, out of the 20 people you send to, maybe only a handful respond. And although things seemed to be going great with that handful, a week later none of them are replying to your messages anymore. So, what's wrong? Why aren't the pen-pals you made writing back anymore?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Want a Japanese Penpal? Here's How to Find and Make One.

Pen-pals can be an awesome way to practice Japanese or learn about Japan. If you're moving into a new city, you can connect with people there beforehand.

And, it seems like there's no shortage of English teachers in Japan who never get to talk to Japanese people outside of work. Pen-pals can be a nice self-confidence boost if you get to Japan and realize that you've 1) left all your old friends behind, and 2) are having trouble making new friends here--especially Japanese ones.

A lot of sites advertise pen-pal matching services for a fee. (And they usually do it right alongside dating services.) But, you don't need to pay money to find quality networks of people who want to practice their English, listen while you practice Japanese, or make a genuine friend.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Japanese Electonics: Plugs, Voltage and Wattage Guide

When bringing electrical goods back and forth across international borders, it is important to keep different countries' electricity standards in mind.

Not only can the socket shape be different, but different countries use different voltages and wattage, which means some appliances could fail to work in one country's outlets and cause a fire when plugged into another's.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

WS: "I Can, Can You?" First grade JHS (12-13yo)

My kids have just started learning the "Can" structures, so I thought I'd post the things I'll be using.

These work well for the first graders, but a more simple version for elementary schoolers can also be a lot of fun (see this recent post for that). Details below. As always these sheets are free to use, but please don't redistribute.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Browsing the Web in Japanese (Kanji translators etc)

It can be particularly frustrating to come across a new kanji and not be able to translate it without navigating to a time-consuming and often unreliable site, like Google Translate or Yahoo Babelfish. It's especially annoying when trying to fill out some unfamiliar form.

So for you lucky people, here are some resources to help you on your way.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Top 5 Most Annoying Pages in the New Crown Textbooks

It was pretty hard to pick the very worst, but here are the 5 most inexplicably stupid pages from the current JHS textbook series in my school. Sorry about the quality; no-one's explained how to use the scanner :(

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alternatives to Working Visas

Usually, you need a 4-year university degree to obtain a working visa and come work in Japan. But, in case you really wanted to know, and people seem to ask about this a lot, there are other kinds of visas that enable you to work in Japan.

For readers hoping to find a secret, easier way to work in Japan than finishing college, I'm sorry to say that these other options aren't going to thrill you with their ease:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

WS: Laura's Category Game (all JHS grades 12-15yo "Anything OK")

Laura is a genius. Well, she'd have to be to wind up with a guy like me. Anyway, she is a fountain of good teaching ideas. Her latest wholly-original, gloriously-simple yet highly successful activity is called the Category Game.

It's another all-purpose solution to "anything ok".

Expect to fill 20-25 mins including explanation and wrapping up. Can work with all JHS grades with some tweaking.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Working in Japan without a Degree

Occasionally, people ask whether it is possible to work in Japan without a 4-year university diploma. I won't beat around the bush: The answer, in 90% of cases, is "no."

The reason for this is not an industry requirement so much as an immigration requirement.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Resources for Finding an ESL Job in Japan

Pretty similar to my post on "How Much Will I Get Paid Teaching in Japan?", here are some resources for finding yourself some employment on this radical island.

All of my experience has been in finding teaching positions, so most of the information is geared towards that. However, you can use the links at the end of this post to find a great variety of different careers, some with no language requirements at all. Check them out.

In the future we'll go into more detail of how exactly to approach applying for a job, give a rundown of the different companies and advise on other career choices.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Ear Cleaning: The Horrible Truth of Mimikaki and Mimisouji

If you live in Japan then you have surely come accross the ear-cleaning-scoop-things (耳かき - mimi kaki) used for the horrifying practice of mimi souji (耳掃除).

The Japanese love to clean their ears, and cleaning a child's ears is a sacred moment akin to breast-feeding.

BUT I have some terrible news for the proponents of this practice, and some weird genetic information (!!!).
Read on.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

WS: Relative pronouns: Noun-"that"-Adjective (Third Grade JHS - 14-15yo)

A needlessly over-complicated part of the second half of third-grade English is relative pronouns.

After having been asked to come up with something for page 52 of New Crown 3 ("I have a book that is good for childen") I eventually produced a version of Battleships which went down pretty well. Fills about 30 minutes with the explanation.

Friday, November 05, 2010

(Good) Japanese Rock

I've always had a difficult time getting into the Japanese music scene. If you have spent any time in Japan at all, you'll have realized that the Japanese public eye rips through musical acts at a frenzied and disconcerting pace. Each week a new artist appears with a hit single that gets played over and over on radio stations and late-night entertainment shows. And a scant few days later, the song and the artist are all but forgotten, like Dust in the Wind, to be replaced with a new flavor of the week. Persistent stars are all but theater productions built up by media conglomerates, with little or no hand in creating the content they act out on stage.

If you mention an act from last month or last year to Japanese colleagues (or students, if you're a teacher), you'll be met with cries of, "Oh, that's old!" But, honestly, it all sounds the same to me. Meaningless pop fluff repeated over and over in the same ridiculous formats (and so many, many more iterations of them than any country should ever need). Sometimes I'll happen across a song that's catchy, but I've rarely felt respect for the artist or his (or her) creation.

That is, until I stumbled across this gem:

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Wot dis? Dis pen!" Appalling classroom English set to change?

Before AccessJ's five favourite terrible classroom English moments, we have some news.

It looks as though things may be set to change at some possible distant point in the future. Today both the Daily Yomiuri and The Japan Times have been busy informing me that the government has hypothetical plans to send Japanese English teachers to genuine, bone-fide English speaking countries as part of their teaching qualification.

This could be a smart move as some teachers we've worked with have been embarrassingly bad at the language. Let's just hope they send the textbook writers there too.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Gundam Halloween Costume

Why not slip a bit of fun your way? Here's my Gundam costume from this year's Halloween party. Hope you like it!

I won second place, only losing out to some obscenely cute child who shouldn't have been in the bar in the first place.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Eihouji Temple, Tajimi

Scattered across Japan are thousands of gorgeous locations that go untouched by guidebooks like Lonely Planet. Drawing on our own experiences over time, we'd like to introduce some lesser known locations that are very much worth your time to visit. Experience the Japan that even many Japanese are unaware of. And best of all, do it without the crowds of those tourist traps that everyone knows about (and most everyone has already seen).

Today's location is Eihouji Temple in Tajimi, Gifu.