Alumni Spotlight: Michael E. Gade


Michael is an American student from the University of Nebraska at Kearney graduating in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia and a minor in Japanese. In 2018, he obtained Trinity College London's CertTESOL in Tokyo from the Shane Corporation when he was an exchange student at Saitama University. He wishes to make use of his abilities toward the achievement of the English education goals of Japan.

Why did you choose this program?

I was an exchange student at Saitama University from 2017 to 2018. I wanted to obtain a teaching qualification during one of the breaks before I left.

The Trinity CertTESOL at the Shane Corporation was in a commutable distance, so I did not have to worry about relocating from my dorm. Since I had a college student budget, the location of the course made it the most cost-effective option.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The original start date of the course would not work with my schedule since I had to take final exams at my host university. The Course Director, Sophia, was more than willing to move the date to accommodate my schedule.

The school did an excellent job at providing the tools to pass the course. Sophia pre-checked nearly all of my work to make sure it met the standards of Trinity. The provider also arranged my student for the Learner Profile project, which saved me time from an already intensive workload.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

It cannot be stressed enough how intensive the program is. There is barely enough time to sleep due to all the assignments and lesson planning. It almost felt like too much. However, once the course was over and I had a day of rest, I was very confident in my decision, and I felt growth as a teacher.

Do not stress if some of the teaching practice does not go as planned. Remember that this is practice, and the purpose of the course is to make mistakes and learn from them.

Even when I realized I made an error, the learners still enjoyed the lesson and practiced English.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

On the first day, the provider will give a thorough calendar of everything in the course. The typical day starts around 9 AM and ends by 6 PM. The mornings are usually reserved for input sessions (such as grammar review and phonetics), while the afternoons are spent doing teaching practice.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were the usual teaching days, which gave a break on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to plan lessons. At the end of the course, trainees will go to the school for an interview and to do the materials assignment with a moderator from Trinity.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Since I have been an international student in Japan a couple of times, I was very comfortable living in the country; it just feels like home to me. I cannot wait to go back!

My biggest fear came from teaching practice on the course. I was worried about standing in front of a group and teaching. In the end, I accepted that it was a necessary evil. I wanted to get the anxiety out of the way when it was just practice. It would have been worse to mess up in a situation where learners were actually paying for lessons.

Now that the course is over, I have no anxiety in teaching and am confident I can offer the quality expected of an instructor in Japan. I want to give students the best experience possible, which is why I took the course in the first place. Having confidence in what I do is one of the best ways to build rapport with the learners.

What are some of the things you can do during your free time?

The course is very intensive, but there will be some free time on the weekends. If you are coming to Japan just for the course, I suggest setting aside an additional week (or more!) to explore.

Japan is an amazing country. The course is located in the heart of Tokyo. I was in Ikebukuro everyday as part of my commute. From Ikebukuro, famous areas such as Shibuya and Shinjuku are less than ten minutes away. Shane Corporation's main office in Kanda is located next to Tokyo station, Akihabara, and Ueno. The course itself is conducted near Kasai station, which is about 15-20 minutes from the main office.

Meiji Shrine, Sunshine City, the Imperial Palace, Ueno Zoo, Asakusa, the National Theatre, and the Tokyo National Museum are just some of the local attractions. One of the best parts about Japan and Tokyo in particular is that there is always something to do. You will not regret coming to Japan.