Following university, a lot of my friends went on round the world trips coupled with 6 month working holidays in Australia or New Zealand. I wanted to immerse myself more in one country and use it as a base for further travels. I narrowed down the options to Japan, Venezuela and South Korea and of these, Japan held the most interest for me from my interests in video games, motorsport and new technology. ESL was the best way to earn money while experiencing the country.
What inspired you to teach ESL?
Why did you choose Interac?
I wanted to work in schools in order to experience the culture and language more than in eikaiwa. It seemed a natural choice.
Describe your day to day activities as a teacher in Japan.
Everyday is different. The weekly schedule is rarely adhered to and there are so many things going on in the school that I could always have someone or something to tag into. You need to be proactive, if you just sit at your desk you will never be approached, so you have to get on with things yourself. In most of my spare time I would prepare lesson plans and do prep for my Elementary school classes where I ran the whole show. Eventually the lessons you plan for Junior High School also get used by the teachers and further from that in my 2nd year I was trusted to plan for one of the 4 lessons in the week with each class.
Each class is different and although you shouldn't, you do end up having your favorite students and classes. I would spend a lot of time with the kids between lessons and after school, if I didn’t join in with club activity I would watch them practicing, invariably gravitating to the students I got on well with, but trying to build relationships with others. Lunch was always my time and I asked to eat in the staff room and not with the students, after eating I would walk around the school and meet more people.
How has this experience impacted your future? How did you get promoted to Managing Consultant at Interac?
I work in financial services now on a Japanese desk. I don’t think the job itself made any difference but learning the polite levels of Japanese meant when I interviewed for my current role, I had the base language necessary to operate in what I do. Working in a Japanese school taught me a lot about interacting with others in an environment where you have to be proactive and start things yourself. If you don’t do that you will be left alone and that impacts negatively on your development and your general feelings.
That proactive approach and also being able to ignore negative events and not get bothered by them, or bother others is the way to help yourself. I always just got on with my own business and through performance was noticed by Interac management, who promoted me steadily through the rungs.
What is one piece of advice you would give to others thinking about teaching abroad?
Do it. When you get homesick, remember that in a few years time you will have had the biggest character building experience of your life and something you will remember forever.