Interac Japan

Program Reviews

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Richelle
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had already taught before in Japan at a private preschool and an eikaiwa (private English school) and was looking for a more authentic experience. Interac's recruitment process was long, but not difficult if you plan ahead and follow instructions carefully. Once I was hired and got to Japan, I attending the teacher training. They taught a good lesson framework and some great activity ideas which I found useful, even though I already had experience.

Working in the public schools with Interac did give me the authentic experience I was looking for. You are really steeped in the culture there, and the Japanese teachers were really interested in helping me get along in Japan. The kids, of course, were a blast. I even miss the annoying kids! Interac encourages teachers to get involved in my community and I found friends and activities to be involved in the area where I lived and worked.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
1) As I mentioned, the recruitment process can be long. In addition, sometimes there are gaps between one step and the next. Be patient. Use your time wisely, preparing for the next step or brushing up on your Japanese language/culture/history/etc.
2) Don't worry so much about location. I wanted to be in Osaka, where I had lived previously. I didn't end up there, but I still loved it, and did things I couldn't do around Osaka (visited an all you can eat you-pick cherry farm; visited Nikko, which I'd never even heard of; attended a show where fireworks companies show off their new fireworks for the year, etc). And Japan isn't big. I still went to Osaka every couple months to visit friends or vice versa.
3) You get out of it what you put into it. Make the effort to explore non-touristy places, ask questions, improve your teaching skills, and so on.
Response from Interac Japan

Thank you for the review, Richelle. It is a pleasure to hear that you had a wonderful experience even with your past teaching experience. I believe teaching in public schools is different because it is not just about teaching. Working with teachers and joining the community would help you have a great journey here in Japan.

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Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The company helps a lot for an easy transition into both teaching and into living in Japan. You're still expected to demonstrate a reasonable level of independence and good sense, but they can carry you through the rest. You should still take the initiative to research and understand what experiences you want to have during your time in the country. They give you a job so that you can support your own lifestyle in Japan, but you have to decide exactly what you want that lifestyle to be. In that case you should be fine.

Response from Interac Japan

Thank you for the review. We are happy to hear that we successfully helped you in coming to Japan and start your career as an instructor. As you said, we support our instructors, but, at the same time, each individuals need to think what they want to do in Japan. ALT would be the best choice to start a life in Japan as a foreigner.

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Stephanie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching in Japan was by far the best experience I've ever had. Like most people, I found the program online and was impressed right off the bat by the interview process and attentiveness of the recruiters in the States. My time in Japan was not without it challenges, but the staff in the branch offices are wonderful. I worked in the Nagoya branch for 4 years and thoroughly enjoyed by town, schools, and the people I met there.

An important thing to note is that Interac is not an exchange program - it's an entry-level teaching job. There is an expectation that you can live and work independently, and that you come into it with some basic knowledge of the country, culture, and language. You don't have to be an expert at Japanese, but if you put in some effort before you arrive, it will greatly enhance your experience!

The best thing about this job is the skills you will acquire. Not only did I gain a lot of teaching experience, but I learned about the importance of patience, cultural awareness and sensitivity, and much more. I've taken these skills and applied them to all the jobs I've had since. I highly recommend teaching in Japan and believe Interac is the right company to go with.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I ate a lot of strange things while in Japan, but the weirdest was fish sperm. I was at a hole-in-the-wall mom and pop izakaya sitting at the counter and gazing at everything in the sashimi case. I pointed to something and asked what it was, before I knew it the owner sat it down in front of me. It's rude to refuse, so I tried it. The texture was definitely the worst part, taste was so-so.
Response from Interac Japan

Thank you for the review. As you mentioned, we are not an exchange program. We offer jobs and want professionals. Instructors do not need teaching experiences or skills. Moreover, we would like a culture ambassador and person that would like to communicate with children and teachers. With professionalism, you would have a wonderful life in Japan.

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Noah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I worked for the Hiroshima Branch for just about 10 years in various capacities. The job definitely stretched me to my limits at times, but I feel that it really helped me to get outside my comfort level and grow in ways that I never would have otherwise. The local team in the Hiroshima Branch was amazing to work with and they definitely wanted me to succeed. I will say that it definitely is a job, and you're expected to do your job. Go into it with that expectation and the knowledge that it is an entry level position.

Response from Interac Japan

Thank you for the review. Great to hear that you worked with us in Hiroshima for about a decade. Amazing! We support our instructors on their jobs and grow as a business person. We are happy that you had felt it that way.

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Maria
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I worked with Interac for a year and a half. I found them by doing a google search. The application process went very smoothly and from the beginning to end, the staff were very friendly, optimistic, and supportive.

After accepting the position, they were very good at keeping me up to date in a timely manner, regarding my placement and schedule before arriving in Japan. The first week of training was a bit overwhelming, but the staff and trainers worked very hard to prepare us for our schools and living in Japan. They were also very accommodating when setting us up at our new destinations. I was placed in a small city within Ibaraki.

When I arrived, they had an English speaking assistant help me move in and set up my bank account, cell phone, and everything else in between. It was incredibly helpful as non-Japanese speaking foreigner, who was moving into a new town far away from Tokyo. I really appreciated all of the help and support the company gave me.

I ended up working at an amazing Junior High School, and I helped prepare my students for the Ibaraki interactive forum competition. For me this was the most rewarding and life changing experience for me, and I have Interac to thank for that.

Interac will continue to support you through ongoing training, online resources, and with a great team of people who will answer any questions you have about living in Japan.

I am very grateful for my experience with this company, who has opened many doors for me. They showed me that I was capable of doing amazing things and enriching people's lives.

What would you improve about this program?
I think having more staff in each branch may help, as they can reach out to more people, and therefore have more chances to talk and communicate with each ALT. I also feel that they should really communicate with the ALT's in terms of finding the right type of school assignment that best fits their profile. I was transferred to an elementary school position, but I felt junior high school was a better fit for me. I think more thought needs to go into the process of assigning ALT's to their schools, so that they are satisfied with their assignments and therefore stay with the company longer.
Response from Interac Japan

Maria,
Thank you for you review of your time at Interac and we are really glad you had a good time with us. The photos of your town, school lunch, and school look very much like the kinds of photos we see from many teachers across Japan. As for your feedback, we will take these points and review them, especially with an eye to further improving our method of placing teachers. Thank you again for your review and your kind words.

Regards,

Interac Head Office
Tokyo

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Jon
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I worked for Interac for 2 years. The salary and benefits are more than adequate because the cost of living is very low. The managers and staff at the Interac head office are extremely professional and helpful. My concerns were always addressed promptly. Working in the public schools in Japan was amazing. The kids are extremely polite and courteous and respectful, far more than kids in America (at least from what I recall from my days as a student).

The best part is making the kids laugh and being able to play sports or play on the playground with them. It's also rewarding being able to help tweak their pronunciation mistakes.

If you're looking for adventure before you start 4 decades in a corporate office, this is a good place to go. Interac is a huge company which is almost doubling it's teaching staff because of the upcoming Olympics. Very stable company, honest bosses. No surprises.

What would you improve about this program?
Create an Interac employee social media website so everyone can get to know eachother and organize events.
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Misael
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This is one of the biggest ALT dispatch companies in all of Japan. They have many contracts all over the countries and are likely to accommodate a specific location.

I've worked for this company for a few years now and have never had any major issues. They help their teachers settle in and provide a great deal of support after the initial training (car, housing, local area information, etc.)

Employees always have access to English speaking emergency contacts in case the need should arise and are never left alone without anyone to call.

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Graham
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I worked with Interac for 1 and a half years and I can honestly say that it was the best job that I ever had. The staff and managers are friendly and exceptionally helpful, always willing to go the extra mile to help you with any concerns that you have.
Living and working in another country is a challenging experience but Interac endeavors to make the transition easy and comfortable. Interac helped me find an apartment and rent a car. When I first arrived in Japan I did not know much Japanese but I was placed in a school where I could speak English with the staff.
Every day was an exciting adventure and working with the kids was fun in itself. They always added to my day and made me laugh.
In my travels during my time off I was able to explore the culture of Japan. I participated in festivals and visited big cities and ancient shrines. I made many friends who I am still in contact with today. It was the adventure of a lifetime!
I thoroughly enjoyed my work and highly recommend Interac to anyone interested in teaching as an ALT.

What would you improve about this program?
My experience with Interac was nothing but positive. I can't think of any faults to point out.
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William
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The interview and pre-departure process is probably a little nerve wracking for first-time expats since most communication will happen when there are developments on the Japanese side. They do, however, give fairly good information if one reads the materials provided. The hard part is managing expectations. Interac was pretty straight with me on the timeline they were working from once they decided when I should arrive. I still knew several months in advance when I would need to go and could make plans regarding my apartment and then-current employer.

As an Alternate Placement without an assigned placement on arrival in Japan, I went through the same training as the rest of my cohort and was kept in reserve. During that time, the staff of the branch I was temporarily assigned to helped me get settled as far as bank accounts, moving in papers, apartment setup, and the like went. (No one went with me to get a mobile phone but some of the other staff did give me some advice on contracts and a key vocabulary words so I could ask the carrier staff.)

My assignment came in mid-to-late December with a ticket on the Shinkansen to meet my MC and get a ride up into the mountains with one of our Japanese staff members. We only had enough daylight to go to a few of my schools for introductions and to get the keys for my apartment and car. Mr. H. made sure we had enough furnishings in my partial furnished flat to make sure I'd be fine until the weekend. Few things feel quite so lonely as looking outside your window at a town where you don't really know anyone and can only see about 50 feet out due to the snow (disclaimer: the San Francisco area doesn't get snow). If you can make it past that first night, it gets much better and quickly. Ms. I and some of the local ALTs met up with me over that weekend, helped me get my bearings, and how to contact folk in the area.

I'm in my early thirties and most of my ALT colleagues are in their twenties, so that does occasionally keep us separated. We do, however, tend to pass the word for an informal rendezvous or two each month. Due to the scheduling, our book club usually also has a chance to meet before the ongoing training sessions for our region. That being said, if you have a hobby or (school-appropriate) interest, you can find it helps as an ice breaker with some of the Japanese teachers, students and parents. (I was particularly flattered when the parents marked me as an honorary part of the baseball team after the end of the season.)

I'm currently living and working in a town that's very different (half the population, eight times the space) from my home town. There are some things where it's still largely the same, however, like transit time to major cities (trains are slower than highway buses or driving only due to the routes to my semi-rural town). There's not much for nightlife venues here but the town associations are good about having events every few weeks and most people are reasonably friendly.

What would you improve about this program?
While definitely better than what my upperclassman remarked about on the JET program, initial training doesn't feel adequate for initially going into the classroom as far as facing real kids (not adults pretending to be kids) is concerned. It does get easier very quickly in the field but a little more demo practice as time allows probably would have been helpful. That, or an early observation to see how we're settling in and to correct early bad habits, could probably provide early reassurance we're on the right track.

Since I work at the Kindergarten, Elementary, and Junior High School levels, a list of suggested titles from the current year's curriculum (as far as it can be standardized) would have helped in knowing what to pack before coming to Japan for those assigned to those levels. ("The Very Hungry Caterpillar" or "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" for Kindergarten examples.)
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Stephanie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have an interesting perspective on this company. Overall my experience has been highly positive. The professionalism and support of the company staff is better than many other companies offering the same thing in Japan. I have no negatives in my situation but many of my friends do. If you have a regular 9-5 contract you're golden. But many BOEs(boards of education) want ALTs to work extra hours for different reasons. The BOE believes interac will compensate you and interac often skirts responsibility for extra hours. That is where many of the complaints I hear about stem from. I myself have a pretty standard contract and only worked a few weeks extra hours for a local speech contest. My school is lovely and the interac company even comes to drive me to places if I need to commute far for a meeting since I don't have a bike. I would highly recommend although I do also realize that my circumstances are quite lucky and standard. Deviation from the norm causes issues.

What would you improve about this program?
I suppose the initial training and ongoing training could be improved upon. Also a larger ALT network for the sharing of ideas would be useful. Other than that everything has gone smoothly and most of any day to day problems you encounter are likely from your schools not from the company itself who, once you get settled, you may deal with seldom.