A great instructor is hard to come by, so I felt like I struck gold with Dave and Larry. I've never felt so nurtured in a classroom. They were very kind and helpful in sharing their expertise with the class, after all they have both lived and taught in Japan for the past 30 years.
If you have any hesitance or reluctance in coming to Tokyo or if you've never been here, fear not! Dave and Larry are at your beck and call with answering any questions you might have about life in Tokyo. I was very nervous about taking the leap and leaving home, so I emailed Larry several times leading up to the program. He was very helpful in preparing me for this trip and my time in Tokyo.
Of course while they provide a comfort zone for your life in Tokyo, what they are really doing is helping you prepare as much as possible for success through this rigorous program. There is quite a bit of work, but the classes and assignments are very well thought out and meaningful. I felt so well prepared for the following interviews and felt comfortable speaking with the different schools and companies, understanding the jargon and responding like a TESOL professional.
I also was able to take with me the 60+ combined years of experience teaching English in Japan that Larry and Dave shared during class. They have some great stories that bring insight and life to what you should expect in a future classroom.
During my time there, I decided to do some volunteer work at a language cafe in exchange for room and board in Shinjuku to save money (via workaway.com). I had class all day and worked 15 hours a week at night and I managed to be successful at both, so don't be daunted by the workload. It is very doable. My sleep suffered, but this was due to my inability to say no to the city and invites from new friends to go sight-seeing. Some of the friends I made were older students I taught as part of the course!
-Do not procrastinate on work and at the very least skim the day's notes after class. At the end of the program when it's time to take your test, it will feel like a year has passed with all the information you've covered.
-Team up with your fellow classmates in studying and working together on assignments. It's so much more fun. I also learned a lot from my peers, as some of them had previous teaching or tutoring experience.
-Get there early (and caffeinated if that's your thing)! Some of the material can be dry, but very necessary. Don't waste time, because there is a lot of material to cover and it is all very helpful. You are only hurting yourself by missing any information.
-Have fun (though it is impossible not to with teachers like Dave and Larry)!
-Come in with an open mind. Don't let Tokyo scare you. Don't let strangers scare you. I can't believe the friends I've made during my short stay so far. Japanese people have been very helpful in me getting around when I was lost or wasn't sure about something.
-Study some Japanese. (You really don't need any, so don't worry.) I came with some hiragana memorized and the general greetings. I wish I had studied a lot more. I got by with the help of English signs, strangers, my hand gestures, friends and Dave and Larry, but it would have been nice to be a little more independent.
Just some last bits about the people. I felt at home with these instructors. It isn't a large company so you get that family-run business feel and get as much one-on-one time as you need. They are very accessible and make themselves available if you need anything.
I would have liked a more predictable lunch schedule, but for the most part it was around noon.