In 2007, my partner and I briefly visited Japan and became captivatedby the culture, people and landscape. Returning again in 2008 we pondered the possibility of experiencing Japan for a longer period than the90-day visitor visa permitted. Finding employment seemed to be the only answer.
Unfortunately, the skills we possessed were limited by our very basic Japanese language level and we were already in our mid ‘50s. However, not long after searching for work opportunities in Japan, we discovered the ATA website and enrolled in the Advanced Diploma of TESOL.
We were so inspired by the initial foundation unit, conducted by Bob Cook at your school in Auchenflower in 2009, we eagerly signed onto the HIC Japan Experience tour that the Hiroshima International College ran in conjunction with ATA.
Travelling to Hiroshima that same year, with a group of TESOL teachers, experiencing organised cultural events, a Japanese home-stay and engaging in an English teaching practicum at a Junior High School in Kure opened our eyes to the joys and rewards of teaching in Japan. After returning to Australia, we began to plot our next move.
In 2010, my partner took long service leave and I negotiated leave of absence from UQ so we headed back to Japan. Although we applied for many positions it wasn’t until the day before our visitor visa expired that we were offered teaching positions with work visa sponsorshipbut as we had to leave the country, that opportunity slipped from our grasp.
Nevertheless, well aware how difficult it was to obtain a work visa, I returned early in 2011 and eventually obtained a 1 year contract as a T-Net English teacher at a High School in Osaka … with a work visa. Obvious moral – don’t give up!
ATA training and the practicum in Kure prepared me with the tools and methodologies to confidently construct lessons, work collaboratively with the JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English), and then present those lessons in Japanese high school classes. Those experiences have been some of the most memorable of my life and I would recommend to anyone considering TESOL teaching in Japan …do it.
While living and working in Japan, among a bevy of visits to shrines and matsuris, we have been privileged to hike the ancient cedar forest trails on Yakushima, visit the 88 pilgrim temples on Shikoku as Ohenro-san and follow the old pilgrim route across the mountains in Nara and Mie to the great Ise shrine. Japan is an extraordinary experience like no other.
Sent on 09/09/2014