Getting Your TESOL done!

Hello and greetings from Takamatsu, Japan! I hope you are doing well and life moving smoothly along.

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I expect that if you are visiting this page it is because you are curious to know about TESOL certification and whether or not you need it for yourself. It’s a good question, so I hope I can be as candid and straightforward as possible about the need for and usefulness of a TESOL certification.

If you already have a four year degree in Arts (English, History, Linguistics, Education or any similar field) OR have a good amount of experience as a teacher you likely DO NOT need a TESOL or TEFL certification. I do not recommend that you use your time, or invest money in a certification program. The benefits may not line up with your goals.

But if you are from a non-teaching background, need certification in TESOL/EFL/TESL/TEFL for visa application purposes or for looking for work purposes, a certificate program might be something to take a look into. If you think you need one, I highly recommend you do some shopping around and compare shop as much as possible.

You will likely hear the same sales pitches too:

OUR TESOL PROGRAM IS CERTIFIED AND AFFILIATED WITH blahblahblahblah…. and YOU NEED TO HAVE AFFILIATION WITH blahblabblah BECAUSE BEING CERTIFIED AND AFFILIATED WITH HIGH STANDARDS IS blahblahblabhllbhahhllllblah…

Really?

The hard truth of it all is that virtually all TESOL organizations have affiliation and certification with other TESOL or EFL international groups, and as such have enough discussion and interaction to make them all virtually of equal value. Just because a talking head on YouTube says that they are “high quality” and “internationally recognized” and “affiliated with the top ranks of the TESOL authorities of TESOL-land” doesn’t mean much to potential employers, schools, and as far as we know, immigration authorities. They want to see degrees, work experience, certifications that are real, and then that is it.

There are a good number of TESOL certificate offering places that are very keen to separate students from their money. The costs for many programs are over 1000.00 US dollars. I understand that people need to run businesses, but there are better ways to do this, in my opinion.

At this time we work with iTTi, out of New York as they are equally affiliated and certified with all the big boards and organizations. Getting your certification with us is just as good as anywhere else.

But here is the thing, and this is the best part. Running TESOL programs and getting tuition from students is not my primary business. Tuition dollars are not how we run our company or our schools. We have regular students for that, and things are running very nicely. The reason that we became very interested in having a TESOL course to offer is to look for potential teachers that could work with us in our schools. That’s it. Beyond that, there is no motive on our part. Of course, if we can help people get through their TESOL certification program in a speedy, timely, and economically efficient manner we will consider that our “good deed” for the day.

And as such that is why we keep the cost of our 120 hour program as low as we are permitted to do so. We can keep the cost for an on-line course (120 hours) at $235.00 US (untutored) or  $350.00 US (tutored). If you are in Japan, and in the area you are most welcome to do the tutorial hours in our classrooms, and get some time to see how the job really gets done efficiently and honestly. No one in our company is interested in emptying your pockets, but if we can, we would like do see you succeed and help get you going to your next career destination.

If you have questions, just give me a shout via email: tesolinjapan@gmail.com 

Have a great day!

Mark

JET Program

I often rave about it as the best way to come to Japan as an English teacher because it really is. I was on JET from 1992-95, then I was the JET Alumni President for my local Canadian chapter, and I was on the interview panel as well. I have seen a lot of people come on the JET program and it has been the kick-start to a lot of careers.

Of course there are those who say it was not a good fit for them, or that it was just something cool to do while they were gearing up for something different. And all of that is perfectly cool. JET is not meant to be a career, but it can be something that you can springboard off of.

I made a couple of videos on the JET program and I encourage hopeful newcomers to Japan to really explore this option carefully before just signing on with any ALT contract that gets thrown at you.

Get Some Advice!

As you are planning to get from where you are to Japan you need to have some kind of strategy. I suppose that it is easy for an old guy like me to tell you all the things you need to do, and you may not believe me. That is very understandable. In the West, particularly to the newly graduated from university, you have not been given the advantages you should have received. Crushing student debt, “internships” which amount to unpaid volunteer labor, and very little access to the jobs you want that will get you to your future goals are common.

So, I dug around on YouTube a little and found some people who are in the process of getting their futures in order, and planning to come to Japan. Check these out!

 

Get the information you need. Shop around. There are a LOT of TESOL granting agencies out there. You need to find the one that will suit your budget and your timeline. Of course, we can help you out here in Osaka, but we are not the only ones. And to be completely frank with you, when you apply for your working visa at the Japanese Embassy, or at Immigration here in Japan, the officers in charge of your file will want to see that you are indeed a university graduate, and that you have a TESOL or CELTA or something similar that looks professional.

It may take a little more time than you bargained for to get to Japan, but you can do it. We are cheering for you like crazy on this side of the ocean. If you need someone to talk to about your process and what you are doing to make it Japan, drop me a line. I will be glad to be of service if I can.

Have a great day!

TESOL / TEFL Course in Osaka, July 2018

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is with great excitement that we can now announce that we are ready to start taking inquiries regarding the TESOL / TEFL certification course that will be offered in Osaka during the month of July.

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We are partnering with iTTi, the International TEFL Training Institute, located in New York, and have secured exclusive rights with them to be the sole certifying board for the TESOL program. The TESOL certificate has great value as it gives you the theoretical background that will help you with teaching and make you a more effective educator. In addition to that, the TESOL certificate is sometimes CRITICAL in helping Immigration authorities determine if you will be a suitable candidate to receive from them a working visa.

As you may be aware, securing a working visa in Japan can be full of difficulties, and simply applying for one does not guarantee anything. In fact, many times officials look for reasons to quickly disqualify candidates to lighten  their workload and the amount of applications they must process. As an employer and owner of language schools in Japan we have first-hand experience of visas being refused because the applicant had a speciality outside of ESL, or English, or Education. The need for a TESOL certificate is very real, and can be the tipping point for your application.

Below is the blurb on our program that will be on the iTTi site, but I thought I would share it with you. So, before we get to the rush of 2018, just know that this is the first time we are setting up the program and we are limiting the session to 20 members only. Let us know if you want to secure a position in our July session for Osaka!

Ok, here is the blurb!

Our TEFL School in Osaka, Japan

Our training center is located in central Osaka. The bustling metropolis of Osaka, while having a mega-city scale to it, is still home to many cultural and traditional locations, temples, shrines, parks, and all the things that make Japan an incredible launching platform for your ESL career. 

Our training center offers internet access in a suitable classroom environment, located near all amenities. Led by a professional long-term ESL teacher, and business owner of language schools in Japan, students will learn the ins and outs of delivering high quality interactive lessons for students of all ages, while also getting some insight as to how ESL schools run, and what real employers require of prospective new teachers. Developing capable and confident instructors is our mission, and feedback and support is given to all members to ensure that they have the best possible success both in leading classes, as well as managing issues that crop up from time to time in the ESL field.

There is a pressing need for ESL teachers to have the certifications necessary to apply for visa status to work as a language teacher in Japan. While many local school boards receive applications from all over the world, the processes and determining factors that grant successful visa applications often rests not only on relevant degrees in the Arts or Education, but also in ESL certifications attached to those applications. A TEFL / TESOL certification is a powerful element, and often a convincing document that illustrates the seriousness of visa applicants, paving the way and opening the door to the ESL industry.

The Ministry of Education and Science in Japan has proposed an aggressive and progressive increase in the hours and expected outcomes for English education in elementary schools, and higher standards are required for the year 2020. What is needed are new teachers with proper credentials to meet this challenge. 

Special Features

Having had considerable first-hand experience both in working as interviewers for ESL teacher positions, including the illustrious JET Program which is sponsored by the Japanese Government, we will provide advice and counsel how to craft your applications and resume.

We are also currently working with a network of ESL language schools, as well as other hospitality and service industries throughout Japan and can refer you directly to those company and school owners who are currently seeking new teachers and staff.

 

The Big Breath Before Diving Under

Near Toba city, on Mikimoto Pearl Island, the “awa” (women of the sea) dive for pearls. Theirs is an ancient and traditional lifestyle that still manages to hang on until today. The dive for pearls, shellfish, abalone, and seaweed. These are mighty women, agile, quick, and able to free-dive straight down 30 feet in freezing water. They can hold their breath for extended periods of time (up to about 2 minutes) and word steadily for hours. Astonishing. I can hardly swim in the sea for more than about 15 minutes.

I’m inspired by the awa, and I feel like there is a parallel thread of their way of life to what we are doing at this time of year in englishbiz. This is the time we gather our wits about us, decide the places we will dive down into our work, and where to look for new students and staff, and feel our way around in the dark. We have to fill our lungs carefully with air, just enough so that we can do the work we need to, just before the deep plunge beneath. Of course, I do not move as gracefully as the awa. I stumble about and make a lot of mistakes, and missteps. But around me are my teammates and our support staff. We have a good thing going here and we are ready to dive in together to see what we can find.

This year will be a good one, I believe. We have a few staff who are developing veteran status with us, a couple of new teachers too, and an enhanced program of study for the kids. The pieces are coming together nicely.

We are still on the lookout for a few new team members who will permit us to forge ahead with our expansion plans. If you are here as a visitor, and someone with a valid working visa to be in Japan, and are looking for a new place to dive into, I hope you will consider getting in touch with us. Send us your CV, recent photo, and a letter outlining your situation and your background and we can begin a conversation.

Thanks so much for coming by!

Yours,
Mark

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Having Your Own Experience

Have you ever been on a tour bus? Ever pull up to a great historic site and then stumble out behind all the other tourists who are now adjusting their fanny-packs, putting on their sunglasses and floppy hats, squinting into the sun, and then there is that one guy (there is always that one guy…) who says, “We sure ain’t in Kansas anymore. Guffaw guffaw!!!”

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And you have that sudden, but fleeting urge, to strangle him with his own fanny-pack and slide him under the tires of the tour bus.

But you don’t (good for you!), and you just go along with the herd to see what sites there are to see, until your flock gets pushed into a dining hall and you are all fed some new kinds of food, and then you hear that same guy (there really is always that one guy) who says, “Oh.. I can’t eat this! You see, I am gluten intolerant. Also, I can’t eat fish, beans, tofu, lettuce, pork, dairy products, things that like dairy products, seaweed, and chocolate Kindle eggs because they are illegal in America. Do you have something I can dip in ketchup?”

And then again you have that sudden, but fleeting urge to murder this doofus with a pair of salad tongs and a piece of brie, and slip him under the floorboards as the rest of your group continues the tour.

But you don’t (once again, good for you), and you vow to never go on another guided tour again.

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Coming to Japan to learn the language, to experience the culture, is your dream. You worked hard for your dream, and no doubt you made a lot of sacrifices along the way. You really deserve to get away from the throngs of people who, while really just trying to enjoy themselves, sometimes bog you down and make you feel that you would really like to break out on your own. You really want to have your own experience and your own time in Japan. That is completely understandable. It is good that you want to challenge yourself and to grow. Not a lot f people do that, so once again, good for you (two times for not committing a felony, and also for this).

That is also why we think that coming to work here in Kagawa is really the slice of heaven that you might be looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love going to Kyoto, and I have a good time whenever I am in Osaka or Tokyo. Those are cool places and you should visit them. But to really have your own experience, and one that is away from your home culture, you really ought to think about spending some time in rural Japan.

Here in Kagawa you can find cultural, music, martial arts, and sports that will be all in Japanese. Even if your Japanese is weak there are lots of very kind people who will help you along the way, and the longer you stick to it, the better it will be.

For me, I spent about 12 years in a karate dojo where I was mostly on my own as the only non-Japanese student, and later instructor, there. It was glorious. It was hard, and challenging, and confusing, but I would not have traded that experience for the world. So, how about you? Get away from the tour bus. Check out a life you may want to try in rural Japan. This is where you can see things and experience things that you never could in a large metropolis, and where you can experience through your own senses what “real Japan” is all about.

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