Japan, Prose

My Job in Japan

I work as an English teacher at something called an ekaiwa, which essentially means an English conversation school. It’s a place where parents pay money for their kids to take English classes. The school where I teach has it’s own specific teaching method that consists of a certain curriculum, and teaching style. With this method, the native teachers are not allowed to speak Japanese around the kids. I primarily teach students anywhere from 6 months to 18 years old. My youngest student is about 8 months, and my oldest is one of the parents of two young girls I teach. My oldest children are two 16 year olds. I teach them each privately.

There are a lot of things I don’t like about my job, but the kids aren’t one of them. I can’t really complain about them. Kids will be kids, and some of my most unpredictable students are somehow my favorites–maybe I feel like I can identify with their energy. But even the ones I don’t love usually make for a good story.

On the other hand, I don’t like my long work hours of course. I don’t like the fact that some of the parents often have vague complaints or complicated requests. “Oh, you want a special lesson because your kid is going to Australia for a week? Mm… I’m sorry. I don’t take complicated orders (unless you paying me though?).” I don’t like the fact that I’m not allowed to speak Japanese to the kids. Some of them are too young for it, and it makes it too difficult to communicate. They really can’t understand me. Some of the classes seem like the students leave worse off than they came, and I wonder if it was good for anything at all?

But I think the worst is that I don’t really find my job fulfilling even on the good days. At the end of it all, I don’t really feel like I’ve gained much even if the lessons went well. It can be an irritating feeling. I’ve even noticed a pattern: I have a blast on the weekends! Then I’m easily ready for work by Tuesday morning, but by Wednesday night I find myself passionately threatening to quit and never come back. Wednesday is the second day of my workweek and by then I can’t take it anymore, but I always come in again on Thursday.

Somehow, I pull myself all the way through till Saturday, and sometimes Saturdays even have a surprise for me with how pleasant they can be. Some of my favorite students come on Saturdays.

I don’t regret my decision though at all, and I don’t feel hopeless. I may actually feel more hopeful. Hopeful, because I can try harder to understand the things I don’t like and figure out the things I do like. And later, I can find something better for me. For example, I’m starting to realize that I am very creative and artistic. I get so bored or irritated with work that I start expressing myself artistically in some shape or form–I write, or draw, or make things or sing. I’ve even been able to use it more and more at work. I’m even thinking of using a new song every month to liven things up in my higher level classes and teach vocabulary and listening comprehension. This month, I’ve been using Thriller for Halloween. Who knows–maybe this creativity will lead me to my new jobs and interests in the future.

Regardless, I get to explore on the weekends and share it on my blog and Facebook! Doesn’t get much cooler than that! Not a bad deal, not a bad deal at all. I’ll let you know how next month goes. Spoiler alert: Someone might be going to Tokyo 😉

A couple of the creative things I liked about my job.

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