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Teaching English at a Rural Village in Japan

#1
Hi there! My name is Lucas Assis and I'm a Brazilian student currently enrolled in a Computer Science bachelor's degree in Rio de Janeiro with a deep passion for Japanese culture. I'm fluent in English, and I have a Canadian high school diploma, so I believe that I'd be apt for teaching after taking a TEFL, which I plan to do once I graduate (around 2020).

I want to experience Japanese culture and people at a deeper level, so I thought that trying to apply for an ALT position in the countryside would be the best course of action. I'm also interested in becoming a Software Engineer, so I'd probably look into applying for job openings while I'm there, since most require that you live in Japan already.

Since I'm Brazilian, the JET Programme doesn't allow me to apply for an ALT position, only CIR, and since I don't speak a lick of Japanese and JET is extra rigorous here I don't think that I stand a chance. Another option would be to apply directly to the school, but I have no idea how to do that.

I like to plan things really ahead (contingency plans, like Batman), so that I can always try something else along the way, or chance plans entirely, so any help is greatly appreciated!

P.S.: I have dark brown hair, brown eyes, short stature and white skin, if a "foreign" appeance matters at all.
Edited: 2017-11-28, 9:32 pm
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#2
Just get an eikawai job in Tokyo and start applying to software engineering jobs immediately.

For every JET that stays in their small town for three years an ends up with amazing Japanese there are tons that burn out and just leave Japan or stay in their bubble and troll the internet for hours. The discipline to study Japanese and immerse yourself somehow is more important.

You'll probably have a decent software job within your first year and be gaining experience that can lead to better opportunities. After three years most JETs will be facing the choice of leaving Japan for good or being English teachers for life. After five years you'll have a better salary and better Japanese than all but the top 1% of those who start out with JET.

TLDR: If your goal is to be a software engineer in Japan don't waste a bunch of time and effort on teaching English.
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#3
You seem kinda biased in that suggestion, seeing as your nickname is "tokyostyle" Tongue

Jokes aside, that is actually good advice, thank you. Still, since my priority is to learn Japanese, I'll start with a Kumon course while still in Brazil so that I have an easier time learning through osmosis.

When I was 15 I moved to Canada by myself to live with Homestays to finish high school, and while some of the experience may have been some of the most grueling situations of my entire life, what I say is, "if it doesn't kill you it'll probably make you really stressed out, but at least now you know how to deal with that stress". I'm 17 now, and living with roommates in Rio.

I actually want to have a gap year of sorts (but not really because I hate not having anything to do), and living in the Japanese countryside teaching English as an ALT seems to be a way for me to sustain myself as I apply for SE jobs while giving me a break after uni.

Anyhow, have a great day or night, and thank you!
Edited: 2017-11-29, 3:17 pm
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JapanesePod101
#4
The most difficult part is securing a work visa. You'll need to find a company that will want to hire and sponsor your visa, and even if you do, Japanese immigration can simply decide to not grant you a visa. Basically for a foreigner to teach English (in an eikawa) you need either 12 years of education in an English speaking country or at least 3 years of full-time teaching experience.

That, or marry an ethnically Japanese person.
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#5
Thank you for your reply, islandisto.

Yes, I've heard about that requirement, which makes it unfortunate that JET isn't hiring Brazilian ALTs. Yet, do you think that I could get them to make an exception? (I think it's unlikely that they'd allow it, personally)
Edited: 2017-11-29, 6:11 am
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#6
(2017-11-29, 4:55 am)GreyGoldFish Wrote: When I was 15 I moved to Canada by myself to live with Homestays to finish high school, and while some of the experience may have been some of the most grueling situations of my entire live, what I say is, "if it doesn't kill you it'll probably make you really stressed out, but at least now you know how to deal with that stress". I'm 17 now, and living with roommates in Rio.

In Canada if it doesn't kill you it will apologize to you and maybe offer you some timmies.

Sorry.

As far as I understand, the Japanese in general don't really do exceptions. By the book sort of people. If you need 12 years of English country education [which you don't have] or 3 years of full time teaching experience then if you want to make English teaching work your path is clear.

Or try to learn the bajebus out of Japanese and your comp sci degree and go for something in your field over there.
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#7
Oh man don't even mention timmies I miss that stuff so much! In Brazil we don't have donuts, it is indeed a sad country Sad.

Well, I guess what I'm going to do is go to a Japanese Kumon course and apply to teaching position anyway when the time comes (I mean, what's the harm in trying?)

Also, since it's still a far out thing, maybe I'll try to get a student visa to study the language in Tokyo while applying to CS related jobs.
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#8
(2017-11-29, 3:21 pm)GreyGoldFish Wrote: Oh man don't even mention timmies I miss that stuff so much! In Brazil we don't have donuts, it is indeed a sad country Sad.

Well, I guess what I'm going to do is go to a Japanese Kumon course and apply to teaching position anyway when the time comes (I mean, what's the harm in trying?)

Also, since it's still a far out thing, maybe I'll try to get a student visa to study the language in Tokyo while applying to CS related jobs.

EDIT: what I mean with the above is that instead of trying to earn money to sustain myself, maybe I'll save enough for me to just study and spend some time in Tokyo.
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#9
Oh dear.

You will hear a lot about being an ALT in Japan, which makes it sound like a safe and easy and well-paid job. It is. Under the sole condition that you are a native English speaker.

As a non-native, even with a TEFL, CPE, bilingual education, a major in English and an MA in English translation, no one will even look at your CV. You can find some poorly paid occasional part-times. No work visa for those, tho.

Sometimes international schools are more open minded, but then you need to actually be a teacher to work there. No shortcuts for non-native speakers I'm afraid.

Brazilians work at Toyota. English teachong is for Westerners.
(Toyota actually pays quite well. If you get your Japanese straightened up by then, they are always looking for Portuguese-speaking office jobs to boot)

OR you can go there as a student (either with MEXT or at a language school). Not sure who would hire an SE fresh out of school who didn't go through the job-hunting process. Here it is more common to hire someone with an unrelated degree and just train them on the job.
Edited: 2017-11-29, 5:17 pm
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#10
JET probably won't take you due to the 12 year thing.

Some of the Eikaiwa's or ALT dispatch companies (ex: Interac) might though. I was an ALT for about 3 years through a dispatch company and some of the other teachers weren't from traditional English speaking countries (ex: Jamaica, Phillipines). The important part is that you had 12 years of education in English and can prove it. Part of the application process for a Visa includes listing out the schools you attended from elementary school all the way to college, and how many years you were at each school.

Quote:I'm also interested in becoming a Software Engineer, so I'd probably look into applying for job openings while I'm there, since most require that you live in Japan already.
...
since I don't speak a lick of Japanese
This is going to be problematic. Most companies are going to be looking for N2-ish level people or people that are able to hold good conversations in Japanese. You graduate in 2020. My recommendation to you is to start your Japanese studies now and go hard into it. Focus on reading and listening, and if you can manage it, speaking; cram vocab too. By time you go over, you can spend that 1 year working to get your speech fluency up. If you put off studying till you get to Japan, you will probably be spending about 2-3 years as a teacher trying to get your Japanese high enough.

zgarbas Wrote:Not sure who would hire an SE fresh out of school who didn't go through the job-hunting process. Here it is more common to hire someone with an unrelated degree and just train them on the job. 
Ya, this is true. Once you get a little bit of experience though as an SE, its not that hard to get interviews for SE positions.
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#11
(2017-11-29, 5:15 pm)Zgarbas Wrote: Brazilians work at Toyota. English teachong is for Westerners.
(Toyota actually pays quite well. If you get your Japanese straightened up by then, they are always looking for Portuguese-speaking office jobs to boot)

But... But I am Westerner, lol. I understand what you mean though.

When you say that Toyota pays well what kind of salary are you talking about?

Still, it makes me pretty bummed up how close-minded that sounds, hiring someone because of their nationality and not their actual skill. In my opinion when you have to study a second language you actually gain a much deeper understanding of its inner workings, and actually have the experience of the other side of the coin, the student. Oh well, it is what it is I guess, and it's not really my business to meddle with.

Thank you for your reply.

(2017-11-29, 5:28 pm)vix86 Wrote:
Quote:I'm also interested in becoming a Software Engineer, so I'd probably look into applying for job openings while I'm there, since most require that you live in Japan already.
...
since I don't speak a lick of Japanese
This is going to be problematic. Most companies are going to be looking for N2-ish level people or people that are able to hold good conversations in Japanese. You graduate in 2020. My recommendation to you is to start your Japanese studies now and go hard into it. Focus on reading and listening, and if you can manage it, speaking; cram vocab too. By time you go over, you can spend that 1 year working to get your speech fluency up. If you put off studying till you get to Japan, you will probably be spending about 2-3 years as a teacher trying to get your Japanese high enough.
Well at least I've got the fact that Japanese pronunciation is easier for Brazilians going for me (most syllables I can literally just pronounce them as I would in Portuguese).

Also, another thing that I've been thinking about is that I read somewhere that the Japanese visa was really strict about your education. I am enrolled in a relatively prestigious university in Brazil (Pontificial Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, if anyone's heard about it) but I actually skipped a year of Elementary School after a psychologist deemed that it was appropriate, so that makes me wonder if I'd have any trouble with that "gap" (I skipped 2nd grade) and if I'd have to dig up the documents that justified the skip and translate them.

Thanks for all the help, guys!
Edited: 2017-11-29, 6:15 pm
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#12
I agree with you, but unfortunately the idea here is that natives trump everything. Probably why they never learn any english haha. The under the table comparatively low paid jobs are still much better than what Japanese people get for their part-times, it's just that you won't get a visa for it, nor are they particularly stable. One school in my area has the permanently employed natives, and 'emergency' staff foreign. Seems to be the norm.

Places where English is the official language (Philippines, India, Jamaica) also have access to that native privilege, albeit they usually don't get the best jobs. Just a high school degree or something that is not as common (like bilingual education) isn't usually accepted.

Factory jobs start at 200k/month and go to 300k once you hit in all the mandatory overtime (and the soul-shattering alternate shifts). It's a very straining job, though. Salary gets considerably higher if you do it all your life but for most people exhaustion kicks in by then.

I think you should get a proper career started in Brazil and then maybe find a way to transfer here. Or learn a lot of Japanese. Preferably both. Since you're planning so ahead of time, plan for real jobs, not dead ends or temp ones.

Aa for paperwork, there is this equivalency do ument that all brazilians have to submit when enrolling in higher education. Annoying but bureaucracy usually is. Other than that, you won't have any problems.
Edited: 2017-11-29, 6:41 pm
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#13
(2017-11-29, 6:40 pm)Zgarbas Wrote: Since you're planning so ahead of time, plan for real jobs, not dead ends or temp ones.
This. If you can get to Japan via a real profession, then don't bother with the dead end one (ALT). Graduating college gives you a prime opportunity that you can't get again. I assume its the case pretty much everywhere in the world, but businesses proactively reach out to college seniors and try and hire them, they are open to interviewing you. If you are already a CS major I can't see why anyone would throw that opportunity away, because after you are out of college, the hiring process gets more difficult. It's far easier to get a job with some experience than with 0 experience. Get internships while in college, job hunt your senior year and get hired, work 1-2 years and then start job hunting in Japan or go as an ALT then. You're prospects will be infinitely better.
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#14
Ah, I see. Well, that is all really good advice guys, thank you! My cousins are actually in the process of opening a company, so I'll probably get some experience later on working with them, which I can put on my resume, heh.

I think that right now I'm really leaning on the "go as a student" side of things. I can feasibly save enough money until then to enjoy myself, and I can do freelancer work to keep myself busy until shit gets real (a.k.a. after a year) and I have to pay a shitton of taxes.
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#15
(2017-11-29, 7:10 pm)GreyGoldFish Wrote: I can do freelancer work to keep myself busy until shit gets real (a.k.a. after a year) and I have to pay a shitton of taxes.
If you are a remote freelancer (ie: working for company not in Japan), you could get away with reporting your income as zero if you wanted. You might still end up paying some taxes, though I'm not sure honestly. Reporting foreign income doesn't help you in any way though honestly. Unless the income is being made from a Japan-based company, it basically does nothing to help you with a visa. I'm a remote SE and I've looked into working from Japan and there aren't any visa's that let you do that.
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#16
(2017-11-29, 3:21 pm)GreyGoldFish Wrote: Oh man don't even mention timmies I miss that stuff so much! In Brazil we don't have donuts, it is indeed a sad country Sad.

Well, I guess what I'm going to do is go to a Japanese Kumon course and apply to teaching position anyway when the time comes (I mean, what's the harm in trying?)

Also, since it's still a far out thing, maybe I'll try to get a student visa to study the language in Tokyo while applying to CS related jobs.

There is an indy place on Kingston that blows the doors off of Timmies. I won't tease you anymore on it though. Sorry Wink

You can get a study visa, you can work IIRC up to 28 hours a week beyond that but don't quote me and rules can always change.

However keep in mind that Comp Sci involves learning not just concepts which stick around but also actual skills which disappear very fast if you are not using them. I forget a lot of the details in finance and economics but I still think about finance and economics [and life] in the manner for which I've learned. I am guessing comp sci is the same. I doubt employers are keen on hiring someone a year out of school no matter how much song and dance you do unless you have worked somewhere in the field.

I've been there with the skill loss. Some things don't go away, some things do.
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#17
(2017-11-29, 2:15 pm)Dudeist Wrote:
(2017-11-29, 4:55 am)GreyGoldFish Wrote: When I was 15 I moved to Canada by myself to live with Homestays to finish high school, and while some of the experience may have been some of the most grueling situations of my entire live, what I say is, "if it doesn't kill you it'll probably make you really stressed out, but at least now you know how to deal with that stress". I'm 17 now, and living with roommates in Rio.

In Canada if it doesn't kill you it will apologize to you and maybe offer you some timmies.
Not everyone can be as edgy as you, my friend.
Edited: 2017-11-30, 6:36 am
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#18
(2017-11-30, 1:30 am)Dudeist Wrote:
(2017-11-29, 3:21 pm)GreyGoldFish Wrote: Oh man don't even mention timmies I miss that stuff so much! In Brazil we don't have donuts, it is indeed a sad country Sad.

Well, I guess what I'm going to do is go to a Japanese Kumon course and apply to teaching position anyway when the time comes (I mean, what's the harm in trying?)

Also, since it's still a far out thing, maybe I'll try to get a student visa to study the language in Tokyo while applying to CS related jobs.

There is an indy place on Kingston that blows the doors off of Timmies. I won't tease you anymore on it though. Sorry Wink

You can get a study visa, you can work IIRC up to 28 hours a week beyond that but don't quote me and rules can always change.

However keep in mind that Comp Sci involves learning not just concepts which stick around but also actual skills which disappear very fast if you are not using them. I forget a lot of the details in finance and economics but I still think about finance and economics [and life] in the manner for which I've learned. I am guessing comp sci is the same.  I doubt employers are keen on hiring someone a year out of school no matter how much song and dance you do unless you have worked somewhere in the field.

I've been there with the skill loss. Some things don't go away, some things do.

I miss Krispy Kreme too...

Do internships count as work experience? I mean, I have to get a job first to have experience, but If I need experience to get a job then...


Thank you for your reply!
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#19
(2017-11-30, 9:15 am)GreyGoldFish Wrote: Do internships count as work experience? I mean, I have to get a job first to have experience, but If I need experience to get a job then...
Yep they count. They are the preferred way to get experience before going full time, and its kind of expected now (in the US) that students will get an internship or two before they graduate. Freelance work can count as well and work with Open Source projects can too, but you may need a decent amount of work in a OSS project to make it have they same level of impact as say an internship or freelance job.
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#20
(2017-11-29, 2:55 am)tokyostyle Wrote: For every JET that stays in their small town for three years an ends up with amazing Japanese

Are you implying that it's better to learn Japanese out in the country?
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#21
No he's stating that's what happens. JET places almost exclusively in rural areas and with JET, where they put you is where you stay generally.
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#22
(2017-12-02, 4:39 am)theadamie Wrote: Are you implying that it's better to learn Japanese out in the country?

No, that whole idea is based on sampling bias.
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#23
(2017-11-30, 6:35 am)ryuudou Wrote:
(2017-11-29, 2:15 pm)Dudeist Wrote: In Canada if it doesn't kill you it will apologize to you and maybe offer you some timmies.
Not everyone can be as edgy as you, my friend.

Sorry. Wink

[I've litterally apologized to a cell phone dropped by someone else]
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