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English Teacher – Japan

I’m an English teacher, in Japan, at a junior high school. Many junior high teaching jobs involve teaching once weekly oral communication course, but at my school, the foreign teachers are in the classroom for all six hours of English classes a week, for each group. I’m currently teaching two third year classes (essay writing and speaking skills) and one first year class (general English, including grammar, speaking, writing, reading, pronunciation… and on and on). Third year is equivalent to 9th grade in the States, first year is 7th grade. I have three classes a day (the two third years, and the first year) Monday through Saturday. On Mondays I’ve got the third year planning meeting, and on Fridays I run the first year planning meeting. I’m supposed to have the lessons for the following week ready at the meeting, and then run through them with a team of eight teachers, both native speakers and Japanese teachers.


On any given day:


-get to school before 8


-check emails for anything that might pertain to my classes


-enter any scores for homework that I took home to check


-answer students’ questions before first period starts


-teach three 50 minute classes


-work on adapting lesson plans from last year to fit a) this year’s calendar, and b) any changes in focus we’ve adopted


-prepare the weekly quiz (for Friday), because it needs to be checked by a couple different people


-answer students’ questions at lunch time


-check homework, which could be just a simple worksheet, or weekly tests, or third year essays


-make sure the lessons are ready for the next day, make copies of handouts that will be needed for first year


-answer students’ questions after school


-work on long term issues, like scheduling speaking tests, requesting video cameras, booking rooms, getting ahead of the final exam bydoing as much prep as possible beforehand


I usually leave anywhere from 5:30 to 7:30, depending on how much I’ve got on my plate, and how much help I’ve gotten from other teachers. I almost always take some checking home with me. I’m usually pretty tired by the end of the day. It’s an exhausting job, and one that isn’t very common here anymore, as many schools hire companies to supply them with teachers. At the very least, for however much longer this lasts, I’m working for a school that cares enough about its English language learning program that they hire their own teachers, and let us plan the lessons.

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