Gainful employment.

Post-moving woes aside, I should probably say something about my new job, since it’s what allowed me to come to Japan, get the materials to allow me a phone and bank account, and will enable me to keep living here for as long as I like.

There are many, many English schools in Japan. Some are major companies (like the one I work for), some are smaller chains, and a few are single-store businesses. Whatever the size, teaching English is a big trade in this country, which is what makes it so easy for native English speakers to get here. (That and the turnover rate at those schools, from what I understand.) English has become the lengua franca of the modern world, and many Japanese are eager to take the feeble katakana-pronounced English they learned in public school and turn it into real conversation. For some, it’s job-related; for others, it allows them to watch imported movies without subtitles or talk to English-speaking friends. That’s where 英会話 come in.

My first three days after Moving Day were training. Day one was via twelve-person video conference in my home branch of Tamachi, the next day had about half of us in Kinshichou, and the third day was a handful of us in Shinjuku, with actual lessons starting the second day. The curriculum is simple enough, with enough books and lessons to keep students from learning the same thing more than once in most cases, and an easily-followed format for instructors to fill forty minutes.

My first actual day was at a branch in Monzennakachou, which happened to be the main branch a friend of mine taught at until about two months before I got here (lousy timing, Ashley!), and the next day (yesterday) was in Ooimachi. (I haven’t been to the same branch twice since I got here.) An interesting note is that while I was originally supposed to teach four days in Tamachi and one day in Kamata, that’s been changed: after the company accepted my contract, they then decided Tamachi would be closed on weekends, so until further notice, I’ll be in Akabane on weekends. Add to that a kids’ training session at the end of this week in Kameido, and I feel like I’m getting a whirlwind tour of the Tokyo branches of the company. The downside to this, however, is that students can choose their instructors when booking, and if you build good rapport with students, they’ll keep choosing you. Bouncing between branches this much means I probably won’t see most of my first-week’s students again, so I’m still new at the three places I’m scheduled. If you have no booked lesson for a period, you get paid less, so it’s better to have bookings than not (and if there’s no one booked, they’ll have you clean or pass out promotional items on the street to fill the time). We’ll see how fast I can catch up, I suppose.

My students so far have been all over the spectrum, from the stereotypical housewife type who takes English lessons in her spare time (but lacks the confidence to ever really advance) to the eager office worker who genuinely wants to learn (and asks for homework at the end of the lesson). I did have a first-timer yesterday, a young man who was both nervous and motivated, and he was a quick study. It got to the point that he’d already grasped the lesson and I was out of ideas, so we drilled until the chime sounded. I’m still finding my way, obviously; hitting the balance between too much and not enough drills/explanation and making sure not to finish too soon or run out of time are challenging, but I didn’t expect to master it immediately. I’ll do the best I can, but I’m also keeping my eyes open for other opportunities as well.

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