Anderson`s Life in Japan

by Tom Anderson
(Kanagawa, Japan)

Anderson`s Life in Japan

(Kanagawa, Japan)

Anderson`s Anecdotes: A Strange Foreigner`s Take On Life In Japan

A Veteran Teacher`s Advice To Those New To Japan

I have lived in Japan for a long time-almost half my life-and have hopefully gained some insight from my experience working and living in this fascinating country. Here are some ideas which will, hopefully, be useful for those who are new to the Japan teaching scene.

I think that looking after one`s health is vital to living here and so easily neglected. Make sure that you are eating healthy foods regularly. Remember that (wo)man does not live on cup noodles and McDonalds alone. In addition to eating right, it`s also important to get enough rest and exercise. See if you can find a public sports center where you live in which you can exercise for a reasonable price. For example, I do aerobics classes and pay only 500 yen for a one hour class.

Your time here will be very interesting if you take the time to learn about Japanese culture. Studying the music, history, festivals, and other cultural items will help you to understand and appreciate your new home more. It will also help you as you study the language.

It is very easy, even in a densely populated country like Japan, to become isolated and lonely. In a group society like Japan it is important to become part of a group yourself. There are many different clubs and organizations you can join here. Check the free weekly Tokyo Metropolis (in print or online). You can find just about every group imaginable-sports, travel, church, etc, etc.

It is natural to want to do your best as a teacher here, and that`s okay but at the same time it`s not good to try to reinvent the wheel. Using a teachers` manual can help you to build a base which you can adapt and add to as you gain experience. Another very important source of ideas is your colleagues. They can give you encouragement and feedback on your ideas and also be a source of new ideas. It`s important as well to get to know the support staff as quite often the secretaries know the most about what`s going on.

5. Classes
I think that it is important to use "tough love" with students. Have a few simple and common sense rules, such as not sleeping, using a cell phone, chatting, etc. Back them up with consequences such as being marked absent if one is sleeping or chatting (after warnings, of course). Make an effort to understand your students-what`s their academic background? Are they English majors? What is their level? Take the time to learn about your students` interests. Even if you don`t like j-pop music, know which groups are popular. Learn about Japanese players in major league baseball or European soccer. Incorporating these into your classes can make a difference.

My last piece of advice is to try not to be too serious about the whole thing. Have a good attitude and enjoy your adventures in the land of the rising sun.

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