English teaching in Japan: no sugarcoating

I know I’m going to get shit for posting this from someone who doesn’t agree with me, but since when has that ever stopped me? 😉

Everything I say, of course there are exceptions, but they are not the norm. What I’m going to say is the norm and so I’m going to just come straight out and say it:

English teaching in Japan (and many other foreign countries) is not a proper job.

There are a number of reasons people (including me) chose or have chosen at some point, to do it. These are in no particular order.

  1. They want a gap year (either before or after high school or university).
  2. They have no idea what they want to do with their lives (and that’s PERFECTLY okay!)
  3. They’re running away from something or someone in their home country (and yes, I once met and made friends with a guy I later discovered was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, so I’m not making this shit up!)
  4. They love the foreign country they’re in so much and hate or don’t want to return to their home country, so they’ll do anything to stay.
  5. They’re scared of getting a proper job back home.
  6. They did an Arts Degree at university in something useless and couldn’t get a real job (I speak from personal experience!)
  7. They want a boyfriend or girlfriend in that country.

There are a rare few of us who are actually qualified teachers, but even then we are seriously over-qualified, under-utilised and majorly under-paid.

This pisses me off because we’re lumped in with the young, male, white dickheads who come here to get shit-faced at the foreigner bars and fuck pussy. I’m not sugarcoating this; I’m being real and using language I’ve heard more than once from men here. And yes, this is a male problem; women here don’t act like that.

Apart from the seven reasons I mentioned above, there are also the men (and the very, very occasional woman) who end up getting married to a local and who simply settle for teaching English despite their amazing qualifications in other fields. They give up their dreams and settle for far less than they’re worth.

Japan is notorious for assuming that just because you speak English that must mean you can also teach. Even if you can do other things and often times speak fluent Japanese, you will rarely be permitted to infiltrate Japanese society. You are only good enough to teach English because you’re a foreigner and you will never understand or be a part of the culture and society no matter how long you live here or how hard you try to fit in. Honestly, don’t bother. You need to know your place and not disturb the harmony and peace. This is what I’ve not only been told, but read and experienced.

I don’t want to be a 40-year-old single female teaching English in Japan. That is not, has not and will not ever be my destiny. The 40-year-old women I do know here are still teaching English despite being highly qualified and speaking fluent Japanese. And yes, all but one are single. And she is dating a foreign man, not a Japanese one.

I’m not being a pessimist; I’m painting a picture of reality. Google it and see how many other foreign females have a story identical to what I’ve just said.

All I can say is thank fuck I’m not a white man here. They fall into two main categories: drunk/alcoholic singles or unhappily married to someone who refuses to have sex with them after marriage and/or children or are divorced and bitter. And, trapped in the country because they have kids.

I realise this post has morphed into being about multiple issues, not just English teaching, but that’s because it’s all connected.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion and experience of it here. Some people aren’t going to like what I’ve written simply because I shattered their illusion. I’m not apologising for that. Japan (and every other country in the world!) is not perfect and the longer you live here, the more you see. Some people see it though, but refuse to believe the facts. I will never sugarcoat something in order to make someone more comfortable with the lies they are being fed to believe. If you don’t like what I’ve written, that’s fine, but if you choose to come to Japan or to work in another country as an English teacher, do not cry if you discover that what I said was actually true.

English teaching is not all it’s cracked up to be.


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