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Open Thread: Don't Worry, Be Happy

I had been meaning to write about this earlier, but given the way events are unfolding in the Fukushima nuclear crisis, an article published in May in the Japan Times about an ALT returning to finish his contract isn't so outdated.

On one hand, it's admirable that this guy and the other ALTs decided to stick around and finish their contracts. But on the other hand, I wonder if they are not fools for willfully living so close to a nuclear reactor that has melted down.

Encouraging Developments

A couple of things in the news caught my eye that made me think Japan's approach to teaching English could be changing for the better.

From the Yomiuri Online:

The Japanese and U.S. governments are considering the establishment of a program that would send young Japanese teachers of English to the United States to improve their English ability, it has been learned.

Interac No More

As of October 1st, Interac will cease to exist, being bought out by Advantage Partners. This comes from the General Union, which cites an August 24 official government gazette containing the notice of the buyout. More about the buyout can be found on ESL Cafe and Hoofin's blog.

Eikaiwa: 

Time to Say Goodbye to JET and Dispatch ALTs

Given all the talk of the JET Programme on the chopping block, I've been thinking about the discussion it has generated. The consensus seems to be that the program should be saved since it's a great soft power tool and exchange program for Japan.

On Getting Paid

Tuesday's Lifeline column in The Japan Times featured a situation that illustrated just how fly-by-night teaching English in Japan can be:

Reader TS writes: "I return to the U.S. next week and I was supposed to receive my final pay check from a really bad ALT company . . . last week, but did not receive payment. I've called them but the secretaries say that the people in charge are not in the office. I called my direct contact and he has yet to call me back.

Chiba ALT Conracts Deemed to be Illegal

Whoever wrote The ALT Scam on the Fukuoka General Union blog is probably feeling vindicated right now. The Mainichi Daily News reports:

Public schools here [Kashiwa, Chiba] have been unable to start their native speaker-taught English classes this school year after the city's board of education was accused of violating labor laws with foreign language teachers.

The Problem With Dispatch ALT Jobs

The Fukuoka General Union has a long read titled The ALT Scam that points out the problems with BOEs outsourcing ALT jobs.

The main points are:

A Terrible Triangle

The latest development in the dirty undertaking of dispatch teaching:

A labor union of foreign workers requested Monday that the Aichi prefectural board of education address the concerns of English-language instructors at public schools who they say are working under illegal contracts.

In Search of Answers

Old news is fun! The Japan Times reports on Yano Research's survey on the foreign language learning market in Japan, which I wrote about this at the beginning of August and touched on again earlier this month. The only difference with today's article is that the JT spoke with somebody at GEOS.

The Dirty Undertaking of Dispatch Companies

The Yomiuri Shimbun, via Yahoo!, has a story about the dark underbelly of ALT dispatch companies as English will become a compulsory subject in the fifth and sixth grades in 2011.

For example, schools have to deal with the constant turnover of ALTs. One BOE member in Saitama related that he is on his 4th ALT quit since April. This revolving door of teachers is not conducive to learning.

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