The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

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senseiman
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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:27 am

steki47 wrote:
senseiman wrote:A Phd is really only worthwhile if you intend to pursue a career in academia, otherwise it is kind of superfluous.
I looked into some Phd programs as I am in academia. If teaching Engrish in Japan qualifies as academia, that is. Still not sure that massive investment of time and money would pay off professionally at this point. Very expensive ego stroking. Would rather hit the gym.

In any case, congrats on completing yours. Impressed!
Thanks. Having a Phd does open some doors if you are pursuing a career in teaching English (not my field but I know a few people for whom it is). With an MA you can teach at a lot of universities as hijokin, but the ones I know doing that seem to live fairly precariously by stringing together a number of part time contracts which collectively don't earn them much more than an Eikaiwa teacher. Most full time positions at universities require a minimum of a Phd (though for foreigners those often aren't permanent positions. Still, a full time position with a 3-5 year contract is better than a part time position with a 6 month contract anyday, which is basically the difference between having a Phd and an MA in most cases, at least in universities).

So it is kind of a trade-off - sacrificing 3-6 years or so to roll the dice on a Phd or going forward with what you have. I'm not sure if I am better off than I would have been without it, but at the same time I have no regrets (though I was a bit younger, I finished at 35. Past 40 I suppose it would make less sense economically).

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:53 am

My original plan was to shoot for uni work, but that has its own problems as you mentioned. I have friends who are teaching at 3-4 universities, wondering how many classes they will get next semester. Rough. I would settle for direct hire ALT or private high school and have been looking around and schmoozing a bit.

Really just want more money and job security. As for money, I was also building an Ebay business that was going well for a few years but I just got booted off and banned from selling. May try again.

The good thing so far is that having a MS Edu means I always get an interview and 99% of the time a job offer. All dispatch ALT jobs, so lateral moves.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Kuronama » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:10 pm

senseiman wrote: with academic jobs today increasingly being part time adjunct positions with low pay/no security it is hard to justify in economic terms, its more something you do for the love of it.

This has become an issue in Canada, I believe - at least there was an episode on The Agenda with Steve Paikin talking about it. Justifying it in economic terms, as you say, has been a major issue for me. And then of course there is the issue of firstly being accepted into a program, and then completing it - which, according to you, has only around a 50% completion rate….

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Kuronama » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:14 pm

steki47 wrote:
Sorry, what is your MA?

I'm doing an MA in Applied Linguistics; the program also requires that all students complete a dissertation in order to be awarded the MA. I'm starting to think now about possible topics, seeing as I'm about halfway through the program, but at this point I'm not too sure.. possibly something related to eikaiwa or language policy...

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:03 pm

Kuronama wrote:
steki47 wrote:
Sorry, what is your MA?

I'm doing an MA in Applied Linguistics; the program also requires that all students complete a dissertation in order to be awarded the MA. I'm starting to think now about possible topics, seeing as I'm about halfway through the program, but at this point I'm not too sure.. possibly something related to eikaiwa or language policy...
Gotcha. Comparing/contrasting Western and Japanese educational cultures is a rich field for research. Eikaiwa as well. Importing native speakers, eikaiwa complementing public school English education, image branding of English by Japanese companies, etc.

I wrote up a presentation on compromising between JTE and ALT. Background cultural differences and learning to suggest and implement new ideas with the JTE. Recently met a Japanese who taught in the UK and we have been comaparing our experiences.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Musashi » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:15 pm

I got my M.A in TESOL from Birmingham University. It is a good course if you are disciplined and enjoy independent learning. Unfortunately, teaching at universities is the same as teaching at an eikaiwa so everything you learn is almost useless (unless you enjoy doing academic writing). Senseiman is correct in saying that there is no job security at universities here. Full time contracts only last for 3 years and part timers have to scramble every semester to ensure they have employment for the upcoming semester. It seems most universities don't care what you have an M.A in (or even if you have one), they just need someone willing to do the job. In order to be competitive in this career, one needs a minimum of a Phd and at least 3 publications. So you really need to enjoy academia if you want to be successful.
Btw...I have a ton of discourse analysis book I am will to sell for cheap if you are interested!
Good luck in your studies! :thumbsup:

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:33 pm

Kuronama wrote:
senseiman wrote: with academic jobs today increasingly being part time adjunct positions with low pay/no security it is hard to justify in economic terms, its more something you do for the love of it.

This has become an issue in Canada, I believe - at least there was an episode on The Agenda with Steve Paikin talking about it. Justifying it in economic terms, as you say, has been a major issue for me. And then of course there is the issue of firstly being accepted into a program, and then completing it - which, according to you, has only around a 50% completion rate….
Yeah, I`m Canadian and the market there is horrible. I applied to a number of universities there for tenure track positions a couple years ago and didn`t even get an interview, they were all getting close to 100 applicants per position.

In the US you have the additional problem that if your Phd is not from one of the top tier universities you can almost forget about ever getting hired, even by the lowest ranked universities out there. This might be slightly less significant in Canada given the smaller number of universities (and hence lower differentiation between them in terms of prestige) but seems to also be a bit at work there.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/educ ... _good.html

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:46 pm

Lamarr wrote:
steki47 wrote:The good thing so far is that having a MS Edu means I always get an interview and 99% of the time a job offer. All dispatch ALT jobs, so lateral moves.
Out of interest, have you found that having the MS has helped you get "better" ALT jobs? By better, I mean better-paid than the bog-standard ALT dispatch 200-230k per month salary (which seems to be the going rate these days), and with some sort of constructive, purposeful work to do each day?

My experience of ALT was the usual crap of either sitting in the teachers' room with nothing to do (sometimes for an entire week at a time), or standing like a dunce at the front of class doing the human tape-recorder thing. I lasted 18 months before I had to get out (partly also because the dispatch company diddled with the contracts).

The only real interesting point for me (besides the very generous holiday and vacation time) was when you actually got to teach a class. With the right planning, training and guidance, I'm sure it could be a more interesting and rewarding teaching job. None of the dispatch companies I've seen though seem to offer any of that. The only potential for career "advancement" was to get a job in the head office, dishing out the company bullshit to all the newbies.
As a matter of fact, yes. I returned to my first dispatch ALT company and they offered me a special contract contract that paid at a higher rate than the other ALTs and included SH. I taught an extra month at an unpleasant JHS (see the Gripes thread) but the company seemed to like me/trust me and so offered this to me. I also was approved to a presentation at their workshop which was a nice Christmas bonus.

With other interviews, my MS came up but I also have a spouse visa, 10+ years exp and a JLPT cert. I am the sort of guy they want. Again, not great jobs, but I always get a job in April after the musical contracts game is over.

Some ALTs complained about the light schedule and went back to eikaiwa. I love the down time. Got straight As in grad school, worked on my Ebay business, started a travel blog, study Japanese and read a novel or two a week because of this goofy job. Really not complaining.

Plus I love the hours and long vacations. ALT work is fine with me.

steki47

Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:51 pm

senseiman wrote:In the US you have the additional problem that if your Phd is not from one of the top tier universities you can almost forget about ever getting hired, even by the lowest ranked universities out there.
In NYC, there are PT hourly wage jobs at many of the universities. Mostly with the social science crowd (my original field). I imagine it would be rough and demoralizing to get a PhD in sociology and then get stuck with what is almost McD's-level working conditions.

Supply and demand applies everywhere. How many anthropology profs does a city need? And who forced these people to get PhDs in anth in the first place?

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:58 pm

steki47 wrote:
senseiman wrote:In the US you have the additional problem that if your Phd is not from one of the top tier universities you can almost forget about ever getting hired, even by the lowest ranked universities out there.
In NYC, there are PT hourly wage jobs at many of the universities. Mostly with the social science crowd (my original field). I imagine it would be rough and demoralizing to get a PhD in sociology and then get stuck with what is almost McD's-level working conditions.

Supply and demand applies everywhere. How many anthropology profs does a city need? And who forced these people to get PhDs in anth in the first place?
Yup, I guess the criticism though is simply that rather than judging applicants as individuals with various merits, hiring decisions seem to be dominated simply by how prestigious a school one graduated from. While not an irrelevant factor, the prestige of the school one attended is an incredibly weak indicator of how competent a researcher/teacher one is, which makes these decisions look arbitrary and unfair (not to mention inefficient - it can waste top talent while at the same time promoting the mediocre). This should be an issue of some concern. Japan of course has a similar problem (more so even) - grads from Todai can waltz into the nation`s elite ranks more or less entirely based on their ability at the age of 18 to have passed a standardized test. Grads from regional universities, particularly the lesser private ones, pretty much have a low level/low salary career path automatically set out for them.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Junken Master » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:31 pm

I gave up.

I did my MEd TESOL and DELTA in the UK two years ago but finished both courses at the time of a big downturn in the UK. I got a 3 month term contract at the local University at the start of 2013 and that was it - out on my arse.

I was thinking about the PHD too but the majority of the funding was for Educational studies within mainstream education - particularly with research tailored towards special needs. I would have been laughed at if I'd applied under Motivation in Second Language Learning!

Also my wife and I are doing OK financially at the moment. We don't have loads of money by all means but are fairly comfortable. If I even thought about paying out for a PHD however it would wipe all that out within a year or two. It's simply not worth it, and I decided to cut my losses.

I'm now doing office work in the local City Hall and to be honest I've never felt more settled than I do now. It's easy work - not too stressful. The money is middling to average but I am on the local government pension scheme that pays an extra 20% into a pot every month. Saying that I've already gone up a pay-grade since I started here at the end of last year, which is something I failed to achieve in 10 years + of English teaching in Japan and the UK!

In terms of giving advice on the dissertation itself, I made the mistake of developing a project plan on one topic (motivation) before getting interested in another topic (Peer to Peer development). I then went off on a bit of a tangent with Peer to Peer development before realising that no teachers were willing to give up any time to be research participants! So I had to switch back to motivation at the last moment.

So some advice - if you are going to go with an idea - make absolutely sure that people are willing to help you first!

Also I took on a part-time teaching job during the last 3 months of the dissertation. I was bored out of my head previously, and thought I could easily cope with it. But shortly after starting I had to do a major rework of my dissertation. (Partly because I had to switch back to my original topic late). All of a sudden I went from having all the time in the world to no time at all.

Advice I can give from this? Get a meeting with your project supervisor BEFORE taking on any extra work to make sure you don't have to re-write half of it afterwards.

Also - I'll sell my discourse analysis books at half the price the chap above is selling them at :-)

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Kuronama » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:19 am

Thanks for the cheap discourse analysis text offers, guys! I actually just finished a unit on discourse analysis (assuming I pass), but may take you up on your offers come dissertation time if I choose to focus on that area.

Sounds like things have panned out for you nicely there, JM. I have chosen to do the MA not only to potentially land university/college work after I graduate, but to pursue other potential avenues - specifically, like you, non-teaching government work. Unfortunately both areas (English teaching and govt work) seem to be highly competitive where I'm at now, with years of experience needed (I've got that at least for the English teaching positions).

As for the dissertation advice, that certainly helps. In my last unit, I did a mini research project that required the input from individuals. I made sure I'd secured their willingness to participate before I really even began the assignment. I have a bit of time to think about possible topics, but I know that time's gonna fly so ideally I'd like to be ready to go with at least a couple focused topics when it comes time to start researching/typing

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:18 am

Lamarr wrote:I know people who've wangled better ALT gigs. One buddy of mine just does mornings but gets paid the full daily rate. Another guy I know works in a private high-school and seems to make a ton off that. They only had Bachelor's degrees too, they haven't had to do any further study or courses for it.

I guess if you're patient with it, sweat it out, get in their good books, you can start working things more in your favour.
I assume these people had contacts as well. Those sorts of jobs are out there, but rare. People generally stay there for years. The first options appeals to the lazy side of me while the second probably has more job security and better salary. Bet they work him hard. Would be worth it if the benefits were there. In dispatch work, I don't jump up to do anything extra.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Cadence » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:16 pm

Lamarr wrote:I know people who've wangled better ALT gigs. One buddy of mine just does mornings but gets paid the full daily rate. Another guy I know works in a private high-school and seems to make a ton off that. They only had Bachelor's degrees too, they haven't had to do any further study or courses for it.

I guess if you're patient with it, sweat it out, get in their good books, you can start working things more in your favour.
I worked direct-hire for a private high school for a number of years. I was enrolled on SH, had ridiculous amounts of time off, pretty much walked in and out whenever I wanted to (as long as I was there for the lessons, of course), was in charge of the whole 1st grade of high school curriculum, teaching all the classes myself. I was employed as a straight-up teacher (my contract was exactly the same as the Japanese staff I sat next to everyday), not an ALT, or anything like that. I got paid about 360,000yen a month after deductions, which was relatively good compared to other gaijin teaching gigs.

The freedom to do what I wanted there, in terms of the curriculum, and also being able to come and go as I pleased was good, but I did have to do a LOT of work, and compared to the ALT joke-job I was doing before it was very full on. My tasks involved designing and teaching the whole OC1 / EE1 curriculum for the whole 1st year, co-designing the conversation and communication classes the Japanese teachers taught by themselves, dealing with all class admin for the 14 homerooms I taught, doing promotional work for the school, running the English department bunkasai, etc., festival presentations, running the yearly English play, absolutely FUCK LOADS of test making including pretty much all-night mega-meetings 5 times a year, doing parent class observations and feedback, etc etc.

It was absolutely a full proper job, and despite being able to come and go when I pleased, I spent most of my time working.

And how did I get this job?

Luck. Pure luck. My mate who I used to work with in an ALT gig, until we both got non-renewed out of the blue and thrown to the dogs, called me up one day asking me if I still lived where I did before. I said I did, and he then put me in touch with an agency who were tasked with finding a replacement for the previous foreign English teacher who was leaving on his own terms. I charmed my way through the interview, got the job, went 'fuck me this is actually a real job', then winged it for a few months until I was up to speed. Made most of it up as I went along, Googling the fuck out of 'how to make good lesson plans' etc., then after about 6 months, I was flying. Got a few pay rises, and got bonuses too, even though they were not written into my contract. Was a really good gig, but I definitely earned my money with the effort and self-development.

Working for a place like that, I soon realised I was very under-dressed (the school was pretty exclusive), so I took my first paycheck down town and got some snazzy tight fitting suits and shiny shoes. That seemed to impress them, and from there I was golden boy.

I eventually quit though, after I got sick of teaching, and had been working on my own business ventures / stock trading, with the money I had been saving from the job.

My qualifications; a 2:2 BA History, and nothing else.

MA / Phd stuff for teaching in Japan, at any level, is (in my humble opinion), a waste of money. Either don't spend the money on the qualification and just luck / network your way into a decent teaching job, or DO get the qualifications, and get the FUCK out of Japan, and put them to actual use where you will be able to get some ACTUAL money. Kidding yourself that 250,000yen a month is decent money with an MA is silly. That is 30,000 USD, which is pretty much a graduate starter wage in the US. Even with the 'decent' wage I was on, of about 360,000yen a month, that is still only about 43,000USD a year, which is still a joke for a full on teaching job with years of experience, and when you are a minority in demand.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:43 pm

Cadence wrote:
MA / Phd stuff for teaching in Japan, at any level, is (in my humble opinion), a waste of money. Either don't spend the money on the qualification and just luck / network your way into a decent teaching job, or DO get the qualifications, and get the FUCK out of Japan, and put them to actual use where you will be able to get some ACTUAL money. Kidding yourself that 250,000yen a month is decent money with an MA is silly. That is 30,000 USD, which is pretty much a graduate starter wage in the US. Even with the 'decent' wage I was on, of about 360,000yen a month, that is still only about 43,000USD a year, which is still a joke for a full on teaching job with years of experience, and when you are a minority in demand.
Yeah, but its a bit unrealistic to think there are tons of jobs paying more than that to start which you can just waltz into in the US after spending years in Japan (or for people who haven't for that matter). Not to mention that most of us here for the long term have family and other connections which make leaving difficult/undesirable.

The key with post-graduate education is to do it in a field there will be demand for (ie no doing your Phd in 18th century Danish literature or whatever) and, particularly with Phds, trying to get funding so you aren't left out of pocket (well, except for your time).

Japanese universities are hiring people in fields like engineering, economics, business management, etc who can teach courses in English and they offer decent pay (5-6 million per year to start), but you need a Phd to do stuff like that.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by MacGyver » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:57 pm

senseiman wrote:Japanese universities are hiring people in fields like engineering, economics, business management, etc who can teach courses in English and they offer decent pay (5-6 million per year to start), but you need a Phd to do stuff like that.
Yep with this global universities thingo the J govt. is pushing, there will be 20 some odd unis hiring gaijins with experience/knowledge in various areas to teach classes in English. Kwansai Gakuin University is one such uni. Translated about 50K characters of their prospectus/proposal recently. If it is anything to go by, they are ramping up their classes in English and as I say sounds like they won't be the only ones.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Cadence » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:01 pm

Certainly understand that walking into a job doesn't just happen, but there is also not a glass ceiling anywhere near as low or aggressive as there is for non-Japanese in Japan.

I am entirely unopposed to doing a Phd, don't get me wrong. I considered going down that route myself. I just don't think it is something that should in any way be entertained if merely teaching English in a University is the goal.

The idea of teaching a subject in a specific field, in English, in Japan seems better, but I am not really seeing anything like that advertised anywhere (I am entirely open to being corrected here, and would love to see links to Unis offering such programs, job listings showing the wage potential here, etc., so if you have such info, please do post the links!)

I realise this may have been mentioned as a 'thing' that the government and MEXT wants to happen, but colour me unconvinced and on maximum BS alert with anything proposed as a plan on this Island.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:22 pm

JREC-IN is the place to go. Just do a search for the keyword "english" and you get about 150 results. Some of those are for english language/linguistics positions but a large portion are full time positions teaching in a variety of fields in English.

https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekTop?ln=1

As Mac said, the Super Global Universities program is the latest initiative but there have been others (notably the Global 30 and Leading Graduate Schools Programs). Universities and the Ministry of Education are pretty serious about it (as in both money and mouth are in the same place, so to speak), in part because they need more foreign students (number of Japanese 18 year olds is decreasing year by year) and in part because they want to improve the international rankings of Japanese universities.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by MacGyver » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:08 am

Here's a link to some info about it Cadence FYI. I only know about it cause as I say I've been doing some translation for it. Some for Toyo and a lot more for Kwansai Gakuin. I used this link as reference material hence I'm aware of it (otherwise I wouldn't know what's happening for the most part with English education here).

http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/houdou/26/ ... 218_02.pdf

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:35 pm

Speaking of nuts, seems Jihadi John has a CELTA. Now we have to kill him!

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31654630

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by BartenBotflyVB » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:32 pm

Local Man Can’t Find Eclipse.

--Korean Times—

A local man has been unable to locate the eclipse in the sky.

Image
“Where the fuck is it? I can’t see a fucking thing.”

“Is it a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse ahh fuck it what’s the difference I still can’t find the cunt” exclaimed the exasperated sky viewer to his assembled viewing party.


Image
“HOW MUCH LONGER IS THIS GOING TO FUCKING TAKE?”

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