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munchkinette

Teaching English Abroad, Especially Asia

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My bf and I have been discussing teaching abroad if the economy sours and he gets laid off. He's leaning toward Japan, but I'm leaning toward Thailand.

Does anyone live in Japan, Thailand, or another South/East Asian country? What is the food situation? How do you cope?

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Japan is great and has a great program with JET

http://www.jetprogramme.org/

I've had a lot of my students go into it and they all loved the program. Many are still in Japan.

Don't know about the Thai programs or Chinese programs.

Ken

My bf and I have been discussing teaching abroad if the economy sours and he gets laid off. He's leaning toward Japan, but I'm leaning toward Thailand.

Does anyone live in Japan, Thailand, or another South/East Asian country? What is the food situation? How do you cope?

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I taught in Japan long before I was gluten-free. I chose a program that gave me a great experience over a great salary. :lol: You don't have to chose between the two though.

Anyway, Japan is great for singles or couples because everything is sold in small quantity. You can buy packs of meat that contain just two 3-4 oz. fish portions for example. And the Japanese shop several times a week or everyday and like things very fresh. There are markets within walking distance most everywhere, unless you are way out in the countryside. I didn't know how to cook much but brought an old copy of The Joy of Cooking and used it and fresh ingredients because I couldn't read the packages of products to know what they were or how to use them! Made alot of vegetarian soup, baked apples etc. Found the ingredients for baking cheesecakes at a specialty baking shop. A lady at church taught me how to make nabe with just a piece of konbu for the broth and those small packs of fish and veg. I had a small rice cooker(they make small ones for singles or couples) in my apartment too and enjoyed whatever fruits were in season. There are some department stores that have small international sections with products that we recognize. Haven't looked at them from a gluten-free perspective though to tell if they would be of any use. I know of an online Japanese source for allergen/gluten free products, like soy sauce, miso and breadcrumbs but you would need a Japanese person to help with the ordering. I'm sure that would not be a problem finding someone to do that-someone at work. For lunches you get to shop in bento heaven! There are a myriad of styles of bento boxes! Pick yourself out one or two or more! and do as the Japanese do and pack yourself a lunch to tote with you-rice balls wrapped in seaweed(nori), a bit of broiled fish, a hard boiled egg, a few cherry tomatoes and some stirfry veg.and a few pieces of seasonal fruit you are good to go anywhere your feet or the great mass transit system take you!

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I mainly eat meat and vegetables, plus some fruit. Isn't produce really expensive in Japan? That's what I've heard.

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Really depends where you shop but its not as bad as the media portrays. Meat is considerably higher though.

Then again boneless skinless chicken breast is cheaper than legs and thighs. Fruit is higher but its worth the difference to have a ripe good tasting peach than the rocks sold at most markets here. Overall the quality is much better in Japan for fruit.

I mainly eat meat and vegetables, plus some fruit. Isn't produce really expensive in Japan? That's what I've heard.

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I agree with Ken's post. I am in love with the peaches, just fabulous! Just one and I would be happy for a long time. I haven't had one in years but I still remember what they taste like. Japan is home of the shockingly expensive gift melons and other fruits that are beautifully packaged and sold in the upscale department stores but for daily consumption you can find whatever is in season at roadside stands, traveling produce trucks that canvass the neighborhoods, reg. groceries etc. and comparison shop. When it's asian pear season, for example, they are everywhere so you can chose the quality and price that suits you.

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If I told someone I would pay $50.00 for grapes they think i'm nuts -- until they try one of those Kyoho!

It is amazing the difference in price for the same items. $100. for a melon in Seibu or $6.oo for the same thing at a train station of Family Mart..

MM -- your making me homesick! :lol:

I agree with Ken's post. I am in love with the peaches, just fabulous! Just one and I would be happy for a long time. I haven't had one in years but I still remember what they taste like. Japan is home of the shockingly expensive gift melons and other fruits that are beautifully packaged and sold in the upscale department stores but for daily consumption you can find whatever is in season at roadside stands, traveling produce trucks that canvass the neighborhoods, reg. groceries etc. and comparison shop. When it's asian pear season, for example, they are everywhere so you can chose the quality and price that suits you.

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I was thinking of the grapes too when I posted! There is a university agricultural center near DH's home and SIL walked over to buy a couple of varieties last time we were there-they sell at a discounted price. I still remember the smell of those peaches! You and I are not exactly the ones to ask for an unbiased opinion! :lol:

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Really depends where you shop but its not as bad as the media portrays. Meat is considerably higher though.

Then again boneless skinless chicken breast is cheaper than legs and thighs. Fruit is higher but its worth the difference to have a ripe good tasting peach than the rocks sold at most markets here. Overall the quality is much better in Japan for fruit.

OH. That makes sense. California grows half the produce for the US, yet the produce in our grocery stores is mediocre. I asked my mom's bf about this, because he was in produce for 50 years. He said all the very best stuff gets shipped to Japan because they will pay more for it. But still... that means it's kinda pricey.

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There is some calif produce in Japan but very little. We cannot get close to their quality with the scale our companies want to produce. Calif. picks things way to early and ripens it artificially. Kids today have no idea what peaches, plums and other fruit taste like unless they live where it grows and often get it off the tree. Most Americans have never had a really good ripe avocado either.

OH. That makes sense. California grows half the produce for the US, yet the produce in our grocery stores is mediocre. I asked my mom's bf about this, because he was in produce for 50 years. He said all the very best stuff gets shipped to Japan because they will pay more for it. But still... that means it's kinda pricey.

missy'smom,

You and I are not exactly the ones to ask for an unbiased opinion!

How true that is!

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This is so true. I only buy produce from the farmer's market if I can help it. Grocery store produce just isn't that good. I'm lucky that I live somewhere that has tons of fields and orchards within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius.

You just can't find great tomatoes unless you pick them from your own yard an hour before eating them.

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If you look at teaching in Japan, think about what kind of experience you want to have. What age groups you'd like teaching, what kind of working hours and environment you'd like. There are a variety of choices, cram schools, private chain schools that cater to students and businessmen, public junior high and high schools and small private schools that have classes for a wide range from 3 year olds to 60 somethings and everywhere inbetween-each age group with it's own joys and challenges. Some places give you alot of flexibility on what and how you teach and others don't. All have their pluses or minuses depending on you and what you need or want. Some require long days and/or late nights. Others less work but English department staff that isn't keen on speaking it, just crank out text material-often in the public schools. Some the classes are small and geared toward their needs and others large and more generic. There are a few blogs out there by people who are teaching English or working in Japan-about their experiences and lives.

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I'm lucky I can grow my own!

You'll love the gardens in tiny places in Japan and along the streets in old styrofoam boxes.

This is so true. I only buy produce from the farmer's market if I can help it. Grocery store produce just isn't that good. I'm lucky that I live somewhere that has tons of fields and orchards within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius.

You just can't find great tomatoes unless you pick them from your own yard an hour before eating them.

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If you look at teaching in Japan, think about what kind of experience you want to have. What age groups you'd like teaching, what kind of working hours and environment you'd like. There are a variety of choices, cram schools, private chain schools that cater to students and businessmen, public junior high and high schools and small private schools that have classes for a wide range from 3 year olds to 60 somethings and everywhere inbetween-each age group with it's own joys and challenges. Some places give you alot of flexibility on what and how you teach and others don't. All have their pluses or minuses depending on you and what you need or want. Some require long days and/or late nights. Others less work but English department staff that isn't keen on speaking it, just crank out text material-often in the public schools. Some the classes are small and geared toward their needs and others large and more generic. There are a few blogs out there by people who are teaching English or working in Japan-about their experiences and lives.

I've read up a lot on some of these sites. I've been considering this for a while, but the first time I applied was before going gluten free. My background is in adult education, curriculum development, and online course development, but I've heard a lot of the starter jobs are with kids. I have a master's in education, but no TESOL qualifications. I'm not really sure what kind of opportunities I could get.

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In Japan, from Jr. HS on up, most people study English in school as well as on their own time so that leaves alot of jobs to be filled.

Things may have changed since I was there over 10 years ago but at that time all you needed was a college degree of any kind. If you had anything remotely related to English or education that was a plus and opened up more doors for you. I met people who were regular average businessmen who decided to teach English for a year, loved it and stuck with it. I didn't have experience with kids and was given alot of kids classes and was uncomfortable about it initially but I ended up loving those classes the most. Had small classes as I worked for a small private school, and could do whatever I wanted, though we did have a text for most of the classes. We could also make a new class to accommodate the needs of specific students or keep classes focused on students of similar experiences or levels. Didn't have discipline problems, in part because of the small class size. The kids, for the most part, didn't have the hang ups about learning and speaking English that alot of the adults did. I had one class of three, three year old girls(they were so cute!) and another for kids who had lived in the U.S. briefly and knew a little English, besides the usual classes of students of various age groups. Everyone is different but I found that I work best with and enjoy beginners more. Some click better with advanced students. I met people who worked in the public schools, with very large classes and older kids and had some problems with discipline, staff not wanting to speak English and feeling a bit alienated or underused. Others who worked at family owned private school felt that they were way overworked. You always hear the complaints with anything though and culture and language barriers can cause friction and misunderstanding. One of the best things I've ever done in my life though!

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We have been in Japan for over six years now, and I'm just gearing up to make the switch to gluten free after the rest of my tests are completed in another week. (KenLove, the doctor you suggested was the golden ticket! Thankyou so much!!...I tried to send you a private message, but it wouldn't let me??) Also, your post about the roadside styrofoam box gardens made me laugh out loud! So true!! I have a box of those fresh, heavenly peaches sitting on my table at this moment! :P ...and, yes, the grapes are to die for!!! So fun to hear from others who have experienced Japan! My husband and I both teach English on the side. We teach all ages, from kindergarten all the way up. Even older Japanese people are constantly looking for ways to challenge their brain and prevent alzheimers, so many of them enroll in English classes. And they're a blast to teach!!

Rice flour and potato starch are readily available at any supermarket. There is also a great rice cracker snack called Happy Turn that is gluten free! I even found quinoa at our store the other day!! There is a down side to being gluten free here, glucose syrup, which is apparently gluten free in most of the world, is not here. It's, if I remember correctly, derived from malt and contains gluten. This, I have found, is in virtually everything sweet!!! All of the candy and ice cream (not sure I can survive without my Chateraise ice cream!!) I've looked over so far has it in it. Someone posted a youtube video here in response to my first post. That person has some great info! She shows you the kanjis to watch out for and has some great tips. There is also Costco in many places here now, and their produce (and meat) is generally reasonable and good! I'm probably still going to be doing a lot of ordering from the site I believe suggested by Missy's Mom or from the States through Foreign Buyers Club.

Beth

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Hi Beth,

Glad Doc Steve worked out so well. He's a good guy who really bailed me out 16 or 17 years ago and we've been buddies since.

In the early 80's cars would pull up beside me to ask if I wanted a job teaching English. I never did it but had a bunch of friends who did. We always tried to support this though the old compuserve Japan forum which I started in a former life.

In any case there is a lot of support there.

munchkinette, The main thing is to really go and see how much you like the place. Its a major commitment that many think of as the most valuable experience of their lives. There are others who lasted a week and went home..

good luck!

We have been in Japan for over six years now, and I'm just gearing up to make the switch to gluten free after the rest of my tests are completed in another week. (KenLove, the doctor you suggested was the golden ticket! Thankyou so much!!...I tried to send you a private message, but it wouldn't let me??) Also, your post about the roadside styrofoam box gardens made me laugh out loud! So true!! I have a box of those fresh, heavenly peaches sitting on my table at this moment! :P ...and, yes, the grapes are to die for!!! So fun to hear from others who have experienced Japan! My husband and I both teach English on the side. We teach all ages, from kindergarten all the way up. Even older Japanese people are constantly looking for ways to challenge their brain and prevent alzheimers, so many of them enroll in English classes. And they're a blast to teach!!

Rice flour and potato starch are readily available at any supermarket. There is also a great rice cracker snack called Happy Turn that is gluten free! I even found quinoa at our store the other day!! There is a down side to being gluten free here, glucose syrup, which is apparently gluten free in most of the world, is not here. It's, if I remember correctly, derived from malt and contains gluten. This, I have found, is in virtually everything sweet!!! All of the candy and ice cream (not sure I can survive without my Chateraise ice cream!!) I've looked over so far has it in it. Someone posted a youtube video here in response to my first post. That person has some great info! She shows you the kanjis to watch out for and has some great tips. There is also Costco in many places here now, and their produce (and meat) is generally reasonable and good! I'm probably still going to be doing a lot of ordering from the site I believe suggested by Missy's Mom or from the States through Foreign Buyers Club.

Beth

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