Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

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Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

Unread postby tokyogirl » 12 Jul 2013, 23:37

I've been teaching in Japan for the last twenty years, at first in "eikaiwa" and then for a dispatch company doing company classes. For the past five years, I have worked directly for a large Japanese company in its corporate university, designing my own curriculum and materials. I do courses in business English, presentations, meetings, negotiations, pronunciation and active listening.

When I first came here no one cared if you had a degree, so all these years I've been teaching without one. I have continued to develop my skills by reading journals, attending conferences, and experimenting in the classroom, so even without a degree I still consider myself a professional and fairly skilled instructor. I thought I was a Japan lifer, so I didn't feel taking a CELTA course or getting a degree was worth the time and expense- but now that Japan wearing thin, I need an exit strategy to get me back to the US.

I would like to do something similar as I'm doing now. I have no interest in teaching in a high school or university as I dislike children, am impatient with young people, and do not want to be a disciplinarian. I'm hoping someone here has an idea of what the market is like in the US for the ESP field, and can advise me as to what sort of degree or certification I ought to get.

Will I, for example, need a degree in business management? An MA in TESOL or linguistics? Or would my twenty years' experience suffice to get me in the door? I do plan to get my degree, but would like to do it there in the US while working. Now that I've decided to leave Japan, I'm getting impatient to get out.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Re: Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

Unread postby Alex Case » 14 Jul 2013, 22:42

I hear Americans put a lot of emphasis on qualifications, and certainly there are swarms of MA in TESOL graduates coming out of the US. I wonder if the best route might be to try to get on a (reputable, preferably on campus) MA without a first degree.

I know people who work as full time freelance Business English teachers in London, mainly teaching in foreign companies based there (like a class I had at Fiat there), but also individually arranged classes with foreign businesspeople taught at home, in cafes etc. I imagine the same is possible in a big American city.

If you do find you need to get qualifications in Japan before you can get a decent job back home, there are part-time Trinity CertTESOL and Trinity DipTESOL courses in Tokyo, I imagine Temple University's MA in TESOL would get some respect back home, or please let me know if you want details about doing a distance Cambridge Delta.
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Re: Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

Unread postby tokyogirl » 16 Jul 2013, 00:05

Thanks for the reply. I thought you had to have a first degree before taking a TESOL MA? I would be interested in more info on that. Which would come first? Delta, or MA? Or does it matter?

Part time classes to work towards a degree is what I'm looking for. I won't leave until I know I have the qualifications to get a decent job. I am not going to stoop to teaching in cafes. I'm looking to work in a professional environment.
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Re: Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

Unread postby Alex Case » 16 Jul 2013, 04:26

Come to think of it, you do need a first degree to get on the Trinity Dip TESOL. However, you don't necessarily need one to get on the Cambridge Delta diploma course, and you also don't necessarily need an initial teaching qualification.

As there are no courses actually in Japan, the difficulty will be arranging for a local tutor or going abroad for Module 2 (observed teaching practice). More details here:
http://www.tefl.net/tefl-courses/faq-ca ... -delta.htm

and I've worked as a Bell Regional Tutor, so can give you more details on that.

Having looked at their website, Temple does ask for a first degree. I'm sure there must be some universities who allow life and work experience to count instead though, and I'm sure having a Diploma wouldn't hurt.
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Re: Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

Unread postby tokyogirl » 16 Jul 2013, 10:55

Yes, I thought a first degree was required for an MA program. That's my biggest problem- the time and expense of getting a first degree before even being able to take the MA program.

I've browsed through some job hunting websites that I found by Google. Since I have lived in Japan my entire adult working life, I'm not very familiar with the process of job hunting in my native country so I can't be sure what I was looking at is typical for the industry. But from what I have seen, it seems that universities and language schools want both an MA and a DELTA. It's highly unlikely I would be able to get a job just by pointing out that I have twenty years' experience.

I'm not even sure DELTA would be worth the time and expense at this point, since my first priority should be getting my first degree. DELTA is a secondary qualification, and doesn't stand on it's own if I am understanding it correctly?

The next question is, do employers mind when you got your degree? Or, where from? I think that my best course of action is to find a distance program from a decent university to get my first degree, and after consider an MA and then DELTA.

Any suggestions as to where to look for a quality distance learning program from an accredited university?
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Re: Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

Unread postby Alex Case » 18 Jul 2013, 00:33

You might be right that a first degree will make the biggest difference, although with a part-time distance first degree and then a part-time distance MA you're talking at least seven or eight years to finish both! Some employers can also be snobbish about distance qualifications - in Korea they don't even count towards visa requirements.

I'm surprised the Delta is so well recognised in the US, I thought it was MA all the way there. I'm even more surprised employers are asking for both rather than either of the two.
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Re: Exit strategy for getting out of Japan

Unread postby becki » 22 Jul 2013, 03:15

With 20 years' experience, I would highly recommend starting your own business in the US or try freelance work through Craig's List.

The ESL job market in the US is quite tough. It is necessary to have a minimum of a BS/BA. Other certifications will help, such as a TESOL certificate or a CELTA. Most places these days also want you to have an MA (I've never heard of needing an MA and a DELTA in the US).

Personally, I believe after 20 years' experience in the field, you are probably a better teacher than someone just starting out who has all the qualifications. If you are hesitant about starting your own business, then I would recommend staying in Japan while you work on a reputable online BA course.

All the best!
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