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Summer Volunteer, Work Experience Program, and Job Placement
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Summer Volunteer, Work Experience Program, and Job Placement

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Host School or Placement

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Compensation & Benefits

    9

  • Support Services

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Community

    9

A new teaching experience

Japan was the first place outside of my home country that I had ever lived, so I was a little nervous at first. I got placed in Lesson4U in Kanazawa and luckily the program they have set up helped me start my life teaching in Japan.

Not only did they help me with getting an apartment, insurance, and all the other basic things I needed to live, they also trained me to teach. I came in with very little teaching experience, so I needed a lot of help to start out. During the training sessions, I learned what to do in a classroom setting and then I had the chance to observe other teachers in action. The advice I received from those teachers and the trainer was invaluable. After my first few weeks teaching, I felt very comfortable in a classroom of 5 or 6 non-native English speakers. This also made my personal life in Japan easier, since I gained experience communicating with people through our second languages.

Other than the training I got, the team of teachers at the school was one of the most helpful aspects of teaching. We all shared ideas (good and bad) and worked together to find solutions to complex teaching issues. I can't imagine trying to do all of that myself. Some of the people I worked with soon became my good friends outside of work as well. It was nice to constantly have their support.

When I didn't have work, I explored Kanazawa and other cities around Japan. I got lucky being in Kanazawa since there are trains to other popular cities like Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. This gave me a chance to study the language and experience the culture. Even the weekends I stay home in Kanazawa were great, since Kanazawa itself is a really popular city to visit. After only a short amount of time, it started to feel like my home away from home.

Overall, I can't imagine going back and choosing a different place to learn to teach. I got the exact opportunity I needed, and enjoyed my time both at work and out exploring Japan.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Host School or Placement

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Compensation & Benefits

    9

  • Support Services

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Community

    9

Newbie English teaching in Japan

I worked at Trellis' partner school in Kanazawa, Japan for over a year. It uses the same curriculum, teaching strategies, materials, etc. that Trellis uses in its non-profit initiatives in Vietnam. When I first arrived at the school, I was new to teaching and new to Asia, and a bit nervous about the whole thing! Thankfully the school had a great training and introduction period for us new teachers, and I soon settled into teaching and living in Japan.

I had done a short TEFL course back in the UK before heading to Japan, but no out-of-class learning can really equip you to deal with unexpected scenarios or teaching difficulties like in-class learning can. How can you understand student dynamics, or figure out which kid needs help, or know how to smooth over rough patches in class, unless you see it or experience it?
Shadowing more experienced teachers and then putting into practice what we saw and learned, followed up by more training and planning time, gave me the training and understanding I needed in order to start teaching myself.

And the learning didn't stop after the official training period did: teachers and staff constantly shared experiences, tips and new ideas so that we could all better our teaching and bring new fun stuff to our classes. Just like students, teachers are always learning! I think this is one of the Trellis system's greatest strengths: a group of dedicated teachers working together to bring the best possible learning to the students. The curriculum and methods for training teachers that Trellis uses in its volunteer programs in Vietnam will prepare you more for your time as an English teacher than any TEFL program ever could.

One final awesome thing about the school: there is an excellent curriculum - which is necessary to ensure that good quality learning is actually happening - but teachers are encouraged to deliver that curriculum in whatever way best suits their students needs. Have a super quiet class? Want to break the ice with some hilarious games first? Go for it! Students need to feel comfortable in order to really learn. Perhaps your students are good at reading but not so great when it comes to speaking? Try out that new speaking-oriented activity you learned the other day.

Figure out what works for each class, how best to teach that grammar point, and roll with it! It's really rewarding once students warm up to you, and once you start seeing their real development and improvement in English. That is what it's really all about!