Introduction to Teaching English in Japan

Would you like the chance to spend some time in Japan but feel turned off by whistle-stop package tourist trips? If so, teaching English may be the answer. There is no better way to get to know a country than by living and working there. By teaching English you become a part of Japanese society, rather than just an observer looking in.

Teaching English is big business in Japan. Despite the collapse of the so-called bubble economy Japan remains one of the richest and most sophisticated nations on the planet, and this status is largely due to its success in overseas trade and investment. Thus, to get ahead in Japanese society, proficiency in English is a significant advantage. Add to that the fact that being able to speak English is simply considered cool and the huge demand for English teachers becomes clear.

Don’t Japanese people learn English at school?

Yes they do. Usually for 6 years or more. The problem is that, unlike most of the school curriculum, English isn’t taught particularly well. Japanese schools tend to follow traditional teaching methods in which the teacher stands at the front and lectures the class. Students are expected to absorb rather than question. The method produces excellent results for subjects like history and mathematics, but not for communicative, participative skills like language. School English education is likely to consist of lots of reading and writing, lots of grammar practice, but very little – if any – spoken communication.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

Not at all. Of course, if you can pick up a little nihongo (Japanese) it will make your daily life easier, but it won’t help one bit as a teacher. The reason is that the most effective way of teaching language is to use only the target language. Thus the only language used in English lessons is English.

How do I start?

Well, you could simply buy a ticket to Japan and start looking for work. Unfortunately, without a work permit, that strategy is illegal. Unless you have a Japanese spouse you need to find a job that will sponsor you for a visa. It is possible to travel to Japan as a tourist and approach a few of the numerous schools advertising for teachers asking if they are prepared to sponsor your visa application.

It helps to undergo some TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training before looking for work. Not only will this give you some basic teaching skills and confidence, but it also shows potential employers you are serious about teaching and not just a backpacker looking for some financial re-fuelling.

TEFL courses are advertised in most English speaking countries. The more useful ones are provided by working English schools and offer face-to-face teaching practice with real learners.

Accommodation

If you are employed by the JET program or one of the big English school companies they will more than likely arrange accommodation for you. You are of course free to find your own housing if you so wish.

Living in school-found accommodation has the advantage of an English speaking contact to sort out repairs or other problems. The disadvantage is that it’s difficult to quit a job that may not be for you while living in their accommodation. I have also heard of at least one school that charges its teachers a significant premium over market rental rates for use of its accommodation – so beware!

There are several English speaking accommodation agencies advertising in the free English language press, and these generally provide decent accommodation, but at a price.

An alternative favored by many single English teachers are the so-called “gaijin houses” (literally foreigner’s house). These are basically hostels that rent out basic, but adequately comfortable, rooms mainly to non-Japanese clientele. Usually bathroom, kitchen and sometimes communal sitting room are shared. Gaijin house advertisements are to be found in the free English language press.

Toronto’s Real Estate Market – The Sky is Not Falling!

I am sure you are just as tired as I am about hearing how terrible the current state of the real estate market is in Toronto, but is it really that bad?

No, the sky is not falling but there is no doubt that the Toronto real estate market has been affected by the US economic slowdown and because of this consumer confidence has also been affected … and some realtors have had to look for a "real job. "

The economic downturn in the states has no doubt had an impact on our economy. We are seeing fewer transactions occurring, (4,120 resale transactions in Feb '09 compared to 6,015 in Feb '08 according to TREB). Along with a reduction in the number of transactions that have occurred, average prices have also come down in comparison to the same time last year. According to TREB, in central Toronto the average price has gone from $ 404,202 (Jan, 2008) to $ 343,632 (Jan, 2009). Homes are also sitting on the market on average longer than the same time last year but what did we really expect? Did we really think last years wacky market of multiple offers and inflated prices would survive another year?

What does this real estate market mean to a Buyer or Seller in Toronto?

This is great news for buyers! This market is a blessing for first time buyers or those wanting home ownership but just could not afford it in the past. The declining average prices and the unbelievably low interest rates are a great combination! It's a Buyers market, so Buyers take advantage of this opportunity … it's a great time to buy! For sellers this type of market means pricing right and putting in extra effort to make sure your property shows at its potential. In the peak of the market, properties could sell the day they were put up for sale, now properties sit for longer but will still sell if priced right.

As we know, the real estate market is seasonal. As the spring market approaches all ready there is more activity in the city core than in the previous month. Just last week I was apart of two multiple offer situations in North York. Generally speaking the Toronto Real estate market tends to pick up in late spring and then begins its descend in July. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Commission is forecasting that Toronto will see its 6th or 7th best year in history. They are hiring for 75,000 sales in 2009. The next few months will be a great indicator of the state of the Toronto Real estate market. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Culinary Concepts – How To Create Them And How To Serve Them

Famous chefs can spend 15 hours or more a day trying to create culinary concepts. When they get it right their restaurants gain acclaim, the diners delight and may even pay hundreds for just one course.

For the rest of us mere mortals dining is a pleasure also, as is cooking for those of us who enjoy it when we have the time. Many people prefer to work strictly according to recipes created by others whereas others love the idea of ​​creating something unique in terms of culinary concepts.

How is it possible to come up with this type of culinary success in your own home? One of the largest secrets is to understand the energy of food and on top of this it is necessary to have a good palate so that it is easier to know almost subconsciously what ingredients will work together.

Of course it also makes sense to model restructured chefs who have trained and been working for years. Currently the world's top restaurant is located in Denmark and the owner chef of this restaurant only works with local ingredients. He and his team wander around in the local nature finding ingredients later to be served in delicious dishes. This is one important tip, to connect with local produce and work with seasonal ingredients.

On top of this it is a wonderful experience to listen to your inner voice about food and ingredients. On a subconscious level we often know what would be good for ourselves and our families. When we practice tuning into this we will find the best ingredients for the creation we wish to make at that time. When we cook intuitively we can produce great dishes.

This is a practice that can take time to learn but it can bring some excellent results. The reason it works is that only 12 per cent of our mind is conscious whereas the remaining 88% is subconscious. In our subconscious we hold our more primitive instincts, of which survival is central. To survive we need to eat food and to be healthier we need to eat food that varied and offers us a complex range of nutrition. So ask your subconscious before you start trying to create a culinary success.

Yet do not forget that even when the creation is delicious if it is not presented nicely then some of its qualities are automatically lost to the senses. We initially eat with our eyes, so create a work of art on the plates. This comes more naturally to some than others but again with practice the presentation will improve.

Finally ensure that the table is also as beautiful as possible. This does not have to cost a lot of money. In the same way as creating from quality local ingredients the table setting for your culinary concepts can be simple, but stylish, with a feeling of balance.

Six Types of Training and Development Techniques

1.On-the-job Training and Lectures

The two most frequently used kinds of training are on-the-job training and lectures, although little research exists as to the effectiveness of either. It is usually impossible to teach someone everything she needs to know at a location away from the workplace. Thus on-the-job training often supplements other kinds of training, e.g., classroom or off-site training; but on-the-job training is frequently the only form of training. It is usually informal, which means, unfortunately, that the trainer does not concentrate on the training as much as she should, and the trainer may not have a well-articulated picture of what the novice needs to learn.

On-the-job training is not successful when used to avoid developing a training program, though it can be an effective part of a well-coordinated training program.

Lectures are used because of their low cost and their capacity to reach many people. Lectures, which use one-way communication as opposed to interactive learning techniques, are much criticized as a training device.

2. Programmed Instruction (PI)

These devices systematically present information to the learner and elicit a response; they use reinforcement principles to promote appropriate responses. When PI was originally developed in the 1950s, it was thought to be useful only for basic subjects. Today the method is used for skills as diverse as air traffic control, blueprint reading, and the analysis of tax returns.

3. Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI)

With CAI, students can learn at their own pace, as with PI. Because the student interacts with the computer, it is believed by many to be a more dynamic learning device. Educational alternatives can be quickly selected to suit the student’s capabilities, and performance can be monitored continuously. As instruction proceeds, data are gathered for monitoring and improving performance.

4. Audiovisual Techniques

Both television and film extend the range of skills that can be taught and the way information may be presented. Many systems have electronic blackboards and slide projection equipment. The use of techniques that combine audiovisual systems such as closed circuit television and telephones has spawned a new term for this type of training, teletraining. The feature on ” Sesame Street ” illustrates the design and evaluation of one of television’s favorite children’s program as a training device.

5. Simulations

Training simulations replicate the essential characteristics of the real world that are necessary to produce both learning and the transfer of new knowledge and skills to application settings. Both machine and other forms of simulators exist. Machine simulators often have substantial degrees of. physical fidelity; that is, they represent the real world’s operational equipment. The main purpose of simulation, however, is to produce psychological fidelity, that is, to reproduce in the training those processes that will be required on the job. We simulate for a number of reasons, including to control the training environment, for safety, to introduce feedback and other learning principles, and to reduce cost.

6. Business games

They are the direct progeny of war games that have been used to train officers in combat techniques for hundreds of years. Almost all early business games were designed to teach basic business skills, but more recent games also include interpersonal skills. Monopoly might be considered the quintessential business game for young capitalists. It is probably the first place youngsters learned the words mortgage, taxes, and go to jail.