Kanto Living 


Learn about living and working in this part of Japan from those that do! 




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Places to See

Mount Fuji





Camping in Japan



Friends of Japan Living

The Greenlist of English Schools in Japan

Kevin`s English Schools

TEFL Journal of Japan

JIGG: Japan`s International Gamers Guild

Tokyo Gaijins

Pictured: Enoshima Beach in Kanagawa by Norikazu Yamaguchi

 How to Teach English in Japan

Advice For A New ESL Teacher

by: Douglas Anderson

When you first arrive in your assigned country, the first few minutes can be shocking. The air smells different, the people surging around you are likely different, the looks of buildings and storefronts and wares for sale may all be different.

If you are in modern country, such as Japan, you will likely feel only slightly uncomfortable, as the airport will be clean and streamlined, although perhaps twice as busy as you expected. But signs will be in English, and you will have no problem navigating through the airport to the outside world.

If you are in a third-world country, the airport could be a far cry from anything remotely comfortable, with military soldiers everywhere, a crush of people, strange maybe even repulsive smells in the air, total chaos. If you are alone, this can be especially intimidating.

When I arrive in a new country, I am always surprised at the first few moments outside the airport. The sky looks different, the air smells different, the chaos of people coming and going is different. Finding a bus or taxi or jeepney can be a fun experience but it is more likely to be a trying experience, so it is best if someone can meet you and help you get oriented for the first trip from the airport to your place of residence.

Depending on your guest country, and the resources available, you may get a private room with a private bathroom, or a shared room and a public bathroom.

The school may look a wee bit different from the brochures, which tend to highlight greenery and other colourful aspects. Brochures also don't tell you about oppressive tropical heat, or cold winds from the mountains.

Before starting your trip, you should read up on the culture of the country. For example, in Thailand, people would be shocked if you touched a child's head, or if you washed your underwear and hung it outside to dry.

During my stay in Thailand, I managed a software development project and hired a couple of university-educated Thai women to help. We worked out of my two-bedroom apartment. One moved into the spare bedroom in the apartment, and the other slept on the sofa five nights a week. The one in the bedroom said she lived a long way away and the daily commute was aggravating. Fair enough. But the second one lived 20 minutes away by elevated electric train. I never really understood why she wanted to live with me. Perhaps I was a father-figure for her.

One day, I rounded up all the towels to put in the washing machine. The women had their own bathroom, and the towels were provided by me. The apartment was modern and fully equipped.

One of the women said, "Doug, what are you doing?"

I said, "I'm going to wash all the towels in the machine."

She said, "But you took the white one."

The white one was a cotton bathmat that had been on the floor in front of the shower.

"Yes, I will wash it with the others."

"Doug, you can't do that."

"Why not?"

"It's for the feet."

Apparently in Thai culture, you don't sully your body towels with foot towels.

I said, "Sorry, this is a machine, very hot water, with detergent and fabric softener. I am going to wash all the towels and bath mats together."

She was unhappy with this, had a strange look on her face, like I had said something totally disgusting.

After the towels had been washed and dried, I took one of the bath towels and held it under her nose, and said, "Smell this."

She took a whiff and said, "Oh, Doug, smell very good."

I said, "That's the fabric softener, it has perfume to make the towels smell good."

Then I held the white bath mat under her nose. She didn't move away, although I expected her to. "Smell this one."

"Doug, same same."

"Yes," I said, "and now you know why I washed them together. In your culture, you wash them by hand, and would do the foot mats last. In my Western culture, with machines, we put them all in together and they come out the same."

She accepted that. In this case Western culture overruled Thai culture.

As I write this in November 2007, a British ESL teacher has been arrested in Sudan, which is a Muslim country, for letting her primary school students name a teddy bear "Muhammed". Although this is a very common name in Sudan and other Muslim countries, giving a toy bear this name is apparently insulting to Islam, according to the charges against her. One of the parents of the students complained to police and she was arrested. If found guilty, she could receive many years in prison, a hefty fine, and 40 lashes with a whip.

So learning something about the culture you will be living in is advice you should take seriously.

In Central and parts of South America, for instance, you might think the culture is Spanish, and that is certainly the dominant one, but the underlying Mayan culture is still there, especially amongst people whose primary language is Quechua or Aymara. Don't assume you understand their culture because you know about Mexican or Spanish culture. Do some research first, so as to help you understand where they are coming from, and try to structure your lessons to fit with their culture. This can be as simple as changing place names: don't talk about the Mississippi River, for example, use a local river instead. They will associate with that, but not associate with the Mississippi.

The beliefs and attitudes of your guest country will potentially be different from what you naively expected, so research! research! research!

As you become accustomed to your new daily routine, students, and fellow teachers, you will discover that some of the teachers have become cynical with time. They may have been there 20 years, and never say anything good about the place; they seem to live in a cloud of negativity. You will be eager and fired up and enjoying the challenge; they will talk about police purges, stupid management at the school, incompetent governments, corruption, and whatnot. The list is never-ending. Try to avoid these people. Live your own life, and be happy with the little differences and challenges that are thrown your way.

In Thailand, the vast majority of people are Buddhists. They are taught from an early age to meet adversity with a smile. One time, I was waiting under an awning for a tropical downpour to lessen. I watched a young lady attempt to cross the flooded street in front of me. She stepped in a hidden pothole, lost her balance, and fell face first into 6 inches of dirty water. She stood up, brushed the water off her face, and laughed. If that had been me, I would have been cursing. But she was a Buddhist. She laughed.

Meet adversity with a smile.

A good philosophy to live by.

If your assignment is in a third-world country, find out if the school and/or students have basic supplies. In rural Peru, for example, there might be one small chalkboard for a one-room school, no paper at all, and certainly no pens or pencils. While that kind of school is not going to have English classes, you can still help them enormously by traveling with two suitcases, one for your stuff, and the other filled with notebooks, pencils, chalk, small chalkboards, crayons, art paper, children's scissors, etc. Before you start your flight, contact the school and find out if they need these supplies, or if they can put you in touch with a rural school that does. Those $50 worth of supplies might be more than a rural school has ever seen and will make a big difference.

Another piece of advice: keep a journal of your experiences. If you have Internet access, create a blog and update it regularly. But in any case, be careful not to write anything in your journal or blog that is critical of the school management, the local religion, or the government. That journal will be a treasured keepsake in future years, and remain with you the rest of your life.

After you've been living and teaching for a while in the guest country, returning to your home town in your native country can be a jarring experience: culture shock in reverse. You became an ESL teacher for the fun of travel, the joy of discovering a new culture, and now you're back in Wal-Mart or Tesco standing in a queue behind an enormous fat lady with a shopping cart full of junk. Your mother is glad to see you, but you find your town boring, the food bland and voluminous.

If you are back for good, and have to get a job, you will probably find yourself bored out of your skull working in an office. Your co-workers will have no interest in your ESL experiences and couldn't care less about the things you did and the places you went.

Pretty soon you will be scouring the Internet looking for other ESL jobs; you've got to follow your dreams, wherever they take you...

About The Author Doug Anderson has a web site with English grammar tips and ESL teacher tips at http://www.learn-faster.org/English


  Teach English in Japan

Defamation & Libel at the Forums: On Websites that Allow Anonymous Posting 

by Kevin Burns

Slander and Libel Definitions:

"A type of defamation. Slander is an untruthful oral (spoken) statement about a person that harms the person's reputation or standing in the community. Because slander is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. If the statement is made via broadcast media -- for example, over the radio or on TV -- it is considered libel, rather than slander, because the statement has the potential to reach a very wide audience. "--from Nolo.com

Quote on Cyber Bullying

In the quote that follows, Dave Aldwinkle was referring to the Mainichi newspaper`s cancellation of the Wai Wai column due to anonymous pressure from posters at forums.   But I thought this quote was apt for a number of situations on the internet including many of the most prominent forums about English teaching that allow anonymous and negative posts.    I am not referring to the site that debunks Eikaiwa.    It is a given that a site that states debunking Eikaiwa as it`s raison d`etre  will be negative.     

I`m talking about the so-called serious sites on teaching English.    I am referring to the sites that claim to be helping teachers.    I think it is justifiable to doubt their claim when they allow so much unsubstantiated negative information about schools and institutions at the forums on their websites.    The moderators included make some negative claims at times, without much if any proof.

"You have the right to know your accuser," says Aldwinkle

"I find this form of bullying disgusting, and the Mainichi’s caving in appallingly irresponsible. When are people going to learn that Internet bullying is not a fair fight, and ignore people who won’t make themselves public in the media and open themselves up to the same scrutiny they demand other media? You have the right to know your accuser. Those who won’t reveal their identity should be justly ignored themselves."

--Dave Aldwinkle


Aldwinkle knows first hand what it is like to be the victim of internet bullying and libel.      He was a victim of libel at a famous forum in Japan that allows anonymous posting.

Why do you allow Defamation & Libel in your Forums?

I know some of you personally and you are good people.

Some have stated that to have a legal case the assertions against the institution must be untrue. I think this argument is incorrect. The person making the assertions in the forum, must be able to prove that their statements are true, or the institution could win a libel case.    A relative of mine is a lawyer.

And posters beware:
Anonymity in the forums is an illusion. If someone wants to find you, they can. They will.

Just look at all the Hollywood stars who win similar cases. Celebrities often win even when the assertions are true but cannot be proven in a court of law.

Site owners and Moderators why do you allow something that you know is wrong to occur at your websites?  Is it simply to gain more visitors and sell more advertising? Do you get more hits on your google ads?    But wouldn`t a lawsuit cut in on revenue?

What are defamation and libel?

"Defamation is any published material that damages the reputation of an individual or an organisation. This covers material on the internet as well as radio and television broadcasts - so even drama and fiction can be defamatory if they damage someone’s reputation. You can only publish defamatory material if it comes within one of the recognised legal defences. If it doesn’t, the publication will amount to libel and you may have to pay substantial damages."--wfc.net


Libel online

"Internet sites are not exempt from any libel laws. If you are publishing on the internet you are bound by the same libel laws as print publishers.

In a significant ruling in 2002, the Australian high court ruled that mining magnate Joseph Gutnick could sue publisher Dow Jones under Australian law for alleged libel online. The judge deemed that the web was no different from newspapers or television."--wfc.net

Why do you throw your values out the window and allow
anonymous posting of what amounts to libel?

I think if people are going to publish negative
reports about schools, they should be willing to
stand by what they say. They should have the guts
to publish their real name. (They shouldn`t hide behind
a pseudonym). If they do, then it is just libel
and websites that allow that libel are not worth
your time. In fact, they really should be sued.

Websites should not allow anonymous negative reports
about schools. The things that are allowed to happen
on the internet at times, would not have been allowed
to happen before the internet became popular.

(ie--Putting up a sign in your yard libeling a
neighbour or a neighbours business. It was
unheard of. The sign would have been taken down and
you would have been arrested.)

Yet that is the reality of the internet forums today.
We allow you to put up a sign anonymously. Why?

It is interesting to me, what we will tolerate nowadays.

Put it this way, if someone were to write
negative reports about certain teachers anonymously,
it would be libel. It wouldn`t be tolerated.

Why do we allow libel about businesses? And often
they are family owned and family run businesses, they are not
huge companies.

Why is it okay at some websites to write libel about
someone`s family business?

I think it is time, for many websites to mature, and
have some integrity about what they will allow. Getting
hits by generating controversy just lowers your standards.

I suppose this will only occur after some school goes after
and sues a website. I know of a few schools that are planning
to do this.

It will happen. Then websites will be forced
to clean up their act and not allow anonymous posting.

 How to Teach English in Japan


How do I Become an English Teacher?

 by Tom White

A commonly sighted long term goal for those with a passion for the English language and a love of culture and travel is to become an English teacher to non-native speakers. What's more, there is a constant demand for English as a language to be both spoken and written, and for this reason it is becoming increasingly easy to become a teacher of English as a foreign language.

Gaining The Qualifications


Teaching English in non-English speaking countries requires some form of qualification, although the requirements are far less arduous than those of English teachers in English-speaking countries. It is important to have a TEFL qualification to stand you in good stead when teaching English abroad. On top of that, it may also be a good idea that you ensure you have a good grasp of the fundamentals of sentence structure and grammar, and that you are able to express these concepts verbally to your students. On a personal level, becoming an English teacher requires patience and dedication, as well as a little knowledge of the native languages you'll be dealing with on a daily basis.


Finding a Career


Teaching English will always be in demand, and there might not even be any need to move home to find a career. Due to immigration, particularly in University towns or in places where employment is provided on an international level, you may find that there is a demand for English language skills in your own home-town. Alternatively, many European countries are finding increasing markets for English tuition with the expansion of the European Union allowing for increased integration of various nationalities within English-speaking cultures. When looking to establish yourself as an English teacher, you generally have two options. The first is to consider setting up a business on your own or with a partner to provide one-on-one tuition as required. Obviously, this requires a whole host of other management and budgeting skills on top of your actual qualifications, so it's important to bear that in mind if you see this as a viable option. Alternatively there are numerous high-profile international language schools constantly on the look-out for those eager to pursue a career in teaching English. It may be a prudent idea, particularly from a financial viewpoint, to look for a job first before leaping out into the world of business. This will also help you build up a level of experience of the industry whilst allowing you to refine your techniques, which will ultimately present you with the best chance in your standalone business enterprise.


Becoming an English teacher may seem a glamorous career with plenty prospects for promotion and success. By proceeding through the proper channels and learning your trade, you can eventually find yourself teaching English on a full time basis, leaving you with a fulfilling and satisfying career for the long term. for more information please visit http://www.tefltom.com/, http://www.tefltom.com/how_to_become_a_teacher

About The Author 

Tom White writes articles for teaching English abroad. He also gives valuable information about teaching english as a foreign language , TEFL courses, TEFL jobs are accessible on the internet.