Monday, February 8, 2010

Back from the semi-dead

Hello all! Sorry for the long absence- my laptop got infected with a fairly nasty virus and it took me a while to get rid of it. Thankfully being a nerd pays off and I was able to remove the thing myself.

A lot happened last month that I wanted to blog about in more detail, but I think I'm just going to condense it to the important bits now. First of all, around the beginning of January I began applying for jobs listed on Dave's ESL Cafe and I received a number of interviews as a result. The application process for each was different, but generally it boiled down to submitting the basics (resume, cover letter, recent photo) and then filling out yet more forms after being contacted by the company. I had to write essays for some, and for one I even made a self-introductory video which I uploaded on Youtube. It's pretty embarrassing, but if you really want to see it, it's here.

Most of my interviews were either by phone or Skype. Generally I would have a phone interview with a recruiting agency first (usually Canadians), and then if the school liked me they conducted their own second interview. One even did the interview partially in Japanese to test my ability.

One interview was actually in person with a recruiter that lives near Seattle. We met halfway and did a personal interview which lasted a couple hours. Although I wasn't asked to bring anything with me, I prepared two lesson plans with sample materials, one for adults and one for children, which I showed to the interviewer. Ultimately this was what made me successful during the interview- she was really impressed by my creativity and the fact that my lesson plans reflected knowledge of Japanese speakers. For example, I created a pronunciation game that focused specifically on sounds I know Japanese speakers have trouble with.

The position the recruiter was actually interviewing me for was at a private school in Chiba, but she was very impressed with me and offered me a job at her own school in Sendai if the one with Chiba didn't work out. I continued with my other interviews as well and received two other offers, one for an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) position in public schools and one at an Eikaiwa called the American Language school. The first didn't pay well, and the second would have been a good option but in the end I preferred the school owned by the recruiter I had met in person.

It's a small school with two locations in Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture in Japan. I accepted her offer because I liked the kinds of lessons offered at her school, plus there are classes taught at local kindergartens which I think I will enjoy. In addition to some of the other things I liked about the company, I also thought that Sendai would be interesting place to live. It's very beautiful and the nature all around reminds me of Portland.

I will post some more details later about the visa application process and my preparations for moving. For now, go check out this video on Sendai!

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