Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Information session at Pitt on teaching English in East Asia, October 24.

If you are in Pittsburgh and would like to learn more about teaching English in East Asia (Japan, Korea, China), the University of Pittsburgh's Asian Studies Center will hold an information session on October 24th from 4:30 to 7:00 pm. From the Asian Studies Center Facebook page:
The Asian Studies Center and the Consulate General of Japan in NYC will be hosting a “Teach in Asia” and “Japan Exchange and Teaching Program” information session on Wednesday, October 24th, from 4:30-7:00 PM in 4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall. Anyone interested in applying to teach English in China, South Korea, or Japan, or work in local government in Japan is welcome to attend – the session is free and requires no registration.

Teach in Asia Information Session – China, South Korea, and Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program
Wednesday, October 24th from 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, University of Pittsburgh

4:30 – 5:15: Teach in China and South Korea information session
5:15 – 6:00: JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program information session
6:00-7:00: JET Program alumni panel Q&A

Students and local residents who are interested in teaching English in Asia are welcome to attend this information session! The session begins with information on teaching in China and South Korea through various opportunities, including the TaLK and EPiK programs, and continues with the official JET Program information kit and alumni panel. Stop by for a short time or stay for the entire session – we will answer your questions and help you decide which option is right for you and how to get started!
The JET program attracts a lot of Pitt students and can be quite competitive---and perplexing for those who don't get in---but it's only one of many avenues for teaching in Japan. There are dozens of job boards for teaching in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Asia, and there are open positions in just about every capacity: kindergardens, pubilc schools, private schools, cram schools, adult conversation schools, colleges, companies, and summer camps, to name eight. Those looking outside of Tokyo or Seoul will face less competition and less race- and age-based discrimination.

There are likewise several resources for learning about teaching in Asia, though this panel looks particularly useful. There are thousands of blogs (use Google for a few and peruse the sidebars for the rest) and several big messageboards ( for Korea, Gaijinpot for Japan, Forumosa for Taiwan) to give perspective on daily life, adjustment issues, visa questions, classroom management, and, yes, a lot of gripes. Blogs and messageboards tend to be generally negative, largely because their authors are young, abroad for the first time, encountering prejudice and discrimination (implied and institutionalised both) for the first time, and coming to grips with how others see them and their respective countries. The outpouring of negativity might be a Western thing, too, stemming from the idea we've cultivated that everyone is special and everyone is entitled to an opinion, and opinions are meant to be voiced, whether they're mature thoughts or not.

But there are certainly challenges in and around the classroom, too. People who go abroad to teach and gain experience, or those who already have advanced training, may grow cynical to find they are more in the edutainer / pronunciation machine / English monkey business. Likewise, coming to terms with what "native speaker" means in these countries is a challenge, too, for schools and coworkers often have certain expectations of how a native English speaker should act, how he or she should look, and how he or she should relate to their new country. Nonetheless it behooves new and prospective teachers to remain open, curious, and mindful of the reasons why they got interested in teaching and in Asia in the first place.