Jamaican Adventures in Teaching Abroad
‘Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This how you see the world. This is how you grow.’
I saw that quote while scrolling down my Facebook timeline and immediately thought that it could be summarized in three simple words:
Did you know that many countries inclusive of China, Korea and Japan hire people from abroad to teach English in their schools?
Did you know that you don’t need a degree in English to be hired?
Did you know that you don’t need a teaching degree—or even teaching experience to apply?
I swear on everything good, righteous and holy, I’m not bullshitting you.
Once you’re a native speaker of English, once you have a degree (any major), once you pass their screening process, Skype interview, and face-to-face interview (where you’re sometimes required to teach an English lesson), it’s pretty easy.
There’s no catch — well, there may be — especially if you’re not directly hired by a school and instead recruited by an English Teaching Recruitment Company. Then, there may be some extra fine fine print which may shock you on arrival. The onus therefore is on you to do thorough research, read your contract carefully and ask every single imaginable question before accepting a job
Now, that that`s out of the way, let`s get to the fun stuff. Like actually working in the school environment.
I must say I’ve been extremely blessed with some amazing kids and super nice co-workers, but I had the most horrifying experience when a little boy sneaked behind me and tried to grab my butt.
I thought he was trying to give me a wedgie, but I later learned that he was only — that’s what the teacher said—‘He was only trying to do Kancho.’
Kancho, ladies and gentlemen, is the slang adaptation for the English word enema. It is a commonly practiced and widely accepted Japanese school prank performed by clasping the hands together in the shape of an imaginary gun and attempting to poke an unsuspecting victim’s anus, often while exclaiming “Kan-CHO!”
After being thoroughly educated on this — art form, I try to stay clear of little boys with imaginary gun fingers and I am happy to say I have only had that one instance of almost being kancho-fied.
My Jamaican in China friend, Shawna-Kay, (read part one of her story HERE and part two HERE) didn’t have an incident like mine; however, on many occasions she had to shoo the little ones away as they were verrrryyy curious to see her piccachoo. She explained:
“The designs in the public schools in China are at ground level and there are no doors to privatize the stalls. Anyone can see what you do.”
This open-door-toilet custom was also a bit of a nuisance to my other brethren who taught in Japan. Mr. Anonymous (I swear that’s what he asked me to call him) claimed that the kids poked their heads in while he was using the urinal and also tried to peek at his piccachoo. He said he was so scared, he stopped using the toilets entirely as he feared: ‘One day one of them head might take them and them grab me penis.’
Another common practice which is still much of a culture shock for me is the fact that English swear words are perfectly acceptable in classrooms in Japan.
I almost fell out of my seat the first time I was asked to judge a speech contest and the first contestant repeated the word duc (change the D to F and add a K) five times.
He came second.
When he asked me how he did, I was tempted to say: ‘A couple more ducs would’ve given you a first place.’ But, I just said ‘very good’ instead.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, as a teacher in Japan, you are allowed to drink.
Let me repeat that: DRINKING IS AN ACCEPTABLE PART OF YOUR JOB!
In fact, it is a requirement. So much so that it is almost mandatory to attend drinking parties called nomikai throughout the year where you are expected to drink and you’re expected to get drunk.
Now, if that isn’t an incentive to teach abroad, I don’t know what is.
For those who asked, here are a number of sites that offer employment abroad:
- The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET)
- Gaijin Pot
- Jobs in Japan
- O-hayo Sensei
- Educational Partners (EPI
- VIF International Education
- Foreign Teachers Used to Fill Shortages In the USA (FACES)
The Middle East & Other Parts of the World
- Guardian Jobs
- Teach Away
- Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE)
- FootPrints Recruiting
- CRS Education (Teaching Jobs at International Schools)
- InAdvance Recruitment (UK)
Images: gif.sec.com, gaijinpot, adventuresteaching.com
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