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Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/1 00:27
I am a newly CertTesol qualified English teacher and hope to live and work in Japan in the future. My main concern at the moment is education for my children. I have four children, aged 11, 9, 9 and 7. I am hoping to teach and gain experience for the next two /three years (as well as holidaying in Japan) by then my children will, of course, be older. I have been wondering how difficult it would be for my children, at those ages, to integrate into the public school system in Japan. My oldest will be around 14 by then.
They have already started having Japanese lessons and I am well aware of the need for them to have acquired as much of the language as possible before going.
Does anybody have experience with this subject? Thank you everyone.

by Carly (guest)  

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/1 09:34
one word.. very difficult.

1st thing how do you plan to move your kids with you to Japan?
What type of visa are you looking at and what type of work are you after?
If it to work in the eikaiwa or ALT, you'll be really struggling financially to make ends meet.

Also, spare a thought about the struggle and stress on your children if you put them in normal Japanese public school. Language and cultural shock.
by @.. (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/1 17:39
I'd liken it to being thrown into prison in a foreign country. Or maybe being placed into a reform school.
by Paul (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/2 00:05
The only ways I can see this working are:

Your children are completely fluent in written and spoken Japanese and you start sending them to actual Japanese schools in your home country now to prepare them. I think it might still be chalenging because they'll be obviously not part of the cohort but it maybe could work out. But they need a lot more than tutoring, they need to go to actual Japanese schools in your country now. This is the option Japanese ex-pats in the US tend to use. Despite Keio having a branch in NY, this is still a hard adjustment for families when they go back to Japan.

The next option is pay money to send your kids to a foreign school in Japan. It will cost a lot as you have 4 kids. The education is quite good, but the variety of extracurriculars and abilities to progress in some extracurriculars will be limited. I had a friend who did this. It didn't work out long term as her children's extracurricular activity needs were not being met.

The final option is if your country's military has a base in Japan (this works best as someone from the USA) you can become a civilian base teacher and your children will be entitled to attend public school on the base in the language they are used to. However, being certified to teach English is not going to help you with this since you'll be already teaching in English. I would recommend becoming a Math or Science teacher since I imagine there is a greater demand for that on bases. I know someone who did this option. For a while they lived in Japan and worked on a US base before getting housing on the base. Eventually they both moved to Germany because it worked better for University.

Personally, I prefer just visiting Japan. I really like Japan, but I know living there is not the same as vacationing.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/2 07:10
My advice is to wait 10-11 years until your youngest is independent, either working or in higher education. Moving them to Japan at those ages is going to be rough for them emotionally, and for you financially. I know the timeframe you are proposing seems adequate to prepare them, but they wonft be. I mean, they could be, but they probably wonft be. The risk of them ending up with no friends at an age when they are supposed to be discovering themselves and the world a little more is really high. That could affect their job prospects, social lives, and mental wellbeing. For how long? Nobody knows. This whole thing is just a massive gamble. The only thing certain is that as someone else alluded to, you can forget about supporting a family of five on an eikaiwa/ELT wage. I hope you have a lot of savings.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/2 09:25
The people I know with kids around that age send them to an international school.
Turn the question around and consider how a Japanese student coming to your country was survive in a normal classroom.
As a language teacher in Japan, with a large family, I think you would struggle - you do know how low salaries are . . .
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/2 11:16
One other long-shot option would be to try to get a job at an international school that had free tuition for your kids as one of the job benefits. (Or of course a high-level corporate job that had free tuition for family members as a perk.)

As other posters have said, trying to send your kids to Japanese public school will likely mess up their college and career prospects and their personal lives. It's not a workable plan.

by Umami Dearest rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/2 23:26

I am going to say some things - but please remember that I am just one person so my experiences may not be the same as yours. Also note that these comments might sound harsh - but you can ignore if you wish.

First to my background - I am an international teacher who has worked overseas for 10 years including 3 in Japan. I have two degrees - including an education degree which means that I'm qualified to teach in my home country (something I have done!)

When you say TESOL English teacher - do you mean a university degree which allows you to teach EAL (English Additional Language) in your home country at a normal school? The reason I ask is that this can change everything.

First onto the international schools. You are not employable with 4 students. 2 students are normally covered but this is also taxable (this took affect in 2012!). Normal tuition at an international school ranges from $10,000 - 25,000 USD per student. Indian schools are by far the cheapest but only found in some major cities. As such, this is not an option.

The reason I ask about if your an actual teacher is the possibility of working at an international school. If your not a teacher then it will be impossible to send your kids to international schools because of the cost.

The Japanese language is challenging to learn - and it takes the whole of elementary and middle school to get close to proficient in just a writing context. Call it the difference between a romanized alphabet and a character based alphabet. Note that 3-4000 characters need to be remember just to be able to read a newspaper reasonably well (I think). As such, your children will find accessing the curriculum challenging.

In general, it takes 7 years for a person to learn an academic language which is more time than most of your children have. Do note that base schools may be a possibility though.

One thing which I will say is that it's much easier for a student to move between countries who have the same alphabet. As such, I would not be as pessimistic if you were moving to Europe for example. I'm currently teaching Science to one class of new English learners with an EAL teacher with plenty of experience. The European/South American kids learn English quickly while Korea/Japan/China finds to more challenging. However, I would consider it easier for a Japanese kid to learn Chinese than an English kid due to the similarity to characters. I saw this in Japan when the Chinese students excelled in Japanese more than their western counterparts when it specifically came to the writing component.

So to put it simple - your kids will learn to speak Japanese but it may be too late for them to learn to write ACADEMIC Japanese such as what is needed to go to a Japanese speaking university. I'd also do some research into the Japanese education system to see if this will suit your kids. We often had some Japanese kids who were 'different' try and come to my old school.

I'm sorry if this seems like a downer - but you can also take it as a grain of salt....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/3 06:09
A perspective from a 13 yo immigrant boy:

I emigrated from Japan to the US with my family when I was 13, my brother 12. Even though I had learned English for 2 years by then, it only covered basics and learned to say "I have a pen". (They actually teach that in Japan.) One good thing about America is the 12-yr compulsory education system (vs. only 9 in Japan), so I could attend public school until grade 12 for free. In Japan, if you want to attend high school you have to pass an entrance exam and pay tuition. It does mean that you don't have to attend high school in Japan if you don't want to, but that is not a recommended way of life.

I was an average student in Japan, did not excel in any one subject and did not particularly like Math. But that was the only subject I could understand in the new country, so I studied and became good at it. Most of my teachers in high school was kind enough to give me a P (pass) grade instead of real letter grade for good attendance and good behavior. For college entrance exam, I did extremely poorly for the English part, but I made up for it in the Math section (almost perfect score), and managed to squeeze into a public university. I studied Engineering and became an engineer. Sounds like a success story so far.

My brother, on the other hand, was not so lucky. He did well only in Art classes and got in troubles with the school, our parents, and eventually the law. He managed to get in to an Art college, but never graduated. He has no job and lives on a social welfare. He is a burden to the society.

My brother and I may be the two extremes of lives, but one thing is common and true to both of us - it is extremely stressful moving to a new country where you don't speak the language. For every success story, there are probably more failures that just get swept under the rug. Something to consider for all parents contemplating to uproot their family.
by imin (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/3 09:58
How would you manage it
by UstedButler rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/1/3 14:24
Do you have a partner who could home school the children, if you were successful in getting a reasonably well paid posting.?
by LoveJapan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moving to Japan with older kids? 2019/2/5 21:35
Man, I just noticed this thread and it make me feel like a total loser. Sending adolescent kids to public schools in Japan when they're not fluent in the language is something that a smart parent won't do. And my parents were the dumb ones who did it.

Here I am, 45 years later, and I don't know if people on this forum see me as a failure or not. Anyway, it's not impossible, there is support, but after 45 years I know that the support still isn't good enough.

The thing is, however, that you can't compare one life with another, because you only live threw one. You can imagine how it would've been if you had lived in a different way, but you can't go through both. And all lives are full of failures to a certain extent. But it's not that failures are worth nothing, because you can learn from them, even if you'd gone threw the worst hell.

So my advice to the OP is to ask Boards of Educations and school principals, because (A) support differs depending on the municipal and (B), according to my experience, how a school understands different students greatly depends on its school principal.

Then let your kids pay a visit to Japan, maybe spend a short time at a school (compulsory ed is available to all children up to 14, regardless of nationality or status), and let them decide.

One of the better options may be a non-international but private school, because depending on the school you can expect better care while experiencing a pretty much ordinary Japanese school life. Note, however, that people get the wrong impression that all private schools are more comfortable than any public school. That is not the case.

To sum up, I agree that sending 4 adolescent kids to ordinary schools when it's not totally necessary is not a smart thing to do. But even if you do send them, and even if their school life turns out to be hell, that doesn't automatically mean that their whole lives or your life as a parent would automatically be hell. And kids usually don't know it until they grow up.
by Uco rate this post as useful

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