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Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/22 18:36
Ifve recently set a big goal ahead for my future to teach English in Japan. Ifm a female thatfs 5,6h tall and weighs about 300llbs. I really want to learn other plus size American or just non Japanese native peoples experiences when teaching in Japan. What company did you work under and would you recommend it? What tips for me? Is it hard to find romance or to make friends? I am some what insecure about my size but I donft let it distract from my goal. Please let me know how your experience was! Be nice to me please! Have a nice day! :) :P
by Rhiannon (guest)  

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/23 21:13
uWhat company did you work under and would you recommend it?v

Not being plus-sized myself, I can't speak from experience on that aspect specifically, but in relation to the interpersonal atmosphere at English-teaching jobs, it tends to be much more dependent on the individuals working in your specific school/office than the company as a whole. I used to work for one of Japan's largest English-teaching chains, and though I stayed at the same school for the entire time I was with them, the work atmosphere changed considerably when we had new employees come into the office or someone leave. So for something with as fine a point as "Were you treated respectfully as a plus-sized person?" I suspect that's not something where, for example, you can say "Company A treats plus-sized people nicely, but Company B doesn't."
by . . . . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/26 12:25
I'm also not plus size but wanted to give my thoughts. I've worked for many of the larger eikawa chains and ALT recruitment companies. These companies employ foreigners from all over the world and we foreigners come in all shapes ans sizes. As a rule they seem to be fairly liberal with who they employ. Certainly I have worked with some people who would be classed as obese.

I cannot picture your shape, but on the chart I looked at you fell into the super obese category. You are not so tall but I feel you might still run into a number of problems: As a rule, cafes and shops are quite small and it is common to have to squeeze between tables and down aisles. I think this might cause you some trouble. Similarly trains and stations get very crowded. Having said that while most Japanese are slim there are certainly exceptions. I can find plus size stores and of course sumo wrestlers get by although they largely live in a different world.

Another point I want to raise is that a lot of teaching in Japan involves teaching kids and this can be quite energetic. Also summer is hot. I used to drip with sweat especially with my kids' classes. I heard tales of other teachers being asked if they could possibly sweat less in class. This could be a problem for you.

As for romance etc, Japan along with the rest of the world is full of people of all different tastes. Japanese are very tolerant and a lot of differences can be explained away as cultural differences - "Aren't all Americans overweight?" At a guess, I suspect your opportunities for romance would increase.

Just my thoughts. Good luck!

Ric
by Ric (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/26 14:06
I'm a former teacher who used to teach in international schools in Japan which is similar but not exactly the same as teaching English.

Before we start - the question of what age group will make a big difference to your experience. Kids can be more fun to teach - but they also say exactly what they think without scruples. Note that most of this will be in Japanese. I would not expect many or any negative comments about my appearance from adults.

Also - why are you coming to Japan? Is it because you want to teach English or because you want to live in Japan. Let me just say that once the honeymoon wears off if your reason was to live in Japan - then you will discover that living in Japan is not a long term reason to stay in a country if you hate your job.

Being larger in Japan can have it's problems as mentioned above. For example - search up Japan bus seating to give you an idea of how small it is. This is a big problem specifically for people who are also taller.

Most adults who don't know you well will not really say anything or stare at you in you live in one of the larger cities. Tourism (apart from 2020) has made it very common for locals to see a lot of larger and different people compared to normal. The only time I have truly experienced a slightly negative experience in Japan being larger (I'm classified as obese but weigh a bit less than you and am 5ft 11) was in the countryside with some younger tween boys.

Once locals get to know you better - they may say more about your weight but expect this to be more out of concern in caring about you than being rude. Many just have a different perspective - especially as Japan is a country which fines companies for employing overweight workers (I think - but I don't think it affects foreign workers).

If you are looking for love - I have many female non-Japanese friends who have found finding a partner extremely challenging. Foreign males in asia often find it easier to find a local partner than females - but this does not mean it's easy.

On a positive - Japan has been set up for convenience but also has been set up to walk a lot more. For example - I walked a lot more and had an electric bike (works on hills and you still need to peddle) as my main modes of transport in my local area. To put it simple - you will be moving more in Japan than in most countries you live in.

I am also a very reserved person - which means that I'm not a social butterfly and found making local friends quite difficult. Many Japanese are also reserved - so take this into consideration but every person also has a different experience.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/28 20:34
Hi itfs me again, Ifm the same person who posted this question wanting to do an update since I saw a lot of people asking questions in the comments. First off thank you to everyone who replied so far. Itfs been amazing getting information from you all :)

I want to teach in Japan because I love the city and I love teaching. It was either Japan or South Korea. I love Japanese culture so much so that was my main reason for picking Japan. I also plan to loose weight while over there which will be really fun. I love walking to places so if thatfs more convenient in Japan I will do so.

I wanted to teach high schoolers but Ifm not at that level and I frankly donft know if they would allow me seeing as I only have a associates degree so far. I donft know if they give newbies to an elementary class or not.

Ifm currently studying Japanese at my college and hope to continue it more as I move to Japan. Another question I had was if itfs expensive living there in japan especially with the salaries they give you. Can anyone give me a rough draft of what things cost like groceries and then mention what you got paid? Ifm so eager about moving to Japan but anxious at the same time.

Thank you all again! Please be nice to me! :)
by Rhiannon Mendez (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/29 07:47
Hi!

I think you might have a harder time getting a placement without a BA. It's possible they will take you with an Associates but less likely.

How far your money goes partially depends on with who you re teaching English and this will also affect what ages and where you are going to be teaching English.

The "easiest" way to teach English in Japan is through an Eikawa. They tend to be the least picky. They also pay the worst and conditions can be pretty miserable. You teach at specific Eikawa locations in your city and can teach anyone from pre-schoolers to adults. I have friends who have started in Eikawa and then gotten jobs elsewhere or left Japan. It's hard to want to stay in eikawa long term.

Another option is someplace like Interac. They pay better than an Eikawa and place you in a Japanese school. You don't have much say in where you are placed, and are often placed somewhere more rural. The plus of this, is your salary will go further. The negative is you might need to have a car to reach where you need to go.

Another option is JET. JET pays quite decently, specifically if you are there for more than 1 year. You are very unlikely to get somewhere like Tokyo or Kyoto (though I know someone who actually got Kyoto proper) JET tends to also place you somewhere more "rural." My 5 good friends who were JETS (other than the one that got Kyoto) were placed somewhere in Aomori-ken (I can't remember the exact location now it was a long time ago), Mito, somewhere outside Toyama, Kainan and Tanabe. My friends in Aomori and Toyama needed cars. My friends in Kainan and Tanabe got everywhere they needed to by bike. I don't remember how my friend who was in Mito got around. JET is incredibly competitive because it pays quite well.

Another option open to you as a US citizen is trying to get a teaching job at a US military base school. You would then be teaching in English as if you were teaching in a school in the US, however depending on the base you might be living in Japan and will be surrounded by Japan. The salaries are higher than some teaching positions in the US and lower than others. I have a friend who did this. She taught in Yokosuka but lived in Japan because there wasn't room on base. She got to experience Japan, but also had an English safety net. She had been a public school teacher for over a decade in Florida before getting this position.

And finally, there is the sort of teaching position like @Mfedley had, where I believe he taught at an English language school to expat kids and the salaries are not bad, but there is also a lot of competition for these positions and again you need to be a qualified teacher vs. just being a native English speaker.

Supposedly, there are ways to apply for positions in school in Tokyo from abroad without Japanese knowledge according to someone else who posted here, but I think you need to be in Japan and again, I think most require a BA.

I find I always lose weight when visiting Japan. As an example, just going around shopping and doing minor sightseeing, without trying to do a lot, I was walking on average 4 miles a day in February 2020. I also find I tend to eat less in Japan and snack less. I too am overweight, but because I am short I can just barely find thing that fit in chain stores that have sizing and not "free size." It can also depend on how you wear your weight.

I have heard from most women I know living in Japan that romance in Japan sucks. A lot of Japanese men have different expectations in a spouse than people from the US. I have a lesbian friend who found a wife in Japan. She said it was hard because most of the women she met were married already and looking for a side girlfriend and she wanted to meet someone who was single.

good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/29 08:41
For jobs at international and base schools - you need to have an official teaching degree normally with a minimum of 2 years home experience before they will even consider you. Note that some of the base schools can be a little rough and it's a very different place compared to being outside of the base

In general I've found setting up life in Japan quite expensive but it's much more manageable once set up. For example most/all apartments come with nothing and you need to even buy the light fittings. This means you need to buy an ac, fridge, washer, bed, tables etc. This can add up but Ikea can help in this regard. Japanese property owners are also known as being a little fickle in renting to people from overseas, but living in the country will significantly cut down on rental costs.

I can confirm what rkold stated on working for JET. It's highly competitive and almost all of the positions are in more rural prefectures. This can lead to a much more authentic Japanese experience - albeit a rural Japan one. If you work in a country school - this was the type of location where kids will say things. This is more to get a reaction than anything to do with racism as teenagers like to push boundaries.

If you cook for yourself - I think it is possible to spend less than 10,000 yen a week quite easily if you are careful and drink water from the tap. Buying canned/bottled drinks can quickly add up in costs. As such - I'd suggest the following

(1) Have a good amount of money before you come to Japan to help set up your apartment
(2) Don't be afraid of buying a good quality futon (meaning thick) instead of a bed and sleep in a tatami room. This goes back to slowly buying things for your apartment compared to buying everything from the beginning
(3) Be aware that moving to another country removes your normal social safety net. That means if something goes wrong you are by yourself until you get a strong friendship group which takes a while when you are an adult.
(4) Expect the Japanese business environment to be VERY DIFFERENT than your home country - you'll probably be working for a Japanese business which will make decisions which seem stupid and at times idiotic. Being extremely vocal from the beginning does not always leave the best first impressions.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/29 10:47
Hi! I'm an American female, too, but I'm a little shorter than you. About 10 years ago, I lived in Tokyo for a little over 3 years.

At first, I started out w/a student visa because I attended a language school. Then I taught English as an "Assistant Language Teacher" w/Borderlink. They require a BA though. Honestly, I wouldn't recommend them. Back then, they had this rule that you couldn't speak Japanese to the students, but the students all knew that I could speak it (JLPT N1). Also, the schools they work with tend to be out in the countryside. It took me about 3 hours each day to commute by train & on foot. I could've moved, but that's a huge task to do when you're alone in a foreign country. The pay wasn't awful (about $2200-$2400/mo.), but I spent most of it on transportation & rent. Rent was about $800/month in a tiny, old place about 20 min. by train from Shibuya.

I taught English & rotated between 2 middle schools (all grades) & 1 elementary school (5th & 6th grade). Most of the teachers were great. I even kept in touch w/some via Facebook or e-mail after I left Japan. However, there was one who just refused to call me "-sensei" or "Ms." in front of the students, so none of the kids would call me that, too. It's disrespectful, demeaning & just plain rude. Even students in America call their teachers "Mr./Ms." She also acted as if she was above everyone, even though she was actually newer to the school since she replaced one of the other English teachers. Near the very end, she finally called me "-sensei" or "Ms." during lessons, but that only happened after I told my supervisor. The kids were...kids. Don't expect them to be angels just because they're Japanese. Most were a lot of fun though & I bonded w/the ones who had similar interests.

About being overweight-- my case might be different from others since I actually gained weight after moving to Japan. It was mostly due to stress-eating & also because unhealthy food was cheaper & more filling than healthy alternatives. I started out slim for an American, but ended up average-chubby. Plus, the schools would let us bring home leftovers from lunch, so when you're low on cash, you're definitely not going to turn down free food. I was already overweight when I started teaching, but I wasn't obese. Most of my coworkers & students never mentioned anything about my weight. Some of the kids would say "oppai," but they were shushed quiet right away. There was one coworker (the same one in the paragraph above) who always acted haughty towards me. She might have looked down on me partially because of my weight (she was skinny even for a Japanese person), but she might have just thought I was inferior to her in general.

About making friends & dating-- I made most of my friends from interactions w/classmates or coworkers. I met some guys through Mixi, but be careful because a lot of them are just looking for one-night-stands (unless that's what you want). Even if you say you're just meeting up for karaoke, they'll try to take you to a hotel afterwards. I don't know how dating is in Japan nowadays, though.

Overall, it was mostly a positive experience. I'm glad I was able to do it, but I wouldn't want to do it again. I still go to Tokyo every year for vacation (pre-Covid) & can't wait till the pandemic is over. Best of luck to you!
by Ann (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/30 03:07
I would argue there is rural Japan and then there is RURAL Japan, and to me, it's hard to call cities like Mito rural It's the about the same size as Boise, Idaho. Kainan is only 50,000 people but a short local train trip to Wakayama which is also about the same size as Boise. It's when you are placed somewhere without frequent or any train service, you know that it starts to feel more rural. That and there is not even a nearby Mister Donuts.

Through the years I've known a lot of people who have gone to Japan to teach. While very competitive, I think JET gives the most support and if you are not an actual qualified and degreed teacher, their positions tend to pay the best, have the most support, and give the most benefits. Generally, JET has apartments already on hold for incoming JETs. (I believe some of the eikawa do this as well based on the people I know who went to Japan for Nova and Geos. The person I know who worked on based in Yokosuka had to find her own apartment off base and was on her own.) They can vary in quality and it is recommended you buy some of your furniture and goods from the previous JET who lived in the apartment. My friend in Kainan bought a hot water heater for her faucet for dishes, as otherwise she had to wash her dishes in cold water. I am sure she left that heater for the next JET, but she got 3-4 years of use out of it. My friend in Tanabe was first housed in a terrible apartment, so she put in the time to find somewhere much nicer and now Tanabe JETs get the place she found. To me, Tanabe, Kainan, and Mito are not all that rural. All of them are express stops on a once an hour express train to either Osaka or Tokyo. Tanabe is a longer trip than Kainan or Mito, but it's still doable. My friend who was in Tanabe was plus sized and worked with elementary school kids. Many of them adored her and when we were out on bikes in the town to do some shopping when we saw her kids they would all shout "sensei" "sensei" and want to talk to her. I also know someone who was placed in Kameoka, which is an easy cheap train trip from Kyoto and someone who was in a bedroom community in Saitama-ken as a CIRC. (CIRCs must be fluent in Japanese and work in a city hall vs. in a school) Some of my JET friends stayed in Japan and got other non-teaching jobs, though the person I know from college who was in Aomori-ken, now is a professor at Tokai University. Most have come back to the States even if some spent several years post JET in other positions.

I had a friend working for Geos in 2017. She did not enjoy the experience as much as when she worked for the same company in 2010. The hours had gotten worse and there was less consistency in her schedule so it was harder to make social plans. She was part of an English book club in Osaka though and would try to visit with other foreigners she was friends with. Her apartment was not too far from where she worked vs. a friend who started with Nova back in '02 before Nova Imploded. She was all the way out in Nishi-Kokubunji in an overpriced shared apartment. She eventually moved and left Nova.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Has anyone plus size taught English in Japan? 2020/12/30 03:32
Eikaiwa industry has been shrinking rapidly. Cheaper and more effective online English conversation services have grabbed the market share.
by Tai (guest) rate this post as useful

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