Regarding the Jan. 5 article “Assistant language teachers in trying times“: Finally a realistic take on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program and the subject of ALTs. I am finishing up working two years with Interac. Aside from the grievances listed in the article, add that I was made to change my “Specialist in Humanities” visa status to the lowly and more restrictive “Instructor.”
When I asked for a letter of permission to continue working with Gaba part time, Interac refused, saying it did not want “the responsibility” — even though it was already responsible for me as my visa provider. So I couldn’t work at Gaba, which, despite the low pay, was part of my overall financial scheme.
I disagree with the statement that university graduates just out of school are not competent English teachers because they have no teaching experience. While mileage may vary with different students, a native English speaker just graduated may be at the top of his or her academic game, and a naturally talented teacher can teach their native language quite well.
If more boards of education in Japan took their English responsibilities seriously and individually interviewed local native speakers, they could give them real jobs with benefits. I am sure a lot of problems would suddenly disappear. It is self-defeating for a company to arrange a bad working environment to the extent that a teacher feels drastically taken advantage of and brings complaints to the hiring agency. If employees are treated well, they will be loyal and excellent teachers.
Thanks to a master’s in Japanese literature, I am moving on to academic and university teaching — a very pleasant situation to be in. I shall also change my visa status to “self-sponsored.”