Ten Initial Differences Between an Eikaiwa and a Japanese Public School (Shougakko)

I’ve started my job as an ALT, and I already see some intial differences between the Eikaiwa and ALT jobs:

1.Work Schedule- Moving from an Eikawa to a Shougakko means that my schedule has completely changed. Instead of having the 12:00 pm to 9:30 pm schedule Tuesday through Saturday, I now have a Monday through Friday 8:00 pm, to 4:30 pm.

2. Pay- Maybe one of the downsides of changing to Public school. After three years at AEON I was earning 292,000 yen per month. My first ALT contract is for 230,000 yen/month. OUCH!! I don’t know if my salary increased each year, but I’ll probably end up supplementing my income somehow, which was pretty tough to do on my AEON schedule…so it’s a bit of give and take.

3. Free Time/Vacation Time/Time Off- From the looks of my schedule and what I’ve heard from other ALTs, there is more free time on the job than I would have at an Eikaiwa. I also get national holidays off (yay!) and a long summer vacation. It’s cool because this is in addition to Golden Week, Obon, and all of the stuff.

4. Teacher Meetings- The first teacher’s meeting at my school was brutal! Being the only non-native Japanese person, I had to endure about two hours of pure, unadulterated Japanese. It was so much that my head was spinning.

5. Work Objectives- At an Eikaiwa I think there is a bigger need for producing results (it is a conversation school after all) from TOEIC scores to having English conversations more easily. Whereas the objective for ALTs is to expose children to and to get them to have fun using English. My initial impression it that the Eikaiwa kids (at least at the school I was at) had a higher English level. Why shouldn’t they? The classroom sizes are smaller and there are more opportunities for individual attention.

6. Sales- I don’t have to sell anything anymore. One of the drawbacks to teaching at an Eikaiwa was that you’d have these awesome students, and often you’d be expected to try to sell them a course…I didn’t like that very much. But here in public school, I don’t have to do it.

7. School Songs- I don’t remember AEON having a school song, but when kids actually came on the the elementary school on Wednesday, I got to hear them sing their elementary school song, and EVERYBODY knew it! Do you remember your elementary school song? Did you have one?

8. Formal Ceremonies- I witnessed my first, official Shougakko ceremony firsthand and it was really engaging. Students and parents came to this opening ceremony for the school. the bowing, even the Japanese…it was all very very formal. Whereas at AEON, we usually don’t have ceremonies like that. I did have an awesome farewell party, but I can’t say that it was formal by any means. I like fun over formal.

9. Drinking Parties- I think the drinking parties at AEON are probably going to be a lot more fun that these because, there are so many students that you can invite to Eikaiwa parties. I can’t invited elementary kids or their parents to a drinking party…it probably wouldn’t go over so well with the establishment.

10. Facilities- AEON Tsukuba MOG was great because it was one of the biggest Eikaiwas in the area. It is very different from an elementary school because these are government funded establishments and this elementary school has all kinds of stuff in it from a music room to an auditorium to a teacher’s room, the whole nine yards.

As the year goes on, I’m sure I will learn more about what a Japanese public school is really like, and I’ll do a more exhaustive list and well revisit this topic again.

See you next time,

Donald Ash

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  • Roger Starkey

    9 Drinking parties: you haven’t been drinking with the teachers yet. Just wait until the perfectly normal teachers you know go crazy under the influence.