The Japan Guy Interviewed on the WDEVN Show in Taiwan. COOL!

I did an interview a few weeks ago with Mr. James Thomas of the WDEVN show in Taiwan and had a really good time doing it. Officially this is my first live, Japan Guy interview, so if you have a little bit of time and feel like listening, I hope you enjoy it. James was really easy to talk to and has some pretty cool stories of his own. I may have to do something with him in the future, as he comes to Japan from time to time. If you have any questions for me about the interview, or just any general questions, please let me know in the comments section. I’ll make sure to answer. Without further ado, here is my interview on WDEVN:

Watch live video from World Data Exchange Video Network on

Thanks for reading & watching. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Donald Ash

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  • devin

    That was an awesome interview! I wish James Thomas had done a little bit more prep for his interview. :P (He did a good job though and thanks for correcting him about the name of your prefecture!)

    I would love to be a math and science teacher for a secondary school so I’m really sorry that you got “burned out.” Being a disciplinarian is no fun so I totally understand where you are coming from.

    Yeah I went to a good school in the US but that was because I came from a relatively affluent town. It makes me sad that school is funded by property taxes so the rich areas have more resources which is an act of injustice and it makes me sad. :(

    Wow I’ve never heard of “Monster parents” before. Are you meeting this in your current ALT position or was that when you worked in your former Eikaiwa position?

    Yeah I’ve heard of the “Cram” schools…there is so much pressure on them.I’m glad Mr. Thomas mentioned the concept of “overdoing it”.

    Oh computers are having an adverse affect? Could you be more specific on what skills in Japan are deteriorating?

    Donald, have you ever used games in your Japanese Lessons? I thought I read once that it wouldn’t work well since it is not good to be overly competitive and stand out and they would be playing the game to please the teacher more? Correct me if I am wrong here.

    Wait a High School Diploma is worth a lot in Japan? Then why the fierce battle to get into an esteemed university. I have heard that college in Japan is easier because they have a chance to “breath” after the battle to make it is over.

    Yeah I do like the collective aspect in the culture of Japan. Shows how calm everything was after the earthquake with no mobs or looting.

    I believe in Teacher’s Unions as a form of protection not just for a paycheck but benefits. Teaching should never be about a paycheck but for a love of helping someone. Do you think your parents taught in a better environment with less discipline problems?

    How big is your city population? I’m sure in Tokyo all races are represented so no one would look at you like you had three eyes. :P

    Oh wow an hour and a half to get a money order from the post office! Not knowing the language would be scary so I commend you on having the courage to endure through the initial storm.

    Oh that is so nice….someone helping you for an hour when you were lost! That is super cool. :) You’re right, I have a hard time seeing that happen in the U.S.

    The radiation scares me too and I wish I had your faith in the media and government to be 100% honest but I’m glad you are being vigilante and I respect your courage.

    I was in Toronto (taking a CELTA class) and we had an earthquake..the teacher first at thought one of the students was shaking the table. (hah) Yeah earthquakes are scary…even small one’s rattle my nerves.

    Great interview!

    • Donald Ash

      Hey Devin, I’m glad you enjoyed the interview. Yeah, it’s amazing how different schools can be from place to place even within the same state. As far as monster parents go, I haven’t really run into too many. Now I have had some parents that were a little more demanding than others, but not on the crazy/monster side.

      This only issue that I see with the computers is that seems to be an issue among the Japanese people is losing command of many of the kanji that they once had to write on a regular basis (the computer just does it for them), so it makes it easy to forget them. You also have people, though far less common, that become socially withdrawn because of their reliance on computers (but that happens in the U.S. as well).

      Games? ABSOLUTELY! Games are a big part of how I teach. As far as being competitive goes, it kind of depends on the size of your class and how what the students are like. I small classes (like 8 or less) having a game where there’s one winner worked out just fine. But now that I am teaching larger classes (25 students and larger), splitting into teams, makes it all work out. It definitely works well.

      I think maybe my parents had more respectful children, but my father is an assistant principal and I’m sure he’s having to face some of the challenges of the “new age child” that may not have developed the same respect that was quite common in his day, but he’s adapting. I guess that’s the name of the game for current teachers.

      Tsukuba is a town of about 180, 000 people. I don’t get so many three-eyed man looks these days, but when I first came I did. Or when I go to work in Moriya, sometimes I do. But that’s the whole appeal…people get to know you, then they love you.

      Thanks for your questions, Devin!

  • devin

    Wow so games actually work? I’ll keep that in mind if I become a future ESL teacher. :) I actually employed a game during one of my CELTA lessons (the only teacher to use a game…not bragging or anything) and even though the game ended up being too involved and complicated and kind of destroyed my lesson plan as a whole I still got positive feedback from it in the end. I wonder if the younger generation in Japan is actually starting to change somewhat in terms of their values?

    As for Kanji there are thousands of them! How do they even select Kanji via a computer? Is there some keyboard held in Japan that has three thousand keys on it? Even selecting from a drop down list of 3,000 mainstream Kanji Characters seems daunting so there is obviously something that I don’t understand. If I ever attempt to learn the Japanese language I am going to concentrate on the Hirigana and Katakana first! As for becoming less social in general…well…yeah…that would be a universal effect.

    180,000 is a pretty big town…not a city mind you but definetly not rural either. I love your comment about how once people get to know you then they love you. That’s just the way it should be.

    Well if your father is still in the current school system he is still dealing with modern problems. Assistant School Principal would be a pretty cool job but if I ever become a teacher I swear I won’t go into administration. Being a guidance counselor would be pretty neat. (I had an awesome guidance counselor who truly changed my life)

    Any more interviews you have I plan on seeing!

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