CU CAS Brown Bag Talk: “Teaching English in Japan”

Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Brown Bag series
Title: “Very Fun: My ride up from eikaiwa to University English instructor.”
Speaker: Patricia Yarrow, CU Alumna
Venue: CU-Boulder campus, Guggenheim building, Room 201E
Date: September 9, 2013 at noon

My ultimate goal after gaining my M.A. in Japanese Literature in the EALC, Boulder department was to return to Japan, settle into teaching English in a Tokyo university, and continue my areas of research. While I have found happiness teaching English in Japan, I benefited by not going directly from university graduate student life to university teaching in Tokyo. Instead, I worked my way up from working in grade schools, to junior and high schools. Along the way, I learned diplomacy and how to extract the silver linings from the following collection of situations any English teacher may encounter: the Mormon-Japanese family English racket buried off the coast of Osaka; wage-slavery to a notorious branch of a high-school outsourcing company in Yokohama accompanied by a year of pathetic wages in an English chain but with all the hours one could stand; punishing commutes by train and bus; evening business classes outsourced to valiant but cruelly fatigued engineers; and, in a military school, students saluted me, then slept blissfully. I now teach in two universities four days a week, with reasonable commutes and a community of colleagues. I have time to consider the future: retirement, benefits, social security, health care, and paying off my student loan. I hope anyone interested in teaching English in Japan will come listen to my experiences, which for all the ups and downs, still qualify as “very fun”.

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