Introduction to Teaching English in Japan

Would you like the chance to spend some time in Japan but feel turned off by whistle-stop package tourist trips? If so, teaching English may be the answer. There is no better way to get to know a country than by living and working there. By teaching English you become a part of Japanese society, rather than just an observer looking in.

Teaching English is big business in Japan. Despite the collapse of the so-called bubble economy Japan remains one of the richest and most sophisticated nations on the planet, and this status is largely due to its success in overseas trade and investment. Thus, to get ahead in Japanese society, proficiency in English is a significant advantage. Add to that the fact that being able to speak English is simply considered cool and the huge demand for English teachers becomes clear.

Don’t Japanese people learn English at school?

Yes they do. Usually for 6 years or more. The problem is that, unlike most of the school curriculum, English isn’t taught particularly well. Japanese schools tend to follow traditional teaching methods in which the teacher stands at the front and lectures the class. Students are expected to absorb rather than question. The method produces excellent results for subjects like history and mathematics, but not for communicative, participative skills like language. School English education is likely to consist of lots of reading and writing, lots of grammar practice, but very little – if any – spoken communication.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

Not at all. Of course, if you can pick up a little nihongo (Japanese) it will make your daily life easier, but it won’t help one bit as a teacher. The reason is that the most effective way of teaching language is to use only the target language. Thus the only language used in English lessons is English.

How do I start?

Well, you could simply buy a ticket to Japan and start looking for work. Unfortunately, without a work permit, that strategy is illegal. Unless you have a Japanese spouse you need to find a job that will sponsor you for a visa. It is possible to travel to Japan as a tourist and approach a few of the numerous schools advertising for teachers asking if they are prepared to sponsor your visa application.

It helps to undergo some TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training before looking for work. Not only will this give you some basic teaching skills and confidence, but it also shows potential employers you are serious about teaching and not just a backpacker looking for some financial re-fuelling.

TEFL courses are advertised in most English speaking countries. The more useful ones are provided by working English schools and offer face-to-face teaching practice with real learners.

Accommodation

If you are employed by the JET program or one of the big English school companies they will more than likely arrange accommodation for you. You are of course free to find your own housing if you so wish.

Living in school-found accommodation has the advantage of an English speaking contact to sort out repairs or other problems. The disadvantage is that it’s difficult to quit a job that may not be for you while living in their accommodation. I have also heard of at least one school that charges its teachers a significant premium over market rental rates for use of its accommodation – so beware!

There are several English speaking accommodation agencies advertising in the free English language press, and these generally provide decent accommodation, but at a price.

An alternative favored by many single English teachers are the so-called “gaijin houses” (literally foreigner’s house). These are basically hostels that rent out basic, but adequately comfortable, rooms mainly to non-Japanese clientele. Usually bathroom, kitchen and sometimes communal sitting room are shared. Gaijin house advertisements are to be found in the free English language press.

5 Tips to Avoiding Travel Eczema

Your eczema has been under control for a while. You have attained that sweet spot of equilibrium where your known eczema triggers are understood and avoided, whatever medications you take are working and not causing side effects, your skin is as good as it gets. Only one problem, you will be traveling soon.

Travel eczema, occurs when your body meets up with irritants and allergens you cannot control, as a result of not being on home turf. Whether it’s air, water, food, sun, soaps, detergents or weather, traveling presents some hard to solve problems trying to keep eczema in check.

Sometimes it’s the irritant or allergen you are exposed to that you would usually avoid, that causes the problem. But sometimes, just the change of routine or unfamiliar environments can cause flare-ups. Traveling can be stressful and eczema loves stress.

Here are a few tips to keep eczema at bay:

1) Do a little research into the type of foods you will encounter that are indigenous to the area you will visit. What can you eat, what can’t you eat. Eating the cuisines of other cultures is a major component of travel, and knowing what common additives are used in the preparation of popular dishes is a good way to stay symptom free.

2) Pack enough of your favorite medications, cremes, ointments and solutions. Don’t think you’ll be able to pick some of these up where ever you go. First, some products won’t be available, second , they may be very expensive and third, you don’t want to spend time running a round looking for something to ease your discomfort. If you travel to a tropical climate and you start to experience eczema symptoms like flaking and cracked skin, these minor openings are perfect places for more serious infections to gain a foothold, if you have the right medication this will not present itself as a problem. Better to have a little extra baggage than find yourself without your wonder creme.

3) Try to drink enough water or fluids, this will keep your system less stressed and better able to cope. I try to drink only bottled water that comes as close as possible to the type I drink at home. Meaning, I drink spring water with a specific mineral/chemical make up, so much sulfur, dissolved salts, etc., so when I travel I don’t drink mineral waters which may have higher mineral concentrations or added ingredients. If you drink German beer at home, then drink german beer abroad.

4) Pack and use an anti allergy travel sheet like an Allersac. Bleaches, detergents, soaps, perfumes are just a few of the triggers a travel sheet will help you to avoid when you spend 30% or more, of your time in a strange bed. An anti-allergy travel sheet, one that can be washed repeatedly, will be your best bet. Make sure, which ever travel sheet you use, it has a pillow pocket to protect against direct contact with the hotel pillow. One of the major causes of allergic eczema is dust mite dander. A travel sheet with a small pore size or one that claims protection from dust mites would be wise.

5) Environmental factors like cold, humidity, sunlight and heat can cause flare-ups especially when it’s the change that is the cause. If you travel to a warm climate from mid winter conditions at home, be prepared. Pack clothing that will mitigate reactions, sunblock, hat, gloves etc. The weather might cause your sinus problem to flare, which in turn stresses your body and causes your eczema to activate, or the humidity allows high mold or pollen counts where you travel. There are websites like http://www.aaaai.org/ which publish pollen and mold counts, and many sites for weather forecasts.

Having eczema and learning how it activates and affects you takes years, some people get a handle on it, others don’t, but even if you don’t know what the causes are, some simple precautions, a little research and remaining calm can help you to get the most out of traveling, even with eczema.

Unethical Search Engine Optimization Explained

If you've ever thought about hiring a professional search engine optimization (SEO) consultant or read about SEO as a subject then you may have seen the term "black hat" mentioned. Let's take a closer look at what black hat SEO really means.

To begin with, we'll revisit what is meant by the term search engine optimization (SEO). SEO referers to methods that improve search engine rankings for a particular website. Techniques can vary but will often involve making the most of the website by ensuring that its content and structure appeal to search engines, as well as visitors.

There are various schools of thought on how best to carry out such optimization. As far as the major search engines are concerned, there are ethical methods of improving search engine rankings and unethical methods.

Within the professional search engine community, ethical techniques are known as "white hat", while techniques that are viewed as unethical have been labeled "black hat".

White Hat SEO involves making the best use of the structure and content of the website to improve rankings. Black Hat techniques will often involve trying to fool a search engine into believing that a particular website is more relevant or highly regarded than it actually is.

Examples of Black Hat methods may include cloaking, which is where a search engine is effectively shown a different version of a website to visitors. Other techniques would include employing hidden text and links.

Although Black Hat SEO can have some impressive results, the major search engines are constantly trying to clamp down on such methods, banning websites who employ them.

For long-term results, ethical White Hat methods are the most effective.

Freshwater Aquarium Maintenance – Top 4 Areas You Should Not Ignore

Freshwater aquarium maintenance is a priority for any tank owner who wants to display a variety of healthy vibrant fish. Having a filthy fish tank will only cause issues for your little swimmers as well as the room you have your display. If you do not want unusual odors surfacing, or waking up one morning only to see some of your species floating upside down, there are a few things to check for.

First , the all important water in the aquarium must be maintained. This is where you can look into purchasing filters that will make your water maintenance self-cleaning. That's right, filters will help get rid of dirt, odor, discoloration and any general impurities.

The downside is that depending on the filter, you may have to change them every 3-4 weeks. If this is not a problem then you're in for a real treat. Some filters are disposable and can be replaced so there is no hassle, and you can keep the water clean.

Second , Algae are one of the most common problems and can ruin even the most beautiful tanks becoming an eye sore to you and other viewers. There are a few remedies you can use to combat the algae, such as purchasing Plecostomus. Known as algae eaters, this fish will chomp away keeping your freshwater aquarium clean as can be. These fish are not known to be "lookers" but they will get the job done. If you rather pass on the species then you may have to remove them by hand. If you want to remove by hand but you want to minimize the amount you do remove, consider that any exposure to sun will allow the algae to thrive.

Third , you walk into the room where your fish tank is located and you notice a strong scent, what do you do? Change your filter more regularly to ensure this does not occur often, because this can kill your fish if it goes untreated.

Fourth thing should not ignore is unclear water. Is your freshwater aquarium looking a little murky? Determine the "root" cause, possibly your overfeeding. Try not to give your fish more than the recommended amounts instead feed them 2-3 times daily. This will reduce the unclear water, if not use use distilled water or bottled water.

Change the water at least every two weeks if not every week but only about 20 percent of it. Many use siphons to drain the water and then replace it. Understand that eventually the aquarium tank will need to be cleaned which can be a pain experience for many. As bad as the experience may be you have to do it if you want your fish to stay healthy. During this process, use a sponge and gently scrub the aquarium glass and remove everything that is stuck there. Some opt to use scrapers but if you have an acrylic aquarium, this process can be damaging. Soak any decorations you have in your aquarium in hot water with a bit of salt and scrub clean. Do not use soap; the residue will kill your fish very quickly.

Finally , when refilling your tank remember to keep the water temperature the same as the fish can live in. Important Tip: Do not use water from the faucet because it is not designed to help the fish, instead boil 5-10 gallon bucket of distilled water let it cool and use.