If you are Asian-American, you'll blend in much better than I did. (I'm blonde.) I would have loved being incognito sometimes. On the other hand, lots of Japanese people were eager to be my friend and introduce me to people and cultural experiences. They indulged my mistakes when I spoke their language because it was so obvious that I was foreign and couldn't be expected to know better. Several Asian-Americans that I knew in Japan, or have talked with since then, have said that their students and neighbors didn't extend the same courtesies to them. They didn't seem so foreign or exotic, so people weren't as excited to get to know them. Sometimes when they made mistakes -- or didn't speak Japanese at all -- people would have no patience, as if having a Japanese heritage (or an Asian face -- some were Korean-Americans, for instance) meant that they should intuitively know more than they did.
Even if you are working, you'll have a different part of the world as a springboard for your travels. We went all over Kyushu on weekends, and we went to a few places in Shikoku for New Year's. We took trips to South Korea and China during our year-long stint, and we spent 6 weeks traveling through Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand before returning to the U.S.
JET is a mixed bag. For one, you don't get to choose where you are sent. My then-boyfriend/now-husband and I wanted to be in the same location, and they don't (or at least didn't) accommodate that for non-married couples. Also, we were especially interested in Kyushu, and placements are limited there. We had better luck going to Japan on tourist visas, finding jobs through the newspaper, and then leaving the country to visit a Japanese embassy/consulate and be issued a work visa. Also, some of the long-term English teachers in schools really appreciate having a JET teacher to help them, and others resent having one foisted on them. As you can imagine, a JET teacher's experience varies quite a bit, based on how well they end up getting along with their fellow teacher.
GEOS, AEON, etc. can be a mixed bag too. They tend to exert a lot of control over what you teach and how you teach it. People who had been trained in education tended to resent that, but people who were brand new to teaching tended to like it, because it was easy to jump into.
We were at a private school, where the reverse was true. We had a lot of freedom in what we taught, which was good for people with experience (or good instincts and a willingness to work hard) but bad for people who needed guidance. So that's a mixed bag too!
However, this wouldn't get her a full work visa. She went to Japan on a working holiday visa, valid for 12 months from the time of entry. While there her employer sponsored her application for a full work visa, based on the fact that she was in the job. This was turned down, presumably with the lack of a degree being the determining factor.
So it is possible to get a job without a degree if you don't just apply to JET or the main conversation schools, but not so easy to get a work visa. That's not to say that it wouldn't be possible to get a work visa without a degree - this was just the one case I know about.
From the experiences of my friends and co-workers here in Europe, it's a great idea to earn your certificate overseas, so then you can get the ball rolling and start teaching right after you earn your certificate. So far, I've gone to Munich, small town throughout the Czech Republic, Bratislava, Budapest, Warsaw, and London, and I have more plans to visit other places such as Istanbul Turkey, Ljubljana Slovenia, and more.
If you want to do this, I'd recommend researching TEFL Certification programs as well as legal requirements from each country. Speaking from experience, I can assure you that it's a lot of fun and really allows you to get to know yourself and immerse yourself in other cultures. The program I got certified with is TEFL Worldwide Prague, and is definitely worth checking out!
However for any other females wondering the same, try Phnom Penh where if you don't mind teaching kindergarten, being a white female trumps a degree any day.
VickyLynn wrote:I don't know how to take that comment Busman..I almost feel like that should scare me..I would love teaching Kindergarten but why does being a white female mean so much..and is there any place you suggest I look..
Sorry didn't mean to offend, basically it's marketing as a white native English speaker from a North American/western European country is looked upon (rightly or wrongly) as a better teacher. Most schools will only hire females to teach kindergarten & a degree will be overlooked as long as you have a TEFL.
Also Cambodia has much simpler work visa rules than other SE Asian countries.
For general info on Cambodia check http://www.khmer440.com/chat_forum warning this forum is pretty irreverent but a fun read.
For a sampling of jobs check out http://www.bongthom.com in addition to teaching there are also NGO jobs that could be interesting.
Anything else just ask
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