Thursday, January 22, 2009

English Teachers in Japan

There's nothing like an English teacher in Japan! They hail from the U.S. and the U.K., Australia and Ireland, conveying the impression to their Japanese students that western civilization is composed exclusively of back-packers, bohemians and Zen enthusiasts!

There's nothing quite as western as an English teacher in Japan doing everything he can to distance himself from the West. Which is ironic, because the majority of Japanese students are completely enamored of all things western, and are learning English so they can get their feet on the pavement of Los Angeles, Vancouver or New York City as fast as possible.

English teachers in Japan are perfectly in love with Japanese culture and they demonstrate this by dating Japanese women and criticizing the United States as much as possible. They are entirely open-minded and judge nothing about Japan except the crowded trains, tiny apartments, humid summers, stubborn people, lazy students, materialist youth and silly Japanese government.

They make it clear to their Japanese students that they intensely dislike George Bush, armies, big corporations and people who insist there is right and wrong in the world. In this way they are very open-minded ambassadors, except when it comes to George Bush, armies and big corporations.

This, of course, is a satirical generalization of men and women teaching English in Japan, yet anyone who has met English teachers in Japan and other foreign countries might recognize the breed. It must be admitted that most English teachers don't head to Japan because of a passion for conditional verbs, nor out of a duty to serve society and mankind as teachers.

Many of them are in limbo between college and the "real world," which makes them perfect role models for teaching young Japanese English students, who wish to get exposure to English before they spend a year in California or Canada killing time before they're drafted into the real world of Japanese corporate culture to become salarymen and OLs (office ladies).

Some of the English teachers understand themselves as descendants of Jack Kerouac: 21st century bohemians out to re-foment Mr. Kerouac's "ruck-sack" revolution. Many of them, however, wouldn't know Kerouac from K.C and the Sunshine Band, but they feel called to wander.

And then there are certainly hard working English teachers in Japan who help their students, represent their countries well, truly appreciate Japanese culture and perhaps have one (just one) nice say thing to say about former President George Bush.

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