links i find vital

where it all started for me! (btw it starts off with like a min of music)
a seoul radio station interview about bssk
a bunch of interviews with black expats in soko
find family on facebook: Brothas&Sistas of South Korea

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Interview with Aeon

summary of what my aeon interview was like:

There were only 5 of us there for the group interview. I don’t know how many there were supposed to be, but the room was tiny so I suspect we were all accounted for. We were scheduled to start at 1pm with the doors opening at 12:30. I got there at 12:35 and was the last of the 5 to arrive. We started promptly at 1 and moved to another room for opening presentation. The Aeon staff locked the door behind us, preventing any latecomers from coming in.

The presenters gave a break down of aeon in general. Classrooms are tiny; your class will be about 5 students at a time. The classrooms are actually offices; Aeon schools are usually on a floor in an office building, not a full-fledged school campus. We were shown the books we’d use, and it was explained that after arrival in Japan, teacher training is about a week long. We were shown a video of a typical aeon teacher’s day: commute to work or walk, get to the office, prepare for class, teach class. In between classes, students and parents may be in the lobby, aeon staff is encouraged to interact with them at this time, to create an opportunity for people to use their English conversation skills.

Aside from lesson planning and teaching, you may be asked to do small chores in the office: turn out the lights at closing, vacuum, etc. Working days are usually Tuesday through Saturday, noon-ish to 9-ish. You get major Japanese holidays off, and 2 vacation weeks. Everyone’s is the same, so trip planning with your coworker friends work out well time-wise. There is no shift swapping or flex schedule like nova offers.

aeon does not pay airfare to Japan, I know of no company in Japan that does. However, at the end of your contract, they do pay for your plane ticket home, or the cash equivalent, your choice. aeon pays for a bus/train pass so your expenses getting to and from work are covered. A bank account in your name is set up for you before you arrive and your salary is directly deposited. You get your own apartment; it is typical Japanese single room occupancy: very very small. Every apartment comes standard with an air conditioner and heater, television set, and washing machine. In Japan, people hang their laundry to dry on the balcony.

Rent is subsidized; everyone pays 42000 yen regardless of where you live. It is automatically deducted from your paycheck. You will not have to pay deposit or
key money. You are responsible for paying your own utility and water bills. Salary is 255000 yen, which is about 2186.00 in US Dollars. Overtime is 3000 yen an hour; though it is unlikely you’d ever have to work OT. The dress code is business attire. Men must wear suits and ties. Women’s apparel is more subjective, but on the conservative side: no Capri pants, no sleeveless, etc.

The amount of money people save up while in Japan depends on the individual. Some people buckle down and save $1,000 a month, but probably did nothing fun. Some people blow it all and live check to check. How you live financially is up to you. You get basic health insurance, but not optical or dental. Get your spare glasses/contacts and dental work done before you leave. If something happens in Japan and you have to go to the doctor, you have to pay all fees upfront, but within two weeks you are reimbursed in full. If you have prescription medications you need to take with you, check with the Japanese consulate first. Having any drugs at all without proper permission is a serious offense punishable by incarceration, and shoot, Aeon will probably just tell people where they saw you last and be out! Just kidding. Not really.

Next, we were shown a standard Aeon sample lesson. The five of us then had to discuss together as a group how to break it down and write the lesson plan together while the interviewers watched.

Next we presented our lesson plans we’d been asked to prepare for the interview. We presented one by one, the rest of us acting as the class:

One guy did a conversation about where the store is, he had a handout with a little picture and 5 lines dialogue “Do you know where the new jackets are?” “They are over there,” etc. He held up the paper, talked about it, had two of us read the dialogue. Then he discussed the meaning of the word “new” and the concept of “over here” and “over there.” His presentation was ok, his energy good and voice friendly and clear. My only critique is that he could’ve blown up the picture and put it on a poster, maybe colored it, to use as his visual aid instead of holding the paper up.

The second girl talked about the word “Like” used as a preposition and “Like” used as a verb. She had a poster with questions on one side and answers on the other, we were to match up the question with the appropriate answer and say whether or not “like” was used as a preposition or a verb. her presentation was very boring, she did 90% of the talking, her poster was just her writing on a sheet of tag paper which is fine, but she wrote freestyle so the words were scrunched and crooked and difficult to read--- word to the wise, if you write on a poster, use a ruler and pencil your words first.

The third girl… was really boring, I don’t even remember what she did her lesson plan on.

The fourth guy did his on adjectives. He handed out a paper with a list of adjectives, and talked about how some were used. He asked us students to use them in a sentence. Then he gave us cards with pictures, we were not to look at the pictures, but instead pair up with someone and your partner will use adjectives to describe you and you’d try to guess who you are. He had Santa Claus, Oprah; I don’t remember whom else. This, I think, was a good lesson plan because it has the students talking to each other.

My presentation was about nouns and colors. We played something like the game Simon where I was Simon with little color cards, and the students had to repeat the color sequence. The game is good because it is mostly students talking and teachers saying very little.

The presenters then talked about the seriousness of this commitment to live in Japan for a year. Keep in mind any weddings, graduations, special events during the year: you will likely not be able to attend these. Take into account any friends or family you have that are sick or ill, in the tragic event someone becomes severely ill or dies, aeon will do all they can to assist you, but remember that that is an expensive plane ticket. Also, this is a really fragile emotional time, and you will be on the other side of the world. Also, really ask yourself why do you want to go to Japan. If you are wanting to escape something at home, you will probably take that issue with you and you’ll be just as unhappy in Japan as you are at home now, likely more so, because you will be in a foreign country.

Last was a one page grammar test, and a one page series of questions, “what do you want to do in Japan? Why do you want to go to Japan? What will you have to do to prepare to leave for Japan?” The whole thing took about 3 and half hours I think. We were told we’d hear in two weeks time whether or not we’d be invited back for a one on one interview. Two of us had flown in for the presentation, and they were told aeon would contact them by 6pm that night. Aeon called me the very next morning asking for a one on one interview that next week. I do not know if any of the others were called in for a second interview, nor if any of them were hired.

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