Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Secret

I haven't worked in eikaiwa, and I haven't really done teaching, but I do have friends who are or were ALTs. And from talking with them, I've always gotten the impression that there is this thinly veiled hatred(?), competition(?) between the native English speaker and the Japanese teacher of English (JTA).

Today, my intuition was confirmed. A co-worker apparently told another foreign co-worker that he wanted to change departments because, "When I tell another Japanese co-worker to do something, he does it without questioning it. But, you foreigners question everything. It's making my life stressful." I applaud his honesty.

You might think, "Well, duh, if I give my subordinate an order, I don't want them to question me!," but, this is a little different. For one thing, in the Japanese offices I've worked at before, no one knew the abilities of the person sitting next to them. In the U.S., we are hired to fill specific positions with specific, mostly, well-defined tasks. In Japan, you're hired to be a jack-of-all-trades (but not necessarily a good one). 

If I am asked to do a task, I will ask about the time frame to complete it, and if I cannot complete it within that time, I have to say that I can't. If I am asked about whether or not another person's idea is feasible, I will give a nice, but honest, answer.

On the other hand, I have Japanese co-workers who will brag about how well they can speak English or how well they can do some other task, only to eat their words later when it comes to crunch time. And overtime? I would do it, but it seems that at my company overtime has to be approved by my supervisor, who, since I'm not a "real" employee (seishai-in) will probably not approve it. If I do become seishai-in, I can expect to not get paid for overtime...

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