Anthony Griffin (USA), Corporate Division
A few months after joining AEON, the company president stopped by my branch school. He asked me if my experience at AEON matched my expectations. “My experience has exceeded my expectations,” I enthusiastically replied.
Three years later, I’m thrilled to say that my original statement remains true. What started as a year-long chance to live and work in Japan turned into a long-term experience offering unexpected opportunities for growth and development.
From day one, AEON carefully considered my business background. I was assigned to a branch school, Shinjuku I-Land Tower, where I had an opportunity to combine my previous professional and educational experience with traditional English conversation classes.
Thanks to an empowering manager, a closely-knit team of colleagues, and supportive students, I was able to create two year’s worth of business curricula as well as a series of workshops covering topics such as résumé writing and interviewing, presentations, and business networking. I even had the chance to participate in the day-to-day business of the school by composing advertising copy for special classes and a business English brochure. It was extremely rewarding to hear about students who had acquired new jobs, gave successful presentations, and learned to assert their opinions thanks to the training they received at the Shinjuku I-Land Tower branch school.
This kind of work environment motivated me to extend my stay in Japan and eventually express interest in AEON’s corporate division. Working in the corporate division has created even more exciting opportunities. I travel to companies throughout the greater Tokyo area (and sometimes beyond) to teach business English on-site. I teach at a variety of companies, from world-famous organizations to entrepreneurial start-ups. Each one is fascinating in its own way. Since I interact with students from all levels of the corporate ladder, I often feel that I learn as much as I teach.
In addition to teaching, I’m involved in the training of new corporate division instructors. I continue to design new courses and curricula as well. Working in the head office also presents a lot of opportunities for proof reading, so I continually need to draw upon my previous work experience. Currently my monthly business English seminars are perhaps my most challenging, yet rewarding responsibility.
Embracing the business side of teaching English in Japan has been the key to helping me succeed. Teaching an effective lesson is just the beginning. Our students are also our clients to whom we offer a service. Discovering how to satisfy the wants and needs of both my external clients (students) and internal clients (sales force, coordinators, and managers) constantly motivates me. My colleagues and superiors create an open, positive environment in which I can do my best to meet the needs of our students.
This is just a brief summary of what I do at AEON. New challenges and opportunities come up all the time. Of course, teaching is the core responsibility of an AEON instructor. However, with hard work, creativity, and a proactive attitude, you can take on so much more. If you are a talented individual who is looking for a chance to build a career in Japan, definitely consider working for AEON. I’m sure the experience will exceed your expectations as well.
Duncan Johnson (UK), Chubu Honbu Assistant Trainer
I first joined AEON in early 2014 as a branch school teacher in Toyohashi, a city in central Japan on the border of Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures. I had a great time working there. Staff and students were amazing and my original plan to stay one year extended to three. However, as I entered my third year, I started to get itchy feet. I loved Japan, I loved teaching, but I was looking for a new challenge and when I enquired about other options within AEON, I was offered a position as an Emergency Teacher.
As an Emergency Teacher, I got to visit many different schools, which was an eye-opening experience. I was exposed to many different teaching styles and different approaches to student care, which in turn helped me to grow and become a better teacher. I also found that, as a result of my experience, teachers would come to me for advice. As an Emergency Teacher, my primary focus was on my students, but the idea of doing more to help teachers was starting to take root.
Fast forward a year, and I let one of the trainers know that my goal is to become a trainer myself one day. Six months later, he told me that an Assistant Trainer position might be opening up. I then embarked on a trial period of shadowing the existing trainers and taking on limited trainer duties until in January, almost exactly five years after I had first joined AEON, I was formally offered the position of Assistant Trainer.
As an Assistant Trainer, I lead and support both initial and ongoing training for the native English teachers in our region. I carry out school visits and lesson observations and generally support our teachers during their time in Japan. My experience at AEON has been extremely positive – that’s why I’m still here – and I want my teachers to have the same. When needed, I also continue to teach lessons at branch schools, which is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, I love teaching, especially teaching kids. And secondly, it helps to keep my training fresh and relevant since I have to practice what I preach
Being an Assistant Trainer is stressful, hard work and, at times, extremely frustrating. But it is also the most rewarding job I have ever had. Seeing my teachers overcome their challenges and knowing that I had some part to play in that is a really special feeling. The trust that my teachers place in me is priceless. And nothing makes me prouder than observing a lesson and seeing a technique or approach, however small, that I have never considered before. The teachers I have trained are able to teach me a thing or two and that is awesome.
I feel really lucky to live in the Chubu region of Japan. Nagoya has some great food, including miso katsu (pork cutlet with miso sauce), tebasaki (fried chicken wings) and hitsumabushi (eel on rice). In addition, there are a ridiculous number of festivals to see. In my time in Japan, I’ve come face-to-face giant papier-mâché fish, been covered in flour by a red oni (demon), and danced the night away at the Gujo Odori among many, many other amazing experiences. And, if you ever get bored of this regions (as if), being right in the middle of Japan makes it a great base from which to explore the rest of the country.
To be successful in Japan, at at AEON in particular, requires flexibility, patience and understanding. You are going to be thrust into a culture likely very different to what you have been used to and whether or not you thrive out here will depend, in large part, on your ability to adapt to your new environment. In addition, it is important to remember that AEON is a business and that our responsibilities extend beyond simply teaching our lessons. Living in Japan is a challenge, but it is also a great opportunity and if you embrace that with the right attitude then we are more than willing to support you.
Yutaka Kimishima (JPN), Tokyo Honbu Trainer
I have been working as a trainer in the education department at the Tokyo Head Office for about five years. As a trainer, I have many tasks such as planning and providing various kinds of training, planning new courses, giving advice to teachers, and supporting schools. One of my favorite tasks is teaching a Japanese lesson for foreign teachers at their initial training. The lesson is taught in the same style as we teach English conversation classes at AEON schools. Some of the trainees get really nervous at the beginning of the class since it is taught in Japanese, but most of them look very satisfied at the end of the lesson. They are put in students’ shoes and realize how important that student care is during the lesson. If you ever take my lesson, I hope you will enjoy it.
My co-workers have been keeping me excited and motivated since I joined the company. People at our company are positive, fun, and enthusiastic about their work. I am always impressed and inspired with their dedication. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by such people. Through this positive environment, I am able to enjoy working here and at the same time, have been able to mature as a person.
To be a successful teacher, a person needs to be flexible and willing to try new things. Although living and working in a foreign country could be a thrilling experience, it could be tough if you have to deal with something new every day. You need to be adaptable both at work and outside of work. I have met a lot of teachers who were willing to try new things. They learned so much and grew as a person during their stay in Japan.
Ian Fogelman (USA), Tokyo Honbu Trainer
I started working at AEON as a branch school teacher at our Shin Koshigaya Branch School. I held that position for four-and-a-half years before becoming an emergency teacher, which I did for about two years. As an emergency teacher I worked at a number of schools ranging from Kanagawa Prefecture up to Niigata Prefecture.
I was offered the position of Assistant Trainer in 2006 and I have been working as a trainer in the Education Department since then. Currently, I am the Lead Foreign Trainer for the Shutoken 1 and Shutoken 2 regions. As a trainer, one of my main responsibilities is helping new teachers learn how to teach lessons, support students, and support their schools. I do this both by conducting trainings and workshops at our Training Center as well as by visiting teachers at their schools. As Lead Trainer, I am also responsible for planning and updating training to make sure what we are covering is always current and up-to-date and is meeting the needs of our students and schools.
What I like the most about being a trainer is helping our teachers learn how to better support their students. One of the main reasons I became an English teacher is because I love helping people achieve their dreams and goals. While I don’t have as many opportunities to work directly with students as I did in when I was a branch school teacher, as a trainer I can help all of our teachers guide their students towards reaching their dreams and goals.
Living and working in the Tokyo metropolitan area and neighboring prefectures, you have a pretty wide range of activities to try and foods to sample. In Tokyo, it’s possible to spend an afternoon in Asakusa visiting the shrines and temples followed by an evening in Shibuya or Shinjuku for a night on the town. Whether you are interested in traditional Japanese culture or the latest trends, you’ll find what you are looking for in Tokyo.
I’ve found that the most successful teachers are those who are positive, professional, patient, and flexible. Teaching is a very rewarding profession, and it takes time to learn how to be a great teacher. If you approach each day and each lesson as a way to improve as a teacher, you’ll become a great teacher! For new teachers, the advice I would give is to get to know your students in the Lobby. AEON students are great people, and the Lobby is one of the best places you can really make strong connections with them.
Daniel Cheah (AUS), Chubu Honbu Trainer
It has been almost 10 years since I’ve started working for AEON. I started as a branch school teacher in Toyota city for about 2 and a half years and truly enjoyed the experience of helping students and co-workers achieve their goals. I learned a lot from them and when I moved to Kariya school, I was able to learn more from teaching kids. The help from my managers, co-workers and hard working students really inspired me to go further. I enjoyed teaching kids and adults. Their motivation and drive is exciting to nurture. There are challenging times, but that “a-ha” moment you see on their faces when they create the perfect interaction is priceless. It is the beginning of trust and respect between each other.
Becoming an Emergency Teacher in 2015, I had the opportunity to work in many different schools in the Chubu Region, meeting and working with wonderful students and co-workers. It was really great seeing how our teams work together for a common goal: to improve English speaking. I was fortunate for AEON to provide me the opportunity to help teachers and schools further on a larger scale as an Assistant Trainer in 2016, then Trainer in 2017.
I have been a trainer now for about 2 years, learning from my co-workers and other trainers. When asked what my goals were from previous trainers, it was to help improve the work experience and enjoyment of teaching students at AEON. Through their guidance, they gave me valuable advice on how to help teachers to get the most out of their experiences. It feels very worthwhile seeing teachers and students feel really happy with the results of their hard work. Teachers’ experiences with teaching students English, overcoming challenges and experiencing growth professionally and personally is what I like most about the Trainer position. These are experiences that I’ve had, and what made me want to be in this position.
My responsibilities range from creating and conducting trainings, traveling to schools for observations, teaching, and coaching teachers for improvement. Conducting seminars for teachers and students are very fulfilling. Another responsibility is to help create the monthly newsletter. With the assistance of other trainers and teachers, we are able to make a platform to share teacher success stories to the region. When I was a branch school teacher, I was inspired by the hard work of fellow teachers and trainers in Chubu. The time teachers put in to give advice in the newsletter is very valuable to me and hearing the success stories from teachers is what makes the job fulfilling.
Nagoya is a really good place to live. I’m a big fan of noodles, and kishimen, a fettuccine style noodle made in Nagoya, is great in the summer, served cold with dipping broth. It is simple, easy to eat and very refreshing.
The kind of teachers who are successful in our region are people who have a desire and passion to help students in a team. It is a job, and the responsibilities and expectations as an AEON employee are more than just teaching lessons. Advertising, creating special events and other business processes are all part of our core responsibilities to create educational and enjoyable lessons. Teamwork is key and tuning in to the same wavelength as your fellow branch members will make the job and teaching students more rewarding. Respect, trust and appreciate your co-workers. The level of success achieved at schools is never done by one person. The passion of the group always reaps greater rewards. I am very thankful to be working with really enthusiastic and passionate teachers and branch school staff.
Hisayo Okajima (JPN), Chubu Honbu Trainer
If you are reading this section, you must be very serious about teaching in Japan. And to be very honest with you, it’s going to be once- in-a-life time experience for you!
In my 20 years of working with AEON, I’ve seen hundreds of teachers who experienced so much here and went back home referring their friends to a career with AEON. Each of these great ex-AEON teachers formed very strong bonds with his/her school staff and students while they were here. What do you want to do while in Japan? The people you will meet could become your life-long friends. Life is too short, so give it a serious thought right now.
I would like to share another key with you. In this rapidly changing world, East Asia is a very important economic zone for the world. If you haven’t done much research about the Orient, simply studying about Japan and its culture and business will benefit your future tremendously. Our students vary from children to high school students and business people dealing in international markets. I was a branch school teacher near central Nagoya in the late nineties teaching teenagers and business people. I learned a lot from my students and I still believe that those high school students taught me to how to become “a teacher”, whereas business people taught me how to survive in the digital business world. Without English and good communication skills, we can’t do business with the world. We sincerely need your multicultural interpersonal communication skills for our students at all local branch schools. If you are humble enough to not only teach but learn, AEON is the place for you.
I’m sure you already have lots of detailed questions you want. Am I qualified? What’s life in Japan like? Do I get complete training? Do I need to speak Japanese? Can I persuade my parents? What do I need to prepare before departing? Where can I travel during my vacation? What are the necessary immigration papers? Do I need business suits? Are there gyms nearby?
Contemplating these thoughts is a very exciting process of working and teaching outside of your country so I hope you enjoy this opportunity.
Once you arrive in Japan, don’t worry, we are here to support YOU!
Ryan Karimoto (USA), Kansai Honbu Trainer
I was working as an AEON branch school teacher for around nine years before joining the Head Office in Kansai. I started my career teaching in Himeji, home to the beautiful Himeji Castle, and transferred to our branch school in Ibaraki, which is a city in Osaka Prefecture.
I first joined the head office as an Emergency Teacher, going to various schools around Kansai and teaching lessons and giving support when needed. During my time as an Emergency Teacher, I slowly began to take on trainer duties—presenting sections, observing lessons and giving feedback, and so on. I officially became a trainer in 2016, and have enjoyed the job ever since.
As a trainer, I am mainly responsible for training and supporting our foreign teachers. Through initial training, we help the new teachers become assimilated to life and work in Japan, and we continue to support them throughout their careers through follow up training, school visits, workshops, etc. From time to time, I also go back to branch schools to teach lessons. Because of my duties as a trainer, I don’t have the opportunity to do this too often, but when I do, I can remember how much fun it is to teach our students and help them smile and make progress.
While I do miss seeing and teaching real students on a regular basis, I know that I’m putting smiles on their faces by helping their teachers be the best teachers they can be. With the new teachers, it’s great to see how much they grow during the time they are with us in training. And when I visit schools, I always enjoy seeing how much fun they and the students are having interacting with each other.
Anything you want to do or see in Japan, you can find it in Kansai. From the temples and shrines in Kyoto, to the deer in Nara, to the hustle and bustle of Osaka, there are limitless things to experience. Osaka is also home to Japan’s tallest building, where you can see a great view of the city. Kansai is also the place for great food, like takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Outside of Japan, these may not be as widely known as ramen or sushi. And you may hesitate the first time they’re offered to you. But they are definitely some of the best kinds of Japanese food I’ve had.
What I would say to new teachers is that the teachers who are the most successful at their branch schools are those who genuinely care about their students. They are interested in their students’ improvement, and show this interest by correcting mistakes in positive way and by giving a lot of praise when the students do something well. Also, successful teachers are proactive in giving added value to their lessons: teaching things that aren’t in the textbook, such as different vocabulary, useful expressions, cool phrases to say, and so on. If the teacher can do these things, students will want to come back to AEON to that teacher’s class week after week.
Ritchie Tucker (UK), Seibu Honbu Trainer
I started as a branch teacher in Ube, Yamaguchi. It’s quite a small town in the rural west of Japan. Although it may not sound very exciting, it had a great community and I really enjoyed it there. I ended up staying for two years. After Ube, I transferred to another branch school in Hiroshima (which was a big change of pace) and worked there for just over a year. After that, I joined the Seibu Education Department and worked as an Emergency Teacher for a year.
Being an Emergency teacher meant I was able to work closely with the training team. I was able to draw on my experiences at different branches to provide the best support I could for teachers and staff at the schools I visited. When I wasn’t helping out at branch schools I was at the head office, and I tried to take initiative creating supplements and lesson plans. This meant that when a trainer position came up in the region, the education department already had me in mind and approached me with an offer. I’ve now been a trainer for about 5 years.
I work with a team to plan and carry out educational training for all of the foreign English teachers in the Seibu region. This includes initial training for new teachers, school visits, follow-up training seminars, area meetings at branch schools and regional workshops for experienced teachers. Outside of training, I also support teachers in adjusting to life in Japan. I spend a lot of time travelling around the region! I also provide support for the Japanese teacher training staff. My ultimate responsibility is to help all of the teachers in my region be the best teacher they can.
As a trainer I get to see just how much our teachers develop while working at AEON. The difference between a teacher in initial training and the same teacher after a year is amazing. It really shows the commitment our teachers have to their students and co-workers as well as to improving themselves. In the end, I want to help all of our teachers enjoy their time in Japan as much as I did!
The Seibu region has some pretty famous landmarks, such as the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, but for anyone looking for something a little different I would recommend the islands in the Seto Inland Sea. This stretch of water between Honshu and Shikoku is one of Japan’s oldest national parks and has over three thousand islands. These are home to a lot of surprises, from beachside bars to contemporary art galleries, an island full of olive groves to an island full of rabbits. There is guaranteed to be something to catch your attention.
As for food, Okayama is known for very high quality fruit, but $50 peaches might be a little much for most budgets. A more affordable option is Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, a layered stack of egg, pancake batter, meat, noodles, beansprouts and cabbage cooked on a teppan in front of you. It’s even more filling than it sounds. Or you can head down to Kochi prefecture for katsuo tataki, seared skipjack tuna sprinkled with sea salt.
It might sound a little obvious, but the most successful teachers are the ones who come to Japan because they want to teach. Teaching can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be a lot of hard work. Having the motivation to give your students the best support every day makes all the difference.
The main piece of advice I give to new teachers is to approach things with an open mind and be flexible. For many teachers, this might be their first time in Japan and every day is going to bring something completely new. If you can see these things as opportunities to learn and grow, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career with AEON!
Tristan Crespo (USA), Kyushu Honbu Trainer
I started as a branch school teacher in Miyazaki school. After a year, I moved to Fukuoka to become an Emergency Teacher. I had the chance to teach at all the schools in Kyushu for 5 years. After that, I became the Foreign Teacher trainer and I’ve held the position since 2013.
The thing I like most about my job is imparting my knowledge with the new generation of AEON teachers. It’s challenging, motivating and rewarding at the same time.
As a Foreign Teacher trainer, I’ve been able to take away a lot from my experience. I’ve learned I need to think two or three steps ahead to avoid problems and conflicts. I always make sure to nip the issue in the bud before it becomes a problem. Also, if you want your employees to stay, show them that you actually care. Actions speak louder than words.
Besides training and teaching at the schools, I still do a lot of company promotions, hiring both Japanese and foreign teachers. My favorite duty is that I get to go to different companies and teach factory workers or employees AEON lessons.
I like working at AEON because it is busy. I’m that type of person that cannot stand still. As a trainer, I also get to do a lot of troubleshooting and problem solving. When I am teaching at the schools, I cherish it because I rarely get to do it these days.
Living in Japan has taught me teamwork is vital. Whether in the community or in the workplace. It has also made me more conscious about the environment. My perception of Japan has not really changed over the years. I always viewed Japan as a peaceful and organized country. It still is the same as I thought. The only thing that has changed is how humid it gets during summertime!
Mariko Miura (JPN), Institute of Language Education
I still remember the time I started working for AEON. I was fresh out of college and very excited to share my experience in the US with everybody. What I can’t believe is that it has been more than 15 years since then. Some of my students, who were in elementary school back then, now have kids of their own, and some even have become English teachers. Meeting students and being a part of their lives in class a couple of times a week can make a great impact on a person’s life. It’s very rewarding to see your students make visible progress with their English skills and see them master the language which allows them to take a big step into their exciting future.
As I work for the textbook developing department now, I try to visualize those students in my mind when we brainstorm ideas for the new materials. Studying can be tedious and difficult at times, but at AEON we try our best to make the learning process fun and interesting for our students. Our goal is to produce materials that will allow students to indulge themselves in practicing English and to interest them to take another step forward to strengthen their language skills.
As the saying 一期一会 (Ichigo ichie) goes, “Never can time be reversed, so make every moment count – Treasure it, be thankful of every moment you’re given to share with others.” The experience at AEON has brought me many of these moments. It truly has been a pleasure to teach. And, the fellow staff members who I have worked through the years have enriched my life in many ways. If you are looking for this kind of experience and are willing to dedicate yourself to the students’ needs, consider applying with us now!
Andy Gadt (USA), Recruiter
After finishing university in 2002, I knew that I wanted to teach, but did not have much classroom experience. Most of my “teaching” experience was on the baseball field as a coach. After researching many different options, I encountered the opportunity to teach English in Japan with AEON. When I arrived in Japan, I was not sure what to expect due to my lack of teaching experience and inability to speak any Japanese. However, the training program at AEON prepared me well and once I got in front of my students their dedication to learning English pushed me to work harder to improve my teaching skills in order to be able to offer them the best possible lesson that I could.
I worked at a smaller branch school in Nagoya for two years teaching students of all ages. Teaching children brought many interesting challenges about lesson planning, engaging all levels and abilities and helping each child enjoy studying English. The excitement on the children’s faces when they were able to answer my questions and converse with me in English is something that I will never forget. Many of the adults that I taught were studying English for their careers and were very serious about improving their skills. I learned about each of them individually so that I could help them see their strengths while working on the best plan to assist them with their weaknesses in English. In all classes, I did whatever I could to make the lesson fun and remember lots of laughter. The students at AEON are extremely dedicated in the classroom and also very interested to share Japanese culture with the foreign teachers. I made many good friends with my students at my branch school who I still keep in contact with today.
After two years at my branch school, I became an Emergency Teacher, then an Assistant Trainer and finally Trainer. The range of experiences I had with those positions taught me many skills that I will be able to use for the rest of my life.
Currently, I am working as an overseas recruiter for AEON to hire teachers who have the passion not only to help students improve their English skills, but who also want to learn about and experience Japan and Japanese culture. We have two recruiting offices in the US where we receive thousands of applications each year from candidates all over the world. We hold interview sessions at our home offices, but also travel to many different cities in the US as well as to Canada, The United Kingdom and Australia in order to hire teachers of various cultural backgrounds and nationalities. I truly enjoy meeting new candidates who have an interest in teaching English in Japan and giving them more information about the wonderful opportunity AEON has to offer.
However, hiring teachers is only one part of the job. As recruiters, we share what we have learned from our time working with AEON in Japan to help all of our new teachers prepare to take on one of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding experiences of their lives. We assist the teachers with the contract and visa process and provide them with information that will not only be useful for their new job at AEON, but that will also help them with life in Japan.
From my time at AEON, one of the biggest things that I have seen over and over again is that the more a teacher gives of themselves to their students, the more rewards they receive in return. Having students trust and follow your advice even though you might be relatively new to teaching is a great feeling and it all comes from the work that you put in for them.
If you are a career teacher or someone who is just starting out in the field and you have the desire to work hard for your students while at the same time gaining a new cultural perspective, AEON is the perfect place to work!