I haven’t felt much like blogging lately, having completed my journey from East to West (or from my perspective, really far West to less West) and enjoying my new life of Cheez-its, private health insurance, and superwide supermarket aisles. One immediate reflection: 3 of the 4 car salesmen we saw before we settled on our blue Prius were second language speakers. This is something I really enjoy about California.
Anyway, I thought I would share as a bit of a public service what my experience has been job-hunting here so far, compared to back where I used to live.
More uncanny valleys
Fairly recent MAs like me tend to fall into an experience trap, one which divides mostly private-market language teachers from university teachers in Japan (speaking here of the native-speaking positions) and private ESL teachers from university and junior/community college ESL teachers in the US. Private ESLs here, much like eikaiwas in Japan, consider my decade-plus of teaching and my MA kind of like the highest trim option on a car: mostly unnecessary, likely expensive, and anxiety-producing (because you’re afraid of scratching it or it driving off in search of richer owners. I’d say that analogy has reached its limits). On the other hand, universities in Japan almost universally require “3 years’ experience” teaching at the undergraduate level in other Japanese universities, and college/JC ESLs in the US require something similar. Any of the 4 teaching milieux I’m describing see experience in all the others as mostly irrelevant or even a burden. Teachers in my position, moving from one milieu to another, seem to need connections to get that precious first foot in the door, as our experience and CVs place us at an oddly neither-here-nor-there place.
I’ll keep adding more on this topic as I actually start working. In the meantime, more Cheez-its.