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Handbook for newcomers
Village Old Timer
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Kinokuniya bookstore carries 日英対訳ニューカマー定住ハンドブック―日本で働き、暮らし、根付くために Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan. The book is invaluable for people living and working in Japan.

Edit - I forgot to mention that the book is bilingual with facing page English and Japanese.

This review of the book says -

“Higuchi and Arudou’s HANDBOOK promises to be the second passport for foreigners in Japan. It provides a map to navigate the legal, economic, and social mazes of contemporary Japanese life. Practical and affordable, clear and concise, the Handbook should contribute not only to a better life for newcomers to Japan but also to a more humane society in Japan.”–Dr John Lie, Dean of International and Area Studies, University of California Berkeley, and author of MULTIETHNIC JAPAN.

Posted on: 2009/1/23 14:04
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
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I just applied for an undergrad program w/ a Major in Global Studies--which will also lead to a TESOL, which will afford me the initial qualifications to teach English in Japan. If I play my cards right, this will make a lot of my dreams come true. I will look into getting a copy of this book. Thank you for posting this.

Posted on: 2009/1/23 15:54
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
Village Old Timer
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Chris,

I wish you the best of luck in your application and acceptance process. Global Studies with TESOL is invaluable for ELT teachers coming to Japan or anywhere, really.

Some private senior high schools in the Kanto area offer global studies courses to their first and second years (grades 10 and 11). While there are foreign TESOL teachers who can deliver content-based courses, not many of them have a background in global studies, never mind critical global studies. A few schools I've had a look-see inside are actually teaching conversation or reading comprehension courses in the the course hours! What I see is, few teachers have the combination of language teaching, pedagogy and content knowledge to build a curriculum and deliver a solid course.

I keep up with some resources on global studies because the program I teach in integrates environmental and social issues into ESL/EFL programs. See this? Global-e

On the TESOL angle, read up on Japan Association of Language Teachers.

Also, if you can, come over on exchange to experience Japan and get a taste of the academic and larger culture here. Consider coming on the JET Programme, which you can apply to in your last year of study.

All the best in your studies!

Posted on: 2009/1/25 10:55
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
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Good tips Liz. (Just realized "Erizabesu" was you.)

I would also recommend that newcomers try to make friends with someone who has been there a while. Us westerners tend to have some pretty distorted ideas about how the Japanese live and think until we've spent a bit of time there. (Me= guilty of this.) The learning curve is pretty nuts and it helps to have someone who is willing to point out to you all the little things you are doing that are 'against Japanese protocol'. Protocol (kata) is tantamount to life there. There is a book by that title that paints an insanely accurate picture of this actually. It's more helpful to get the feeling of society there than it is a guide to the basics of living there though.

http://www.amazon.com/Kata-Key-Unders ... oks&qid=1236927124&sr=1-1

Posted on: 2009/3/13 16:54
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
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I have that book (Kata) -- can't recommend it highly enough!!

Posted on: 2009/3/14 6:31
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
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Ryan, Dale,

I had considered recommending Kata as an essential for newcomers and visitors alike. However de Menthe paints Japan with a broad stroke. I keep my eye out for books that avoid generalisations, or demonstrate an awareness of avoiding stereotyping either the Japanese or the so-called westerner.

Takeo Doi's work translated into English gives an insight into the psychology of the Japanese but his stuff is a little dated now. When I get a minute on a computer, i'll post some links to essays (on my iPhone, how cool is that?)

Posted on: 2009/3/14 8:29
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
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Liz, you bring up a point which I think is a classic dilemma in sharing a condensed version of something. That of over summarizing to the point that it gives the person you're sharing the knowledge with too narrow of a view of it.

Soon after moving back home, I pretty much gave up on trying to explain the social/psychological aspects of Japanese culture to people here. The parts that are, to me, most significant, are also the most difficult to describe to someone who hasn't experienced anything that they can connect the explanation with. Instead, grossly oversimplifying or simply mentioning a handful of cultural quirks is about all I can really share with people. In my eyes, even a book that paints things with a broad brush has more depth than most people will absorb without spending a fair bit of time there.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that although I don't disagree with your statement about the book 'kata', that I stand slightly to the other side of the yes/no line on this particular point despite having a similar feeling of it myself.

Now I'm wondering if I'm making sense. :)

Posted on: 2009/3/17 13:44
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
Village Old Timer
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Yes. And no.


Posted on: 2009/3/18 18:01
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
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Just had this passed on to me from a student. He said it helped him deepen his perception of life and trainig in Japan. i told him that although I might have described some of the details differently "Reading this reminds me of the feeling of living in Japan and talking to other gaijin living there about the experience. "

http://www.ichinendojo.com/article6.html

Posted on: 2009/3/24 13:10
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Re: Handbook for newcomers
Village Old Timer
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Ryan, thanks for posting that essay.

Roley's essay gives some examples of how indirect Japanese communication is. He neglects to mention the flip side - Japanese who violate the reserved way of doing things because you are foreign and don't know any better. And then there are Japanese people who neglect or reject or are otherwise ignorant of social norms.

There are all kinds of people out there...

Posted on: 2009/3/24 16:07
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