From greener pastures?

It has now been six months since I made three major personal and professional moves. Firstly, my family and I moved from coastal Australia, to a regional town in Japan. I also made a move from teaching in the secondary school setting to teaching in a university. And finally, I’ve made a transition from the world of second languages (AKA LOTE but I didn’t use that word) and English as a first language, to the world of English as a Second Language.

Let me start at the onset by stating that the move has been, thus far, a great success and a decision that I don’t regret for one moment. Not only for professional reasons as I have finally  ‘cracked in’ to the tertiary sector after having some trouble trying to do so in the cut-throat world of academia in Australia, it has been personally rewarding to see my children quickly adapt to life in Japan, and to eclipse me linguistically in just a few short months!

As for the realities of teaching in a public Japanese university, I must say I feel a little spoilt. Air-conditioning in every classroom as well as my own office which would fit 4 pods of teachers in my state high school. The resources I have access to are amazing, never mind the generous budget I have for purchasing. The support to ensure that technology works for me is phenomenal. It seems like a distant memory having to start each lesson 30 minutes early knowing that there was a 50% chance that the computer and projector wouldn’t work the first time, and having to plan a back up for each lesson in the case that it didn’t work at all after 3 restarts, because our technician came once a week. And despite this, having our access to copy paper restricted because ‘students should be doing the majority of their learning digitally’. But this was a result of forcing a program to require all students to have a laptop computer despite poverty in some of our local communities and total mismanagement in getting the devices connected to the network and [I will stop the rant now before I go on too long].

But please, don’t get me wrong. I loved my time teaching in Australian high schools, and primary schools before that, despite their problems. What got me through the hardest of times was the actual act (art) of teaching and engaging with students. No matter how infuriating teenagers can be at times, it is something that I thoroughly enjoyed. It just seems that in this new environment (and by that I mean both tertiary education, and Japanese educational environments), I am given more time, resources, and autonomy to do what I do best. And from the research I’ve read about different education systems around the world, this is how the best systems operate.

So, as for the title teaser, I guess I am posting from greener pastures. That’s not to say that there are not challenges to be overcome, cultural nuances to try to understand, and politics to navigate. These will be the focus of future blog posts. For now, I can look blissfully out of my 5th floor office window over the gorgeous campus, and have time to ponder how to best help my students along their language learning journeys.


*Have you ever made a professional career change?
*What were your experiences?

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Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at

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