Wednesday, November 30, 2005

First class

Wow. It was a great first class, and looks like it will be a great series of classes overall. However, my days will be very long and busy. I won't even be able to go home from work tomorrow or Friday, considering the time to took me to finangle a bus from Bank St to the Rideau Centre today.

The instructors are great: motivational, informative, direct and dynamic. The workbook is a nice mixture of set-up, tutorial, anecdotes and perspectival articles/lists on ESL. Some great parts about the complexity of English, culture shock, reverse culture shock, group dynamics, cultural relevance as applied to teaching, etc. Already have "homework"; very minor thing.

I was nervous at first, but now I'm focused and excited. Very much looking forward to seeing this through and getting as much info as I can.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Optimum location

Just looking over locales in Japan (not that I'd ever do so at work! -- pfft), Osaka is a bit too big. 8.8 million people. However... Nara, just 45 minutes by train from Osaka (and 40 minutes from Kyoto and Kobe) seems damn perfect at 365,000 people. Avg temp of 4 C in the winter months, and 24 C in the summer months. Smaller population, less of a tourist location, very historic compared to Osaka which is very "mercantile" and urbane. The prefecture has tonnes of amazing temples, including the very first 3-storey pagoda.

There's also a huge deer park there, sacred because it was believed that the founder of the city/area arrived on the back of a white deer. Deer are considered the messengers of the gods there. Long story short... it's freakin' beautiful, and less of a concrete jungle.

Did you know that the average movement speed for Osakans is 1.6 km/h, whereas it is only 1.56 km/h in Tokyo, making it the most busy city in Japan? Oh the things you can find out with wikipedia...

Music Genome Project

Now is this damn cool.

Pandora's Box

Enter in a band or song, and it will match the tendencies of that music to similar bands/songs and create a playlist or 'station' for you. I'm gunna be abusing this at home for sure. Great way to find new bands and music.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Hurry up and wait

Things seem in fast-forward now as the end of '05 draws nigh. I've just been coasting for a good year or so, and now plans are accelerating and solidifying. It's invigorating, but also a bit frightening. I'm not a fan of drastic change. Ah, who am I kidding... I get unnerved when I change the sheets on my bed. :)

That said... This Weds I begin the first steps of my teaching odyssey; it's set in stone more or less. It will be an intense week, with like 40 hours of class time from Weds through Sunday as I hammer out phase one of the TESOL course: methodology and basic instruction. I'll move immediately to work on the online portions (grammar and instruction specialization) so that I'm in a good position to try a practicum in January. The plan is still to get outta Dodge by mid-February.

Passport stuff is in the works, and I'm going to go buy some Japanese language books: a phrasebook and possibly a cd set for learning the fundamentals of the language. Can't be too prepared, I figure. Strangely, the thing I'm most worried about is food and shopping for food. Guess I'll worry about that when I get there.

I think I'll know that all of this is real when I'm going through some of the job opps and begin the negotiations. That's when all of this will really hit home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

When Xmas Lights Go Broadway...

Wow. This is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen. Just. . . wow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Off to the races!

I just signed up for TESOL Certification (80-100 hours of course-work and practicum). November 30th is the first class, going until the Sunday (40 hours). Then 15 hours of online course-work in grammar, then 25 hours of specialized teaching training, then 20 hours practicum (optional).

It's on now. By late December/early January, I'll have my certification, and soonafter I'll be looking for teaching opportunities in Japan (which, apparently, are numerous... 40% of ESL opportunities are in Asia).

So yeah... baby steps. Time to get my passport sorted out.

Another slip...

Wow, slipped again! Good news is I plan on writing here a bit more.

Most recent news is I'm heavily and seriously investigating second-language teaching overseas, specifically Japan. Why Japan? Two reasons: 1) I love the culture, and 2) according to most 'alumni' who have written about their experiences in teaching english around the world, Japan teaching pays highest and the programs are strongly endorsed by various Japanese ministries, such as Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communication. So not only would I have support on the Canadian side by the agency itself, but in-country from the government.

I just need to get the hell out of Dodge. I'm rotting here, both in my job and in my mind-set. I've allowed it to happen, but if I continue down this path I'll be surprised if I live to see 40. I need a goal, an aim; something to shoot for, something new to experience. I - need - to - get - out!

In short... time for change.

So with that in mind, I'm attending a free informational seminar this evening in the Market. It's hosted by United TESOL International, a well-known ESL (English as a Second Language) organization. I'll see what they have to say.