PDA

View Full Version : Pre-interview English test



gaijinsunny
January 21st, 2014, 04:51
Hi guys and girls,

I've been accepted for an interview. Just a bit worried about the pre-interview test, there doesn't seem to be any info floating around that I can find, and it seems most people aren't worried about it. My spelling kind of sucks, so I'm quite worried...

The only info I've found is from a blog, "English Language test – I’m rather ashamed to admit that there were one or two words I’d never seen before in my life on this test. The activities included determining which word had a different meaning from the rest of the group, describing differences grammatical structures and correcting errors in a written text – just the sort of thing required when on the job."

I guess I'm most worried about the correcting errors part, as my spelling isn't great. And I'm a bit shaky on the capitalization (this word I just had to spell check) rules. Otherwise I love teaching and writing but have relied on spell check for far too long. So any information from previous JET's on the kind of level I should expect would be great. I'm brushing up my spelling but years of negligence and a maths based degree means it's only starting to bite me in the ass now. If it helps I'm applying from the U.K.

Arigatou gozaimasu and good luck to everyone who has an interview coming up. SO much to prepare!

therealwindycity
January 21st, 2014, 08:25
Congratulations on your interview! From what I recall, people last year said that the English test is pretty much no problem unless you're not a native English speaker. It's not really designed to weed out people who make common spelling/grammar mistakes

Ini
January 21st, 2014, 08:31
it wasnt anything special when I did it. Its just on a sheet of A4 you get given on a clipboard in the waiting room before your interview. keeps everyone quiet and handing out the forms gives the ex jet in the room something to do.

johnny
January 21st, 2014, 18:21
I didn't get one at all. Strange.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Gizmotech
January 22nd, 2014, 06:27
The english test is specific to the uk only.

gaijinsunny
January 22nd, 2014, 17:10
Wow thanks guys. It was really making me sweat! My dyslexic friend was trying to brush up on her grammar aswell. Ok, well I might still try and learn the Oxford dictionary off by heart, but at least I feel a lot better about it. Now just gotta worry about everything else :) arigatou.

P.S. Thanks for the congrats, on my ancient iPhone so scared it might have a hernia (typo?) if I try anything fancy like quotes.

Illuria
January 23rd, 2014, 23:04
Just had mine yesterday, it's honestly nothing to be too worried about. Try to be concise and quick though, I didn't quite finish it in the 5 minutes allotted. I believe I'm quite a fast writer/thinker as well so I can see other people definitely having some issues. It's nothing to panic about (or even think too hard about) as long as you're a native English speaker. There was only one word I didn't know and not knowing it didn't actually matter with the format of the test.

buh
January 23rd, 2014, 23:24
Don't they ask you to turn up 30 mins early to take the test? That's what my letter said idk. I was fine when I found out I'd gotten an interview but as it gets closer I'm getting so nervous.. I wonder how important the grammar test is / why they do it

Illuria
January 23rd, 2014, 23:48
Don't they ask you to turn up 30 mins early to take the test? That's what my letter said idk. I was fine when I found out I'd gotten an interview but as it gets closer I'm getting so nervous.. I wonder how important the grammar test is / why they do it

Yep, and I turned up 15 minutes earlier than that. Your interview slot is the time that you will be taken to your interviewers but they want to make sure they have time for you to take the English test and sort all the clerical stuff. It's just good practice to turn up a little bit earlier than you're told anyway, especially since that's basically the unwritten rule in Japan (as far as I know). Plus the Embassy is actually quite interesting, there was a nice display about Natsume Soseki there which I spent a few minutes browsing.

buh
January 24th, 2014, 01:24
Ohh ok. I'll turn up earlier then since I'm gonna be in London way too early anyway. Thanks Illuria!

Oli0
January 24th, 2014, 01:25
Does anyone know if this test actually has much influence on whether we get picked or not? I thought most of it was fine but there were some strange words I'd never heard of and I had to guess a few things.

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 08:33
To be brutally honest for anyone who has passed an undergraduate course (barring dyslexia or some other factor that they would of course take into account) the test should be no problem. If you had trouble you probably shouldn't be an English teacher.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - now Free

Antonath
January 24th, 2014, 08:55
I don't know when Jiggit took the test, but when I interviewed five years back, the test was a mix of easy questions and gotchas that might catch the average person out. I wouldn't worry if a couple of things made you scratch your head.

Oli0
January 24th, 2014, 09:00
To be brutally honest for anyone who has passed an undergraduate course (barring dyslexia or some other factor that they would of course take into account) the test should be no problem. If you had trouble you probably shouldn't be an English teacher.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - now Free

Absolute nonsense, the fact that I don't recognise a couple of obscure words out of the hundreds of thousands in the English language has nothing to do with my ability to teach English as a second language.

zero
January 24th, 2014, 10:00
Absolute nonsense, the fact that I don't recognise a couple of obscure words out of the hundreds of thousands in the English language has nothing to do with my ability to teach English as a second language.

Absolute nonsense. The fact that you think any of those words are "obscure" indicates you do not have a good knowledge of your own language and therefore will struggle to teach it as a foreign language in Japan.

Antonath
January 24th, 2014, 10:16
Careful now.

Teishou
January 24th, 2014, 10:23
I'm so glad Zero's back.

Oli0
January 24th, 2014, 10:40
Absolute nonsense. The fact that you think any of those words are "obscure" indicates you do not have a good knowledge of your own language and therefore will struggle to teach it as a foreign language in Japan.

You don't even know which words I am referring to. You don't need to know the dictionary back to front in order to teach English as a second language (or indeed as a first language). I can only assume you enjoy winding up strangers on the Internet (which can be fun, in fairness).

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 10:54
You don't even know which words I am referring to. You don't need to know the dictionary back to front in order to teach English as a second language (or indeed as a first language). I can only assume you enjoy winding up strangers on the Internet (which can be fun, in fairness).

Care to share the words with us, if you can remember them? I'm willing to believe you but when I took it none of the words were particularly obscure.

And tbh I've heard quite a few ALTs complaining that their teachers ask them questions about grammar problems that they can't answer. So they just make something up about "polite English" or regional English differences. This is actually damaging the students' education if the JTEs believe them and teach it that way. That's why I think being able to pass a basic English test is important.

spman2099
January 24th, 2014, 11:10
Care to share the words with us, if you can remember them? I'm willing to believe you but when I took it none of the words were particularly obscure.

And tbh I've heard quite a few ALTs complaining that their teachers ask them questions about grammar problems that they can't answer. So they just make something up about "polite English" or regional English differences. This is actually damaging the students' education if the JTEs believe them and teach it that way. That's why I think being able to pass a basic English test is important.

Though I can't speak for Oli0, I did read an account where the person listed "ubiquitous" as being an obscure word used in one of these tests... I wonder if this isn't one of those situations where certain words which are fairly common in literature are seen as more obscure by people who don't read as much?

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 11:18
If you went to university you should have read enough to know what "ubiquitous" means. This is the problem with awful universities that don't require students to do any more than write a couple essays a term.

johnny
January 24th, 2014, 11:46
Absolute nonsense. The fact that you think any of those words are "obscure" indicates you do not have a good knowledge of your own language and therefore will struggle to teach it as a foreign language in Japan.

Ha, I would love nothing more than to teach advanced English. Even my 三年生 seem to have pretty basic English skills though. I would then posit that just because someone doesn't know an obscure word like Triskaidekaphobia, it doesn't not mean they won't be a capable teacher.

I would agree that patience, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are way more important at the ES and JHS levels


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

johnny
January 24th, 2014, 11:51
If you went to university you should have read enough to know what "ubiquitous" means. This is the problem with awful universities that don't require students to do any more than write a couple essays a term.

Funny you should mention the word ubiquitous as something you might learn in university, I learnt what that word means in the first ten minutes of my first lecture of my university life.

It's weird how these memories pop into your head.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 11:56
Ha, I would love nothing more than to teach advanced English. Even my 三年生 seem to have pretty basic English skills though. I would then posit that just because someone doesn't know an obscure word like Triskaidekaphobia, it doesn't not mean they won't be a capable teacher.


There is no way a word even approaching that level of obscurity would be used though.

Maybe I seem like I'm being unnecessarily mean but we're not talking about the average layperson here. JET applicants are supposed to have undergraduate degrees and there's a reason for that. ALTs are supposed to have a reasonably high level of education. Frankly it's really disappointing to see ALTs who clearly don't care that they can't help their teachers or students with their questions and only care about their 20 minute speaking game. Because in the end what is actually important are the scores they get on their tests. Tests which are based on being correct or incorrect and which are the most important thing they will ever do for their entire adult life. People who lack the English skills that should be expected of a university graduate should not be English teachers, full stop.

Antonath
January 24th, 2014, 12:10
JET applicants are supposed to have undergraduate degrees and there's a reason for that.
Yes, so they qualify for a working visa.


Because in the end what is actually important are the scores they get on their tests. Tests which are based on being correct or incorrect and which are the most important thing they will ever do for their entire adult life.
And those tests are based on Japanese teaching of Japanese understanding of decades-old English grammar. Someone who learned English 60 years ago would make a better ALT than someone just out of university.

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 12:20
Yes, so they qualify for a working visa.

True, but I'd argue that there are still expectations that come with that. And why do you think the Japanese government demands that anyway?


And those tests are based on Japanese teaching of Japanese understanding of decades-old English grammar. Someone who learned English 60 years ago would make a better ALT than someone just out of university.

This is a bit of an exaggeration. The teaching style is archaic, yes, and the examples they use are often a bit outdated and unnatural. But 90% of what they teach is about the "rules" of English, and those rules haven't really changed. If English students still learned English in that way we would be taught the exact same things.

Arguing that they should focus more on teaching communication skills and natural English is a completely different argument. Currently they do not do that. Regardless, you as a teacher you have a responsibility to your students. They have to take that test and it doesn't matter whatsoever whether or not you think it has any value. If you are unwilling or unable to fulfil that responsibility then you are not good at your job.

dstin
January 24th, 2014, 12:21
"ubiquitous"? That's obscure? I'm from one of the worst educated States in the Union and even I learned that one back in either 8th or 9th grade. However, I was disheartened when my fellow southerners didn't know the term "carpetbagger" when I was at University...

Gizmotech
January 24th, 2014, 12:37
I knew a British alt who passed the test and was one of the worst writers and speakers I had ever met. I had to teach her basic grammar and terms so she had any idea what was going on in class. She didn't even know what noun and verb were.

uthinkimlost?
January 24th, 2014, 13:09
Regardless of whether 'ubiquitous' is a little-known word, Jiggit is right, it is exactly the kind of thing that shows up on tests. Part of what a good ALT does is explain words new to the JTE or student. They also help teach how to cope with unknown words on exams, like inferring the meaning through context. This sh¥t is pretty vital to the future of any middle or high school student, so downplaying a ubiquitous word like 'ubiquitous' as unusual or only known to those who spend their days in books won't change the fact that people need to know it and know how to deal with NOT knowing it in a proactive way.

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 13:10
a ubiquitous word like 'ubiquitous'

Come on, dude, everyone else managed to resist...

Antonath
January 24th, 2014, 13:12
They have to take that test and it doesn't matter whatsoever whether or not you think it has any value. If you are unwilling or unable to fulfil that responsibility then you are not good at your job.
Oh, I'm perfectly happy with all that. I guess the point I was making (badly) is that the JTEs will know more about grammar than all but people with degrees in English. And even then, the JTEs will know "Japanese school grammar" (as one of mine likes to quote constantly) better than any ALT. So yes, knowledge of the language we're here to teach is important, but saying the ALT will be the font of all grammar knowledge is wrong.


I knew a British alt who passed the test and was one of the worst writers and speakers I had ever met. I had to teach her basic grammar and terms so she had any idea what was going on in class. She didn't even know what noun and verb were.
How old was she, if you know? The UK went through a phase some time ago of not teaching that stuff. I was taught it by my parents, because they couldn't believe how stupid it was the school wasn't covering it (and my mother is a teacher, so she knew it wasn't coming up later, either).

johnny
January 24th, 2014, 13:13
There is no way a word even approaching that level of obscurity would be used though.

Maybe I seem like I'm being unnecessarily mean but we're not talking about the average layperson here. JET applicants are supposed to have undergraduate degrees and there's a reason for that. ALTs are supposed to have a reasonably high level of education. Frankly it's really disappointing to see ALTs who clearly don't care that they can't help their teachers or students with their questions and only care about their 20 minute speaking game. Because in the end what is actually important are the scores they get on their tests. Tests which are based on being correct or incorrect and which are the most important thing they will ever do for their entire adult life. People who lack the English skills that should be expected of a university graduate should not be English teachers, full stop.

Okay, I see your concern. You're right. We should be able to competently answer grammatical questions for our JTE's. I'm maybe just a bit sensitive on the matter because, frankly, I've had to look stuff up.

I had a teacher ask me the difference between strange, weird and odd. I told him that they were largely synonymous, but they were of different degrees. I was mostly right, but I still had to look it up online.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

uthinkimlost?
January 24th, 2014, 13:23
Come on, dude, everyone else managed to resist...

I'm weak.

Azrael
January 24th, 2014, 13:25
I had a teacher ask me the difference between strange, weird and odd


Ahhhh, memories......

Those were my ex-wife's pet names for my genitals.

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 13:27
Okay, I see your concern. You're right. We should be able to competently answer grammatical questions for our JTE's. I'm maybe just a bit sensitive on the matter because, frankly, I've had to look stuff up.

I had a teacher ask me the difference between strange, weird and odd. I told him that they were largely synonymous, but they were of different degrees. I was mostly right, but I still had to look it up online.

Oh yeah man I was part of the generation who didn't learn any grammar in school I've had to look up a bunch of shit.

I mean we're all kind of nitpicking here. What I'm generally trying to say is that unless the UK English test is way harder than it was when I took it there should be no parts of it that are unreasonable to expect of someone being hired as a native English-speaking teacher.

zero
January 24th, 2014, 14:18
In terms of words used to describe grammar I can only remember hearing things like "past participle" and the names for grammatical structures from learning French and Spanish and so on...not necessarily in English class. However, everyone studied a foreign language in secondary school so everyone should know this.

On a related note - ALTs who come here having never studied a foreign language to any real degree and talk about how they were awful at French and whatnot in school and then complain about Japanese school kids' apathy towards English really grind my gears.

Jiggit
January 24th, 2014, 14:30
On a related note - ALTs who come here having never studied a foreign language to any real degree and talk about how they were awful at French and whatnot in school and then complain about Japanese school kids' apathy towards English really grind my gears.

I'm so glad you're back.

Everyone seems to have forgotten what their school days were like. I wasn't thinking about my future and how important my grades were when I was at school. I certainly wasn't interested in the vast majority of my lessons. Like the rest of you I spent most lessons counting down the minutes till I could escape. Because I was a goddamn kid, and that's natural behaviour.

Frankly I'm usually impressed by the few kids who apparently are interested and paying attention. What the hell is up with those freaks?

Oli0
January 24th, 2014, 23:32
Care to share the words with us, if you can remember them? I'm willing to believe you but when I took it none of the words were particularly obscure.

And tbh I've heard quite a few ALTs complaining that their teachers ask them questions about grammar problems that they can't answer. So they just make something up about "polite English" or regional English differences. This is actually damaging the students' education if the JTEs believe them and teach it that way. That's why I think being able to pass a basic English test is important.

For the most part, the test was straightforward. There were a couple of words (which I can't recall) that would certainly fall under the category of 'obscure'. I hadn't come across them before, and I seriously doubt they would ever be brought up in a Japanese classroom. This does not imply that I lack a basic grasp of my own language, or that I am an uneducated simpleton who doesn't read - just that I am not a walking dictionary. The fact that you're implying this makes me unfit to be an ALT is frankly laughable.

Gizmotech
January 25th, 2014, 08:49
How old was she, if you know? The UK went through a phase some time ago of not teaching that stuff. I was taught it by my parents, because they couldn't believe how stupid it was the school wasn't covering it (and my mother is a teacher, so she knew it wasn't coming up later, either).

I guess now she would be somewhere between 29-32

Antonath
January 25th, 2014, 10:10
I guess now she would be somewhere between 29-32
Yeah, that fits then.

gaijinsunny
January 28th, 2014, 05:28
Just had mine yesterday, it's honestly nothing to be too worried about. Try to be concise and quick though, I didn't quite finish it in the 5 minutes allotted. I believe I'm quite a fast writer/thinker as well so I can see other people definitely having some issues. It's nothing to panic about (or even think too hard about) as long as you're a native English speaker. There was only one word I didn't know and not knowing it didn't actually matter with the format of the test.

Hey thanks for the reply. My interview is imminent. Just wondering, is there a writing element to it? Like writing a paragraph?

Illuria
January 28th, 2014, 07:11
Hey thanks for the reply. My interview is imminent. Just wondering, is there a writing element to it? Like writing a paragraph?

Not really, it's mostly reading comprehension. I can't talk too much about it since you're not supposed to give anything away, but really it's identifying synonyms and explaining meanings of words as well.

johnny
January 28th, 2014, 12:14
Not really, it's mostly reading comprehension. I can't talk too much about it since you're not supposed to give anything away, but really it's identifying synonyms and explaining meanings of words as well.

So it's not even going into the. Itty gritty stuff or transitive and intransitive verbs, identifying subordinate clauses or changing a sentence so it uses the past participle?

That's not so bad!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

jmejia019
January 28th, 2014, 13:13
The english test is specific to the uk only.

so does no one else find it odd that they only give and English test to people applying from the place that invented the language?

also, someone said 'carpetbagger' awhile back....hehe..

Azrael
January 28th, 2014, 13:17
Its a relic from a bygone age (BET programme)

Gizmotech
January 28th, 2014, 14:40
so does no one else find it odd that they only give and English test to people applying from the place that invented the language?

also, someone said 'carpetbagger' awhile back....hehe..

I don't find it that odd to be honest. I'm even surprised they don't give it to other nationalities which aren't American because we all have our own idiosyncrasies in our usage of English which can differ quite a bit from standard AmE.

jmejia019
January 28th, 2014, 15:00
I don't find it that odd to be honest. I'm even surprised they don't give it to other nationalities which aren't American because we all have our own idiosyncrasies in our usage of English which can differ quite a bit from standard AmE.

good point. I guess a better word would have been ironic​ haha.