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Man by a river in Japan
Man by a river in Japan

English Exchange in Japan

Help locals gaining more confidence and practice in speaking English to foreigners.
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    Overview

    In a recently published English version of the Otaki tourist map, some shops and hotels are marked with a star, to indicate that the owners speak some English. Still it is a challenge to get around without speaking Japanese.

    Pride plays a role in this as well. A hotel would rather refuse a booking of a foreigner, than losing face by not providing perfect service due to the language barrier. Which is not helping the village’s initiatives to attract more foreign travelers into its picturesque surroundings.

    To help the village develop, two measures need to happen at the same time:

    • Villagers and local business owners need to get used to interacting with foreigners
    • Locals need to gain more confidence and practice in speaking English

      Japanese students study English in high school but the current education method rather focuses on reading and writing than on conversation. So don’t mistake them not talking to you for them not knowing English or even a lack of education. What is lacking the most is the practice in speaking. Without that practice, Japanese people usually don’t feel comfortable speaking.

    This program aims to offer locals a platform to practice their English on their own terms. Participants are available at the community house in the afternoons and early evenings. Local students often stop by to study or work there for a few hours or to just hang out. That’s your chance to ask them everything you’d like to know about life in Japan and answer their questions about your home country as well. Be patient and understanding if it takes them a while to make up a complete sentence. The longer you talk, the better they will understand you. And the more locals enjoy talking to you, the more people feel animated to join.

    Keep in mind that for people who hardly ever meet foreigners, you are more than just a chance to practice their English. You are an ambassador of your home country and culture. The impression you leave will shape their view on people of your country or foreigners in general.

    Depending on the season and weather, expect to spend about 1-4 hours of conversation per day. This could be at the community house or other places in/around Otaki. Occasionally the local kindergarten may invite you as well to practice some English pronunciation by e.g. singing songs together. Besides practicing English, you will join other participants in Otaki to learn about local culture and explore the surroundings.

    Objectives

    • Give locals a chance to meet foreigners. If you leave a good impression, this will help them being more self-confident and open-minded when interacting with foreigners.
    • Give them a chance to practice their conversational English by talking to you.

    Impact

    Volunteer experiences have a direct and positive impact on local communities by injecting money into the local economy through the purchase of food, transportation, and tourism activities. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the comunity and make a difference in the world. Depending on the type of volunteer experience you are interested in, your time can be spent improving educational resources and opportunities, providing medical services to underserved communities, or promoting environmental conservation and sustainable farming techniques.

    One Tree Planted logo

    25 trees will be planted on your behalf for every experience purchased, via our partnership with One Tree Planted.

    See more at onetreeplanted.org

    1% for the planetlogo

    1% of gross sales will be donated to 1% for the Planet-approved charities via our partnership with 1% for the Planet.

    See more at onepercentfortheplanet.org

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    Location

    Nagano, Japan
    Your time in the Nagano Prefecture of Japan will be spent in a small village, amid spectacular mountains, with just about 800 residents. Otaki is a wonderland of nature that hosts many guests, especially during the winter months when there is a nice coat of snow on Mt. Ontake. Japan’s second highest volcano not only is home to a ski resort, but also attracts many spiritual groups and forms of Buddhism. Mt. Ontake is surrounded by an array of different shrines and sacred places and a popular destination for pilgrims.
    map
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    Itinerary

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      Sunday - Arrival

      No airport pickup included. You must either:

      Meet one of our transfer coordinators at the Shinjuku Bus terminal meeting point below, for info on the airport limo-bus service from NRT Bus from Narita to Shinjuku or HND Bus from Haneda to Shinjuku These buses take you directly inside the Shinjuku Bus Terminal.

      There are also a couple local train options that can get you to Shinjuku station and from there you can walk to the Bus Terminal. Those are a bit more involved and might not be the best bet for a first time traveler. Whichever route you decide, you must then go upstairs to 4F information desk to meet the local team Transfer Coordinator at 17:00.

      or Make your own way to us in Otaki on Sunday

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      Monday - Friday
      • Breakfast
      • You may occasionally be asked to join the local kindergarten group
      • Lunch
      • Cultural or outdoor activities together will all participants in Otaki
      • Be available for locals to come by for conversation -Dinner
      • Be available for locals to come by for conversation
      • Cultural or outdoor activities together will all participants in Otaki
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      Saturday - Departure

      Leave the accommodation early morning on Saturday. Take the local bus from Kiso Fukushima to Shinjuku Bus Terminal in Tokyo. Choose options of local train service to connect to airports, or take a taxi, or take the Express bus to HND (Haneda) or NRT (Narita). Travel time is about 7.5 hours with earliest flights possible Saturday Evening

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    Inclusions

    • Shared Accomodation
    • All meals included
    • Free beverages
    • Wifi in public areas
    • Departure Transfer
    • Arrival Transfer
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    Options

    • Extra night accomodation (before experience)$60
    • Extra night accomodation (after experience)$60
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    More Information

    Requirements

    • minimum age18
    • minimum english levelBasic
    • CRB RequiredOn signup
    • passport copy requiredNo
    • resume copy requiredNo
    Other Requirements
    • There are no further requirements for this program.

    Food

    Weekdays you will enjoy three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and two on weekends, during your stay. Meals will be local cuisine and you can expect that they will include rice and vegetables.

    Accommodation

    While in Otaki, Nagano, Japan you will be staying in a local Homestay or at our participant accommodation (possibility for some amazing camping in a tent during warmer months)10-25 minutes outside of the village by car. Please keep in mind the toilet and shower for the Green House location near the restaurant and campsite are separate from the sleeping accommodation. The homestay at the house provides toilet and shower inside. There may also be a pet dog around the Green House location.

    Cancellation Policy

    Bookings can be amended and cancelled 30 days before the program start date without any costs. Bookings that are cancelled less than 30 days before the program start date will be charged the first week of the booking.

English Exchange

CategoryTeaching
Stylebackpacker
AvailabilityOpen
Price per person$870/week
Minimum Duration1 week

Contact us for availability and further information.

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