Teaching English in Japan – What to Expect

The economic boom that swept Japan in the 1980′s brought with it not only a period of wealth and prosperity, but also a sudden surge in a desire to study English. Fueled in part by Japan’s role as an emerging economic force, the need to learn English became a necessity for many companies hoping to compete in the global marketplace. As a result of the affluence during this time more Japanese were also able to travel abroad, thus creating a demand for studying English for those who hoped to hone their English skills before making the journey to a foreign country. Entrepreneurs sensing an opportunity to capitalize on this trend began to open English schools in unprecedented numbers, from large Corporate chains that catered to thousands of students, to small neighborhood schools often employing only a handful of staff. Although the glory days of finding a teaching job on the basis of being a native English speaker alone have faded, the good news is there are still many teaching jobs available in Japan for those willing to make a modest effort to pursue them. Renewed economic growth in the last few years in conjunction with a recent ruling by the Japanese Ministry of Education to include English as part of the elementary school curriculum will also create a need for English instructors in the future.

English teachers in Japan fall basically under two categories, those employed via structured programs such as JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching), and freelance instructors. Teachers who have come to Japan under one of the structured programs can expect benefits which include pre-departure training, visas, flights, living accommodations, and health insurance. Free lance teachers are individuals who arrive in Japan looking for work on their own or who have found a job prior to arriving. In regard to working conditions both can expect to teach approximately 20-35 classes per week, with lessons spanning 50 minutes to one hour in duration. Most teaching positions are at private language schools, with the majority of classes being conducted in the afternoons and evenings. Students range from elementary school, high school, and university students, to housewives and businessmen of all ages. Many of the afternoon classes are typically made up of children who study English after their regular school day has finished, and the majority of evening classes are attended by teens or adults. Size of classes vary, but on average consist of 3-5 students for many of the smaller schools, and up to 15 for larger establishments. Most schools also offer students private lessons.

Entry level salaries for teachers is approximately 250,000 yen per month, though this can fluctuate depending on the company. Some of the larger chain schools such as Nova and ECC offer visa sponsorship and other benefits, such as arranging an apartment for newly arrived teachers. Most schools also subsidize daily train transportation costs. Teachers with experience and a post graduate level qualification in the form of a Masters Degree can expect to make around 400,000 yen a month or more, with the majority of high paying jobs in this category to be found in the High Schools and Universities.

Financial Reporting & Auditing in Singapore

The Accounting Profession of Singapore

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) is the national body representing the accounting profession in Singapore. It maintains a register of qualified accountants comprising mainly local graduates. Membership is open to members of the Institutes of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and a number of other accounting bodies. Generally, prior to being admitted as a full member, they must attend a week-long pre-admission course. Members are designated as certified public accountants (CPA).

The Public Accountants Board, whose council members are appointed by the Ministry of Finance, licenses and registers accountants who wish to practise. It also handles practice monitoring, disciplinary matters and regulations on professional conduct.

Accounting Records in Singapore

All companies incorporated under the Companies Act are required to maintain books of accounts that sufficiently explain the transactions and financial position of the company.

The books may be kept either at the company’s registered office or at another place the directors think fit. If the books are maintained outside Singapore, sufficient records must be maintained in Singapore to facilitate the preparation and/or audit of financial statements that reflect accurately the company’s financial position.

Sources of Accounting Principles

Financial Periods Commencing before 1 January 2003 The principal source of accounting principles in Singapore, namely Statements of Accounting Standards (SAS) and Interpretation of Statements of Accounting Standards (INT), are issued by ICPAS. These standards are essentially International Accounting Standards (IAS) modified for certain transitional provisions. They provide guidelines on the accounting measurements and disclosure requirements. Businesses may depart from such standards if the standards conflict with disclosure exemptions granted by law. Otherwise, ICPAS may take disciplinary action against any of its members who are in violation of the standards.

Rules on accounting measurements are generally established by SAS and INT. Disclosure requirements are governed by SAS, INT and the Companies Act.

ICPAS is a member of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). Compliance with IASC standards are not mandatory, but the institute supports the IASC objectives of formulating and publishing standards for observance during presentation of audited financial statements and promoting worldwide acceptance of such standards.

Financial Periods Commencing on or after 1 January 2003 With the implementation of section 37 of the Companies (Amendment) Act 2002, SAS issued by ICPAS will not be used with effect from annual financial periods commencing on or after 1 January 2003. Instead, Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (FRS), issued by the new accounting standards-setting body, the Council on Corporate Disclosure and Governance (CCDG), are now effective. FRS are essentially adopted from International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The previous SAS were adopted from the same set of IFRS (formerly referred to as IAS) but with modification to certain transitional provisions. Consequently, there are differences between FRS and SAS.

Interpretations of Standards are authoritative guidance on the application of the relevant standards. CCDG adopted all international interpretations as Interpretations of FRS (INT FRS) with effect from financial periods beginning on or after 1 January 2003.

Compliance with FRS is a statutory requirement whereby any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the Companies Act by the directors.

Financial Reporting in Singapore

The Companies Act requires that an audited set of financial statements, made up to not more than six months before every Annual General Meeting, is to be presented to the shareholders at the meeting. Generally if a company incorporated in Singapore has one or more subsidiaries, it must prepare consolidated financial statements unless it meets certain criteria as provided for in FRS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements. Currently, financial statements under the Companies Act consist of the balance sheet, income statement together with explanatory notes. With the Companies (Accounting Standards) Regulations 2002 coming into operation for financial periods on or after 1 January 2003, a complete set of financial statements will comprise the balance sheet, income statement, statement of changes in equity, cash flow statement and explanatory notes.

The financial statements must be accompanied by the directors’ and auditors’ reports and by a statement from the directors declaring that the financial statements show a true and fair view and that it is reasonable to believe that the company can reasonably pay its debts as they become due.

Companies which meet specific provisions in the Companies Act may be exempt from having their accounts audited but nevertheless must prepare financial statements that comply with the Companies Act.

Annual Requirements for Companies in Singapore

The Companies Act requires every company, except for those exempted in accordance with the provisions in the Act, to appoint one or more auditors qualified for appointment under the Accountants Act to report on the company’s financial statements. The auditors are to ascertain whether proper books of accounts have been kept and whether the financial statements agree with the company’s records. They will then report on the trueness and fairness of the financial statements to the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting.

Audit Exemption Starting with the financial year beginning on or after 15 May 2003, the following companies are no longer required to have their accounts audited. However, they are still required to prepare accounts (and consolidated accounts where applicable) that comply with FRS.

o Small exempt private companies An exempt private company with revenue in a financial year below S$5m is exempted from appointing auditors and from audit requirements. Revenue is defined according to the statutory accounting standards, i.e. the FRS.

o Dormant companies A dormant company is exempted from appointing auditors and from the audit requirements if it has been dormant either (a) from the time of its formation or (b) since the end of the previous financial year. A company is considered dormant during a period in which no accounting transaction occurs, and the company ceases to be dormant on the occurrence of such a transaction. For this purpose, transactions arising from the following are disregarded:

  • Taking of shares in the company by a subscriber to the memorandum
  • Appointment of company secretary
  • Appointment of auditor
  • Maintenance of a registered office
  • Keeping of registers and books
  • Fees, fines or default penalties paid to the Registrar of Companies

Unusual Conference Venues

Many companies understand the importance of conferences for their staff. Conferences are a chance to network, share ideas and to learn, but boy are they boring. Yes, your staff gets loads of new ideas and meet lots of interesting and useful people, but given the choice they would rather not attend again next year. Fortunately, the people who run conferences are starting to wake up to this fact and beginning to try to make conferences less tedious. This has led to some great new conference events being held. If you are a business about to hold an in-house conference you can learn a lot from this new trend.

So the question is 'Where can I hold a conference?'. Basically as long as they've got the license and you've got the cold hard cash, then you can hold a conference just about anywhere you like. As the legend of Kevin Costner understands 'If you build it, they will come' and yes, you can host a conference at a baseball diamond!

Museums and art galleries. Being surrounded by creative exploits really stimulates the mind. Therefore a great venue for a conference has to be a gallery or science museum. Our favorite is the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology – mingling amidst ancient totem poles is quite the experience. Another great museum venue is the Science Museum in London, that even offers a IMAX cinema or a motion theater as two of the 8 conference halls it has available.

Marinas, Aquariums and Planetariums are also great places for conferences, most have lecture theaters for the presentations, with plenty of divers during conference breaks. In some Aquariums such as the one in Barcelona you can enjoy a spectacular conference dinner completely surrounded by fish. Although sitting down to the fish course does make you pause.

Blackpool Tower – yup sounds strange but come on, it's also pretty exciting and sort of kitsch!

In the mountains. Being amid inspirational landscape opens the mind to fresh and new ideas. Check out the Fairmont Springs hotel in Banff, you are literally a step away from heaven.

Want to impress, rent a castle! You can do it for weddings and you can absolutely do it for your conference!

Observatories – enjoy a daytime conference and finish with watching the stars – there's a metaphor in there somewhere!

Middle of the Rainforest? Lots of nature retreats host conferences and events. Bali anyone?

The zoo – yes it has happened, one crazy and obviously very talented events planner held an event at a tiger exhibition.

Like we said, you get the right equipment, shelter, catering and speakers and people will come. If you have an event dream – make it happen. Your conference will be memorable and people will definitely want to come back next year. Where you hold a conference says a lot about you and your industry. Conferences are designed to stimulate people's creativity and make them come away full of ideas. An inspirational venue is everything, so think outside the box.

The Beautiful Mountain Town of Sapa Vietnam

Sapa is one of the naturally serene and lush towns in Vietnam. It attracts many travelers with its magnificent landscape, which features colorful tribal villages, French colonial villages, lush vegetation and numerous green fields stacked on one after another.

Sapa is also close to Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam. Nestled at an elevation of 4921 feet or 1500 meters, Sapa is in Hoang Lien Son mountain range, in the northwest region of the country. Because of its geographical location, the town's rugged scenery usually experiences being clouded by a warm mist, which only adds to Sapa's beauty and charm, and making it truly a unique place to visit.

Sapa is about 376 kilometers from capital city of Hanoi. Sapa has risen to be the most popular mountainous district in Vietnam. You will easily be charmed by the terraced rice fields, the ethnic lifestyle and the cool climate, inviting you to stay longer in Sapa than you intended. Becoming a tourist destination paved the way for the establishment of hotels and accommodation facilities in this town so you do not have to worry about finding a place to sleep during those tranquil nights. If you really want to immerse yourself into the Sapa lifestyle, you can also arrange for a homestay in one of the tribal villages.

One of the best things to do in Sapa is walk around the town early in the morning as the tourist crow is not yet in full swing. The town is small, so you can easily navigate your way on foot. In fact, everything in and around town can be explored on foot making the most popular activity in Sapa – trekking. Trekking to various villages is fun and adventurous. Just make sure that you have good trekking shoes or boots and waterproof bag. There are also tours that involve renting a bike or motorbike to explore the countryside and visit waterfalls.

There are other less rigid things to do while in Sapa. You can always visit other neighboring villages like the Lao Chai Village, by hiring local transport like a jeep or van. You may also watch ethnic minor dance performances, sign up for the Hmong sewing classis and visit noticeable attractions like the Han Rong Resort, Sapa Culture Museum, the Sapa Lake, Bac Ha weekend market and the European orchid gardens and colonial buildings.

Sapa is home to a couple of ethnic minorities such as the Dazao and Hmong. These people live a simple life and have managed to maintain their culture and traditions. It is a rewarding travel experience to visit their villages and learn about their way of life. You can ask them to be your trekking guide instead of getting one through the hotel. Other than agriculture, the tribes are also now relying on tourism for a living.

Remember to always be respectful and courteous when dealing with them, especially when taking photos; always ask their permission first. The best time to visit the town is arguably from September to October as this is the period when the rice fields are turning their color from green to yellow. During wintertime, the town receives more of that appealing fog. No matter when you visit Sapa , you will definitely enjoy this new pin on your travel map!