Do Interac scam you while you work as an English teacher in Japan? In my experience working as an assistant language teacher (ALT) for them I would have to say the answer is no. Recruitment companies who hire English language teachers outside Japan have a poor reputation amongst English teachers in Japan. This in some cases may be deserved however together with some genuine issues people may have faced, there is a good deal of rumor and innuendo that causes us to think of companies such as Interac in perhaps a more negative light than we should. For anyone looking to move to Japan as an English teacher they are certainly work researching further.

Following I shall give my opinion on the positive aspects to the recruitment company Interac as well as some issues that I personally had to deal with that give some people the impression of an Interac scam. Overall, the positive far outweigh the negative. I feel my view is balanced and as I no longer work for Interac I have no agenda. This is simply a discussion of my experiences with them.

+ One of the biggest pluses was that I was able to secure my first teaching English job while based in the U.K. and with no need to travel to Japan for an interview. This would have been prohibitively expensive at that stage of my life. One of their recruiters came to London, gave a presentation about the company and the ALT jobs that they were offering. This was followed the next day by an interview in a hotel. I was convinced I had not presented my best side at the interview but was very happy to discover that Interac was ready to offer me a job.

Travelling to Japan to start work as an native English teacher was paid for out of my own pocket. Interac make this clear from the outset. Obviously it would be nice if they were willing to pay for flight costs however as I knew that they wouldn't from the very start it is not really a negative, just dissapointing.

+ What they do pay for however though is a few nights in the Tokyo Yoyogi International Youth Hostel where I was able to meet a host of other Interac teachers. It was here that we received our official Interac training. Some was good, some funny, some interesting and some down right boring. Overall this training period was really good fun.

After training I was taken to the city I would be working in by an Interac sales rep. and my own Japanese helper. This was funny because at that time I hardly spoke any Japanese and my helper spoke even less English. We somehow managed to complete all our tasks and have a laugh along the way.

+ Working for Interac is very relaxed. I can't think of them ever bothering me. They just let their ALTs get on with their jobs.

- One minor frustration was that I had to complete timesheets every month to verify my attendence. I understand the rationale but it was a hassle and it also reminded me of the temporary nature of my job.

+ Soon after starting my ALT job I was offered additional hours teaching company English classes in the evening. The hourly rate of pay for this was really good so I was able to substantially increase my monthly pay by teaching an extra four hours a week.

- The biggest negative during my time working as an assistant language teacher for Interac was that four out of twelve months were paid at a reduced rate. To be fair this is written in the contract. However although it is very apparent that the summer and winter holidays are paid at a reduced rate due to the fact that you are on holiday, I didn't realise at the time the importance of "pro rata" payments when not working full months. This soon becomes clear when you receive your first months pay. Even though I started at the beginning of April, my contract did not start until the 5th. So in Interac's eyes this is not a full months work so you miss out on a few days pay. This was also a factor at the end of my contract which ended around the 20th of March leaving me with 2/3 of my normal pay for this month. There was a completion bonus but this simply took me back up to a regular months pay.

So while I do not believe in an Interac scam, the simple fact that the pay the offered wasn't great encouraged me to move on after a year with them. Had they offered a more attractive package I may still be working for them today. I have friends who have worked for Interac for years. They enjoy the fact that there is little pressure put on you by Interac and you are simply allowed to get on with your job teaching Japanese school children.

Working for Interac is a great way to become an ALT if you would like to move to Japan. My advice would be to make sure you understand exactly what is written in your contract so that you know what you are getting into.