What is a "Tutor"?

A Tutor is someone who provides personalized guidance/instruction to exchange students using English. We strive to give exchange students a smooth experience while studying at Iwate University. We match exchange students with a tutor who, while working with with the exchange student's academic advisor and with staff from the International Exchange Center, will assist the exchange student in their day to day life.

Target Exchange Students

  1. 1st year Undergraduate students (within 6 months of enrolling)
  2. Graduate students within 1 year of arriving in Japan (aligning with time registered as a researcher) and research students (excluding graduates of Japanese Universities/Graduate Universities)
  3. Special Lecture Attendees and Japanese Language/Culture Training Participants
  4. Students other than 1, 2, 3, where a tutor is deemed necessary by the university

Tutor Requirements and Selection Methods

In order to become a tutor, the student must meet specific requirements. The way we select tutors for exchange students is based on recommendations from the exchange student's advisor, and these recommended students are chosen based on their Major, specialty, and academic performance.

Tutoring Period, Work Hours, and Compensation

The period tutors work for is from April to March of the next year, however in order to mesh better with when new exchange students arrive, it is divided into semesters: April to September and October to March. During this time period, tutors can expect to work around 100 hours (50 hours per semester) and be paid 1,000 yen per hour.

Tutor Process

When you become a Tutor...

An email about the orientation meeting will be sent to all students recommended by the academic advisors to become tutors. At the orientation, we will explain the general procedures, as well as outline the duties of a tutor and things to keep in mind, so please attend this orientation.

Documents to Submit Before Working

(※Downloads for the required documents can be found at the bottom of this section)

Exchange Student Tutoring Plan

When formulating a plan for tutoring, thought must be given to how the tutor will work with the exchange student, as well as how to understand the exchange student's needs. Therefore, along with talking with with the exchange student, seek advice from the advisor. There are various ways to provide support, such as discussing ahead of time what days work best to meet. If you are unable to make contact with an exchange student, please contact the advisor or the international office.

Direct Deposit Application Form

This form is required in order to receive compensation for your work as a tutor. Please provide the name of the bank, as well as your full name and address on the form. Furthermore, for people who have worked in other areas of Iwate University, there is a possibility you may have already registered your bank information. If this is the case, please provide details when turning in the completed documents.

Permit to Engage in Activities which are Outside the Limits of His/Her Visa Status

(Only for Foreign Exchange Students who wish to tutor)
Once you fill out the "Permit to Engage in Activities which are Outside the Limits of His/Her Visa Status Application Form", please go to the Immigration Office and apply for the permit. ※This permit is required for compensation

Tax Exemption for Dependants Declaration (Optional)

Submitting this form allows you to apply for tax exemptions for dependants. This is not required for people working part time jobs, etc. People who do not apply for these exemptions will have to pay a 3.6% tax on their income. If filled out, this tax will be returned to you as part of your final tax return. For more details, please see the International Office.

Document Downloads

Documents to Submit Every Month

Work Report

Tutors must submit a work report detailing their activities and work conditions every month. When filling out the work report, please consider the following points:

  1. Please use a ballpoint pen. (Do not use pencil)
  2. Please use 24hr time when recording time worked. (ex. 18:00 instead of 6:00pm)
  3. Because compensation is based on time worked, do not make a mistake when recording.
  4. When completed, please receive a signature from the exchange student, as well as a signature and stamp from the exchange student's advisor. (The next month's activities are based on the current month's report.)
  5. Finally, in the "other" section, please briefly write something about how the job is going.

*The deadline for submitting the Work Report is generally on the 5th of every month. If the deadline happens to be a saturday, please submit the report before then. Please adhere to these deadlines. If a submission may be made late, please inform the relevant persons ahead of time. (In the case that a submission is late, we cannot process your compensation.)

The Role of a Tutor

In recent years, Japan's government has made it a top priority to be proactive in regards to study abroad activities, and even at our university we have seen a surge of new exchange students. Exchange students arrive and must live in a new environment, where the language and customs are completely different from their home country. Therefore, we have established a tutoring program with the goal of elevating the results and effectiveness of our exchange student's study and research.

Of course, guiding and assisting an exchange student relates to this goal, but specifically a tutor's duties center around assisting with the Japanese language, the student's Major, and daily life in Japan. Which of these different aspects require more attention depends on each exchange student individually, so we expect tutors to listen to the exchange student's wishes, and take various aspects of their life such as their research goals, social standing, and gender into consideration while providing assistance.

Examples of Tutor Responsibilities

Support with Preparation and Procedures After Arrival In Japan

(1) Housing Decision

  • Apartment
    Despite working with realtors and cooperators to locate apartments for exchange students, a guarantor is still required for these students. If there is someone willing to become a guarantor for the exchange student, there won't be any issues. However, in the event that there is no willing guarantor, once the exchange student enrolls in what is called "Comprehensive Renters Insurance for Foreign Students Studying in Japan", the International Office will act as the guarantor organization. For more details, please inquire at the International Office. (The guarantor process takes some time, so we suggest that you begin the process as soon as possible.)
  • The Iwate University International House
    As for moving into the International House, please see the International Office. In general, before the student arrives, they should receive the moving form, and after moving in there will be an orientation session, so it is recommended that you attend.

(2) Foreign Residence and National Health Insurance Registration at City Hall

  1. According to Immigration Laws, foreign residents who plan to stay within Japan for more than 90 days must register with City Hall within 14 days of arriving. If you did not receive your Residence Card at the airport, it will take approximately 2~3 weeks for you to receive your Residence Card. Once it has arrived, we advise you to take it to City Hall.

    Required Items for Registration Procedures
    Pictures (4.5cm x 3.5cm) x2
  2. After the Foreign Residence Registration, you will enroll in the National Health Insurance in the same building, at the National Insurance and Pension Office. If you do not enroll in the National Health Insurance, you will have to pay 100% of the costs when seeing a doctor, (Enrolling in the Insurance allows for 30% co-pay) so it is highly recommended that you enroll.

(3) Purchasing Life Necessities

After arriving in Japan, Exchange Students usually are not finished settling in, and lack basic life necessities that they must purchase. The tutor will introduce the student to stores, explain different products, and assist with purchasing said items.

(4) Opening a Yucho Bank Account (ATM and Bank Book Usage, etc)

In order for exchange students to enjoy their life in Japan, they will need a Yucho Bank Account. Rent, electricity, water, etc. will be paid through this bank account. The tutor will walk through the exchange student with opening this account.

(5) Simple Explanations about Japanese Life (Trash Separation, etc.)

It is very easy to make a mistake and get into trouble, so the tutor will explain things like how trash separation, etc. works. Consult the "Trash Collection and Separation" flyers distributed by the Municipality and work together to properly sort garbage.

(6) Guide of the Bulletin Board

Information and announcements for Exchange Students from the university (such as scholarship information or tuition exemption information) will be posted on the bulletin board. Please make a habit of checking the bulletin board often.

(7) Campus Tour

Please teach the exchange student about how to use the campus Healthcare Center and Library facilities. Also, inform the exchange student about the locations of things they may use often, such as the University Co-op, cafeteria, and ATM. At the computer center you can register to access the University's systems, so please provide assistance. (The exchange student's student ID card is required to register).

Study Support

  • (1) Japanese Language Support
    There are plenty of exchange students who have practically just arrived in Japan, so naturally there is some stress over using Japanese. As a tutor, answering their questions, teaching them words or phrases, teaching them how to read and write Kanji, and searching for suitable dictionaries and reference materials together will help alleviate this stress.
  • (2) Lecture, Research, and Training Supplementation and Consultation
  • (3) Report, Essay Revision/Correction
  • (4) Advice Relating to the Use of On/Off Campus facilities
  • (5) Japanese Language Supplementation
    In the International Exchange Center, there are various "Special Japanese Courses" for a variety of different Japanese Language Abilities.
  • (6) Explanations of Technical Terms
  • (7) Introduction and Explanations on Japanese Culture and Customs
  • (8) Supplementary Study for Graduate School Entrance Exams

Life Support

  • (1) Advisors and Teachers
    There are many forms that require input from teachers and advisors, such as a letter of recommendation for applying for scholarships, or a notification for when the exchange student temporarily returns home. International Office Staff and Advisors need to be able to get in touch with exchange students for these purposes, so tutors may act as an intermediary for getting in contact with an exchange student.
  • (2) Scholarships and Tuition Exemption
    Scholarships and tuition exemption are a big hurdle for exchange students. Depending on the scholarship, a large amount of forms must be completed and prepared, so it is likely they will ask for assistance. Things like explaining items on the forms or checking their Japanese is ok, however writing the form in place of the exchange student will invalidate the form, so please limit your assistance to advice and corrections.
  • (3) Where to receive their ID Card
    Please explain to the exchange student, (1) Where they can be issued an ID, and (2) How to use the automatic ID Issuance machines.
  • (4) Financial Troubles and Part Time Jobs
    For many exchange students who fund their exchange personally, they may sometimes run into financial problems. If you catch sight of the exchange student you are in charge of experiencing financial problems, please contact the International Office or the advisor. Also, if the exchange student wishes to work a part time job, they will need to apply for Part Time Work Permission at the Immigration Bureau. We have prepared application forms at the International Office, so please direct them to the International Office.

Personal Relation Support

  • (1) Relationship with Advisor
    For exchange students, the relationship between them and their advisor can be one of the most important factors for the exchange student's success. However, the way students and teachers interact can differ based on the country, and based on the situation, it can be confusing for exchange students. Tutors will aid by acting as the bridge between the exchange student and the advisor.
  • (2) Relationship between Japanese Students or other Exchange Students
    Trouble can arise in the relationships between exchange students and Japanese students who belong to the same clubs or research labs. This trouble may stem from confusion about things such as the Japanese "Kouhai-Senpai" relationship dynamic. The way people communicate varies greatly depending on the country or culture. There are also students who are not able to participate in certain events because of religious, time, or monetary constraints. As tutors, they will try to understand the exchange student's circumstances through everyday communication, and act as a liaison when needed.
  • (3) Relationship between Japanese Students or other Exchange Students
    Sometimes, exchange students have stress over the relationship with their co-workers, neighbors, and landlord. If this happens, first tutors will calmly listen to the exchange student about what the problem is, and most importantly, obtain an objective understanding of the problem. However, if it seems that the problem is too difficult or too complicated, do not overwork yourself. In that event, please consult the International Exchange Center or the advisor.

Things that are Not Considered a Tutor's Job

Karaoke, Drinking Parties, or anything that is clearly unrelated to providing support is not recognized as tutor work. Furthermore, if there is anything you are unsure if it is considered tutor work or not, please consult the International Office.

Things to Keep in Mind as a Tutor

Review of the Duties of a Tutor

A tutor is often the first friendship an exchange student has at the university. Therefore, they carry the important role of promoting and assisting with studying, as well as acclimating them to their new life in Japan. We want tutors who can make objective judgements while also being flexible by taking into consideration the viewpoint of others, whose way of thinking may be different from one's own. This is not a difficult task; anyone can learn how to do this through contact with exchange students. What is important is if the tutor truly wants to undertake this task, and is aware of themselves and the situation. When interacting with exchange students of different cultural backgrounds and ways of thinking, mistakes can happen. However, it is those mistakes that allow you to grow as a person, improve your objective reasoning, and develop coping skills in the face of difficulty.

Things Exchange Students Hope For from a Tutor

As mentioned above, the things that exchange students look for from a tutor, such as study support, advice on their specialty, and just being a good friend in Japan, can be different from student to student. These needs can also change over time. Therefore, it is most important that tutors always listen to what the exchange student is looking for from a tutor.

When a tutor asks vague questions such as "Do you need anything?", it is common for exchange students to respond with "Nothing". These types of questions do not make the exchange student want to actively interact with their tutor, so instead, tutors should inquire about the exchange student's learning/living situation and make judgements about where the exchange student might be experiencing difficulties, and where they could be of assistance.

Sometimes, tutors start off well, but become busy with their own studies along the way. They assume that if there is a problem, the exchange student will contact them, however this rarely the case. There are many exchange students who do not want to bother their tutor, who they know is busy, with trivial questions or problems. It is natural for exchange students to reciprocate the consideration and thoughtfulness of the tutors, so these kinds of case happen often. During busy times, tutors should proactively make contact with the exchange student while planning how to better maintain good communication going forward.

Deeping a Good Relationship

Most exchange students think that it would be wonderful if they can become good friends with their tutor in Japan. If this could become reality, this would be proof that the tutor system is a practical and effective system. However, if you look at past cases, unfortunately, many times exchange students and tutors were not able to grow their relationship to becoming close friends.

There are many things that can contribute to this, such as language barriers for both Japanese and international students, the ways people form relationships with others that differ from their home country, and general confusion over differences in behavior. For example, from an international student's perspective, the subtle nuances of Japanese can be very difficult to understand. It is also difficult for Japanese people to communicate well with each other, so exchange students often experience anxiety about not being able to understand the intentions of Japanese people who can usually communicate with little explanation or explicit context. These reasons seem to hinder positive interaction with Japanese people. Moreover, much of the time, the topics discussed with other Japanese people may be superficial, or in an environment that makes it difficult to make quality, personal relationships. On the other hand, from the Japanese perspective, some cite tension and a sense of restraint, and that foreign students might harbor negative feelings towards them or groups of Japanese people. In addition, some say things such as "I have little experience with foreigners," "I'm embarrassed to talk at the beginning," or "I don't know the other's culture or customs".

There is certainly a connection between the various feelings mentioned above and the unsuccessful nature of interaction between exchange students and Japanese students. To promote successful interaction and the growth of close friendships, the first step is to make these issues clear to both parties in order to close the gap between the two cultures. Happily greeting exchange students is good, but without both parties understanding the feelings and behaviors of each other, not only will you fail to communicate well, but it can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. Through mutual understanding, the best method for overcoming misunderstandings will naturally reveal itself.

Whether they be undergraduate, graduate, or research students, the ways in which a tutor may support an exchange student will certainly differ, however whatever support is needed, a tutor should keep in mind the issues mentioned above and work to obtain mutual understanding.

Things to Confirm Before Supporting

Before supporting an exchange student, it may be useful check over the points listed below in advance. Not only will this help decrease misunderstandings, but it may also make everyone's support more effective.

Examples of Things That Should Be Taken Note Of

  1. Exchange Goal and Background
  2. Background in Japanese Language/Culture
  3. Financial Circumstances/Financial Ability
  4. Life Habits, Religious Views, etc.

If Things Do Not Go Well Despite Great Effort

Based on everything listed above, even if you understand the other person, there may be cases where things do not go as planned. Unfortunately, due to the nature of human relationships, it is impossible to mend cases where people are not compatible, despite great effort. In these situations, the tutor can be changed, so please communicate the situation to the International Office, and seek guidance from the advisor.