Foreigners staying in Japan who can speak and understand Japanese can register themselves at their respective ward offices for voluntary translation and interpretation assignments. None of the assignments will require you to travel outside that particular ward area. Translation assignments might include medical forms, vaccination reminders, kindergarten application forms, school rules and so on to be translated into English from Japanese. Interpretation assignments could involve going to a neighborhood Japanese school to help a “gaikokujin” (foreigner) mom with her child’s PTA or to interpret a teacher’s instructions about an upcoming exam or field trip.
These voluntary assignments can give you the confidence to take up paid assignments later on. They can give you a lot of satisfaction too – of having helped someone not comfortable with the Japanese language – all of us started there, right?
Each time you are required to interpret at a Japanese school, you will be sent a list of instructions – Ring a bell (I honestly didn’t know schools could have a calling bell until then), introduce yourself in Japanese, change to the slippers that you are provided with and so on.
Although I had already lived and worked in Japan for many years, I was surprised at how many things I still didn’t know about Japan. Working for my ward was a truly memorable experience for me. Highly recommend this for Japanese learners living in Japan.