What Is It Like to Teach English at a Japanese Elementary School?

Source: Gaijin Pot
What It's Like to Teach Elementary First Graders

Ah, elementary school first grade. It’s the class reserved for veteran teachers. Those harried cardigan-wearing sensei‘s who have little to no hair left and a blank look in their eyes that screams “Help!”

It’s also the class that, as a shiny new ALT, you’ll probably be assigned to despite having no experience controlling a room of what feels like a hundred 6-year-olds.

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These little monsters, who just a few months ago were still regularly pooping their pants and putting everything in their mouths, are now in your classroom clinging to your legs, drooling all over your arms, and asking you the most absurd questions you’ll likely ever encounter on your ALT journey. Yup, even more than the dreaded self-intro class—an hour that pretty much sums up what it’s like to teach English in Japan.

Elementary school kids are fresh off the educational boat and, for some, it’s their very first time in a real school environment. What does that mean? Well, almost every lesson will typically follow the exact same plotline.

It goes something like this:

Scene 1: Teacher enters

This is the most foreign experience (literally) that these kids will have ever had and they won’t be able to restrain themselves from shouting out whatever thought comes into their heads. Remarks range from “GAIJIN!” all the way to “HE’S TALLER THAN MY DAD!” and even “Why did you become a FOREIGNER?”.

Scene 2: Words come out of the teacher’s mouth and are met by a din of noise

You say your name and country and let the kids freak out over it simply because it isn’t Japanese. Sometimes they assume you’re Atsugiri Jason in a bad disguise. You bask in this moment of fame by association before it gets taken from you when the …continue reading