Category Archives: EDUCATION

The Dos and Dont’s of Class Control for ALTs in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

“All kids in Japan are polite and well-behaved.”

A common trope, but this is absolutely not the case.

Japan isn’t so different from anywhere else. There are good kids who will play along with an almost angelic demeanor and there are difficult kids can who make The Incredible Hulk seem calm and rational.

What is different here, however, is the way that we tackle such behaviors and how we maintain discipline in our classroom.

It’s important to remember that — from an official standpoint — ALTs aren’t supposed to be handling disciplinary issues. It is the responsibility of your Japanese teacher of English (JTE) to handle classroom disruptions. There are, however, a number of situations where we will have to get involved.

Sometimes, your colleague may be young, nervous or feel intimidated by their students. Other times, you may be left to run a class by yourself due to teacher illness, events at the school or other unforeseen circumstances. In short, you need to be prepared to take charge because chances are it will happen to you at some point.

So let’s run down three common scenarios you’ll face in the classroom and the do’s and don’ts for each one.

1. Students talk over you while you teach

Don’t shout at the students to be quiet. Like any troublemakers, showing the students that they can provoke a reaction from you through disruptive behavior is a pretty destructive precedent to set.

Instead, respond positively and enthusiastically to any positive behavior the students show. As much as possible, ignore the negative occurrences. If students are too unruly, stop what you’re doing and tell them to settle down in a firm, yet calm manner.

… many classes, even at the elementary level, have a strong, self-policing element to them.

You will quickly notice that many classes, even at the elementary …continue reading


Top 10 Things to Do in Japan in December 2018

December is a great time to visit Japan because the variety of magical winter events is unlike anything you can find the rest of the year! The nights light up with winter illuminations all across the country, and there are also a number of Christmas celebrations and markets to enjoy as well. And finally, at the end of the month, Japan loves to end the year on a high note with several fun, popular countdowns. Here are our top 10 events happening in Japan in December 2018.

1. Chichibu Yomatsuri (秩父夜祭)

The annual Chichibu Night Festival is one of Japan’s greatest hikiyama (float) festivals, as it draws about 400,000 visitors over the course of two days. There are fireworks and other events on December 2nd in the evening, but the highlight of the festival is on December 3rd. On this day, four massive hikiyama floats along with two smaller kasaboko floats are paraded through the streets of Chichibu. In the afternoon, stages are pulled out from the main floats and feature incredible kabuki performances. At night, the floats are lit by hundreds of lanterns, and with the accompaniment of drum music, the floats are pulled up Dango Hill beneath a fireworks display that lights up the night sky. This festival has over 300 years of history and was registered as an “ UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2016.

WHERE: Chichibu Shrine, Saitama

WHEN: Dec 2 – 3, 2018


2. Kobe Luminarie (神戸ルミナリエ)

The Kobe Luminarie is a winter light-up held every December in Kobe, Japan, in memory of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. Every night for the 10 days which it is held, the entire street turns into a wonderland of tunnels and structures lit by over 200,000 lights. The color scheme and pattern design changes every …continue reading


The 10 Most Popular Festivals in Japan

1. Tokyo’s Kanda Matsuri (神田祭)

This is one of Tokyo’s three most famous festivals, along with the Sanno Matsuri and Fukagawa Matsuri. It takes place in mid-May in odd numbered years, alternating with the Sanno Matsuri, which is held in even numbered years.

Kanda Matsuri originated during the Edo Period. Tokugawa began to rule the country from Edo (present-day Tokyo), and the festival was celebrated as a demonstration of prosperity under the new regime. At the time, the Kanda Matsuri and the Sanno Matsuri were the only two festivals that were allowed to pass through the Edo Castle grounds. Both were originally held annually, but after competition grew incredibly intense, they were eventually ordered to be held in alternating years.

Today, Tokyo’s Kanda Matsuri consists of numerous events held over an entire week, and is attended by millions of people. The highlights are a day-long procession through central Tokyo on Saturday, and parades of portable mikoshi shrines by the various neighborhoods on Sunday.

When: Middle of May on the even-numbered years

Where: Kanda Myojin Shrine, Tokyo


2. Osaka’s Tenjin Festival (天神祭)

This is another one of Japan’s three greatest festivals, held every year at Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, which is located in the heart of Osaka City. It originated back in the 10th century, in the year 951, as a celebration dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the Japanese deity of scholarship and learning. The two-day festival features a lively procession through the city, with musical performances and dancers. The main event of the festival takes place on the second day, with a procession of boats on the river and massive fireworks as the grand finale.

When: Middle of May on the even-numbered years

Where: Tenmangu Shrine, …continue reading


10 Famous Japanese Proverbs

It’s quite likely that you have heard the phrase, “fall down 7 times, get up 8”. But did you know that it originated as a Japanese saying? Nanakorobiyaoki (七転び八起き), which translates to “7 falls, 8 rises” is a very well-known kotowaza (ことわざ), or proverb. Here is our list of 10 more famous Japanese proverbs.

  1. 猿も木から落ちる

Romaji: Saru mo ki kara ochiru.

Translation: Even monkeys fall from trees.

Meaning: Everyone makes mistakes. Monkeys are very good at climbing trees, but even they mess up sometimes. Nobody’s perfect.

Example: If someone makes a mistake, then that’s okay. Even the best fall down sometimes. Even monkeys fall from trees.

  1. 蓼食うも好き好き

Romaji: Tadekuu mushi mo suki zuki.

Translation: There are even bugs that eat knotweed.

Meaning: Everyone has their own likes/tastes. Knotweed is an invasive species of plant that is quite bitter. But there are even bugs that love to eat this plant. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. To each their own.

Example: No matter how strange tasting/looking something is, there’s bound to be someone out there who loves it. After all, there are even bugs that eat knotweed.

  1. 蛙の子は蛙

Romaji: Kaeru no ko wa kaeru.

Translation: Child of a frog is a frog.

Meaning: Like father, like son.

Example: It’s no surprise that the famous singer Enrique Iglesias’s father was also a singer too. The child of a frog is a frog!

  1. 覆水盆に帰らず

Romaji: Fukusui bon ni kaerazu.

Translation: Spilt water will not return to the tray.

Meaning: Don’t cry over spilt milk.

Example: Don’t be sad about things that have already happened, because you can’t go back in time and change it. What’s done is done. Spilt water will not return to the tray.

Note:Ato no matsuri” (後の祭り) is another proverb with a very similar meaning to this one. The literal …continue reading