Category Archives: EDUCATION

5 Common Complaints Japanese Teachers Have About ALTs

Source: Gaijin Pot
5 Common Complaints Japanese Teachers Have About ALTs

Today, we turn the tables.

I asked a number of Japanese teachers of English (JTE), some of them friends and some of them current and former colleagues, what have been the biggest issues they have had to deal with regarding their assistant language teachers (ALT) down the years. Their comments should give ALTs plenty of food for thought!

Here are five common problems heard directly from JTEs — and how you can work together to resolve them better.

1. “The ALTs are changed too often.”

One of my former colleagues from my time in Tokyo complained that she never has enough time to get to know the teachers she’s working with.

“For some reason, my board of education swaps out the ALTs every three months,” she says. “Sometimes it takes one or two months just to get to know a new teacher and to build a good rapport with them for teamwork and so on. Just when you feel like you’re developing a good rhythm in classes, they get swapped out and the whole process starts again.”

This first problem is less common among direct hire ALTs, such as myself, where we usually keep the same set of schools for the whole year. However, in cases where the teacher comes from a dispatch company, they are often swapped out every few months, to work at a different base school in the same city.

Ultimately, this isn’t something that the JTE or their ALT has any real power over. It’s down to poor management on the part of the higher-ups at the education board and a lack of consideration for the ALT on the part of the dispatch company.

As I have mentioned many times before: the key to job satisfaction as an ALT lies in making the best out of what you have. You …continue reading


English Teacher Assessments: A Guide to Getting Your Contract Renewed

Source: Gaijin Pot
English Teacher Assessments: A Guide to Getting Your Contract Renewed

If you were to ask 100 native English teachers in Japan what they dislike most about their work, you would get a variety of answers. Some will decry the lack of a clear career path, others will complain about being reduced to a mere “human tape recorder” in some of their lessons and and others still may simply not like having to get out of their bed before midday!

However, from my own experience, and in discussing the situation with a number of my colleagues down the years, it seems to me that the single biggest cause of anguish and discomfort for my fellow ALTs — as well as those who teach in private eikaiwa (English conversation schools) — is the uncertainty of what the next year will bring.

With almost no exceptions, foreigners who come to Japan to teach English are subject to one-year contracts and must endure a renewal process every year. These evaluations ordinarily comprise two parts: an observation (or series of observations) where your bosses will come to watch your classes and then an interview where your performance is formally evaluated and a decision reached as to whether you are offered a new contract or not.

This constant feeling of having to justify your job to your superiors can sometimes breed resentment, which — if it bleeds into your work — can become self-defeating.

For me, the single most frustrating aspect of this entire process is the seeming lack of transparency. One minute you think you’re doing a great job, the next minute you find out you’re a just a few weeks away from unemployment — often with no justification given whatsoever.

And, of course, since you aren’t given any feedback, it can become all too easy to repeat whatever mistakes you made previously, perpetuating the same cycle of …continue reading