Category Archives: TEACHING

Surviving Summer As An ALT In Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
Surviving Summer As An ALT In Japan

It’s that time of year again when schools across Japan wind down for the summer break and our overworked students can finally enjoy a little respite for a few weeks. No such luck for our Japanese colleagues though. Teachers in Japan may get four or five days off during summer — if they’re lucky.

The same goes for full-time, direct hire English teachers working for city boards of education or private junior/senior high schools.

If you’re an ALT working for a dispatch company, however, you’ll probably get about six weeks off without pay, whether you asked for it or not. Some companies will offer a small stipend during this time you’re not working as part of the contract. Dispatch companies all across Japan market this as an “opportunity.” For example, the chance to go home for a few weeks to visit family, travel around Japan or visit other nearby Asian countries.

Not all companies do this. I know of at least one major ALT dispatch company that pays teachers the same salary all year round — even on summer break. But, sadly, this is the exception when I feel it should be the rule.

The reality is this isn’t a holiday being offered by dispatch companies. It’s a mandatory period of unpaid leave — and it should be advertised as such.

I know many ALTs who signed up to work in Japan and were not made aware of this circumstance until September arrived and they found their paycheck considerably lighter than usual. Especially in those first few months, when we are all struggling to find our financial footing, having almost half your salary docked, or possibly even worse, really is despicable.

Of course, there is the argument that these young, naïve teachers should have read the “small print” before signing up, but companies …continue reading


Quick Tips for Your First Day as an ALT in Japan, Part 2

Source: Gaijin Pot
Quick Tips for Your First Day as an ALT in Japan, Part 2

So, you’ve managed to get through the first half of your day as an assistant language teacher, but you’re not done yet. Time to roll up your sleeves and finish the day strong.

Since Japanese schools can often more particular in their routines than your home country — and because you might not always get clear and simple directions — for part eight of A Little Training for ALTs, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on what you can expect from your break to the final bell on your first as an ALT in Japan

Lunchtime is fun time

For many ALTs, lunch time is considered the best part of the day. Not only is it a chance to sit down and relax with your students, but it is also an opportunity for cultural exchange. If you didn’t have time to make a lunch, school lunches are a great and inexpensive way to experience the cuisine of Japan.

A typical meal might include: agepan (deep-fried bread), natto (fermented soybeans), tonjiru (pork miso soup), and horenso no ohitashi (spinach) are just a few of the many things that you may get to try while at your school.

In general, each school may have its own way of doing things, so pay careful attention to find out what that the particular routines and activities are. A school may have a schedule for what class you will be joining for lunch. At some schools, you may not have to rely on it, because a student or two will most likely lead you up to their classroom.

Make sure before you are led or leave the teacher’s room you bring your ohashi, or chopsticks. When you arrive in the classroom, please make sure to greet the teacher and then the class. They might still …continue reading


Technology in the English Classroom

In most schools, technology in English classrooms in Japan is not employed properly to help students stay engaged and interested in the topic.

Japan is well known for being a kind of technological hub for the world, but when you work as an English teacher in Japan you quickly realise that this hasn’t yet been passed down to the realm of teaching. Many schools and companies still use tape recorders and fax machines for a lot of the day to day work of teaching through audio or connecting with other departments, and you may think of it as a struggle to introduce any kind of technology to the class.

If you are in a position to at least use a laptop or projector, you have a big opportunity to not only teach a fantastic class, but build your skills as a technologically savvy teacher as well.

Technology and ways to use it

Knowing what you can and cannot use in your school is the first step to planning your lessons well. You don’t want to build your whole class around a PowerPoint presentation to then find out that there are no projectors or TVs you can use to display your carefully crafted lesson. Similarly you’ll need to make sure that what you want to do with the technology is approved by the relevant people at your school. You can do this via the Japanese way of gaining consensus with your fellow teachers and then presenting the consensus to your boss, remarking that everyone has agreed that it will be good for the students, then you can begin. Remember that you’re working in Japan and have to try and go by the Japanese working culture.

iPod or phone music player

Music is a wonderful tool for language learning, and one of the primary ways we engage …continue reading